Our Day in Oslo

[if you are a regular reader of our blog, you may notice that this title is far from edgy or scandalous. So, compared to Paul’s last feeble attempt at his blog getting more views than mine, this should not even come close. Hmmm, we’ll just see.]

We realized this week that we had been in Norway for three and a half months and had not yet spent any time in Olso. Definitely something that needed action. So, we planned to spend Friday in the city. No definite plans or agenda, but we were excited nonetheless to see some new sights.

Our first stop was the new Opera House right next to the train station along the bay. This modern facility and its surroundings, perhaps, could become the new face of Oslo. It eases out from the water of the bay like a large ice floe with a roof that welcomes visitors to explore and see the city from its white limestone terrace. Friends of ours have attended a ballet or opera here, but we haven’t yet. Although La Traviata is coming soon.

Approaching the ramp to the roof of the Opera House.

Approaching the ramp to the roof of the Opera House.

Spacious and beautiful is this building.

Spacious and beautiful is this building.

We started walking up the main street, Karl Johan’s Gate, towards the Palace, stopping here and there to shop a bit. Paul wanted to buy a) a fountain soda–which we found in the first Burger King we came to, and b) a ‘light reading’ book–which he found in the Norli bookstore in one of the several large indoor malls we passed. He chose Mark Twain’s “A Tramp Abroad”. I really did not have any specific item I wished to buy, basically because I have already purchased pretty much anything I really wanted before this point. 😉 This boulevard, Karl Johan’s Gate, is the definitive street of Oslo. I hear and have seen photos of it being filled with thousands of patriotic revelers on the national holiday of May 17th, or Syttende Mai. Today, though, it was just mildly busy with the typical tourist, mother with her baby,  or business person.

The main street in Oslo, Karl Johan's Gate, as it heads up to the Royal Palace.

The main street in Oslo, Karl Johan’s Gate, as it heads up to the Royal Palace.

This was my idea. Paul semi-reluctantly obliged.

This was my idea. Paul semi-reluctantly obliged.

We had really wanted to visit the newly-renovated Fram Museum on the island of Bygdøy so we took the ferry from the waterfront by the City Hall for the 15 minute ride over to the museum. I would say that this museum is a must-see for anyone with a spark of interest of history or adventure. The Fram was the idea and dream of Norway’s own Fridtjof Nansen, a brilliant man whose desire it was to purposely get a ship stuck in the polar ice, and, as the ice flowed along the currents of the Arctic Ocean, he would be the first to reach the North Pole. Or something like that. Paul could explain it 10X better and more accurately that I, but he is not writing this particular blog post; I am. Anyway, there is another ship featured in this same museum, the GJØA, a smaller and more easily maneuvered ship, which Roald Amundson first sailed to become the first ship to successfully travel the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  All of this happened in the latter years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. What I found amazing was the bravery, skill, and perseverance of these men who spent years aboard these ships or in tents in the frigid arctic cold. The Fram, by the way, was not only the first ship to reach as close as possible to the North Pole, but it also was the first ship to reach the South Pole. Truly an unbelievable and fascinating story.

Oslo's City Hall from the ferry.

Oslo’s City Hall from the ferry.

The GØYA which first traveled the Northwest Passage with Fridtjof Nansen.

The GØYA which first traveled the Northwest Passage with Roald Amundson.

An explanation of the Fram.

An explanation of the Fram.

We were allowed to freely roam all through the Fram.

We were allowed to freely roam all through the Fram.

A model of how the Fram traveled in the ice.

A model of how the Fram traveled in the ice.

The legendary Fram.

The legendary Fram.

We spent the greater part of the afternoon touring this museum, so following that, it was time for a coffee. Alas, there were no Starbucks to be found, but we did see a Wayne’s Coffee, which used, not coincidentally, the exact same font as Starbucks in its signage. Not only was it a great time for a coffee break, but it was raining, so that was another reason to stop.

Now, we had not originally planned to eat dinner in Oslo because we thought it would be too expensive. But, having stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe along Karl Johan’s Gate earlier in the day to buy a pin for Paul’s extravagant meaningful pin collection, and checking out the menu, we thought better of the idea, and decided to make a ‘psycho-kinetic connection’ to the place and eat dinner there. We ordered just one of their classic burgers and a grilled chicken burger (then we split them and each had half), and I have just got to say, that burger was the best burger I have eaten in a very long time. Could be that I have not eaten an American style burger in quite awhile, but for whatever reason, oh, my, was it ever good! Who knew that Hard Rock Cafe fare would garner such acclaim?

My recommendation for a good American burger in Oslo.

My recommendation for a good American burger in Oslo.

Until next time, Oslo, here’s to you!

In Norway, when you want chocolate, say Freia.

In Norway, when you want chocolate, say Freia.

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