Scandinavian Holiday:  Summer 1999

Oslo, the capital of Norway, sits at the end of the Oslo Fjord in the southeastern part of the country.  It is a small, modern city that is easy for the visitor. Aker Brygge is a tourist-shopping center along the waterfront (left side of the photo) that has shopping, street entertainment, and boat transportation to Oslo's Bygdoy neighborhood, a peninsula near the city that has some of the top sights for visitors.
The Stave Church is just one of the buildings that have been moved from all over Norway to the Norwegian Folk Museum at Bygdoy.  The folk museum started in 1885 as the king's private collection.  Like most of the open air museums throughout Europe, this one features the folklore, customs, and costumes of the country.  Craftsmen demonstrate many of the traditional skills of the Scandinavia of the past.  On our guided tour we were led by a young man who had been an exchange student in Minnesota.  The guided tours are free and lots of fun.  The tourists sample some of the traditional, primitive food, help feed the livestock, and learn much about the history of Norway.
Also at Bygdoy is the Viking Ships museum.  Three great Viking ships are displayed in this museum along with artifacts of the period.  The ships are located on the ground floor, but there are display balconies above so the visitor can see into the center of the ship from above as well.  There's no tour in this museum, and on the day we visited, it was extremely crowded.  
Before we began to plan our visit to Norway, I must confess that I had never heard of Gustav Vigeland.  But in Oslo, the visitor is able to see his lifetime of work.  More than 150 statues are displayed in a huge park.  All of the statues are unique nudes.  We almost passed up visiting here; it's a little out of the way from the downtown center, but I'm glad we went.  It's really a great setting.  
Many tourists take the "Norway in a Nutshell" combined train, bus, and boat adventure to Fjord country, but our misadventure might better be called "Norway in a Nuthouse!"  But the early part of the trip was nice.  Our particular trip included a 2-hour stop in Finse at the highest point of the line.  Here, the lake remains mostly frozen over even in July.
Because our bus left without us at one of the stops, we missed our tight connections with the group for the fjord trip.  As a result, we never did get to take the Flam-Myrdal train and we had to take an overnight train back to Oslo.  But, on the positive side, rather than share the sightseeing boat with hundreds of fellow travelers, we were on the last trip of the day and shared it with only four other people!  The fjords reminded both of us of the alpine lakes near Berchtesgaden. 

Denmark - Sweden - Finland - St. Petersburg
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