Friday, July 16, 2010
Today was our last day in Norway and we only had a few hours to sightsee before catching our flights back to Germany. After an extensive breakfast at the hotel, we took the self-guided walk in the Rick Steves’ guidebook that covered the heart of Oslo—from the train station, by the Cathedral, up Karl Johans Gate, and past City Hall to the harborfront.
Oslo Cathedral (Domkirke)
The cathedral’s cornerstone from Oslo’s first and long-gone cathedral showing how the forces of good and evil tug at each of us.
Reading from Rick Steves’. This is a typical sight whenever we are traveling, although usually my audience is just Brandon!
We moved pretty quickly along the walk so we could catch the free guided tour of the City Hall. City halls, rather than churches, are the dominant buildings in Scandinavian capitals. In 1931, Oslo tore down a slum and began constructing its richly decorated City Hall along the harborfront. It was finished—after a WWII delay—in 1950 to celebrate the city’s 900th birthday. Since 1990, the Oslo City Hall has also been the venue for the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize every December 10th. The inside of the building is decorated with huge murals painted by several prominent Norwegian artists. The guided tour was extremely helpful in understanding the significance and symbolism of these paintings that primarily reflect Norway’s history and economy. A recurring theme was the story of St. Hallvard, Oslo’s patron saint.
According to legend, Hallvard was a highborn youth who in 1043 tried to save a woman from being assaulted. He took her aboard his boat in order to reach safety on the other side of the fjord, but they were pursued and killed, Hallvard being shot by three arrows. His body was weighted down with a millstone and thrown into the sea, but both his body and the stone floated up to the surface. When this became known, the local people saw it as a sign and worshipped him as a saint. His bones are in a shrine before the high altar of the Oslo Cathedral, the city seal depicts the St. Hallvard legend, and he is commemorated on May 15th, which is also known as Oslo Day.
Mural of the St. Hallvard legend.
The mural in the main hall that celebrates “work, play, and civic administration.”
This artist did not appreciate the door interrupting his painting and chose not to hide his opinion!
After the tour, we enjoyed the harborfront for a bit before walking back to Karl Johans Gate to find some lunch. We ate across the street from the Parliament Building (Stortinget).
Parliament Building (Stortinget)
Then Mom and Dad left us to catch their flight, but we still had a couple of hours left. We decided to visit the Norwegian Resistance Museum located on the Akershus Fortress Complex, Oslo’s fortified old center that is still a military base. Rick described the Akershus Castle as “mediocre by European standards,” so we opted for the museum that was rated “Try Hard to See.” The Norwegian Resistance Museum tells the story of Norway’s WWII experience: appeasement, Nazi invasion, resistance, liberation, and, finally, the return of the king. It was pretty interesting.
Akershus Fortress Complex
By the time we were through at the museum it was time to head back to the hotel to get our luggage before going on to the airport. But, first we stopped by this awesome store called Vinmonopolet. The selection of wine was amazing, but they also sold micro brewed beer so we could replace a couple of the Ægir bottles that were stolen the night before.
The beer selection at Vinmonopolet.
So, that completed our Norwegian adventure full of wonderful family meetings and beautiful scenery! We caught the train to the airport and then boarded our flight back to Nürnberg. Mom and Dad were supposed to be there when we landed, but their flight had been delayed, so they ended up coming in about an hour after us. Still, we eventually all met up and headed back home to Großbissendorf.
Mom and Dad spent another week with us in Germany. Brandon and I had to go back to work, but we were still able to find time to see things in the area, including visits to the Kuhstallcafe (Cow Cafe), Regensburg, and Nürnberg. We also went down to Oberammergau to see the Passion Play and stopped by Neuschwanstein afterward. Maybe someday I’ll get around to blogging about that, but for now, I’m happy to be done writing about our adventure in Norway!