Directly opposite our cabin balcony was Akershus Festning. Originally built by Hakon* Magnusson in the 13th century as a royal residence and stronghold, it was expanded into a Renaissance Castle by King Christian IV of Denmark. (Norway swapped back and forth between Denmark and Sweden for many centuries. It did not regain its independence until 1905.)
It was a sight to behold. Although it was slightly disconcerting to have cannons pointed directly at our ship!
It was just past 7:30 am when we began our walk through the town. The few people who were already out and about were either cruise ship passengers such as us or hurrying through the chilly morning air on their way to work.
We first stopped at the main transit center to purchase our day passes good on all trains, busses and ferries. At only 60 Norwegian kroner per person (about 7-8 Euros), it's a bargain!
We next walked towards the Royal Palace...
And caught the changing of the guard ritual. Which seems to consist of walking slowly, yet purposely, in a formation. One guy will then go chat with the guy already standing guard and then they change places. Riveting, eh? Which may explain why we were the only people watching it!
The ferry to Bygdoy Island, opposite the fjord from city center, starts running at 8:45 am. So we caught the first ferry to the island and walked up the hill to Vikingskipshuset (Viking Ship Museum.)
The museum features three full-sized Viking ships that were used for many years before becoming "Grave Ships." The ships were found buried with a person, treasures and all of the supplies they would need if making a long journey. It's actually quite a good exhibit and a "do not miss" attraction in Oslo.
A short walk from the Vikingskipshuset is the Norsk Folkemuseum, another "do not miss" attraction. It's a large open air museum with historic buildings from around Norway that we painstakingly dismantled and moved to this wooded location.The pride of the museum is the Gol Stave Church, built in the 12th century. It is a beauty to behold.
In all there are 153 buildings in the large museum, including the traditional buildings all from one village seen above. We loved the detail of the woodwork and the prairie grasses on the roofs!
Here is a close-up of one of the roofs...
The museum also includes traditional houses used by the Sami, the Nordic tribe near in the far north of Norway, Sweden and Finland best known for their reindeer. Nomads who follow the herds, their houses must be easy to put up, take down and move with them. I was astounded at how much they resemble the tepees used by the Plains Indians in the United States...
We were also amazed they had taken the time and effort to move rather enormous structures such as thisa apartment building dating back to 1920's Oslo...
I also noticed several of the employees dressed in traditional clothing walking about with these cool, woven baskets. I really, really wanted one, but couldn't find a place to buy them. If anyone knows where I could order one, please let me know!
Or if you happen to have instructions to make them! No, the instructions would not be for me. But I bet I could talk my mother, who does basket weaving, into making one for me! (I love you, Mom!)
Since it is a long sail from Oslo back to Copenhagen, the ship departed at 2:00 pm. As we sailed away, we also caught a glimpse of Holmenkollen. There has been a ski jump on that hill since 1892. But that particular ski jump was built for the 1952 Winter Olympics.
Good-bye, Oslo! We will return one day!