Hej alla!

I’m finally back from the Netherlands after a long summer road trip with Bram and the girls.  We traveled for seventeen days–A personal best for me!  Apparently this is a totally normal amount of travel time for a summer holiday, which is something my American brain still has to adapt to.  As a fairly typical American vacationer, I can say that my past holidays were treated as sprints rather than marathons, and now I have the privilege of switching up my old paradigm.  I’m told that there are families that travel for three to four weeks in the summer.  Tough life, right?

Our Scandinavian Summer road trip included too many wonderful stops to jam into one post, so I’m going to break it into three parts–a post for Norway, one for Sweden, and one for my true love, Copenhagen.  We were only in Norway for a day, so this will be a short one (I think).

To start the trip out, we (over)loaded the car at night and drove to Frederickshaven, Denmark.  This is an 8.5 hour drive–I was hoping to get loads of sleep, but got too excited about driving through Germany and the rest of the trip to be able to close my eyes for long.  Did you know that the German word for exit is Ausfahrt?  I’ve added that to the list of things that shouldn’t make me laugh, but do anyway.  I blame exhaustion.

 

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First views of Norway on a stormy day

 

We were headed to Denmark to catch a boat–The Saga by Stena Line.  It holds a few hundred cars and takes you across the North Sea to Oslo, Norway.  The whole trip takes around 9 hours, so it’s outfitted with all kinds of fun things to do.  They have play areas and arcades, restaurants, some shopping, magic shows, and all kinds of other things to help pass the time.  Bram made the wise decision to get us a 4-berth stateroom to use for the ride, and after a long overnight drive with no sleep, I promptly passed out on a bottom bunk for the next four hours.  I think everyone else slept too, but I wouldn’t know as I was dead to the world.  When I woke up, we explored the ship a bit, ate a waffle, colored, and then went to the top deck to catch some beautiful views as we cruised into Oslo.

 

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Interesting architecture abounds in Oslo         (photo cred: Siarhei Plashchynski)

 

Oslo is a beautiful city situated at the end of the Oslofjord.  It doesn’t boast the dramatic edges of the “famous” fjords, but it’s still a stunning place to enter by boat.  It’s Norway’s capital, as well as its cultural and economic center and dates all the way back to the year 1040.  It resembles any world class city–it has a stunning opera house right on the water, funky modern office buildings, beautiful historical facades, eye-catching street art, and more history than I’ll ever know.  We didn’t spend much time looking at it or taking any pictures because at this point, we were hangry and on a mission to get straight to the hostel to change and then get to a restaurant as soon as humanly possible.  We found a burger place called Døgnvill Burger that ended up being totally delicious until I got my first taste of the Norwegian economy–Stuff is expensive in Norway.  We were in this cool part of the city called the Vulcan district that used to be a rundown industrial area but was recently renovated into a really hip area complete with a dance theater and a big renovated food hall–we felt right at home in the rain.

 

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Mathallen Food Hall in the Vulcan District of Oslo

 

The next day, we woke up and hit the town to do some exploring.  Unfortunately, it poured rain on us all morning, so none of my pictures do this beautiful place justice.  Norway is high on my list to go back to–One day wasn’t enough, and I’m dying to see the fjords and the Northern Lights.  To get some relief from the rain, we decided that our last attempt at sightseeing would be one of Oslo’s many museums.

 

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A Rainy Day in Oslo

 

We decided on the Viking Ship Museum is situated near several other museums, and spending time in that part of the city ended up being the perfect pick for the four of us.  If you’re in Oslo and have time, you should consider getting an Oslo Pass, which includes a bit of public transportation and entrance to most museums in the city (don’t miss the Oslo Reptile Park, y’all).  We only had about two hours to kill before we headed to Sweden, so we opted to see the ships.

 

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The Oseberg ship at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo

 

The museum has three large ships on display, the Oseberg, Gokstad, and Tune.  These ships all date back to around 900 AD.  I didn’t read much about the museum before the visit, and I was absolutely astonished to learn that they were originals and not replicas made for the tourists.  They were used as burial ships, meaning that someone important was buried inside and then the ship was covered up with clay or mud for hundreds of years until someone got reaaally lucky and found them.  Two of the ships are in incredibly good condition, and one looks about as good as you’d realistically expect 1100 year old ship to look.  They had all the artifacts they found with the ships displayed nearby, and they even had silk and other textiles that somehow survived over a thousand years.  Unreal.

 

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Animal head carving found on one of the ships

 

We had a long day of driving ahead of us, so after we left the museum, we waved goodbye to Oslo and promised to come back as we started the drive to Sweden.

More on that soon!

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