Day Twenty Six

The morning sees us on our bikes again, this time in a different area.  Having explored Oslo Central West and East, our focus today is Bygdoyes, the southern peninsula of Oslo.

This area is completely different, almost rural in comparison to yesterday’s bustle.  We’re aiming for one of the museums, the Vikingskiphuset, and it’s uphill most of the way.  At least coming down will be easy!

I’m glad we went early, the large car park speaks to hordes of tourist buses about to descend.   The museum is a small one, but oh what treasures.  Three Viking ships steal the show, two in virtually perfect condition, another barely there.  Each of these were used in ceremonial burials, preserved for over 1,000 years in a blue clay, within separate burial mounds that virtually hermetically sealed them.

Our first reaction is astonishment at their extraordinary size – they’re huge, over 24 metres in length and 5 metres wide.  The workmanship is beautiful – hand hewn planks, hand made iron bolts, delicate carving on the bow and stern.  So much bigger than I thought they would be.  You can walk around the ships and then go up into a viewing platform to look down into the interior.

Also displayed are other finds from the three burial sites including incredibly detailed wood carvings of animal heads, highly ornate wagons (one is carved with squirrels!) and sleighs.  One of the burial chambers was that of a Queen and clearly no effort or expense was spared in doing her honour.

The Vikings believed, much like the Egyptians, that you had to go prepared into the next life.  In so doing, they equipped the deceased with everyday needs, food and drink, linens, tapestries, sadly animals, and implements from daily life.  All of these are displayed as well including a perfectly preserved pair of leather shoes and a snatch of cloth showing the Queen favoured a black and white Chanel check.  Coco was not first in this it seems. The graves were raided in Viking times, so no jewels or valuables remained.

Chris drags me away as we have to start our journey to Bergen.  Stopping only to pat a lovely green eyed, grey fluffy tabby, we fly downhill and get ready to hit the road.  I wish we had time to stop at the Norsk Folkemuseum, an outdoor collection of 150 houses, farm buildings and churches, reconstructed from Norway’s past.  It seems unbelievable, but even with 3 months, you can still run out of time.

Chris has selected a cross country scenic route that will take us part way to Bergen today.  It’s here we get the first glimpses of the splendour Norway offers.  The route is heavily forested with pine, spruce and silver birch, with both mountains and water features.

Streams, waterfalls and lakes appear regularly in picturesque form.  Once we are past Oslo city limits, green fields replace suburbs, summer meadows in various stages of harvest and picture perfect farm houses and barns.

Most houses are quite large, three or four stories with steeply pitched roofs.  Colours range from white, pitched and the classically painted brick red, timbered houses.  We also see many beautiful storage barns from the 1800s, like beautiful little log cabins, often elevated and in pairs.  Gorgeous.  The more modern barns are the classic brick red with white trim.  Postcard settings.

We drive until late afternoon then settle by a lake in a peaceful spot.  We’ve still a long way to go tomorrow.

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