Second Week in Oslo
This post is probably going to get really long because I want to get completely caught up on my adventures. I apologize in advance!
On Tuesday, the sun was still shining and I wanted to take the chance to go hiking. Melanie suggested that I take the Metro to the end of the line past the ski jump where there are a few trails around the woods. The train climbed up into the mountains and I could see more of the fjord while looking out the window. After a 15 or 20 minute ride through suburbs, the line ended pretty much in the wilderness. I was surprised by how much snow there was. On my way to a trail, I kept breaking through the snow up to my knees. The trail was a more packed-down snow-covered path leading to a lake. A few cross-country skiers glided past me. When I got to a large empty area, I spent a minute thinking "but the map and signs say that the lake is right HERE" before realizing that I was almost standing on its frozen-over surface. I was very amused. I followed the path a ways further and ended up at Oslo's winterpark. I regretted not having a sled because it was a prime sledding area. Nonetheless, it was fun to walk around in the snow and be in the woods.
The following day I visited the Frogner Park, famous for its Vigeland sculpture installation. All of the sculptures revolve around the theme of the human condition and human form. It was an interesting and bizarre experience. Sculptures line both sides of a bridge leading to a monolith, a huge statue made up of 121 human figures.
I've done a lot more exploring of the waterfront area this week. This is one of the newest areas in Oslo; in the past few years, the city constructed many buildings in an effort to make the area more accessible to the public. It is now lined with nice restaurants, shops, and apartments. There are a couple pleasant areas where you can sit and look out over the water and the city. While I generally don't like newer areas of cities, I love being close to the water and seeing the boats. There's a lot of interesting art in nooks and crannies near the waterfront.
Another one of my favorite things to do is go on a boat that taxis around to little islands in the Oslofjord. My 7-day transportation pass covers these rides. It's fun to ride around on the top deck of the ship, especially when it's a clear day and you can get a good view of the islands and Oslo.
On Thursday, I visited the Museum of Cultural History. This museum features many artifacts from all over the world, including Egypt, India, and the USA. It also features many Norwegian artifacts spanning from 10,000 years ago through the Viking Age. My favorite part was seeing Viking swords. There were also intricate carvings from stave churches.
I felt energetic after seeing all of the Viking artifacts, so I decided to visit the Astrup Fearnley Museum, a contemporary art museum located on the waterfront. I don't usually go to contemporary art museums but I had glanced in the windows a few times and what I saw made it seem like it would be a bizarre experience. It really was. I hurried through the first room because it featured a lot of taxidermy. There were a few paintings and pictures in the next room and some three dimensional works. I'm not sure how to describe them. Some of the art was quite unsettling, but it was interesting to try something new.
Most things are closed on Sundays, so Saturday was my last day to really go out and do something. My ticket from the cultural history museum was also good for the Viking ship museum, and I decided to go there one last time. That was my favorite thing I did in Oslo and I'm glad that I went back. This time I learned a bit more about the preservation of the artifacts. Because of the treatment that was used when they were first excavated, the wood looks fine on the outside but is actually deteriorating on the inside. Archeologists are rushing to find a better treatment that will halt the deterioration, but if they don't find it soon, the artifacts may not be around for much longer. I feel lucky to be in a generation that has a chance to see them while they're still around.
As I'm writing this, I'm sitting in my new hostel in Milan. I had some amazing experiences in Oslo, and I'm excited to be back in Italy again.