From the sculpture park, I wandered over near the water, to Bygdoy, a peninsula region of Oslo facing downtown across the water. The walk was farther than I had expected, but it was a nice day and I enjoyed seeing the Royal farm along the way. The heavy clouds gave way as I walked, and the warm sun came out.
I came upon the Viking Ship Museum, with a tourist bus parked out front. I cringed, thinking it would be too crowded inside, but the crowd was just coming out as I was going in. Inside were several Viking age ships, including the Oseberg Ship, which was part of a ship burial dating back to 800 AD. It was excavated in the early 1900s, and is in remarkably good shape.
It looked like something out of a Hollywood movie. I tried to visualize what these ships would look like out on the harsh north arctic waters, and it made me feel nauseous imagining the bucking and
slamming of the ships against the wave. I have to take Dramamine for the slightest bumpy flight. Even though I have significant Norwegian blood in my veins, I am glad my ancestors were stronger than I am because I doubt while staring at these ships, that I would ever survive as a Viking.
I walked further down the street to the Folklore museum, an outdoor museum of sod roof houses (interesting, growing up in North Dakota I knew that Scandinavian and German settlers built sod houses on the prairie since there were so few trees), furniture, clothing, and my favorite–a medieval stave church. The wooden furniture in the houses was all hand carved, some of it had various colored paintings (an early predecessor to the Rosemaling technique that was common in the 1700s in Norway).
The stave church located at the museum is thought to have been built around 1200 AD. Stave churches were named for the massive timbers that supported the nave of the church and were built in northern Europe from around 900 AD to 1200 AD. Most of the remaining stave churches are in Norway.
This is the only one that has been relocated to Oslo. I definitely want to go back to Norway and visit some of the other stave churches. I am fascinated by the architecture and find it absolutely amazing that these churches are still standing. It is a testament to the value the people placed in the church as a center of religious and community rituals. I can’t even imagine the amount of work that went into carving the wood and piecing it all together in these incredibly solid structures.
Finally, after walking nearly fifteen miles, I headed back to my hotel which was near the Oslo Domkirke, a Cathedral dating back to the late 1600s. The hourly chimes can be heard all over the city, which was very charming. All day I had walked with smiling, happy people next to me on the walking paths. Some were biking, some were running, others were giggling and walking closely. Everyone seemed to be out enjoying the day. In the garden of the Cathedral was a giant heart with the words in Norwegian and English, “…greatest of all is love.” It was a nice welcome for the end of my first day in Norway.