Oslo – Norway 26/26

We are finishing our trip with 4 nights in Oslo without the car. The Opera House lit up at night shows off it’s structure.
We are staying in an apartment in one of the new BarCode buildings. The city commissioned 12 architects to design 12 buildings that are all thin with space between so together resemble a barcode. A vibrant area with courtyards, balconies, restaurants, retail, offices, and apartments.
From the nearby Munch Museum we got this view of the Opera House in the late afternoon. We enjoyed the wood cut exhibit of Edvard Munch’s and seeing  that version of “The Scream”. We saw the famous oil version at the National Museum.
It is very tactile to walk the roof of the Opera House! A fun experience. We did not kayak to it but enjoyed all the harbor activity.
Please Wait For The Saunamaster….a title we never knew existed. Such great weather: people are using the sauna and then swimming in the fjord to cool off.
From the castle on the hill you can see the entire harbor which we will explore. Watch out for the gulls! They are opportunists looking for your tasty treats.
We stormed the gates of the Akershus Fortress, nicely protecting the harbor for many centuries.
The great hall inside has a gorgeous ceiling and stained glass.
This is designed by Emanual Vigeland who also did the stained glass in the cathedral. We saw a contemporary exhibit of a white unicorn in a blue room that seemed to be a play off of this classic piece.
We walked to Astrup Fearnley Modern Art Museum, designed by Renzo Piano in 2012.
I had never seen braided trees before! Interesting live sculpture.
We took the ferry to Bygdoy, a peninsula across the harbor.
To visit the Fram Ship Museum and also saw Roald Amundsen’s Gjoa, in which he used to complete the 1st transect of the Northwest Passage .
Next we went to the Maritime Museum and saw a Viking Ship from the Gokstad discovery built around AD-890. This is possibly the one being recreated in Sandefjord as it was found near there.
Bygdoy was a perfect Lunch Spot!  What a great warm sunny dry day to enjoy Oslo Fjord.
Near the Royal Palace we were excited to see Norway’s King and Queen – in a 1960’s Lincoln Continental. King Harald V, who has reigned since 17 January 1991 with Queen Sonja – and Crown Prince Haakon was in a car in front of them.
A lovely day to enjoy the Vigeland Sculpture Park. The quantity of the sculptures adds to the quality of the bronze and marble. As well as the entertaining real people watching.
Gustav Vigeland not only was the artist but also designed the park as well. Additionally he designed the Nobel Peace Prize medal.
He studied in Paris and was influenced by Rodin. His knowledge of anatomy and the interest in all ages of human body is extraordinary.
The nearby Vigeland Museum has the plaster works and studies done to create the bronze and marble sculptures.
Really fun to experience both.
Love the details.
The sun has sets on our time in Norway as we enjoy the harbor lights. A great trip!

Vestfold – West Oslo Fjord – Norway 24/26

Heading  south we went to Verens Ende at Faerder National Park. This is a picturesque old lighthouse on the west coast of the Oslo Fjord.
Most of the Faerder NP is protected sea but we could walk along the shore. Gorgeous weather today made this a perfect outing.
We even watched this jellyfish pulsate around the coast.
This beach and marina looked like The Perfect Lunch Spot!
The Vestfold County Museum in Tonsberg had an amazing recovered Viking ship as well as a replica seen through the window. It also told of the whaling history of this area.
This is a Blue Whale – the largest animal ever known to live on earth. Massive!
Tonsberg is Norway’s oldest town and we visited the remains of the Castle. This structure seems typically Norwegian – we have seen many similar ones in the countryside.
A replica of the Viking Gokstad Ship is underway in downtown Sandefjord. It all begins with the perfect tree, aged to perfection before it is split to size with the same tools the Vikings would have used.
You can see some planks slit in the foreground and the size of this operation to reconstruct a replica of the Gokstad Ship. Four Viking Ships have been found in this area of the West Olso Fjord (Vestfold) and they are proud of this sea heritage.
Borre NP preserves Viking Burial Mounds and is overseen by this Rune Stone. The carvings have been painted to make them more visible.
Midgard Viking Center is next to Borre NP. Besides an interesting museum they have recreated a Viking Long House area through these gates.
This long house is  based on archeology finds to similar dimensions and what is known about the construction.
The details similar to the Stave churches which were built later.
A staff person dressed as a Viking told us some history and kept the long house warm with an expertly built fire. The more important you were the closer to the fire you sat. A long house was for community, government, and religious activities.
The columns all tell different stories. The Vikings as warriors with their shields that went on long voyages and conquests.
And they all reported to The Red Maiden…

Hardanger Bridge – Norway 23/26

The Hardanger suspension bridge is the longest tunnel to bridge to tunnel in the world. It is the longest suspension bridge in Norway and one of the longest in the world.
There is a viewing area so you can see the bridge disappear into a tunnel. This bridge is longer than the Golden Gate Bridge. Impressive.
There is a pedestrian/bike tunnel as well to access going across the bridge.
Blue sky. A fun bridge to experience. These supports are both on land, not in the fjord.
Nicely designed cable supports. That is all that is holding up this roadway?
How lucky we were to see this beautiful rainbow cross the bridge as well.
This is the Hardanger Tunnel Roundabout. There is a roundabout in the tunnel. Really – there is a roundabout in the tunnel. This looks like a movie set out of Mission Impossible!
Heading towards Bergen we stopped in the town of Kinsarvik and saw this double rainbow.
Back at Saebo cabin we saw yet another rainbow, now over Eidfjordvatnet. A magical day.

Vøringsfossen – Norway 21/26

We have no idea what to expect as we head out to visit the Vøringsfossen waterfall along Norwegian Scenic Route Hardangervidda – a few miles from our Saebo cabin.
This is the Vøringsfossen!
This puts it in perspective to the huge size. And see the bridge over my shoulder?
That bridge  is this magnificent pedestrian crossing!
We are pretty much speechless to see such an engineering feat.
Imagine building this. Imagine designing this. A 47 meter span equals 154 feet, which is like a 14 story tall building – and is equally that tall of a waterfall into the canyon below.
The underside is equally interesting.
2 stairways on each side lead to a center portion.
A dizzingly viewpoint.
Getting up close to the spray from the upper part of the Vøringsfossen.
The Pretzel Tunnel, that the car climbed between the falls and eidfjord, replaced the old switchback road. Why not?

Amla Bay and Urnes Stave Church – Norway 17/26

We are tucked into a cozy apartment on Amla Bay near Kaupanger (Sognejorden) for 5 nights.
We are the middle small green building, second floor. Nedre Amla are 6 attached homes that resemble the old fishing villages. Our owner has created an apartment above his garage for his visiting family and to share with travelers like us.
This is our view across the fjord towards Kaupanger from the dining/living room. Nice – more reflections!
Should we do the high dive?  Let’s just view the sunset for now…
…Great end to a rainy day.
Kaupanger has a nice Stave Church on a gorgeous site that was a pleasant 1.5 mile walk along Amla Bay from our apartment but there is a more famous one nearby.
We took a 15 minute ferry just a bit north across the fjord to Urnes or Orneset on a clear morning.
The Urnes Stave Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Only Norwegian Stave Churches (28 out of 1,300) have survived so they are a unique contribution to world cultural heritage.
We got a tour inside to see the original 1130 construction as well as some of the “drunken” modifications from 1662, which sawed off a main support stave (column) so these diagonals were placed to keep the building from collapsing. Medieval chandelier on left hangs from ceiling.
Original carvings at the column capitals. The  pulpit was added in 1690 by a wealthy benefactor.
The chancel extension and decoration from around 1601. At the foot of Christ on the cross is a skull and crossbones which represent that Adam is dead as Christ is resurrected as the son of god. Mary and St John as the grieving witnesses – the scene of Golgotha.
The wood siding and shingles are covered with a tar and coal mixture for waterproofing. It also gives the churches the characteristic black patina as well as makes them highly flammable – that’s why so few stave churches have survived through the ages.
Looking out the front door, across the graveyard, and the fjord beyond – all now vivid with moisture.

Reflections and a Viking Ship – Norway 14/26

Wonderful morning reflections from Mindresunde Cabin on Lake Strynevatnet.
Our first view of Lovatnet Lake and it’s peaceful valley on this calm morning.
The Kjenndalsbreen Glacier and the valley it has carved into Lovatnet Lake. This is a branch of the Jostedalsbreen – the largest glacier in mainland Europe.
Lovatnet Lake had a couple major landslides and subsequent tsunamis that filled in this part of the lake.
Our return trip down the valley has a bit more sun highlighting the Kjenndalsbreen Glacier above Lovatnet Lake. We pulled into a drive to allow traffic to pass and the owner pulled in behind us. We were invited to visit and learned from Mr. Horgrenning the story of his farm, the family that emmigrated, his trip in 2001 to USA. I found this interesting story about the farm online
That is worth a close up shot!
About an hour away in Nordfjordeid, we went to the Stagastad Viking Museum.
The lovingly recreated 30-meter long Myklebust ship really allows us to experience the craftsmanship and quality of construction as well as the shear size of this Viking Ship.
Stagastad Viking Museum is also a great building right next to a community park on the fjord. There is an excellent movie on their website.
King of the Fjord!
Nordfjord and our final reflections of the day.

Geiranger Fjord – Norway 12/26

The first snow on the mountains for the season or so we learned from the locals from this top at Eidsvatnet Lake.
Eidsvatnet Lake was a pleasant stop before winding our way up that valley.
We stopped at the Ornevegen Viewpoint to get our first view of Geiranger fjord.
It is at the top of these switchbacks!
One of the most beautiful fjords, a UNESCO world heritage site!
There were 2 cruise ships and many tour buses in town so lots of people. A couple from New Zealand chatted with us and offered to take a photo.
This adorable cabin is where we are going to spend the next few nights – the very tranquil Hole Hytter.
Henry enjoying the view from our cabin at Hole Hytter
It is  an amazing view from the dining table as well.
Norway’s first National Tourist Trail is a dramatic walk/stairway from town to the Norwegian Fjord Centre following this waterfall.
Geiranger fjord is part of a UNESCO world heritage site to protect the Western Fjords of Norway. It is a very special area of the world with this interesting museum to learn more.
The fresh cinnamon buns were delicious!!!!
This model of the Seven Sisters Waterfall, which is 1,350′ tall, shows how deep the fjords are – about 800′ under water.
We took the 20km ferry round trip to Hellesyit to experience being on the water and seeing the entire fjord.
The Seven Sisters Falls were impressive.
As were the falls on the other side of the fjord.
We even saw some kayakers – they might have been warmer than us.
But we got a bit of sunshine and enjoyed seeing the entire Geiranger fjord!
The Queens Chair at the Flydalsjuvet Viewpoint was put in by Queen Sonja so we could all experience the majestic beauty of her country.

Ålesund – Norway 10/26

Alesund – view  of this beautiful town from Mount Aksla.
Reflection of the Art Nouveau buildings of Alesund. The town was rebuilt following a devastating fire in 1904.
We enjoyed a walk along the waterfront/inland canal in Alesund.
We saw this crest several times showing the strong connection this town has to the North Atlantic or Norwegian Sea.
We traveled the time machine and toured the The Art Nouveau and KOBE museums.
Detail of the well preserved building with slate tile roofs. The town reconstruction employed a lot of different trades throughout Norway.
This is a bold claim! For our lunch: the cod was thick, succulent, fresh, with a light fried battered just right – it is a contender. Definitely the best in the world we had today!
All wine/alcohol must be purchased at this government run entity: Vinmonopolet (located in many towns)
Wine O’Clock around the world: Spain, Italy, France, Australia! Wynn’s was rated the best buy in Norway under 200kr (under $20) so worth a try.
Many of the islands are connected to Alesund by tunnels under the sea and through the mountains. Our destination was the island of Godoy to see the Alnes Lighthouse.
Speaking of tunnels: A future project is in the works for Norway: Stad Ship Tunnel. It will accommodate 4 ships/ferry an hour for a safe passage through Stadhavet Sea.
Catch a wave:  Hang Ten on the North Atlantic!