Wednesday, July 11

Soaking it up in Oslo

Most of the UK experienced record rainfall in June. Yorkshire alone experienced rainfall more than 300% above average. Across the North Sea, Oslo also reported a record month of rain since 1895 when records began. This Nordic city endured 223.9 mm of precipitation in June. Sadly, the rain continues to fall in Norway as we discovered last weekend, much to our dismay.

Garry and I joined my parents at the start of their Nordic tour for two days in Oslo. We arrived on Friday without incident, checking into our central city hotel shortly after 11:00pm. The weather dawned overcast but dry on Saturday morning. After a leisurely breakfast we selected the Munch Museum as our first tourist highlight of the day. Here we saw a pastel drawing of the Scream, a forlorn proxy for the famous oil painting stolen in 2004. The painting was recovered a year later and is currently undergoing restoration.

From here we made our way back into town, walking the length of Karl Johan Gate, considered the city's main street. Our walk took us past Oslo Cathedral and the national Parliament, before ending outside the Royal Palace which sits on a low hill overlooking the central city. We then made our way to the waterfront, encountering a second art exhibition; Steve Bloom: Spirit of the Wild. This is an outdoor display of more than 100 incredible wildlife photographs. Each giant image sits on its own display board, stacked like dominoes outside the Nobel Peace Centre.

We stopped for lunch at Aker Brygge, a new Darling Harbour style redevelopment of shops, restaurants and apartments. It was then on to Bygd√ły by ferry to view the famous Gostad Viking ship, the Fram polar explorer and the original Kon-Tiki, balsa wood raft. I'd forgotten how grand Norway's nautical heritage really is.

Sunday was spent touring the Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Ski Jump Tower. The experience was made all the more surreal thanks to heavy cloud that periodically hid the jump tower from view. The starting platform sits 60 meters above the ground, a breath-taking 417 metres above sea-level. The view down the length of the jump ramp is nerve-racking to say the least.

As we left the hillside, the rain began to fall, slowly at first, but soon gathering pace. It never let up again until our departure. This made our final tourist adventure rather sodden. We caught a bus to the Norsk Folkemuseum, an open-air museum consisting of traditional houses from all over Norway. The 13th Century wooden Slav church was a definite highlight, while the rain gave us a sense of how harsh rural life really was 200 years ago.

The weekend ended on a slightly sour note. I accidentally left my camera in the bathroom at the hotel. A quick call yesterday confirmed that it hadn't been handed in. I've lost all my photos from the weekend with the exception of the image you see below. All other photos on this post came from my parents.

The large, bright Freia sign caught my eye on Saturday as we were returning from dinner. It sits atop a department store over looking the pedestrian mall running along Karl Johan Gate. It immoralises a local brand of chocolate. The company’s flagship product, Freia Melkesjoklade (Freia Milk Chocolate), has been a national favourite since 1906. Like so many domestic icons worldwide, Freia was sold to overseas interests in 1993. It's now part of the Kraft Food empire much like Vegemite in Australia.

Our flight home was also delayed three hours. At first the weekend looked as if it would end in the same disasterous manner as our trip to Geneva last year. However, our luggage was swiftly off the aircraft enabling us to dash for the last train into town. As we pulled in Paddington, our train was the only locomotive to be seen. The sight of a silent, empty Paddington was magic. It's moments like this that money can never buy.

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