LUTMAN'S 2017 NORWAY FAMILY/BIRDING TRIP

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.

Report 3. Friday, May 12, 2017. Touring Oslo on Foot/Bus/Lightrail/Water Taxi.

A regular city #32 bus runs from a stop right in front of our camp to downtown Oslo - what they call the city center. I dress for the c-o-l-d.

We get on and the bus driver has much difficulty understanding us. I give him a large bill and he gives me back change, so we're in business! An observant Norwegian gentleman asks us about our plans, and we tell him we want to go to the city center, go to a bank and trade US dollars for Norwegian NOK (About 8.5 NOK for one dollar) and buy an iPhone local phone company sim card, but we also want to tour the high points of Oslo.

The man's name is Morton, and he is owner/manager of a company that arranges tours to central and South America. His favorite is xxx xxx, and he has been there a number of times. We tell him of our birding trips there and other places. He says he is upset at the bus driver because he shouldn't have charged us full fare, in the first place because we are seniors, and he should have given us tickets that are good for the whole day. {The bus stops and Morton and another women say to us as they leave the bus "come with us, we are going to take the Metro." "What?", we say and they say with some urgency, "Come with us!" Being experienced travelers, we blindly follow two strangers off the bus. We follow them across the street and down the stairs to the Metro platform. And then we board the train that will go to the Oslo Center.}

As a Norwegian, Morton seems to feel like it's his duty or privilege to help us fully. He is going to accompany us to all the stops we want to make and see that we get everything we want. . Then we learn that the reason to get off the bus is that the lightrail goes through here, and we just pick it up. It is MUCH faster to get to the city center. {What a friendly and helpful guy}

We arrive and follow him into a plaza with a wonderful half-globe of a fountain, with a whole passel of kids dressed the same way. {We see this all over Norway, children in heavy coats, all with warm hats, and backpacks. Cute.}

We discover that this is very normal in Norway, to have large groups of colorfully-dressed tykes under the care of an adult or two, heading out to some sort of discovery adventure.

When we get there, Morton takes us to the place to buy tickets for the boat to Bygdoy Peninsula, where we will see some of our most-wanted things. Namely, the Viking Ship Museum, the Kon-Tiki museum, and the Folk Museum, where there have collected and set up something like a hundred old buildings from all over Norway. We get our ticket {the Oslo Pass which will get us into all these things}, and he leaves us, saying that when we get back, some store in the city center may be able to sell us a sim card, but the banks mostly don't handle money any more in the city center. Then why do they still call themselves banks, I ask myself. {He says "The banks don't have money anymore,you have to get it from cash machines (ATMs I presume), in fact, you have to pay the bank to take care of your money" There is actually a sign on the bank door that says "we do not answer tourist's questions or change money at this bank" We can use an ATM but Bob also has dollars he would like to get changed in to Kroner.}

Our ferry comes, and we are dropped off at the dock. As we leave Morton, I get some shots of the area. A former fortress looms above us. A cruise ship is docked, and presumably its inhabitants are exhabitants, loose on the city.

Fascinating colorful house combinations we see during the trip. This is the captain's seat (like that of an old-fashioned tractor or other implement), and the steering wheel. Isn't there a better, naval name for that? Hmmm. Can't come up with it.

Here is what our water taxi looks like on the outside... and on the inside. {We love the metal chairs just sitting on the deck. And if you can see the little trays on the backs of the chairs; they are plastic food trays cut in half lengthwise and attached to the chairs, for drinks we suppose, but we don't see anyone using them for that. Pretty clever though.}

And here's what we look like, inside.

Can you tell we're a little cold. Is that a red nose on Sharon?

We enjoy the ride over to Bygdøy, where we have a nice walk up a village street to the Viking Ship Museum. We pass a Tesla and are reminded of Morton's description of the financial conditions which result in Norway being the #2 Tesla sales country in the world. A certain sales-type tax on automobiles in Norway is based on the emissions. And since the Tesla is fully battery-powered, the tax on it is extremely low, or maybe even zero. Regular vehicles have an enormous additional tax based on their gas mileage. So the TOTAL cost of buying a Tesla plus paying its tax is not that much more than buying an Audi, for example.

Outside the Viking Ship Museum is a wonderful sculpture reminding one of he bow of a ship, and it doesn't bother me that it's upside down.

Inside are remains of ships uncovered over the centuries, and the displays are pretty fascinating. {The two biggest, and best preserved ships are "burial ships", one the burial of two women, apparently of some importance, and one of a man. The people are buried along with animals, possessions, and such that they would need in the afterworld. Some of the things are displayed here in museum along with these ships.}

 

{This cart is one of the examples of the things that were on the ships. We loved the wooden wheels of the cart.} We finally leave and head for our number two objective - the Folk Museum. We take a short bus ride to the entrance and go in. {We find out that there are only a few of the buildings open, probably because we are here so early in the season, but the Stave church is open and a docent is there so we decide to stay as the admission is already covered in our Oslo Day Pass.}

We decide to have lunch at the Folk Museum, and we split a shrimp sandwich. Sharon also has a piece of pecan pie. {We do a lot of pointing at the food as we don't know how to interpret the menu but the shrimp looks good, and the pie, of course} People come and go at the tables, and we get an example of something Sharon swears is a 'thing.' Two babies that become aware of each other will just look at each other nonstop for a long time, fascinated. And that is true for these two babies, of slightly different age. {The little blond girl is about 18 months and had been carrying on quite a conversatiion with her mother until the baby came in. Then she just stared at him and he at her. I think they must think "Hey, finally someone who is near my size"}

After an enjoyable and restful lunch, we're back at it. We head up the hill right away to the Stave Church. I catch Sharon in one of the doorways with centuries of smoothing from people's shoe bottoms rubbing its curved base.

Sharon got this photo of the tapestries lining the walls of one of the sections of the church. And this one of a volunteer, dressed in old native costume. I thought she was playing the part of a religious person, so I behaved saintly. {The "Staves" refer to the tall beams made out of single tall trees. We read that they often would cut off most of the branches of a tree they wanted to use for either a ship or one of these churches. There were enough branches left that the tree was still living and would grow taller, but the sap of the tree would migrate out to the bark and harden in the cold winters until the tree was almost as solid as steel. You can also see that the church is very dark. That is tar that is painted on the wood to further preserve it. Also the church, and their houses too, were built on foundations of stone so none of the wood touches the ground which also prevents rot from ground moisture.}

Lots of angles and corners and projections on these wonderful constructs. {The dragons on the roof corners and other runic carvings and such were to "ease" the people who still believed in the old Norse Gods but who became Christians when King Olav (now sainted) mandated that they convert or be killed. ( quite a choice I guess) They were allowed to decorate the churches with some of their old images.}

Time out for a little birding. A Blackbird (European variety, vastly different from any in the U.S.), singing in the dead of... wait, it's still daytime. A Black-billed Magpie shows his 'colors' as he parks on top of a roof.

Next, we catch another bus to see something that has fascinated me since I read about it as a boy. Over to the Kon-Tiki Museum!

We read a lot about Thor Heyerdahl, and the things he did and stood for. Pretty cool. {Quite a construction. I thought Heyerdahl sailed by himself but he had 5-6 others with him. they first went to Easter Island. there was a huge statue that was a plaster cast of one of the famous Easter Islands heads and they said that they had taken 2-3 tons of dental cement with which to make a mold to bring it back (in pieces I imagine) The other boat here xxxx is of his boat Ra II, a reed boat that Hyerdahl built to test out his theory that cultures in India and in South America both make reed boats in the same fashion. He theorized that the two cultures must have met at sometime to share the technology. So he built the reed boat to see if it could sail from South America across the Pacific. Ra II because the first Ra got water logged and sank!}

We walk down to the water taxi pickup point, are picked up along with a half dozen or so others, and get taken back to the wharf. Off the taxi now, I see a fascinating site. An artist has constructed a super shiny, silver scuba diver statue, and a man is staring at it. I love the oversized feet and flippers to add stability to the statue.

Next, we head for the building containing a bank. We can see the business name above the entrance. As I approach the front door, I'm struck by three things: 1) It's closed, as of three minutes ago. 2) It says it does not answer questions from tourists (how did it know?), and 3) it does not change money (even if it IS open), just like Morton said.

We continue up the street now looking for an ATM. Finally somebody says to try the 7-11 a few more doors up. Huh? The 7-11?

We enter, and a super helpful young lady sells me a MyCall sim card to insert in my iPhone after I remove my U.S. AT&T sim card and SAVE IT. BOB

I'll do that at home - the thing I call our motorhome now. She gets it registered and some other necessary task and shows me approximately what I need to do to finish setting it up. And wouldn't you know, the 7-11 has inside it a "MiniBank." This is their name for an ATM point. I have Sharon crank out about 9000 NOK (krone, but pronouced alternately "krone-uh" or "kroner". We will give our bird guide 2500 for tomorrow's birding, and another 2500 for another guided day at the end of our trip. Plus a smaller amount to review our scheduled route and suggest places and birds to try to see on our way around the country.

Wow, the 7-11 had both things we wanted. I am so jazzed. So now we just need to get back to our camp. Let's see, we take the train up to our dropping off point, then take the bus to our camp. Sounds easy. Then reality occurs, and it turns out that there are two consecutive stops with the word we have stored to remember, in their name. Which one did we get off at? Hmm. {Where is Morton when we need him?} Finally, a friendly young man checks on his smart phone, using the question we gave him, and tells us that the train stop we want is the first one, not the second one. {This teen is wearing a red "jumpsuit" with funny pictures, sayings, etc on it. We learned (as we saw some similar teens before and asked them about their "uniforms") that seniors at the High Schools from May 1-May 17 (Constitution Day) wear these jumpsuits every day, cannot wash them, but do add cards, pictures and so on to make them personal. It turns out later that it is true at all schools that teens in that 16 day period have permission to act out a little, go a little crazy. The funny thing is after Constitution Day, they all have to take their graduation exams. Imagine having almost 3 weeks of being crazy just before your final exams. It is apparently common thoughout Norway.}

Chuffed, we exit the train at the right point, finally ask a fellow where to get our numbered bus, and he tells us it's across the street. We see the sign, and go over. And the bus shows up within five minutes. We hop on, Then we take our bus from that dropoff point to our site and don't hop off till he stops in front of our stop in front of our campground. {It's amazing how unsure we are on big city transit. I felt this way when we were taking various forms of transport in New York City, "which bus?, where is the train?, which track?, which stop?. I'm sure it becomes second nature when you live someplace. We are just tourists thankful for friendly help}

What a good feeling, when you have a great day such as the one we just had, and make it back 'home' to the warmth and comfort of our new motorhome. Ahh.

A Good Night toAll,
Bob and Sharon


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