Paul's Oslo Journal

Between Germany and Lillehammer

September 18-20, 2000

Monday, September 18, 2000

When we woke up, a new day was dawning over the Oslofjord. It had been very cloudy overnight, and we were not expecting a particularly nice day, but by the time the sun was rising, it was finding little gaps in the clouds. I went up on deck to have a look around. Oslo is tucked away in a very safe harbor, about 70 kilmeters up the Oslofjord, so the Prinsesse Ragnhild had some water plying left to do.

It was so exciting seeing Norway! I could feel my ancestral blood coursing through me with renewed excitement. It felt like I was home. This was probably due to a combination of two things: First, thousands of years of Fjelstad heritage, borne down to me genetically; second, a year of my youth was spent living on the outskirts of Oslo, and things actually looked a bit familiar.

We had a special breakfast in the Princess Lounge on Deck 6. It took a while for me to figure this out, because when I first went there is had a "closed" sign ... but then again, the main dining areas didn't appear to be open yet either. I rounded up Stephani and Robin, and they indicated that we had been given special tickets when we were initially shown our cabins. I went back to my room and rifled through various papers and found my ticket. Breakfast included herring for me ... bacon and eggs for those who weren't yet feeling Nordic.

When I returned to my room to finish packing, I discovered that I had been visited by a prankster troll. How strange!

There was still time for a few views from the deck as we pulled into port, but then we had to scamper down to the Previas far below us.

Later today, we flew over Oslo!

Then we landed and abducted several children.

Tuesday, September 19, 2000

A very relevant "this day in history" tidbit to start things out:

Mike tells me that it was just a couple of months later that actual people tried out the balloon. Presumably, these first human passengers were one or more of the Montgolfier brothers themselves.

The weather cleared a bit on Tuesday.

In the morning, after breakfast, Robin and I went on a fruitless Search for the Post Office. Although he was certain he had seen it yesterday, it had apparently been moved during the night. Nevertheless, we had a lovely walk through the streets of Oslo.

At 11:00 we all gathered in the lobby for a little sightseeing trip. ... Well, actually, we gathered a bit later than that, since Mike convinced me that I really needed to put up some photos from last night's ballooning right away. (This dangerous lagging trend that has infected the Scandinavian Journal must be nipped in the bud!) So, while the others waited downstairs for us, Mike and I picked out a few snaps and set up a very minimal Monday journal. (See above.)

Viking Ship

So, at 11:20 we all gathered in the lobby for a little sightseeing trip. Our faithful Previas took us through the streets of Norway to the Viking Ship Museum. Here are displayed a number of actual Viking ships that are more than 1000 years old. They showed up, for the most part, about 100 years ago, at nearby farms. After their careers sailing the seas, the fate of these ships was to act as burial vaults for their owners. (This was the Vikings' version of the people who have themselves buried in their Lincoln Continental or their Corvette.)

The museum has three main ships, two of which are in a surprisingly good state of repair, considering that they are made of 1000-year-old wood. There are also a number of artifacts that were found buried with the ship ... things that would help the decedent in his post-death travels.

From the ship museum, we rode in the Previas to a small waterside cafe next to a marina. We had a quick cup of coffee and then hopped a water taxi that took us through the Oslo harbor. We passed (but did not enter) the Kon-Tiki museum ... and then we cruised past our old friend, the Prinsesse Ragnhild, and continued to the piers near City Hall and the city center.

Lunch was at Louise's. We assumed that this restaurant was named after Anne Louise Erickson, but apparently this is not the case. In any event, we had lots of very tasty food. I began with tuna carpacchio, then moved on to an "autumn salad" with feta-filled chicken, finally ending with strawberry sherbet and pureed kiwi. Other people had other things. Mike went totally seafood, beginning with an oyster starter AND a sushi starter, and then continuing with a large bowl of mussels.

We had planned to visit Vigeland Park and the Vigeland Museum after lunch, but by the time we had finished eating it was already after 3:00. Since the museum closed at 4:00, we decided not to try to rush through it. Instead, we went back to the Continental to prepare for our evening flight.

The Screwmaids were inflated on the same spot as the Monday: In the park with the fortified bunkers, right near City Hall. As always, while the balloon was being readied the passengers stood around taking photographs of one another. Our preparations were once again witnessed by a number of people, included an apparent Screwmaid wannabe ... and a few others who had potential but were still a few years shy of being ready to apply.

It was another lovely flight! While Monday's trip had taken us in a generally northeastwardly direction, Tuesday's flight angled instead to the northwest. We flew within a few feet of the City Hall's towers and headed straight for the King's Palace; indeed, we passed right over the palace. Michael the Norwegian Pilot told us that King Harald is not presently living in the palace because it is being remodeled ... and I'm sure this is true, as he would surely have stepped out on a balcony to greet us had he been home.

We had great views of the city and the harbor, and we got a pretty good (although not very close) look at Vigeland Park. Our landing went very well: Although we weren't able to set down in the first couple of places that presented apparent opportunities, Mike noted that "Norway is very forgiving," and each missed opportunity was followed by an improved alternative. Ultimately, we arrived in a field of clover, and our crack crew was able to maneuver the basket directly onto its trailer. While the basket and envelope were packed up and made roadworthy, we chatted with the gathering neighbors, sipping Coke, champagne, and bubbling peach nectar.

I have been noticing that my name is much more common here than it is across the ocean. Almost everything seems to begin with "FJ."

We stopped off for about half an hour at the hotel, and then we proceeded to dinner at the Thai Orchid. Watcharee consulted with the Thai-Vietnamese staff, and they selected an excellent menu: hot and sour soup with prawns, followed by two entries and a lovely dessert. After dinner, we all walked home through the Oslo night and retired after yet another perfect day. Tomorrow, we will leave this lovely urban center for the wilds of Lillehammer.

Next: Lillehammer

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