First off, it takes more than a full day to go from Amsterdam to Oslo.   You leave Amsterdam after sundown, navigate the canals and locks to get back to open ocean, then spend a full day at sea.  The next morning you will get to Oslofjord and head up to Oslo.  What this means is that you have a full day on the ship with no obligations.  You will have to contend with 2,000 other people, but if you plan carefully, you can avoid crowds and have a quiet time.  If you like crowds, there is plenty to do with them, as well.

Lying in a deck chair reading can be very relaxing.
me, reading

Of course, your choice of reading material can influence whether those passing by will be equally relaxed...
What I'm reading

One of the main activities onboard a ship is eating.  There are buffets open 24/7, and sit-down restaurants that will serve you some amazingly good food. This is where you have to dress up.  For those of you who have never seen me in a tie, BEHOLD!
Me at 2200
In this picture, I am sitting in one of the bars, having finished a great meal in one of the fine restaurants.  The reason I'm holding up my hands is due to the fact that it is 10:00 PM.  Look out the window. Does this look like 10PM to you?  Well, it is when you are 2/3 of the way from the equator to the North Pole.  The sky did not get fully dark until after 11, and the sun began to rise just after 4AM.  That's what high-lattitude summers are like.  Of course, the winters are rather dark...

Here is a view from just outside on the promenade, about 10:30.
10:30 frikkin PM!

And one more view of me, in my "Party Duds", enjoying a shot of Irish Whiskey. (The bars on ships tend to be well-stocked, and you can charge it to the room!)
Me, all dressed up!

And one more view of the sun, as it sinks toward the horizon.
Sunset at sea

Good morning!

The next morning, the ship has entered Oslofjord.  At the head of the fjord, as the name implies, is the city of Oslo.  Before you get there, however, you will be treated to some truly wonderful views.
the eastern shore
The shores of the fjord are dotted with houses and villages.  It looks like a place where we could live quite nicely.  1 in 5 people in Oslo own a boat, to travel around this beautiful area. However, they can generally use it for less than 6 months out of the year.

Sheila really liked the view.
Sheila looks at fjords

...And, as usual, I attempt to feed the wildlife. 

me and seagulls

The chef would probably be unhappy with the fact that I took a danish specifically for the purpose of luring seagulls to me, but I really don't care.

During World War II, Germany attempted to invade Norway.  A cruiser sailed up Oslofjord, only to discover that the norwegians had big guns hidden on the hillsides.

The oilslick you see on the water is from that cruiser. The fuel tanks continue to leak, 60 years after it sank.  Eventually Germany did invade and take over Norway, but stiff resistance was the order of the day, both before and after the invasion.

I contemplate the fate of German Cruisers.
looking down

There are villages everywhere.  Here, a small island in the fjord has become home to many people.
island village

Here is a water bus, hopping from island to island.

Another village.  Yet another nice-looking place, in a seemingly endless chain of nice-looking places along the fjord.
another village

Once we got close to the city of Oslo, the ship slowed enough that the seagulls could successfully fight the slipstream and get in close enough to snatch goodies directly from my hand.

snatching food!

Eventually one brave bird managed to land and demand that I feed him/her.

Gulls can be intimidating. All you have to do is watch "The Birds" to understand this.  They may not be as intimidating as birds of prey, but...

look into my eye



You are in my power!

As you approach the dock, the first thing you notice is the imposing castle sitting on the shore.

This is still the main military base in the area, continually in use for longer than the United States has existed.

We were excited to see that the navy was there to greet us.
The navy!

However, there was something wrong.  It took us a moment to figure out what it was.
Japanese Navy!

We sail all the way to Norway, and are greeted by the Japanese navy!  That was a bit interesting.
Their cruisers left shortly after we arrived.

Then, into the city to see the sights.  With only one day in port, it is impossible to see everything.  The cruise line arranges shore excursions, which are generally a good wa of getting a feel for the city.  We chose the explorers tour, as we are interested in the history of exploration.  Norway has had a huge role in the exploration of this planet, and has three very good museums dedicated to explorers.

On our way to the museums we passed the Norwegian Nobel Institute. 

And a stave shurch.
stave church
Although this is an early christian church, it is covered with symbols from the old norwegian religion, including symbols for the various gods such as Odin, Thor, Freya, etc.  It seems that the pragmatic Vikings were not sure if the new religion would take, and were ready with a backup.

The first museum we visited was the Viking museum, which holds the remains of three viking longboats.
viking museum

The longboats used by the Vikings were amazing ships.  They were stable in rough seas, rather fast, and were powered by both sail and oars. 
viking boat

Surprising to us, we learned that the Vikings did not generally spend days at a time in these boats.  They were keen to island-hop, getting off the boats as often as possible to cook and sleep.  There are many islands in the North Atlantic, so thier job was made easier.

a close up
This particular ship is over 1200 years old.  was used as a funeral barge after its life on the waves, and was buried near Oslofjord with two women and their grave goods on board.

The detail on this ship is astounding.

Another view

When it was discovered in the late 1800's, the archaeologists had to disassemble it into its individual pieces for conservation before it could be reassembled as seen here.  More than 90% of what you see is original material.

Ever wonder what ship people don't say "left" and "right"?  Well, this is the reason:
steering board
It is a steering board for the ship.  pushing on the handle will move the board and cause the ship to turn.  So what does this have to do with left and right?  In the original language, this was a Starbord.  It is always on the right side of the ship, so that is the Starboard side.  And port? Well, if you park with your starbord against the dock, you will break your board, so you had to put the other side, the port side, against the port.

So, Port and Starboard are viking inventions!

However, Vikings were merely the first explorers from this great land, not the last.

Thor Heyerdahl's museum
This is Thor Heyerdahl's museum.  He was an archaeologist.  If you notice, off to the right is a replica of a statue from Easter Island.   While studying the enormous heads on the island, he was struck by an interesting question.  Do these enormous heads have enormous bodies?  He and his team excavated a few and discovered that yes, in fact, they do have bodies.  This was one of Heyerdahl's major discoveries.  However, it was not his greatest.  Many polynesian artifacts bore a striking resemblance to similar artifacts from South America.  Was it possible that people from South America had traveled to Polynesia?  Heyerdahl thought that it was possible.  The currents are favorable for such a trip, and even a large raft should be enough to make it.

In 1947, to test his hypothesis, he and a crew of 5 men left Callao, Peru and sailed west. 

They sailed in this:
the kon tiki
This is the Kon-Tiki.  It's about 40 feet long, 25 or so feet wide and made of Balsa wood.

balsa wood
Me with a big chunk of balsa. 

After 101 days and more than 5,000 miles at sea they reached Raroia, Polynesia.

kon tiki again

This is the cabin for all six men:

And we got to his museum in the ship in the background:
sheila and the ship
Here, Sheila enjoys the clear, clean, fresh air that is very common in Scandinavia. 

Back inside Heyerdahl's museum, you find another craft.  Ra II.
ra II

also Ra II

Again, Heyerdahl attempted an ocean crossing.  This time from Africa to South America.  The ship was made of papyrus reeds, just as many boats are still made in North Africa and South America to this day.  Heyerdahl used pictures taken from Ancient Egyptian tombs as the model for this large version.   The first ship, Ra, set sail, but had to be abandoned when it was just one week from Barbados.  Heyerdahl had neglected to add the support rope from the stern to the mast.  This would be the fatal error, as this caused weakness that led to structural failure of the ship.  In Ra II, he made sure the support rope was included.  This one minor change (noted in the ancient tomb carvings, but initially ignored by Heyerdahl) insured that Ra II successfully made it from Morocco to Barbados, as distance of 4,000 miles in just 57 days.

By any definition, Heyerdahl can be classified as an adventurer.  Interestingly, he was once asked about smoking, and he said "I would never take a risk as great as that of smoking."

Smart man.

On the other side of the parking lot from the Heyerdahl museum is this charming, and rather large A-frame building.  As the name on the front states, this is the Fram museum.  This is not a museum about a person, but a museum about a ship.  The Fram.
fram side
The Fram was the brainchild of Fridjof Nansen, who wished to prove his hypothesis about north polar currents.  In order to go that far north and spend a lot of time, he had to have a ship built for the express purpose of withstanding the enormous forces that ice floes can generate against a ship's hull.  The Fram was this ship.  It was launched in 1892, and the first polar expedition took place from 1893 to 1896.  The ship sailed into the pack ice, reaching the 85th parallel.  On March 14th, 1895, Nansen and an assistant left the ship and headed north, making it to the 86th parallel.  When they did not return, it was assumed they had been killed and the ship eventually moved on.  Unknown to the crew of the Fram, Nansen had missed them, and, not knowing exactly where they were headed, decided to head south to get back home.  Two men,  just a few hundred miles from the North Pole, decided to try to make it back to Norway, without a boat.

Fram continued its mission, and Nansen continued his travels.  Eventually both groups made it back to Norway.  Surprisingly, they both arrived home exactly one week apart.

Here I am, on the deck of the Fram:
me on Fram

Sheila stands at the ship's wheel.
Sheila takes the wheel

And the kitchen:

Dishes from the Fram

After Traveling to the North Pole, the Fram Headed south, to carry Roald Amundsen to his history-making trek to the South Pole. 

So, Fram is the ship that went to both the north and south poles, or at least as close as a ship can go.  Of course, others have done the same, and there are artifacts from many expeditions in the Fram museum from these others.  My personal favorite are dishes from the Nautilus, a nuclear sub that crossed the north pole, beneath the pack ice.
nautilus dishes

Before we finally left, I struck a slightly blurry pose with Mr. Nansen at the bow of the Fram.
me and nansen

So, the proud exploratory heritage of Norway can be found in these three museums.  I recommend you visit them.

After the tour, we went back into town and walked back to the ship.  One thing to remember about ships and docks.  Cruise ships are filled with tourists who have money.  Docks, and the pathways leading to them tend to be filled with shops designed to separate tourists from their money, generally by offering local trinkets.  Some of these trinkets are locally made, but are just as often made in China...

However, we did manage to pick up one thing that was definitely of local origin:
me and meat
Yeah, it's food.  What kind you may ask?
blitzen! No!
Yes, it's Bits O' Blitzen!

Reindeer meat, fresh from the reindeer farm. In convenient-to-use salami form.

We will let you know how it tastes later on in this adventure...


While we had the reindeer salami in the fridge, cooling and waiting for the opportune moment to enjoy, we went up to the pool area for a more north american kind of food.

While traveling, we try to eat as much like a native as possible.  Nobody is native to a ship, so we eat whatever.  Our late afternoon snack consisted of hot dog, fries and a coke.  It was quick, convenient, and fun.  However, later on that night we branched out once again. For dinner, one of the choices available a the buffet was new to us, so we had to try it.


the food again

If you are having trouble figuring out the animal, I will give you this hint:


Yes!  Frog legs!!!!!

and our opinion of them?


Actually, the old saw is true: "Tastes like chicken".

Next stop:  Copenhagen, Denmark

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