Saturday, July 28, 2018

EuRoad Trip 2018: Viking Ships, French Impressionism, and a Bentley

Today was our only pristine, full day in beautiful Oslo, Norway. We really made it count, and as a result this post is long as hell.

Our tour met nearby a giant tiger statue right out front of Oslo Central Station. Oslo's nickname is the "tiger city". I don't know.

Our tour walked by the Oslo Opera House which has a distinct iceberg look to it.

I was very amused by this statue of a lady with two dudes and the story that went along with it.

The 1930 Oslo City Hall was very impressive.

We headed to the National Gallery.

I feel a little bit embarrassed to admit it but I am really interested in French Impressionism. It annoys me because I feel like it's like really pop culture stuff that everyone likes. I find the brushstrokes to be really fun, and I'm interested in the setting of late 1800s Paris that many of the paintings depict. This one is a Van Gogh self portrait.

Edvard Munch, Rue Lafayette, 1891.

La Coiffure by Edgar Degas.

Claude Monet - Norway, Sandviken Village in the Snow 1895. Fun fact: the term impressionism was coined from one of Monet's works entitled Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise).

The crown jewel of the museum was Edvard Munch's The Scream.

It was spitting rain so we had lunch outside but under an awning at the Grand CafĂ© Oslo.

While we waited for our lunch to be prepared I walked across the street and took a closer look at a protest that was taking place.

I gathered that they were from Iran but that's about it.

Very randomly there was a copy of the Fearless Girl bronze near our table.

The original was placed opposite Charging Bull located near Wall Street. 

After lunch we visited Norwegian chocolate company Freia. 

Who doesn't love a good firk now and then?

We took our large bags of chocolate right where they belong: to be loudly opened during a Summer Concert at the Oslo Opera House.

The interior of the building was a complete contrast to the building's icy exterior. It was nice and woody and warm.

My parents weren't super impressed by the Norwegian opera. Low energy!

There was no time to waste! We packed into the station wagon and headed over to the Viking Ship Museum.

I thought that this lawnmower Roomba thing was pretty cool looking. I don't think I've seen one before.

I was a little concerned that after the majesty of the old ship at the Vasa Museum that the old ships at the Viking Ship Museum wouldn't be as cool. The Viking ships were a completely different story though. For one thing the Viking ships were ceremonially buried full of treasure after the important person they belonged to was killed in battle. This completely blew up my understanding of the "Viking" burial where you push a body on a raft into the water then shoot flaming arrows at it.

Also mind blowing was the revelation that Vikings didn't wear those classic helmets with the horns on them. In fact I don't think they wore helmets at all for the same reason I don't when I ride a bicycle: they ain't cool.

"Viking Voyages

The time of the Vikings was from the beginning of the 700s to c. AD 1050. The Vikings were outstanding shipbuilders and skilled navigators. Their ships were fast and well-suited for long sea journeys.

The Viking homeland was Scandinavia. In good farming regions, field crops and animal husbandry were the main means of livelihood, in other places, people relied more on hunting and fishing.

The Vikings plundered churches, monasteries, villages and cities, but were also merchants and craftsmen. The established trading colonies in Ireland and Russia. Many Norsemen settled down in the lands they had invaded. Vikings were the first Europeans in North America."

"The Ship Graves

The Viking Ship Museum houses four Viking ship burials from the Oslo Fjord area; those found at Oseberg, Gokstad, Tune, and Borre. All four were excavated between 1852 and 1904. Three of the graves contained ships that have survived to this day; the Oseberg ship was built c. AD 820, the Gokstad ship shortly before 900, and the Tune ship c. 910. From the ship in the Borre grave (c. 900), only iron nails remain today.

The three ships had been at sea for several years before they were pull ashore and used as burial ships. The dead were placed in burial chambers built on board the ships. They were buried with generous supplies of food and drink, various animals, and a large number of objects.

The Oseberg ship was used as a grave ship for two women, while Gokstad and Tune served as the grave ships for men. Most of the objects in the Oseberg and Gokstad graves were well preserved, because the ships had been buried in moist ground and covered with clay and turf. Both Oseberg and Gokstad had been looted in the Viking Age; no jewellery or weapons were found."

"Killed in Battle

The skeleton found in the Gokstad ship was that of a tall and sturdy man who was killed in battle around AD 900. The Gokstad grave was plundered only a few decades after the burial, and the robbers scattered the bones around.

The man must have been an influential person. His grave gifts included a tent, kitchen utensils, a sleigh, beds, three small boats and 64 shields, as well as twelve horses, eight dogs, falcons and two peacocks. The condition of his bones indicates that the man was in his forties when he died. There are signs that he may have suffered from a disease that causes coarse bodily features.

The marks on his skeleton include an oblique cut to the left knee, most likely made by a sword. He also received a powerful cut to the right calf that severed the bone in two and a stab to the right thigh bone. When fighting with a sword and a shield, cuts were often directed at the legs to immobilise the opponent. Most likely, the Gokstad man has met with two or more adversaries at the same time. The cuts show no early signs of healing. He was killed instantly."

Mom and Tom were excited about the video about to play and grabbed a couple of good seats.

I thought that the curlies on the ends of the ships were pretty impressive.

We all agreed that we hadn't done enough today so we poked around in the Oslo City Mall.

I think the best part of the mall was the creepy face chairs.

Lydia's friend Sarah used to live in Norway and recommended we try a sjokoladebolle. It was pretty much a roll with chocolate chips in it. Not bad at all.

Vippa Oslo was like a fun indoor food truck park. It seemed like a good place to get a not too crazily expensive dinner.

This delicious and educational beer map illustrates how a large part of the landmass of Norway is in the Arctic Circle. So.. it's cold. And we didn't go there.

It started raining pretty good as soon as we stepped outside after dinner so we took shelter under a building overhang and ordered an Uber.

We were greatly amused when the app showed that our Uber would be a Bentley Flying Spur.

I was still a bit surprised when the Bentley pulled up despite the fact I was warned ahead of time. I thought that surely there'd been some sort of misunderstanding.

I'm sure I was looking out the window thinking rich thoughts.

Once we'd put Mom and Tom to bed we wandered the city at night a little.

Why have I not seen anyone wearing any of these getups?

Fuglen was a cafe by day, bar by night and was really stylish. It was full of cool retro furniture and old airline advertisements.

Ok, this might be the coolest booze story I've heard yet. So aquavit is sort of like a spiced Scandinavian vodka. We've had it a few places now, including Disney's Epcot Center. Anyway this one was especially cool. I'll let their website explain:

"LINIE is the oldest aquavit brand in the world. It all started back in 1805, when the Norwegian trade family, Lysholm, shipped potato aquavit to the East Indies. Here people were totally uninterested in buying it, so the aquavit was sailed back to Norway. On its arrival in 1807, it was discovered that the sea voyage had vastly improved the taste. 

Since that day, every drop of LINIE has been sent on a sea journey across the world to mature, crossing the Equator twice."

That's way cooler than "this bourbon sat in a barn in rural Kentucky for 8 years and hasn't even seen the damn equator."

Mmm. Tasted like the equator.

There was also an elderflower saison in attendance at this party.

Traveling is the best, even this far from the equator.

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