Let’s return to the beginnings of my Norwegian odyssey…
I landed in Oslo a few days ago. The usual epic pond shuttle; 10 hours with the 3-year-old kid using my arm for a pillow was funny for ten minutes — later, however, things were not quite so amusing. I was considering a Facebook “this is my travel nightmare” selfie with the kid, but his father was a German guy the size of a tank. Ernust was nice enough, yet I didn’t want to push the limits of possibility so I kept the camera stowed.
Oslo is a beautiful city. Classic buildings everywhere, healthy looking Norwegians walking and riding bikes in droves. Astounding number of electric cars. Apparently they have massive incentives for going electric, goodies such as free parking and no tolls, free charging stations as well. Clever, really. Sell oil to the rest of the world, make electricity from hydro and use it to power your own transportation. Perhaps we’ll get additional electric car incentives some day in our old coal mining town back in Colorado. If that happens, go electric? You never know — it would be excellent to stick a few solar panels on our house roof instead of buying gasoline (or perhaps use the free taxpayer supported charging station just a few blocks from here?). You see lots of E-bikes around Oslo as well; they’re also in the picture for transportation back in Colorado. E-bikes could solve the problem we have in the U.S. with dry yet gated backcountry access roads.
My kind host Stian Hagen took time out to show me around town, specifically hitting a few museums. Favorite stop: seeing the famous boat Fram that brought Fridtjof Nansen closer to the North Pole than any man before.
Fridtjof Nansen has been a Norwegian national hero since he returned from the dead in 1896 after he’d skied away from his cozy boat Fram in a dash to the North Pole. He got closer to the pole than any man before, but wasn’t heard from for more than a year. Nansen and his companion Johansen left their boat April 1895, skied north, returned south, and stayed all winter of 1895-1896 in stone hut they built themselves, roofed with animal hide. They brought supplies hauled by sledge, but mostly lived off the land by hunting. By what I gather, it was pretty much by chance they actually met up with the Fram again more than a year after they left for the pole. Otherwise they’d have joined a long list of the arctic lost.
Nansen’s boat, the Fram (means “forward” in Norwegian), is entirely preserved at the Oslo maritime museum. By far, this is one of the best historical curations I’ve experienced. Most of the boat is open to the public. It’s tall when out of the water, so they have three tiers of walkways surrounding the hull. Each walkway’s walls are entirely surrounded and filled with interpretive exhibits; everything from dioramas to the actual scientific instruments used by Nansen and his colleagues.
Topping it all, you end up in a walk-in freezer to simulate the arctic chill. This sort of things is probably not interesting to cold immune Scandinavians, but was something I found rather novel, especially as they include a couple of life-size dead and desiccated sailors on bunks, presumably to show what happens if you did not have the privilege of traveling on Fram with Nansen. Check out a few photos, and if you ever make it to Oslo don’t miss Fram, she’s quite a ship.