Fredrikstad-Oslo July 16th-21st

Fredrikstad-Oslo July 16th-21st

Written By: Art&Heidi

Fredrikstad

Travelling north into Norway, we meandered through beautiful farm land and rolling hills and also took the time to stop and see some of the historic and archaeological points of interest along the way.  This area of Norway has the most concentrated collection of cultural monuments from the Bronze and Iron Ages:  ancient burial mounds, large rock circles, ancient refuges and monumental rock carvings depicting the prehistoric Norse way of live and religious beliefs.

We had been looking forward to our Fredrikstad stop for months because we would be able to visit with one of Sarah's Camino Grannies, Inger Halaas. Inger and Sarah met five years ago when Sarah did her solo Camino pilgrimage and we met Inger when she visited Vancouver in 2016. We were especially interested in having a chance to discuss the French route of Camino and get some pointers from an expert:  Inger has walked the Camino 6 times!

Fredrikstad is Norway's first Renaissance city, with the best preserved fortified old town in all of Northern Europe. It is beautifully situated on the river Glomma, with a modern promenade on one side and the old town on the other.  We had only a short time there but Inger led us on a lovely city walk and ferry ride up and down the river, with a beer stop along the way to cool off (somehow we didn't expect 30 degree weather in Norway!). 

Inger invited her friend, Trond to join us - very interesting and friendly guy who is a big fan of Vancouver and the West Coast. Seems he visited his cousin in Campbell River for one month when he has around 20 and so fell in love with BC that he has been back many times.  He is determined to bring the running club to which he and Inger belong to run the Sun Run next year!  We look forward to that happening!  Inger most thoughtfully decided to serve us for dinner something which we were likely not to have had:  reindeer steaks!  They were amazingly tender and not very gamey at all. 

As we sat and enjoyed our coffee and dessert (Norwegian vanilla ice cream and strawberries - incidentally strawberry season in Norway is almost 6 weeks later than Germany...I guess that makes sense as it the warm growing season starts that much later...), and looked out over the fields in Inger's back yard, we watched first one and then another moose come into the field to graze, drink from the stream and eventually flatten a bed in the high grass and lay down to sleep!  And if that wasn't enough for our first night in Norway, there was also a full lunar eclipse!

Oslo

Arriving in Oslo, we were delighted to find that our apartment accommodations were located right in the most beautiful, hip and happening waterfront district: Aker Brygge. A former industrial wharf area, this has now been transformed into a neighbourhood filled with apartments, restaurants, shops and bars, all surrounded by a waterfront promenade for strolling, sunbathing and swimming.

Like Vancouverites, the Oslovians get outside as much as they can if the weather is half-way decent. Not so much a cycling city as there are too many hills and not enough bike lanes, but it has a great bus, tram and ferry system to get you around to where you want to go. We spent our 4 days there walking the waterfront, visiting the Vigeland sculpture park (sculptures of naked human figures, in all variety of poses and situations) and going to some amazing museums.

One of the most interesting for us was the outdoor folk museum: started by the King as a way of preserving and showcasing some of the traditional Norwegian buildings and architecture from various eras from all over the country (examples of which he had moved to this site). For instance it was here that we saw one of the best examples of a Stave Church, which is a medieval wooden church building with a structure of post and lintel construction. Most of the surviving ones were built between 1150 and 1350 AD.

Along our travels we were lucky enough to see a few more in their original locations.  Another thing we saw their first and very often again on almost every traditional Norwegian farm was the stabbur, or storage house, a building designed for the storage of food. Even though the farms we saw often had a modern home, they also would have this very traditionally built log structure on stilts, designed to promote air flow from below as well as keeping out the critters.

One thing we didn’t do much of in Oslo was to eat or drink out because boy oh boy is Norway expensive: everything is at least double (if not triple) what it is at home. In a simple restaurant, a burger will set you back $35 and the beer to go with it will be $15! Luckily we had the most beautiful fully equipped apartment with amazing patio and rooftop garden from which to enjoy our own food and drink.

Fun Facts

Norway is ranked as the world's happiest country due in part to employment standards that favour the welfare of the employees and a great life/work balance.  In fact, King Harald's military horses have a '6 week on and 6 week off' schedule!  And during the last week of their 'on' period, they are led out by a cadet to the lawn to graze on the grass in order to re-accustom their stomachs to the fresh grass diet they will enjoy in the fields during their 6 week holiday!

Related Links
Countries: Norway
Cities: Oslo
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