Top Oslo Sightseeing tips: Exploring the Fjord

Sightseeing Oslo Fjord in Spring #1A guided tour on the Fjord provides Oslo in a nut shell: From the Town Hall harbour you’ll pass Akershus Fortress and the New Opera House as well as Kon-Tiki Museum, the Polar ship Fram and the Maritime museum – not to forget a tour through a maze of picturesque islands with small summer houses. So if you want to explore the capital of Norway from a different angle, appreciate nature and want an alternative experience form the stressful, urban life: all this is to be experience from the boat just 10 minutes after departing Oslo city.
Two of our blog friends, Ginnie from Georgia, US and Astrid from the Netherlands, could not make it to the Oslo Blog Gathering in August 2010. So they came in April this year instead, to explore and have a taste of Oslo and Norway; our culture, history, traditions and habits. This post is from their first day of four, to explore the Oslo Fjord by boat:
Sightseeing Oslo Fjord in Spring #4
Departure from the Town Hall (in the background); Ready with camera: Astrid left – Ginnie right.

Before reaching the island, you’ll pass some landmarks, nice to see from the seaside (click pic to bigify & enjoy):
Sightseeing Oslo Fjord in Spring #3 Sightseeing Oslo Fjord in Spring #6
Left: The Akershus Fortress – Right: The new Opera House.

The Oslo Fjord – a deep inlet of the Skagerrak:
Oslo occupies an arc of land at the northernmost end of the Oslo fjord. The fjord, which is nearly bisected by the Nesodden peninsula opposite Oslo, lies to the south; in all other directions Oslo is surrounded by green hills and mountains. There are 40 islands within the city limits, the largest being Malmøya and Hovedøya, and scores more around the Oslo fjord:
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Still some ice since its beginning of April – increasing the adventure!
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Below: Two of the many light houses in the Oslo Fjord
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The Museums on Bygdøy Island:
If you really want to explore Norway’s history, culture and traditions; Bygdøy is the place – easy to access 20 minutes from Oslo city centre by bus or boat (click links to read more about them in my earlier posts):
The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, a large open air museum featuring typical buildings from various periods in our history. The Viking Ship Museum; in addition to two 1100 year old Viking-ships (apparently the best preserved in the world), it also contains various other Viking artefacts and a Viking burial chamber, complete with ancient skeletons. Closest to the fjord, we passed:
Sightseeing Oslo Fjord in Spring #21 Sightseeing Oslo Fjord in Spring #20
Norwegian Maritime Museum which houses a huge collection of ships and boats and records the impact of Norway’s seafarers on our own country and the world. The Kon-Tiki Museum which displays Tor Heyerdahl’s balsa raft Kon-Tiki and Ra II, as well as some other artefacts from Easter Island. The Fram Museum features the vessel Fram, the world’s first ice breaker and the last polar expedition ship made of wood, and presents a history of polar exploration (with a strong Norwegian focus!)

This is only the first day of four posts from our Blog Friends Astrid and Ginnie’s adventures – so stay tuned for more in the next one!

Blogging connecting people to a mini OsloBG

OsloBG2010 at RennyBASocial Media like Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn etc connecting people and brought 30 participants from all over the world to the Oslo Blog Gathering in August 2010. A lot more would have loved to join us and some promised to come later to explore and have a taste of Oslo and Norway; our culture, history, traditions and habits. Two of them have taken our word for it – Blog friends are always welcome to meet up with us in Oslo – Ginnie and Astrid from the Netherlands arrives tonight! We are all very excited: My wife and me as well as Tor and his wife Anna!

In Soul – Ginnie’s blog:
In Soul - GinnieI met Ginnie in Blogsphere almost 6 years ago. Actually it was through ExpatTravels -From Switzerland to Canada, one of my very first blog friend. I know they have met some years ago in Canada when Ginnie still lived in her homeland; Georgia, US. Now it’s our turn and we can always hope that our next visitors in Oslo will be ET, her husband and new born baby : -)
I’m happy I met Ginnie of course, but sorry it was just a couple of months after she had have a short cruise landing in Oslo. Already when we blog met, she promised to come back to visit us and tonight, tonight it’ll happens!

What to explore for 4 days in Oslo?
There are plenty of options of course and we have had some mail exchange about our suggestions and their interests. One of theirs are the Mini Cruise on the Oslo Fjord:
Mini Cruise Oslo Fjord in Norway #4 Mini Cruise Oslo Fjord in Norway #12
Left: The Town Hall – Right: Fram & the Maritime Museum at Bygdøy island.

I had planned to tell about all the other options, but now it’s time to go to Oslo Central Station to pick them up from the Airport Express train : -)

Plan your Stay for best travel adventure

Travelling to Oslo, Norway or any other cities worldwide requires planning to get the most out of it. Some go to libraries or shops for guide books – I love to do it on the net. Browsing around and picking up ideas for attractions, museums, entertainment, restaurants and hotels is great fun. Collecting and saving them for your own guide requires a more systematic approach – but it’s worth it. Sometimes, depending on your destination, you are lucky to find a portal with almost all info and ideas you need on one site, like VisitNorway for the whole country or VisitOSLO for a specific city.

Stay.comA while ago, a good blog friend of mine, Mihaela Lica at Pamil Visions made me aware of Stay.com (actually a Norwegian startup!) where you create a guide crafted to your personal needs, tastes and destinations. Best of all it can be consulted on your computer or smart phone, or printed out as a pocket-sized pdf-file if you prefer. You may also broadcast the itinerary or parts of it to friends via Facebook and Twitter. Each guide that gets created adds to the library of itineraries available to other users and by that builds up a vault of good ideas for a good time wherever you go in the world.

OsloBG dining on Lille Herbern in the Fjord #9 My connections via my account at TripIt are automatically broadcast on Facebook, so most already know that my wife DianeCA and I are going to Lisbon in November. We will meet up with our blog friends, Helena and her husband (to the right in the picture) who participated in the Oslo Blog Gathering in August. They are preparing and planning a lot for us already, but it was still exciting to check out Stay.com for ideas of what to explore in the capital of Portugal. Planning ahead is half the fun you know
:-)
How about you; how do you prepare and plan for a trip? Share your trip planning ideas here in comments, and maybe check out Stay.com for yourself.

Blues on Lake Norsjo at Telemark canal in Norway

Telemark Canal at Norsjø in Norway is ideal for active holidays. Biking or enjoy the canal in a canoe, you will however always find peace. It can be done at your own pace, as an active holiday here gives you the peace back. That’s what I found during the weekend in the heart of county Telemark in Norway when also celebrating our University College Class Reunion (35 years since finished). As always, I gladly take you with – let’s start with the celebration and place:
Norsjø at Telemark in Norway
Lake Norsjø viewed from the hotel.

It’s hard to believe we graduated 35 years ago, but it was some special bounds developed during our two years together in , Telemark, As a matter of fact we’ve had these reunions every 5 years since 1985! As always, when we meet up; nobody or nothing has changed – or has it (click picks to bigify & enjoy)?
RennyBA The Football Player Norsjø Hotel in Telemark Norway #2
Left: The football team in ’74 – Right: This years reunion.

The arranging committee had done a tremendously good job in planning for a 2 days reunion. We had a wonderful time on the deck in front of the hotel; catching up, sort out gossip and facts since five years as well as memorising the lovely, inapprehensive time in collage. Also in the evening, we had a delicious gourmet meal with great vine as well as coffee avec and were dancing and talking in the nightclub all night long. I’m sure you understand that I don’t go into details, but there is one special adventure in the afternoon before dinner, I can’t resist sharing: A boat trip on Lake Norsjø in M/S Telemarken. Let’s start with the breath taking view of the valley and mountains (the weather & company was perfect):
Lake Norsjø at Telemark in Norway #3
Lunch in Telemark gives you the peace back!

The boat M/S Telemarken:
The Motor Ship “Telemarken” was built at Västervik yard in Sweden in 1951 and was one of the boats in the Stockholm archipelago. Her first name was M/S “Freja” and eventually renamed M/S “Karson “. In 1988 the boat was put into operation on the Telemark Canal and was named M/S “Telemarken”. She is 26m long, 5.6m wide, protruding 1.6m deep and takes 140 passengers: here you see her anchored:
M/S Telemarken at Norsjø in Telemark #2
M/S Telemarken & Norsjø Hotel on top, right.

Find you’re peace back in Telemark:
Sailing along in sunshine, enjoying the magic in nature, what can be more recreational? To convince you, let me give a taste of the lake, the landscape and the locks from Norsjø up to the river Eidselva and back:
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On Lake Norsjø
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Left: The locks to……. Right: …. Eidselva (a wide but very quiet river)

Eidselva lies in Nome municipality in Telemark. It rises in Flåvatn, runs into Norsjø in Ulefoss with 4 locks and is an important part of the Telemark Canal. I am from Telemark, so maybe a bit disqualified, but admit it’s a natural beauty:
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The river Eidselva.
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Blues session on Lake Norsjø:
The top of the cream, besides the weather, the food, the nature and the company (who could actually ask for more?), was the unforgettable concert on the boat by the blues musicians: Jostein Forsberg & Morten Omlid. They are very much involved in Notodden Blues Festival, the biggest in Scandinavia (25.000 spectators in 2010) and gave us one good blues pearl title after the other, combined in a jam sessions with Norwegian folk music:
Jostein Forsberg & Morten Omlid #2

So then I’ve saved the best for last: Filming with my compact Cannon G11 – Here you see Lake Norsjø, the monumental landscape and can listen to the blues guys who sat an adventuress atmosphere with their magic tunes – touching our soul and heart:

These are memories that stay forever and friendship staying the same way. For me the rural and being within the natural elements: Earth, Water and Air – when almost untouched – is the most inspirational and recreational there is. By this post I hope I have given you an idea of what I mean by that and why I love to be outdoors to charge my batteries!

OsloBG at Oscarsborg Fortress and Oslo Medieval Park

The Oslo Blog Gathering exploring Norway and our capital’s architecture, culture, traditions and history – was a thrill and an adventure for about 30 Social Media active participants from all over the world. Some had been to blog meetings before, while other had only met friends in Blogsphere so far. One thing is for sure this blog gathering developed some real friendships which will last for a lifetime. So it’s a bit sad to sum it up and tell about the last day, however it also created new magical moments to remember in the future and I gladly share them with you.

The grand historic Oscarsborg Fortress:
OsloBG2010 at RennyBAMy wife DianeCA. invited those who wanted to join her for a trip to Oscarsborg Fortress. It stands on Kaholmene in the Drøbak Strait and has been there for more than 350 years. Build as a Coastal fortress in the years 1643-1644, its name was given by royal resolution on August 23, 1855 after a visit by the Swedish/Norwegian King Oscar 1.

Oscarsborg is best known for the sinking of the German battleship “Blücher” on the 9th of April 1940, WW2, and one can still get a whiff of the creosote (lignite tar) from the battleship. So the Fortress was military territory until 2003, but then made a publicly available resort island. We can tell you that many local families enjoy taking the boat out to the island fortress and having an enjoyable afternoon on the scenic grounds and visiting the charming seaside café.

Champagne on historical ground:
The Medieval Park in the Old City of Oslo (called Bjørvika) is the largest contiguous area of preserved ruins from the Middle Ages. It was here that the urbanization of Oslo started around the year 1000. In the 1300s there were six churches, three monasteries, royal residence and the bishop’s residence in this small urban society.

Surrounding the ruins is now a park and the old coastal line is recreated as it was in the middle ages by the creation of a water table to provide parkland quality and character. Before the grand finale in the evening, TorAa suggested this place as the perfect surroundings for popping the cork and toasting a successful gathering:
OsloBG at Medieval Park #1

Through Exhibitions and Events the park already communicates experiences, stimulating activities and even more: provides knowledge about Oslo City’s origins, and the role of Oslo as the capital and the Norwegian Middle Ages. The most famous yearly event is The Øya Music Festival, so we where in the right place to have a party:
OsloBG at Medieval Park #2 OsloBG at Medieval Park #13

The grand finale celebration:
Three hectic days (and nights) were coming to an to end but we weren’t ready to give up without a fight, or rather a party. My wife DianeCA and I were exhausted, but we still had a jolly good time with the whole gang at Dubliner Folk Pub. It was a mixed feeling of sadness for having to say farewell, but also the loud buzzing and talking about all the excitement we had experienced. Nobody wanted to go home and all had a lot more they wished to see and do. I was thinking: All in all, many good reasons to come back:
OsloBG Grand Final at Dubliner #1

Lawrence aka BeaverBush came up with the party idea and made the reservations for us at the pub. He was so nice and gave me a bottle of very nice champagne on behalf of all the participants. I was happy, thankful and proud of course that all went so well. It was hard to make a small thank you speech – very emotional for me:
OsloBG Grand Final at Dubliner #2 OsloBG Grand Final at Dubliner #3

Celebrating the Mayor’s birthday in the City Hall:
I have decided to end the report from OsloBG with the most Magic Moment of all: the opening ceremony as the reception by the Mayor in Oslo City Hall. Being aware of that the Mayor had his birthday that very day, I’d asked the participants to bring a small gift from their homeland to give to him. My wife had my Nokia X6 mobile phone, to capture the moment:

My wife DianeCA and I have worked hard on planning OsloBG for over one year and now that our mission is accomplished and my dream has come true, I want to thank everyone again who participated. We made the plan and invited the guests, but it was really each and every OsloBG participant who made the event what it was. Everyone played a key roll and it would not have been the same without them!
So far, all their posts about OsloBG is collected at the gatherings guest list. I will soon make a post to present all of them – so stay tuned!