OsloBG at Norwegian Opera House and change of Kings Guard

Oslo Blog Gathering gave sightseeing adventures like Oslo New Opera House guided tour or watching changing of the guard ceremony in front of the Royal Palace – to mention just two out of numerals options for the participants. For those who picked these as their choice of day two, I was their local guide and of course you are welcome to join us:

The Norwegian Opera & Ballet:
As an ice berg out of the ocean, the Opera from the outside is considered spectacular, and the radical change of worm welcome look when you get inside is equally impressive. It’s Norway’s largest performing arts institution, with 600 employees working in about 50 professions and trades. Designed by the Norwegian architects Snøhetta, it is the first opera house in the world to let visitors walk on the roof (click pics to bigify & enjoy)):
OsloBG at Norwegian Opera House #1 OsloBG at Norwegian Opera House #2
OsloBG participants roof photo shoot.

The new opera house offers a rich and varied programme from three stages: The Main House (1369 seats), Second House (400 seats) and the Studio (200 seats). The Opera Roof and Foyer are also used for concerts and other artistic performances.
Our guided tour invited into a unique workspace and we learn a lot more about the architecture and even catch a glimpse of life backstage. I had my Nokia X6 mobile at hand of course, to give you a sneak peak:
OsloBG at Norwegian Opera House #3
The oak tree inside gives a warm and welcome impression as oppose to ice berg shaped building on the outside:
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The artistic facilities and what is required of the shows was also among the guiding themes. We saw the public areas, the main hall as well as Scene 2 (photos above), and we even were back stage and also saw the rehearsal rooms and the sewing room:
OsloBG at Norwegian Opera House #6 OsloBG at Norwegian Opera House #7

The Oslo Pass = Free transport & entrance:
OsloBG participants at the tube The OsloBG participants were given this Oslo Pass by VisitOslo. It provides free travel on all public transport, free admission to museums and sights, free parking in all Oslo municipal car parks, discounts on car rental, ice skate hire, Tusenfryd Amusement Park etc. This of course were very convenient to have – all the time – so even if only three stops away, we took the tube to our next adventure this second day.

His Majesty the King’s Guard (HMKG):
At 1:30PM 2 pm. every day, the changing of the guard ceremony take place in front of the Royal Palace. A popular spectator event for tourists and of course for the OsloBG participants too:
OsloBG at the change of Kings Guard #1
Their dark blue dress uniforms have remained virtually unchanged throughout the regiment’s 142 years of existence

I was serving at the King Guard myself in 1972, so I knew where to take OsloBG participants to stay or sit to get the best, closest look:
OsloBG at the change of Kings Guard #2 OsloBG at the change of Kings Guard #3
One noteworthy detail of the uniform is the plumbed bowler hat, which was copied from the Italian Bersaglieri alpine troops – a regiment that so impressed the queen Louise (Queen of Sweden and Norway between 1859 and 1870) that she in 1860 insisted the Norwegian guards be similarly attired.

OsloBG – the participant’s choice:
OsloBG2010 at RennyBAThis is only a small collection of what was explored by the OsloBG participants this second of our three days together – all in all we were about 30 participants from all over the world. Seldom were we together in one group though as the program idea was based on that everyone should pick out their favourite spots according to their interest and preferences and of course what they felt for each day. So as “local hosts”, DianeCA my wife, our good friend TorAa and I picked out our rout for the day and invited those who wanted to follow.
I will post more from my trips and so will they – not to mention all the participants’ blog posts from their adventures. Those will be presented by me in one post as soon as I have collected all of them. So by all means: stay tuned!

OsloBG The Mayor’s reception at the City Hall

Oslo Blog Gathering’s grand opening was the Mayor’s reception at the City Hall. Blog friends from all over the world brought a small gift from their homeland, since it also happens to be the Mayors birthday. He said he had not received that many gifts since he’s 5th years celebration. Her you see some of the participants in front of the city hall:
OsloBG The Mayor’s reception at the City Hall #1

After the Mayor’s welcome speech, it was my turn to return the favour with some words:
Our Dear Mayor, Oslo Blog Gathering participants, and associates;
They say that Oslo is the city with a big heart, and you dear Mayor, participating in this reception is certainly proof of that. Even on your own 55th birthday you are here to welcome my guests from around the world with open arms. In the five years I have been blogging about Norway, our culture, traditions and habits, I have lots of regular readers who have become curious about our country, find us a bit exotic, and wanted to come and visit. I have also tried to explain about our open and transparent society. I have told the world about our accessible politicians who hear our individual voices, and you are now an excellent example of this.
I also wish to express my thanks to VisitOslo for their contribution as well as the gathering’s hub, First Hotel Millennium.
I’m proud of Oslo city and I know you are too. To me it is a dream comes true that I am able to give my blog friends, from all around the world, a taste of what we have to offer. Again, thank you dear Mayor for receiving us and letting us have a look at the heart of Oslo, our lovely city hall. I’m sure our participants will share some of their adventures from today and their expectations in the rest of the program with you.

Then we had a great time enjoying the food, the drinks as well as a nice chat with the Mayor (click all pics to bigify and enjoy):
OsloBG The Mayor’s reception at the City Hall #2 OsloBG The Mayor’s reception at the City Hall #3

We also were lucky enough to get a guided tour in the city hall: Located by the waterfront, with Fritdjof Nansensplass on the inland side. It’s open to the public, with a spectacular main hall featuring huge murals with typical Nordic social democratic themes. Its characteristic architecture, artworks and the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony makes it one of Oslo’s most famous buildings. There are also some displays of historical artefacts in the side rooms upstairs and we where in the Munch-room with a beautiful view of the harbour and Oslo Fjord:
OsloBG The Mayor’s reception at the City Hall #4 OsloBG The Mayor’s reception at the City Hall %

The day however started in the morning at reception in OsloBG’s HUB; The First Millennium Hotel, where we all meet for a guided tour: Highlights of Oslo:
OsloBG at the Hub: First Hotel Millennium

Let me just give you a short memo from the bus tour which started with a round trip in the city when the guide gave a short overview and description of the towns history:
Our capital and largest city in Norway was founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway and largely destroyed by a fire in 1624. The Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV rebuilt the city as Christiania. In 1925 the city reclaimed its original Norwegian name, Oslo. The diocese of Oslo is one of the five original dioceses in Norway, which originated around the year 1070.
Oslo is the cultural, scientific, economic and governmental centre of Norway. It’s also a hub of Norwegian trade, banking, industry and shipping as well as an important centre for maritime industries and maritime trade in Europe. The city is home to many companies within the maritime sector, some of them are amongst the world’s largest shipping companies, ship-brokers and maritime insurance brokers.
We also had some short stops to some sightseeing:

The Vigeland Sculpture park:
OsloBG Vigeland Sculpture Park #1
Some of us gathered by the Angry Boy; the most tourist photographed object in Norway. We had an excellent guide who gave a wonderful introduction to Vigeland’s beautiful work of his life (you may read more about it in my post: Olga the travelling bra clothing statues Vigeland Park:
OsloBG Vigeland Sculpture Park #3 OsloBG Vigeland Sculpture Park #2

The Holmenkollen ski jump:
20 minutes by tram, on the hill behind the central city, you’ll find Norway’s number one sports icon: The Ski Jump: is host to the world’s oldest notable ski jump competition still in existence.
Since then the capacity of the stands has been increased to over 50,000 people and the jump has been extended 18 times, last time in 1982. Today’s tower extends 60 meters above ground, and 417 metres above sea level. The current record of 139.5 meters was achieved by Andreas Kofler of Austria on 14 March 2010. I was there at that time and can recall you’re memory from my post: “Holmenkollen Ski Jump preparing for OSL2011
This time we went to the very top and here is the view (unfortunately in rainy weather):
OsloBG 2010 Holmenkollen Ski Jump

Bygdøy Island & the Museums:
We ended up passing the Museums at Bygdøy (click the links to read my earlier posts:- Like the Kon-Tiki Museum, which shows all year long the legendary expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl. The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. Viking Ship Museum as well as Norwegian Maritime Museum and the ship Fram, used by Roald Amundsen.

OsloBG – The show will go on:
This was just a short report from the first day. The show will go on for two more days, so stay tuned!

Update: My wife DianeCA’s post from this first day: Blogger friends exploring Oslo at OsloBG!

OsloBG The Oslo Blog Gathering 2010 in Norway

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and other Social Media connect people and brake down cultural, religious and other barriers. Surveys also tell that people active in Social Media are more socially active face to face too. OsloBG and the Oslo Blog Gathering 2010 in Norway is an excellent proof of that and its happening this week:

OsloBG2010 at RennyBAOsloBG is a three day program to explore Oslo and Norway’s culture, traditions and habits. Associates like VisitOslo give the Oslo Pass to all participants which allows free access to sightseeing attractions as well as public transportation. That gives everyone a free choice of how to experience our compact city offering everything from the Fjord, the mountains and wild life as well as pulsating urban adventures. Click the official logo to read about the whole program.

OsloBG in Social Media:
OsloBG2010 at RennyBAThe gathering is first of all a social gathering for people from all over the world who love to meet up and share magic moments while exploring Oslo. Some might blog about it live (like me, so stay tuned!) and some will share our adventures on other social media. I have a Nokia X6, excellent for uploading and sharing on all platforms, so check out my photos and reports on Facebook, Twitter and/or Flickr as well! If you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of us and our adventures live at my Qik-site too from where I can broadcast real time, on line!

OsloBG’s Guest list:
Of course all participants are active on the net too and you might like to check them out for reports during or after the gathering:
From Norway/USA: The Host Renny and his wife Diane at DianeCA’s Metamorphoses
Norway: TorAa at TorAa’s Mirror
Sweden: Mrs. Lifecruiser & Mr. Lifecruiser at LifeCruiser’s Travel Blog
France: Claudie & Pierre at LazazandCruisers
France/USA: Vagabonde at Recollections of a Vagabonde
Portugal: Lelé Batita at Pérola de Cultura
UK: living in Norway – Nicola at Facebook
Russia: living in Norway – Svetlana at Facebook
Denmark/USA: – Rachel & her sister at Happily practising Danish. And I run too.
Indonesia: – sherinesky! at Once upon a blog
Latvia: living in Norway – Edgar Valdmanis at Norwegian Computer Society
Philippines: living in Norway – Anna Lyn at Nothern Angle
Spain: – Maria… at Facebook
Canada: living in Norway – BeaverBush at Canadian in Norway
Norway: returned from South-Africa – Caroline at Returne to Norway
USA: living in Norway & her SO – Michele at My Grand Adventure Part II
USA: living in Norway – Corrine at Northern Natterings
Indonesia: living in Norway – Cecelia at This Indonesian
UK: living in Norway – Karen at Facebook
Philippine: living in Norway – Charles Ravndal at

Click their link to enjoy all they will report before, during and after the gathering and of course check back here for updates and reports from our gathering!

Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord in Norway

The Oslo Fjord, crowned by the capital of Norway, is an inlet of the Skagerrak bay, stretching inland from the North Sea towards Øresund in Sweden and the Baltic Sea. A “Fjord” is normally formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley by abrasion of the surrounding bedrock and many such valleys were formed during the recent ice age. In spite of its name, the Oslo Fjord is not a fjord in the geological sense, but it still is wide range of waterways.
This Fjord has an impressive archipelago of islands, which in summer becomes the city’s favoured playground and since the in-laws from the US are visiting, we wanted them to have a taste and luckily enough we have good friends with a cabin and a boat on the Fjord. They were kind enough to give us a whole day to explore and we gladly take you along:
Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #14

Oslo is situated in an amphitheatre-like setting, with the city centre in the bottom close to the Oslo fjord, and residential areas stretching uphill from there in all directions. Behind the residential areas, the forested area extends, with flora and fauna that is quite extraordinary for a city of this size (click all pics to bigify & enjoy):
Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #1 Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #2

Enough facts and on to our round trip with the boat – I guess photos show more than a thousand words:
Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #16 Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #15
Recreational, don’t you think?

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A lot of nice beaches on the islands and shores.

Tourist highlights:

Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #3 Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #6
Above & Below: Oslo harbour at the City Hall
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Above & Below: The new Oslo Opera House
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Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #13
Bygdøy island with e.g. Maritime and the Viking ship museum.

Some curiosities:

Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #20 Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #21
Above: Light Houses – Below: House boat
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Moose are commonplace (easily spotted in winter), and the whole of the capital is part of Norway’s wolf reserve (even if they rarely come here). We did not see any moose that day, but on the island by our friend’s cabin, we saw this cute deer:
Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #25 Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #26

A culinary end:

Summer boating on the Oslo Fjord #24
The day was finished off with a delicious dinner of grilled pork loin, baked potatoes and salads. We were incredibly lucky to have good friends willing to share their cottage and boat and help us give a perfect summer Norwegian experience while my wife’s family was visiting. We will soon be moving on to Sweden, and then across the Norwegian mountains to Bergen. So keep checking in for a look at the fantastic Nordic summertime.

American family visit as tourists in Norway

VisitNorway at RennyBAWhat to do when family comes to visit Norway for 14 days? It’s plenty of options; in Oslo and the aria around of course – and then you have; The South with the coastline full of beaches, The West with wild mountains and fjords, as well as The North with magical landscape and not to mention the Land of the Midnight Sun! In addition; we have a vacation home in Sweden, so why not visit two Scandinavian countries while your at it – out of US for a change, anyway!

Readers Guide for this post: Click photo to bigefy & enjoy – Click links to read my posts about it!

A taste of Oslo:
What to do at OsloBG #2 Mini Cruise Oslo Fjord in Norway #4A real challenge since it’s so much to chose from and we only have a few days before the trip to Sweden. Our suggestion is to start with “Highlights of Oslo” (three hours bus trip to get to know the city and see the Vigeland Park, Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Bygdøy with the Viking Ship Museum).
We’ll also take the Mini Cruise on the Oslo Fjord (hop on/off from the harbour, the Oslo New Opera House and Bygdøy at the Maritime Museum.
Luckily enough, some friends have a boat and cottage on Oslo Fjord and we’ll have one day cruising around and dine at their summer paradise in the end of the day.

A trip to Sweden:
Wandering through time in old Mariestad #3 Lacko Castle #1My regular readers know we have a vacation home in mid Sweden at lake Vänern (northern Europe’s largest) and we’ll go there for a couple of days. There are plenty of things to do in the local area around Mariestad, as my regular readers have seen over the years. Diane’s family hasn’t been to Sweden so this will be a fun experience for them. Some highlights we will visit are The Old Town, Göta Canal and Läckö Baroque Castle.
Of course we will meet some friends and enjoy an ice cream at the guest harbour. Plus no trip to Mariestad would be complete without a trip to enjoy the sunsets at Ekodden beach.

Over the wild mountains of Norway to Bergen:
Telemark Mountain #2 Bergen in Norway - Fish MarketTo give a real taste of the variety of landscape in Norway; the long trip over the mountains and along the fjords to Bergen is a necessity. We will give them what we like to call the Postcard tour. The scenery along the way is breath taking with everything from open farm land, rolling hills climbing to high mountains, a snow capped high mountain plain, as well as breathtaking fjord views. There are many waterfalls along the way, and we will cross one of the lovely fjords in a ferry boat so we will have the view from the water as well. Bergen is of course a fun city to visit with its own special charm, so all and all the family will get a lot of holiday adventures in a compact period of time.

Practising for the OsloBG:
OsloBG2010 at RennyBASome people might call me patriotic, but I do love to show off my country. It is always fun to have visitors who appreciate what we sometimes take for granted in our daily lives. We will now have an opportunity to warm up for the OsloBG where we will have lots of interested guests to guide around. It will be an advantage to go through the sites once more before our guests arrive and find the most efficient way to enjoy as much as possible.