We’ve got two full days in Oslo to explore to our hearts’ content. Armed with our Oslo Passes, we have free rein from public transit and free entrance to many exhibits and attractions. I discovered it would also get us via bus to the fancy spa, as it was just on the outskirts of the free zone. The person who recommended the hotel to us assured us you could go in with your swimsuit. Oddly specific, but I’ll take it.

But first – we explore Oslo. I thought this was mildly unremarkable on Tuesday, but as we were pulling into port from our room, I spied a US Coast Guard ship being pulled by a tugboat (pictured below because Rhett didn’t believe me). I was moderately perplexed but figured, “idk NATO?? ?” and didn’t give it much more thought.

Also, is there no way this ship is practically functional unless it can time travel?

On Tuesday night, Oslo was pretty devoid of cars. I figured it was just successful European de-carrying of a downtown area (yay for the road Norway built under the city) combined with the fact that Oslo is not that populous (about 1m people, including the burbs) and enjoyed jaywalking to my heart’s content.

We ended up meeting a friend for dinner on Wednesday, and we learned that was most certainly not the case. A huge aircraft carrier and several American warships were in the area, preparing to embark on joint naval exercises in the Arctic Circle (for funsies clearly) with Norway. This makes Russia grouchy because Clearly There Is No Reason For This Behavior, and it has been spewing some grouchy rhetoric. It does border Norway, and contrary to propaganda at home, the rest of the world is not always keen on us being the World Freedom Police, so security is extra tight.

Well, that would do it

So thanks my tax dollars, because I’m sure they subsidized the security measures, which were probably quite inconvenient to everyone else but allowed us to walk everywhere without getting run over by just one of the many sneaky EVs roaming about.

All that aside, the public transit was mainly up and running for our entire trip (except for when our tram was shut down due to the event at city hall). Our first stop: the Folk Museum, an open-air museum that has lots of old Norwegian farmhouses from the 1600s onwards, demonstrations, and guided tours by hosts in local costume. It was started by King Oscar II in the late 1800s when national romanticism began to grow, and Norway began to agitate for its divorce from Sweden.

Norway is Just Trees, and importing stone was extremely expensive, so all of the old houses are made of wood and have really delightful sod roofs. The roof was changed every 30 years, so when the farm was inherited, the right of passage was replacing your sod roof.

Everyone lived in a tiny one-bedroom house, which was definitely especially pleasant in the winters, when there was almost no light outside and you were snowed in and probably stinky. If you really wanted to flex on your neighbors, by the 1700s, you’d have windows on your farmhouse (and a proper fireplace and chimney).

Our guide, in the tiny farmhouse, around its one firepit

Toilets from below!

A wealthy farmer had windows on their guesthouse

The folk museum has an old stave church, built in the 1200s and moved to the folk museum in the late 1800s. Inside, our guide showed us the graffiti from the 1200s. Most of the graffiti was about prayers or faith, but one said vagina (as you do).

Oh yeah, and they had farm animals!

This is a fjord horse (check out its stripes)

Look at all these chickens!

We were looking forward to the Viking Ship Museum (located behind the Folk Museum), but it’s closed until at least 2025 for reconstruction 

After lunch, we wandered to the Fram Museum, dedicated to the exploration of the Arctic and the Antarctic and the search for the northwest passage. The ships Fram and Gjoa are both preserved inside the museum, restored, and held up for tourists to crawl all over them.

The Gjoa, for your consideration

The museum contains movies, diaries, and a lot of exhibits about surviving (and not) in the harsh arctic conditions. The Fram was designed ten years after they had figured out theories of ice floes and had been designed to be lodged in the ice and float on it for years on end. Overwinters and not, the crew spent a lot of time clearing ice buildup off of it and making sure it wouldn’t get crushed, in between doing Science and punching each other. It also had a collapsible windmill that was used to generate electricity.

On board the Fram

The rudder was taller than me!

Windmill for electricity generation

The engine room

Dr Nanson’s room

In fact, at one point, for a few years, the lead scientist and explorer, Dr Nanson, left the ship with one other crew member in search of the north pole. The crew was mostly happy to see him go, as he had become an ass.


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