15 July 2015

Team P takes Oslo, Part 2

Our Norwegian adventure continues! But before I tell you about the next part of our trip, I have to talk about bringing a baby to Norway. Honestly, when I was deciding which international conference to attend this summer, I specifically chose Norway (over other contenders, Spain and Australia) because it seemed the easiest place to take a baby. You always hear stats about how together Norway has it, you know? All the babies are educated and fed and probably beautiful, too. Plus, there’s that rumor about how Scandinavian parents leave their babies outside of stores and restaurants, which can’t possibly be true and is instead a metaphor for how safe and sophisticated Norwegian babies are, right?


Please direct your attention away from Mr. P and Baby P, who were simply acting as poorly-lit decoy photography subjects so I could take a photo of that UNMANNED BABY CARRIAGE. True, the mom was directly on the other side of the glass wall of the café, and in all honesty, this was the only baby-left-outside I saw. But still! The rumor, it is true!

That said, we kept Baby P close at all times. And our next adventure involved a boat!

We decided to take a ferry over to the island-turned-penisula of Bygdøy, and yes I did just learn how to type a ø so I could spell it properly. So Norwegian!

On Bygdøy are several of Oslo’s best museums, including the Folk Museum. I will say it right here, up front, that this was by far our best time spent in Oslo. Just from the name, it sounds like there would be rooms full of clothing and furniture and artifacts, and there is some of that...

But the vast majority of the museum is open-air, which means it’s more like a huge park with entire buildings reconstructed from different regions and times in Norway’s history.

You can walk around in them, too! Some even have costumed actors making food or singing songs. And you can pretend to step back in time yourself, if you want.

Gotta keep the stroller fueled up!

In addition to the more modern history above (some of which has been added since the museum opened one hundred twenty-one years ago), there were salvaged cabins from a few centuries ago...

And there’s a reconstructed Sami settlement, with an adjacent building filled with Sami artifacts.

But my favorite were the old ornate wooden buildings like this one:

And the crown jewel of the museum, the Gol Stave church from the 12th century.

No paintings or statues in this church. It’s Norway, so the art is made of wood, of course!

The church alone was well worth the trip to the museum, plus the hike (off-road, with a stroller) up to its hilltop location.

But really, the whole museum was just delightful. We even got to see a performance of traditional Norwegian song and dance.

Mr. P stopped filming right before the words of farewell from the woman, who implored us to drink lots of water, as it was a very hot day. (We checked the weather right then, thanks to the free wifi throughout the museum. It was 62°F.)

We ended up staying for over three hours, and even then, Mr. P and I felt like we’d skipped half the museum and rushed through the parts we saw. Honestly, we could’ve stayed all day. Not everyone was as enthralled as Mr. P and me...

But hey, at least he got a short nap in his stroller! FYI, the downside to training your baby to sleep in his crib is that your baby is now trained to sleep only in his crib.

Before we left Bygdøy, we wanted to stop at one more museum (just one, of the four others!): the Viking Ship Museum. It has the three best-preserved Viking ships in the world!

That may not seem that impressive until you see the fourth best-preserved ship in the world (yikes). It was pretty remarkable to see ships over a thousand years old – that had been buried in the ground, no less – looking so much like ships.

Not to mention the other Viking artifacts there. I hadn’t realized how few items from Viking culture exist today – apparently Mr. P and I saw the bulk of it! Basically we are Viking experts now.

After the Viking Ship Museum, we took the ferry back to the city center. We sat inside on the way over, but snagged outside seats on the way back. Baby P was a fan!

Not sure how many times I can say that the kid’s a born traveler, but he is. Apparently a love for exploring can be passed on genetically!

The next day, we set out for another historical site – but first, we went out for lunch. And not on the harbor this time! We ate at a for-real, inside restaurant!

We just entertained Baby P with a napkin. Seriously, works every time.

He’s not much for sitting around in restaurants, but he’s happy to be out and about, seeing the world, wearing his boat outfit.

If I’d planned better, he would have worn that outfit to the Viking Ship Museum, but instead, he wore it to visit the Akershus Fortress. If you’re paying close attention, you’ll remember that’s the fortress you could see from our harborside lunch a few days earlier. The fortress juts out into the water right across from Oslo’s City Hall, right in the middle of the city center. But when you’re inside, it feels more like a park than anything.

We took a walking tour around the grounds (which are free! You only pay to go into the castle!) and got into the military theme, as you can see here with Mr. P and Baby P standing guard.

It was funny until the door behind them opened and actual soliders carrying rucksacks started marching out. Haha. Oops.

Baby P also manned the cannons. Who put this guy in charge?

Akershus Fortress was lovely to walk around, and easier to fully accomplish compared to the Folk Museum. And above all, we considered ourselves fortunate to have found sights that made us feel like we’d truly seen other parts and times in Norway... all without actually leaving the city. Lest you think I’m being reductionist, I talked with an actual Norwegian a few days later and mentioned that I felt like I’d seen so much more than Oslo just by visiting the museums. He agreed! So it turns out that Norway really is an easy country to visit with a baby, as you can see so much within a single city.

I’ll wrap up our trip to Oslo next week!