Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oslo 2

Off to the Bygdøy peninsula today for boat museums -- which prompted us to try to figure out how that is actually pronounced (yes, we should just ask someone, but we have to do something to amuse ourselves on the metro...). Is it big-doy? Big-day? Buy-doy? Buy-day? I did look it up, btw, and it's big-deuh with that particular Norwegian o-sound. C'mon, I can still reduce myself to giggles pronouncing the Swedish town of Boarp, ok? I'm easily amused.

At any rate, we caught the early ferry today over to he Viking Ship Museum and looked at remarkable Viking ships and the stuff they have found in them. The ships here are burial ships--they were found as part of burial mounds with grave goods and funerary huts and the like. This is quite different from the ships in the museum in Roskilde, Denmark; those ships were sailing ships that were scuttled to protect the harbor, not buried carefully. Two of the ships are well-preserved and look as if they could sail off at any moment, the third is just the skeleton of a ship, a few ribs and keel. There isn't a lot of information about the ships, really, just a short blurb on each one. It's the "finds" wing of the museum that is fascinating, though -- tons of detailed wood work, funerary goods, decorations, goldwork, and mundane objects that were found in the ships (even after they'd been grave-robbed in antiquity). The museum is very stark, just a white-plastered cruciform building, like a huge church. In fact, that seems very appropriate.

It's a short walk to the Fram museum, which was a surprise. I expected a polar-exploration museum (which it is), but I didn't expect the whole ship to be there! They basically built a museum around the dry-docked Fram ship, intact. The three-story museum has dozens of placards and photos and "lantern slides" (I had to go look up what a lantern slide was) of the various expeditions to the pole. Images of the dogs, of the men on the boat, of the depots and sledges, accompanied by the diary entries from Roald Amundson. I was surprised to learn that they didnt' take a doctor on the voyage (and they were very pleased not to have needed one) and that they killed enough seals and walrus to store 210,000 lbs of meat in the various depots they set up for supplies. And, of course, that the decision to head to the south pole was a last minute decision aimed at stealing the thunder of Cook and Peary, who had reached the north pole. He didn't even tell the crew and his backers until they actually underway, that they were heading to the Antarctic and not the Arctic.

Clustered near the Fram are the Kon-Tiki museum, and the Norse Maritime museum, so we just rounded the corner to see the Ra II and a replica of the Kon Tiki raft that Thor Heyerdahl sailed (floated?) to Polynesia, and later to support his idea that the papyrus boats the Egyptians built were seaworthy. We watched a few clips of the 50's movie about the Kon Tiki, and looked around a bit at the various exhibits about common boat design and environmental concerns. It didn't grab either of us very much, to be honest, so we crossed over to the Maritime museum in search of lunch and ended up looking at the dozens of perfect ship models in the museum. I love the little ship models--some of the complicated ones came with a plaque describing who made it and how long it took, I can't imagine spending four years building a single model, complete with tiny pulleys and ropes. I don't really want to make them myself, but I d love to look at them. I love architectural models, too--those maquettes of historic buildings can keep me occupied for hours.

Oslo has a large "folk park", like so many of the cities here in Scandinavia--large outdoor collections of antique buildings moved to an open-air park, usually with costumed docents and various activities. Skansen in Stockholm is a huge one, and there are a few others scattered around. Norway has half a dozen, I think. This one is actually very well done and interesting, with the houses and outbuildings grouped in regional areas, so you can see a typical farmstead in Sedesdal or Hallingdal or Telemark. Information about the buildings is a bit thin on the ground (I imagine they have more people staffing the various buildings later in the season), but it's a great place to wander around on a sunny afternoon.

We even watched a demonstration of lefse-making at one of the farmhouses. We were surprised at the results -- it was thicker, sweeter, and more cake-like than what we consider "lefse". What we are familiar with is potato lefse, the thin potato crepes. This is 'sweet lefse' that was commonly made in the Hallingdal valley for celebrations-it's rolled out in barley flour and is more like a buttermilk pancake with butter, milk, and cinnamon. Yummy! We ate it hot from the griddle (over the fire!) and grabbed the recipe. We'll have to try this at home. We have all the right equipment, of course - the girl demonstrating it was using lefse-turning sticks that are just like ours. Of course, we aren't making them over an open fire on a flat cast-iron pan, so her process was far more difficult than ours is!

And, we saw a exhibition of folk dancing which had absolutely adorable little kids in bunads bouncing around in the traditional dances of the regions -- lots of clapping and stomping and kicking, whilst going around in circles. Some of the older couples danced the more complicated stuff, which we decided looked very much like the boys showing off for the girls, and the girls testing out each partner until they found one they liked. I've been looking online, too, for an answer to a very pressing question: why does the men's bunad have a huge leather patch on the butt?

Opting not to get back on the bus (earlier, we had a very exciting bus ride with jerky stop-and-starts as it barreled around this tiny neighborhood) we walked back to the ferry stop and cruised back to the main pier. Mark wanted to see the Armed Forces Museum, which was supposed to be open for another hour or so, so we walked through Akershus Fortress again and discovered that the museum is closed (no notice, so my little booklet must be in error). It was a lovely walk, though, with ice cream to make up for the missed museum. We walked back through the main part of town to the metro station, and back around to the hotel.

It was a lovely day--sat in the sun, walked around in the pretty recreated villages, had ice cream. Tomorrow? Up to the ski jump to view Oslo, out to Frogner Park to see sculptures, and a walk through some of the neighborhoods in town. At least that's the plan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want the recipe for Hallingdal lefse! And I want to know about the leather patch.