A Travellerspoint blog

6/11 A Day in Oslo

Last here on July 19, 2011, with my son, Cianán

sunny 65 °F

Perhaps the most notorious thing Americans might recall about Oslo is the massacre that occurred here on July 22, 2011, when a right-wing extreme nationalist killed 77 people, most of them teenagers. Surely, the event is for Norwegians the same as 9/11 or the assassination of JFK is to Americans for that "I know exactly where I was..." For more on that tragedy stream the Paul Greengrass film 22 July on Netflix. You'll learn about a bomb in Regjeringskvartalet, the government center of Norway, here in Oslo and then, two hours later, on the island of Utøya, a massacre where an annual summer camp was just opening for the season.

Cianán and I were here just three days before (aboard the Emerald Princess, a cruise ship like the Regal Princess which is here today) RegalPrincess.JPGPrincessBeyondBeach.JPGand saw hundreds of these kids, backpacks and walking sticks in hand, making their way to the wharf for the short boat ride to Utøya. The sight of those kids haunts me to this day.


But I have other memories of Oslo, a more fond memory for us both was a visit with Cianán to the Oslo City Hall (near left), a place to which he returned last month (far left) when he was in Oslo for the annual European IDAHOT+ intergovernmental conference and LGBTI Focal Points Network Roundtable. He surprised me with an email where he had recreated the photo we had taken there eight years before. Oh, if only my trip on June 11, 2019, had coincided with his trip on May 14, 2019. Cianán now lives in Brussels and I get to see him all too infrequently--but will next month.CityHallPaul.JPGI went to City Hall to get my own photo but it was closed; out front will have to do.

Oslo days are long now, sunrise just before 4:00am and sunset a bit before 11:00pm. This day is partly cloudy and beautiful with a high of 71 degrees. Oslo is awash in scooters; four operators (Voi, Tier, Flash and Zvipp) are in business and five other operators are talking about entering the market. I saw only one real scooter crash but several more near misses. The blind community is up in arms about scooters saying they cannot hear them and that users leave them in the middle of sidewalks where they are easily tripped over. City officials, formerly boosting the low polluting devices are expressing surprise at the number of complaints they are receiving. If I lived here, I would be complaining but not about the scooters so much as about those who are operating them.


After strolling to the Central Station--home to the Oslo Tiger--I bought--for 108 krone ($12.44 U.S.)--a day pass for the tram and, after first boarding the right vehicle going the wrong direction (TOURIST!), eventually made my way to Frogner Park and the remarkable Vigeland Installation. It is the world’s largest sculpture park consisting of work by a single artist; admission is free. I was blown away the first time I visited and am, on this second trip, less surprised and more interpretive. The most popular tourist attraction in all of Norway, Froger’s Viegland Installation draws “between 1 and 2 million visitors each year,” admittedly a wide spread. The Daily Mail calls the work here “the weirdest statues in the world.” It has drawn a vast harvest of tourists today--two cruise ships are in port.

In 1924, Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) began planning and his work, statues depicting naked people engaging in typical and atypical pursuits, was installed in 1932. Of interest to ej4 folks, please know that Vigeland was born Adolf Gustav Thorsen but, in his twenties, changed his surname to match the name of an area where he had briefly lived.



There are a few abstract works but most of the 212 bronze and granite sculptures are straight forward while imaginative and worthy of contemplation. The capstone work, a 46-foot high monolith is composed of 121 human figures climbing over each other to reach the sky. Vigeland is also the designer of the Nobel Peace Prize medal.

Returning to Oslo airport on the express train (198 krone or $22.57 U.S. roundtrip) I leave Oslo on Scandanavian Airlines flight 4496, a Boeing 737-800 single class airplane with me and 180 other intrepid travelers aboard. We depart in daylight, just prior to ten o’clock at night to arrive three hours later, 45 minutes after midnight, 1,269 miles north northwest of Oslo in Longyearbyen, Norway. The sun is up; but then at this time of year it is always up.

At 78.2232° N, 15.6267° E, Longyearbyen is the planet’s northernmost city. There, daylight will extend the full 24 hours. The summer solstice is but ten days away. Solstice, from the Latin words ‘sol’ and ‘sistere,’ translates to “when the sun stands still.” On this day, the sun reaches its northernmost position in the sky; its zenith moves neither north nor south on this day, beginning its annual southward drift the following day. It’s the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and this is as far north as you can get and still find plumbing. Earth is farthest from the sun and the planet’s axial rotation is at its greatest. Were this a pinball machine, “tilt” would illuminate.

The solstice is the only day of the year when all locations inside the Arctic Circle experience a continuous period of daylight. It is The Midnight Sun. This is the time to go there because from October 25th until February 25, the sun does not rise. After their long dark winter, Longyearbyenders celebrate the sun's return on March 8th, the day the sun rises high enough to illuminate the steps of the old hospital (at precisely 12:15pm) in a celebration (and I suppose it is one heck of a celebration) called Solfestuka. It lasts a week. One presumes excellent alcohol sales during this period. But, then, one presumes excellent alcohol sales here year round.

But, back to now, I am to arrive just after midnight in daylight, hoping the blackout shades at the Radisson BLU Polar Hotel are good ones. I'll let you know tomorrow.

Posted by paulej4 08:52 Archived in Norway

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OK....Oslo first....then Longyearbyen. Loved the history,pics ....especially the sculptures.....the bombs and massacres....not so much. The history of Man's inhumanity to Man....is dreadful and seems never ending.

Travel Safe and Blog On,


by Chuck

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