As the plane descended toward Oslo it was enveloped in think grey clouds. When we finally broke through we were what felt like merely a few hundred feet from the ground. Spread below was a thick green forest. Outside it was 5* C (41*F) in June. Meeting me at the airport was my father with whom I would travel for the next ten days and who would continue on, after my departure, throughout the Scandinavian countries. Right now he’s in Finland, I think, where we went to chase warmer, sunnier days than those we experienced in Norway.
Though the plan was originally to ride his motorcycle around the country and camp along the way we scratched that for a dry car and, as we picked up his sopping wet, grass-covered, mildew smelling tent from the campground later in the day, were were happy we’d also settled on rooms at inns and hotels. Thanks, Dad, for choosing to spend my inheritance on a memorable trip together instead of having us sleep on the cold ground. The memories made will always be worth it.
My first sights were of the capital city from the top – From the very top of its famous ski jump, where the history of nordic ski jumping has developed over the centuries into the death-defying sport it is today. As I looked down the jump my childhood memories of wanting to ski through the trees and hop over every bump came back to me. Now, I am content to watch the Frenchman, who only just discovered the joys of the slopes, tackle the mini-jumps instead while I cruise along in safety.
Following a brief walk around Oslo’s surprisingly small but enchanting harbor area we met some lovely friends of mine whom I had gotten to know while sailing in Greece last summer. At the time they were hoping to become pregnant, so I was thrilled to meet their then five-week-old daughter while in Oslo and to catch up with them as they truly are some of the kindest, loveliest people we have met on our travels, and I very much wish we lived closer.
Our bellies full and the midnight sun still shining my father and I spent our night in Oslo visiting the Vigeland Sculpture Park upon my friends’ urging. The park is Norway’s most visited tourist attraction and the most thought-provoking park I have seen as all around are bigger-than-life-sized sculptures of … life in all of her love, joy, pain, hate, sorrow, jealously, birth, and death. The 227 sculptures of bronze and granite captured our minds as we studied them in detail, the sun only just beginning to make its way below the horizon at 10:30 p.m. As we left a man slowly walked up the stairs to the park’s zenith, a monolith of 121 sculptures representing man’s desire to become closer with the spiritual and divine. When he reached the top, he sat, his head hanging, no doubt in contemplation made all the more transcendental by his surroundings.
Make sure to check back in this week for part 2 of our roadtrip through Norway’s fjord country as we venture from Oslo through Telemark, the birthplace of skiing!