Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Oslo Day 4 (?) – In Which We (and by ‘We’ I Mean the Girls) Go Swimming in the Fjord and There is An Angry Baby.


Have I mentioned yet how much I love Oslo? It’s big but not too big, diverse, architecturally interesting, and everyone here is outrageously friendly. As if that weren’t enough, today we found an amazing outdoor swimming complex built to allow Norwegians access to swimming in their beloved fjord whenever they like, weather permitting. The pools were our destination for the afternoon but first, it was time for bit of art.

The Vigeland Sculpture Museum is devoted to one of Norway’s most famous artists Robert Vigeland (not Edvard Munch – he has his own museum, that we didn’t go to because, well, I didn’t want a repeat performance of Zoe and Terra Vs. the Mona Lisa like we had in the Louvre a couple of years ago, so help me God). The museum sits beside Frogner Park, another beautiful urban park, where most of Vigeland’s sculptures are on display. In the museum, though, the entire artistic process is on  display, from his drawings, to his mould-making techniques, and models of his finished works.

Truth be told, I hadn’t actually planned to go to the museum, and had intended instead to go to his mausoleum, which is a work of art in itself. However, in Norwegian, one (‘Vigeland Museet’) looked just like the other (‘Emmanuel Vigeland Museet’), and so we ended up at the larger museum instead and spent a happy hour there admiring the art.

I found his sculpture to be refreshingly different; There were no blank-eyed Mother Mary statues here, holding their mal-proportioned baby Jesus. Nor where there any run-of-the-mill Kings on Horses or a partially draped Greek God holding a twig in one hand and a frog in the other, the symbolism of which is great, I’m sure, but usually fails to impress itself on my memory.

Here, Vigeland devoted his life’s work to exploration of the stages of life and the relationships between us, and even Zoe (typically a tough customer where art is concerned) was impressed:





These sculptures are the originals from which the moulds were made for the finished products that can be found in the park. One of his most well-known pieces is that of an angry baby. The story goes that he was in London when he saw a little boy having a fit. He quickly sketched him and then turned that sketch into a sculpture and then into a statue.


Out in the park, everyone wanted a photo with the angry baby.


Zoe and Terra decided to interpret the art in a more physical way:




For a second, I thought maybe this was the same two from the fountain in Copenhagen.

The walk back through the neighbourhoods was gorgeous as usual:



I especially enjoyed this store:


Aren’t the Norwegians cute?

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Europe in general for arranging to have the Linden trees in bloom everywhere we have been from the UK, to Denmark, to Norway. It makes walking the streets so much nicer.

Back in town, we saw a convoy of tour buses from Eastern Europe, all with hilarious things written on the outside. These two were my favourite:


I know I do, and it’s reassuring to know that BLAGUSS will help me reach them. Especially if my goal is to drive all the way from Latvia to Oslo in a bus.


I was a bit disappointed in Austria for this slogan. First of all, there’s no mention of The Sound of Music and secondly, they don’t sound excited at all:

Fritz: Not more Old Masters, please. Ve are sick of zem now.

Wolfgang (nodding head in agreement):  Could ve have some New Masters? Or even zom Middle Masters?

Wolfgang’s wife, Greta: Vat about Costco. Is zere a Costco?

Bus Driver: I’ve got some nice modern art, vould you like to zee zat?

All: No, no, Ve do not vant to see ze modern art!

Bus Driver: Are you sure? Zere are some gardening tools strewn on ze ground? I can show you a picture:


All: Ahhg, No! Ve do not vant to zee zat! Ahg, take it avay!

Bus Driver: Or zere is zis piece, vich I call Blue Vatermelon:


All: Please! No More! Fine, ve vill see the Old Masters AGAIN.

Greta: Vat about Ikea. Is zere an Ikea?

Bus Driver: Vy, yes, actually zere is! I vill drop you here and you just get on zat bus oer zere. Ok? I vil meet you here in 6 hours.


Art endeavours completed, it was time for a swim, even though it wasn’t exactly warm out. We set out to find the ‘bathing areas’ as they call them here, and ended up taking a circuitous route along the harbour promenade. We encountered many people fishing off the pier, but it didn’t look like anyone had actually caught anything, possibly ever. And if they did, they weren’t very big (the fish, not the fisherman) as everyone left their rods just sitting on the pier and wandered off to have a kaffe and speak jibberish (Norwegian) with their other fishing buddies. I guess this is what happens on a Sunday in Oslo. More power to them.


We eventually found the swimming pools on the other side of the Opera House, in a new development of condos and restaurants known as Soerenga. Actually,it’s not spelled like that  - there is a mysterious circle over the O, or maybe there is a stroke through it? I’m not sure right now..anyway it’s pronounced as if the first syllable is the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten, and the rest is as expected.

Apart from all that, it is a great place for a swim, or would be, if it were a bit warmer out. I’m not going to say it was cold exactly, but I did see Han Solo stuffing Luke Skywalker into a TonTon. There were other brave souls there as well, seemingly oblivious of the cold as well.





This body of water is the Oslo fjord, so it’s seawater, something Zoe forgot abut before jumping in. Bit of a shock to find yourself in salt water when you were expecting fresh – like taking a mouthful of vodka when you were expecting water, or so the look on Zoe’s face would suggest. Note the lifeguards in their parkas and shorts.

Terra went for an actual swim in the chop, which was also when the ferry to Copenhagen was leaving. Not to worry, I have the whole ‘drowning not waving’ thing down.



They must be from Canada.


All the condos here have their own swimming areas and docks. Needless to say, no one was in them as they were all tucked up in side by a fire under a pile of reindeer skins.


It was getting bleaker by the minute and we needed a warm up so we stopped at a café where I signed over my first born (sorry Jacob) for a couple of hot drinks and a cookie. We were still quite far from home when it really started raining. I’m not going to say it was a flood, but I saw a couple of giraffes and a pair of sheep getting on to an old man’s boat.

On our way home, Zoe found a soccer ball in the bushes of our park and dribbled and juggled it all the way home. I think she may be the only girl ever to do that in this city if the stares of the locals were anything to go by.


Of course it was already 8pm or something like that so we called it a night, bought our corner store dinner for the night and retreated to our cozy guesthouse.

Last day of our trip tomorrow!

Thanks for reading,



PS – I’ve been pestering the girls to do a Guest Blog (which so far they have refused) but Zoe did acquiesce today and wrote these words for the few people who will know what she is going on about:

Hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen hen.

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