To end our adventures in Norway, we spend time exploring Oslo. We try several coffee shops to keep our caffeine levels high. Our favorite is easily Tim Wendleboe – great coffee, great atmosphere, not so great prices, but that’s Oslo.
We walk through much of the city, some of the time along the river, which even has a couple waterfalls. We pause at Vulcanfisk for lunch, and enjoy some very fresh seafood. Afterwards, we walk around an inside market, where we’re convinced to try some smoked minke whale. Delicious. We learn that historically whale was an undesirable food choice; however, that is because if stored incorrectly, it is not very good. The gentleman behind the counter also answers many of our questions around salmon farming, and we get a much better sense of how the salmon that we’ve been eating every day here in Norway is raised.
After lunch and another cup of coffee, we walk back through the city to the Vigeland museum and nearby Frogner Park. The museum and park hold the statues of Gustav Vigeland, who was both prolific in terms of his productivity and very creative.
Although Norway is not known for its alcohol scene, partly because the prices and taxes on alcohol are so high, we do find a microbrewery Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri to taste a couple local brews, and at the end of the night we find a nice cocktail bar named Fulgen. At both, we toast to our Norwegian adventure.
Trying to find a book on Norway, I came across many of the history books that write of the many battles that occurred through the Viking Age and into the Middle Ages. Although the blood and guts seemed exciting and although it is clearly an essential part of Norwegian history, I decided to take a different route.
Jostein Gaarder, originally from Oslo and a long time history teacher in Bergen, eventually wrote the best selling book across the world by 1995. Sophie’s World, which is subtitled “A Novel About the History of Philosophy” tackles 2000 years of philosophy through the relationship between a philosopher teacher and a 14-year-old girl, Sophie. Through this book, I obviously learn a thing or two about some of the greatest philosophers of all time, but I also get a sense of a peaceful Norwegian village. One that is next to a lake and filled gardens and trees, so many trees that it becomes like a forest. The village is safe and idyllic and she and her friend Joanna walk down the streets together.
Although from this book, I don’t learn the great history of the Vikings, I do get a sense that the Norway will be a thoughtful place full of nature and adventure, and I am ever more excited to go.
(Next book on the list: Growth of the Soil, a book that describes the simple life of a Norwegian man who settles and lives in rural Norway, stressing the relationship between characters and the natural environment more than anything else.)