Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

9th July 2015

Posted by at 8.54pm | No responses | Out and About

If you read my previous blog, you may not be surprised to hear that I woke up on Sunday morning feeling slightly woozy.

I poured myself a strong coffee, which proved to be a bad idea, as it just made me feel even worse. It took a hot shower and a stodgy breakfast before I felt even vaguely good enough to leave the hotel.

A few days before my departure, I’d asked on Twitter for ideas for things to do in Oslo, and @colin7t3 came through for me:-

A stroll through a park seemed like exactly the sort of genteel activity to ease me into the day. Even more excitingly, getting there would involve a ride on a tram. I’d seen Oslo’s trams trundling around the city since the moment I arrived, but this would be my first chance to ride one.

Oslo Tram on Route 11

In my excitement, I got a little bit confused. A tram track ran right past the hotel door, but it was a one way street and the trams here ran in the opposite direction to the one I needed. There were lots of roadworks going on, with some tram tracks out of use and diversions in place. This meant that the little pocket map I was carrying around with me didn’t exactly match up with the actual situation on the ground. I eventually found the tram stop, just in time to see a tram disappearing into the distance. Balls.

The scrolling electronic display cheerfully informed me that the next tram would be in… 30 minutes. Yes, the trams only run half-hourly on Sunday mornings, a fact that I had neglected to check. Balls again.

I resigned myself to wait. There was nowhere to sit, so I leaned against a wall and tried not to look too much like a clueless tourist.

After a few minutes, I decided to double-check the timetable, to see if there was an alternative tram I could get. A quick perusal of the poster revealed two things: not only was there no alternative service, but the trams that did run from here didn’t actually go to Frogner Park. I was waiting at the wrong stop. Balls a third time.

I shivered slightly. In stark contrast to yesterday, the weather was overcast and decidedly cool. I was wearing just jeans and T-shirt, and it wasn’t enough. I looked up at the sky; it looked like it might rain at any moment. I sighed, and trudged back to the hotel to get my jacket.

When I wandered out again a few minutes later, I set off in the other direction. I wandered down a side street which I was convinced would lead me to the tram stop, but eventually I ended up near the Oslo Opera House. This wasn’t right either. Still, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I was here, and went to see the Opera House up close.

Oslo Opera House

The Opera House has one excellent feature: the roof is open to the public, accessed by a (steep) ramp or a flight of steps. If this were in London, you’d be charged £20 and have to walk through a metal detector to access it.

Oslo Opera House ramp

At the top, there are some nice views out into the harbour. Unfortunately, on the other side all you really get to see is some modern glass tower blocks and a building site. This part of Oslo is still very much a work in progress.

Oslo building site Oslo harbour

Still no sign of the tram stop I needed, however. There were tracks, neatly grassed over, so I followed them.

Oslo tram tracks with grass

The amount of walking I had actually done, I could probably have walked directly to the park by now. I was determined, however, to ride a tram. Finally, I happened on Kongens gate, and a tram stop from where I could get where I wanted to go. A number 12 tram heading to Majorstuen, and I hauled myself aboard.

After all that, I can report that Oslo’s trams are… okay. The vehicle I was on dated from the mid-1980s, and looked a little scruffy. Still, I was grateful to sit down for a bit, even if it was on a seat that had “GAY” scrawled on it in permanent marker.

Oslo tram interior

By the time I reached Frogner park, it was nearly 12 o’clock. I had lost most of the morning due to my own incompetence. It was something of a relief to alight from the tram and walk through the grand entrance gates.

Frogner Park Gates

A brief stop in the café for a much-needed beverage, and then I walked down the wide main avenue of the park, heading for the central bridge, which is lined with bronze sculptures.

Frogner Park Avenue Frogner Park Bridge

The sculptures in Frogner Park are the work of Gustav Vigeland. They were installed gradually throughout the 1920s, 30s and 40s, and are now a protected monument under Norwegian law.

The bronze statues on the central bridge depict men, women and children, supposedly carrying out “everyday” activities, like playing sports. In the nude, of course – it is Norway, after all.

The most famous sculpture is the Angry Boy statue, and it was certainly drawing the crowds today; I had to wait for a coach party of Japanese tourists with selfie sticks to disperse before I could get this picture. Notice that his hand is shiny; this is because of a superstition that touching his hand will give you good luck. Touch any other part and you’ll probably get arrested.

Angry Boy statue

A little further on was this set of ornamental gates. The little curly bits of metal representing the pubes are a nice touch. I wonder if B&Q do this design?

Frogner Park Gates

The gates stand at the entrance to the monolith, the centrepiece of the park. Around the edge of the monolith are more statues, in granite this time.

Frogner Statue Frogner Statue

Then, the monolith itself. Yes, it’s a giant phallic structure made of naked people. Where’s Sigmund Freud when you need him?

Frogner Park Monolith

The monolith itself is slightly raised up, giving some great views back across the park. Sadly, the weather wasn’t particularly great at this point (it started raining slightly not long after I took this picture).

Frogner Park

Beyond the monolith, at the far end of the park, is a sundial, and the Wheel of Life, a sculpture depicting four humans in harmony, representing eternity.

Sundial Wheel of Life

So that was how I spent my Sunday morning – looking at naked people (something which proved to be a recurring theme over the weekend).

It was time to move on. Frogner Park used to be the grounds of a manor, and the manor house itself has been converted into the Oslo City Museum. It was here that I headed next. I’ll cover that in the next instalment, but in the meantime, I’d like to introduce you all to my new boyfriend:

Robert with statue

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