Robert Hampton

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14th July 2015

Posted by at 9.49pm | No responses | Out and About

This is the penultimate Oslo blog post. Yes, we’re up to Monday 29th June and my last day in Norway. I was bereft. Look at me, there, trying to put on a brave face. Oslo Pride indeed. Sob!

Hampo Oslo Pride

My flight wasn’t until 9pm, however, which left me most of the day to take in some more sights. I left my Ryanair-approved luggage with the concierge at the hotel, and headed back down to the pier in front of the City Hall, from where various ferries and sightseeing cruises depart.

Sunday had been marred by overcast conditions and the occasional shower. Now, however, the sunshine was back.

Oslo Panorama

The Helena was waiting for me at the pier, ready to set off on a mini-cruise. This is a substantial vessel, complete with an on-board bar selling drinks and snacks. For this, the first trip of the day, there were only a handful of people on board, so I grabbed a table to myself and sat down.

Helena View from Helena

A pre-recorded announcement informed us that “the crew will do everything to assist you.” I’m pretty sure I overheard one of the on board staff say “no, we will do everything to resist you,” but I can’t be 100% certain.

First, we sailed round to the Opera House to pick up some more passengers. The boat then heads out around the islands in the inner Oslofjord to the peninsula of Bygdøy, where several museums are located. It’s a relaxing, scenic voyage, and for holders of a 72-hour Oslo Pass, it’s free! That’s my favourite price!

DFDS Seaways ferry Oslo Opera House

A few minutes after leaving the Opera House, we had left the big city behind. The hustle and bustle of Oslo was so near, yet completely out of sight behind these tiny outcrops with their pretty summer houses and tiny boats tied up at jetties.

I imagined what life must be like – getting up in the morning and heading down to your boat for a trip to work. Not bad, all things considered; though maybe not quite so fun in bad weather.

Soon, we were tying up at Bygdøy, where I disembarked.

Bygdøy Helena at Bygdøy

There are several museums here, including the Folk Museum, Maritime Museum and Fram Museum (commemorating Norwegian polar expeditions), but I chose to go to the Viking Shop Museum. I feel a kinship with the Vikings; I live in Aigburth – whose name is derived from an old Norse word for “oak” – in a part of England that was settled by Viking invaders many centuries ago. Perhaps I have Viking ancestry; it would certainly explain my masculine features and fondness for fish.

On the other hand, it could be because of a memory from my childhood which surfaced while I was on my way to the museum. Picture the scene: it’s a summer holiday morning in the late 1980s. I should be outside in the fresh air, but instead I’m watching Children’s ITV, and Vicky the Viking is on. For the uninitiated, it told the story of a kid who stowed away on a Viking ship. This turned out to be fortunate, because Vicky was the only one on board who had any brains, and was constantly devising plans to get the ship out of trouble.

Incidentally, was I the only one who, as a kid, was shocked to realise that Vicky was actually a boy? He had long hair, a high-pitched voice and was called Vicky; so naturally I assumed he was a girl. Maybe this gender confusion is what turned me gay.


The Viking Ship Museum is quite small: just three main galleries, one for each of the ships on display. It’s yet another attraction bundled with the Oslo Pass; I didn’t keep track of how much I saved with this handy card, but I’m willing to bet it was a lot.

Viking Ship Museum

It’s amazing to think just how far the Vikings reached. I wasn’t aware that they had reached north Africa and even parts of Canada, as shown on the map here.

Viking Museum Map

Vikings were keen on giving their honoured dead a fitting send off. They would load them into a ship, complete with all their valuables and all the things they would need in the afterlife, and send them off out to sea. We should have done that with Margaret Thatcher, but maybe without the valuables, or the boat.

The Oseberg ship, seen below, was one such vessel. Estimated to have been built in the year 800, it was used for a Viking funeral.


After spending many years buried, it was unearthed by a farmer digging in a field in 1903. Archaeologists swooped and worked to extract the ship and preserve it. The result is on show in the museum – the most intact example of a Viking ship, and looking quite good for something that’s twelve centuries old.

Another couple of ships, which haven’t fared quite so well over the years, are also on show. One nice touch is that there are little balconies where you can climb up to get a proper view of the ships from above.

Viking Ship Museum 1 Viking Ship Museum 2

The ships had been plundered of their valuables long before they were excavated (at least, that’s the official story – did anyone check that farmer’s bank balance afterwards?) but there are still some interesting trinkets on display, including what is probably the world’s oldest comb.

Artefacts in the Viking Ship Museum

The work that has gone into preserving these artefacts is amazing. This sled was found broken into a thousand pieces, but was painstakingly reassembled.

Viking Museum Sled

A notice in one corner of the museum sounded a note of caution. The preservation techniques used on the wood were the best available at the time (the 1900s). A hundred years later, the wood is starting to decay from the inside, and scientists are urgently seeking new preservation methods to stop the rot.

All in all, it was an interesting way to spend an hour or so. I came away with a new found appreciation for the Vikings. Not just the raiders and pillagers they are so commonly depicted as, but traders and explorers too.

After splurging in the gift shop (I had 1,000 kr left and I was determined to spend it) thoughts turned to my lunch plans. I had arranged to meet Mark (from Saturday’s chance encounter), so I needed to get back into the city centre. I’d missed the return cruise trip, but handily there is a bus stop right outside the museum.

Londoners who have recently endured overheated journeys in Boris’s folly buses will be pleased to know that Oslo bus route 30 is operated by bendy buses with excellent air conditioning. For this, and so many other reasons, Oslo > London.

Bus stop Oslo Bus

In conclusion, I’ve decided I want a Viking funeral. When the time comes, load me onto a ship laden with treasures, and float me out into Liverpool Bay. You can track me on ShipAIS.

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