Out and About in Oslo

Thursday, Oct 24

Ginger and I headed out to the Viking Ship Museum this morning.  It houses 3 original Viking ships, all were discovered inside burial mounds and unearthed in the late 1800s/early 1900s.  The people buried inside would have been quite prominent among their people. All the ships have been reconstructed, although the 3rd one was missing to many parts that only about ⅓ of the ship is on display, the rest having disintegrated through the ages.  The other 2 were so well intact, that the museum workers reconstructed the few missing parts in order to display what the complete ship would have looked like originally. The first one that you encounter upon entering the exhibit is the most lavishly decorated Viking ship ever found.  And, indeed, it had some exquisite carvings along the keel, both front and back. See photos below. This ship was buried in a massive mound with 2 women (who may or may not have been queens). It was built in the year 820, and buried 14 years later. Buried inside with the two women were lots of things they would need in the after life, including a lavishly carved cart, several horses and dogs, combs, cooking utensils, a couple of beds, and lots of other things that I can’t remember.  Some of the items from the burial chamber were also on display. The balls of yarn (so they were labeled) looked like a cat’s hairball. Not sure how they figured out that was a ball of yarn. The ship that was in worst repair had a warrior buried inside it. They figure he died from battle wounds; his leg bone was cut entirely off just above the knee and he had several other cuts to his leg bones consistent with sword wounds. He had, among many other things, a game board and playing pieces buried with him.  There were large photos of the dig sites, old and black & white, since the ships were dug up around the turn of the 20th century. I thought it was interesting to see how the shape of the ship had sort of sunk into a flat version of itself through the centuries of dirt pressing down on it and decay of the items buried with the bodies.

After the museum, we walked around the corner to a little restaurant called Cafe Hjemme hos Svigers (which translates to “the home of the in-laws”).  Ginger and I both ordered sandwiches, which came shaped like three dimensional Viking ships. (See photos). We ate them with forks, as they seemed not to be the kind of sandwich you pick up with your hands to eat.  

After lunch we strolled (in the steadily increasing rain) among the shops along Karl Johans Gate – a central shopping district in Oslo.  One of the souvenir shops that we stopped in, called Universal Presentkort, had a little Troll Forest scene in the middle of the store. There were animatronic trolls and taxidermied animals, including a bear eating some berries.  

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