Where were we? Oh yes. Having had 3 days in Copenhagen, we caught the wonderful DFDS ferry overnight to Oslo. The cabin was much better appointed and cheaper than the German train couchettes - why didn’t we think of using the same company’s route from Harwich to Esbjerg in Denmark? No navigational problems finding the loo in the middle of the night and, compared to the rattly points, an effortless passage across the Skagerrak between Denmark and Sweden, then Norway further north. The only let-down was that they didn’t have the backing for the tenor aria in Mozart’s Requiem for the karaoke competition in the bar. The DJ said they hadn’t had any demand for it before. Damn cheek!
We awoke the next morning just as we were entering Oslofjord, much less precipitous than the famous ones on the west coast which we hope to see later, but beautiful nevertheless in the early morning sunshine. It’s the fjord which was the backdrop to Munch’s famous painting, “The Scream”. The ferry had to negotiate several narrow channels with land close on either side. Eventually, Oslo appeared in the distance, quite a long way inland from the open sea.
We disembarked and wended our way to a hotel/hostel on the western side of the city. It turned out to be very disappointing with little character and few other people staying there to get to know. The highlight of Oslo was undoubtedly the sculpture park close to where we were staying. The park and its grounds were modelled by Gustav Vigeland in the early 20th century. Over the course of 30 years, he designed and had made 192 life-size sculptures of people in bronze and stone which are displayed around the grounds (see photos). They depict people both individually and in families in many different human states of emotion and experience - pleasure, despair, joy, humour, horror, death. The highlight is a 46ft high monolith of human figures piled on top of one another, subject to various interpretations such as the struggle of life.
Sculptures seem to be very much a part of the outdoor furniture of Scandinavian towns and cities, not just the usual historical monuments to the great and the good, but also modern images of many types. As in Vigeland’s sculpture park, they are often at ground level and accessible rather than raised up on plinths. Children were able to climb on them and inspect them at close quarters, so becoming an additional member of a family group, kissing their baby siblings as if they were real. It was moving to see people of all ages naturally interacting with art in this way.
On a lighter note, iPhone was able to make a currency calculation from Norwegian Kroner to British Sterling in 3.2278 seconds. Sue only managed it in 3.9879
Latest score: Luddites 1:1 iPhone
(iPhone ahead 2:1 on agg. on away-goal rule)