Friday, August 27, 2010

Lands of the Midnight Sun Cruise--Part One--Dover and Oslo, July 23--26

I started a cruise journal on our recent cruise and have been working at home to complete it. Eighteen days is a long time to be on board and thus much to cover. Therefore, rather than sharing the completed journal—even in sections—I’ve decided to write greatly condensed versions of the journal and post them on my blog.

Our flight from DFW to Chicago and then on to London was as unpleasant as flying in the coach section always is! No reason to dwell on details. After landing in London, we were bused to Dover. Once on Oceania’s Insignia, we settled in and the first picture included below is of our friends Jo and Ray with us with the white cliffs of Dover in the background. We don’t look as tired as we were, fortunately!

Our first full day on board was a sea day, sailing from Dover to Oslo. The ocean was choppy—typical, I understand, for the North Sea. For the first time ever I suffered mild seasickness, but the medication provided by the ship’s doctor was helpful.  

We docked at Oslo around 8:00 AM on Sunday the 25th. It is a beautiful city, the capital and largest city in Norway. Its population is about half a million in the city itself, but its metropolitan area contains probably around a million and covers some 175 square miles. Its city center, though, is quite compact, and so that morning our friends, Bob, and I decided to explore on our own rather than to take one of the cruise’s excursions.

We walked by the Nobel Peace Center, within view of our ship. We had hoped also to visit both the Ibsen museum and the National Art Gallery, but the former was not yet open when we arrived. With just a morning to spend, we walked on to the art gallery. We passed both the Presidential Palace, the national theater and the opera house, as well plazas with fountains, sculpture (many by Vigeland, whose wonderful sculpture park we saw in 2007), and lovely gardens. Everywhere we went in Norway we saw beautiful flowers, and I took many flower pictures everywhere. (Perhaps I’ll do a blog post focusing just on flower pictures!)

Once at the art gallery, which appeared quite large from the outside but proved to not overwhelming in size once we got inside. We chiefly focused on the Edvard Munch room in the museum, home to the famous “Scream” painting, but we didn’t go to Munch Museum itself.  I particularly liked his "Dance of Life" painting.

From there we strolled back to the ship, stopping for a quick walk-through of the City Hall. Built in 1950, this building is somewhat controversial and unpopular with the Norwegians, many of whom don’t care for its Modernist style. I was impressed, however, especially by the gigantic (largest in Europe) mural on the back wall of the Great Hall, a work by artist Henrik Sorenson. In this huge room the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. Along the sides are frescoes by Axel Revoldt depicting the agricultural and consumer society of the 1950s. Once outside the building I took pictures of some of the lovely woodwork on the doorways and by the frescoes based on Norwegian folk tales.

We sailed from Oslo that afternoon. We settled into a typical routine of playing Team Trivia in the late afternoon, then having drinks with Jo and Ray in the Horizons lounge at the front of the ship, and then having dinner between 6:30 and 7:00. Open seating on Oceania cruises—so usually it was just the four of us, though we twice ate with new friends Tim and Rachel from South Dakota or friends we’d met in 2005 on the Baltic cruise—one of whom was in school with my sister Martha!

The pictures below are a select few from our first days on the cruise.  Remember, to see enlarged, just click on them.

The Nobel Peace Center


Sculpture probably by Vigeland

Presidential Palace

The National Theater, with another sculture of Ibsen

"The Kiss" by Vigeland, in front of the
National Gallery

doorway at the City Hall

Mural inside the City Hall by Sorensen

one of the folk tale pieces

The City Hall


  1. SO ENJOYABLE TO READ AND SEE, ALICE --- I felt as though I got a lot out of your trip too. Seeing you in Dover brought back memories, both of '81 and of '98. I love Dover. I think I would have renamed Vigeland's THE KISS, though, maybe THE PRETZEL.

  2. Loved the pictures: the mural, the Vigeland structure of the boy and girl, and the folktale piece.

  3. Too funny, Sherron! I agree totally!

  4. What fun to go back to London with you and to the white cliffs of Dover before setting off to Oslo. The Nobel prizes will be so much more vivid when picturing the setting. The Kiss I thought was something more about war rescue. Duh. And I hope you were able to pick up the folk tales in English. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Linda's mind and mine often work similarly! I TRIED to find an English translation of the folktales, but alas, could not, but again, lack of time to hunt them down! Lia enjoyed so much a book I bought her 3 years ago about trolls--not really a traditional folktale but just a charming children's book. I found a companion book by the same author, but, again alas, not in English!

  6. What fun this looks like!