Now that we were back in Oslo, we set out to explore the city! It was unusually sunny for this time of year during our two days in Oslo and we took full advantage of the great weather. It is interesting to note that nearly every Norwegian that we met spoke English exceptionally well. We were very surprised and impressed.
We stopped by the Oslo city hall and SURPRISE our kids found some water to play in. Luckily, no one got too wet.
In the early evening, we went to Frogner Park to take a stroll and see the statues. Right as we walked into the park the kids spotted the playground. How could we say no?
There are LOTS of statues in the heart of Frogner Park. They were all sculpted by one man, Gustav Vigeland, and it is actually the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist.
The girls entertained themselves for a while by jumping down the stairs. Here’s Charlotte’s jump.
Lucy’s jump is a bit less dramatic.
In reality, it’s more of a step than a jump. But she calls it jumping, and she LOVES doing it!
Our second day in Oslo was museum day. We took a ferry boat over to Bygdoy and started with the Fram Museum. The Fram is a ship built specifically to travel north into the arctic and withstand the crushing pressure of the ice. In the museum they actually have two ships, the Gjoa and the Fram. Interestingly, they moved the boats into place, and then built the buildings around the boats. These first few boat pictures are of the Gjoa.
This is the Fram. They allow you onto the ship and you can walk around and explore all three levels inside. I think it’s incredible this boat has spent years frozen in the arctic ice.
The theme of the next museum is drastically different the first museum. Norway & Arctic Explorers —> obvious connection. Norway & Easter Island —> ??? The Kon Tiki Museum is about a Norwegian man (and his Norwegian crew) who sailed on a raft (like the one in the picture below) for about 100 days from the coast of South America to the Polynesian Islands. He did this to prove that the Polynesian Islands could have been settled by people from South America. His journey was a success. We knew nothing about the museum before we entered and we were a little confused until we watched the introductory video.
Third stop… Viking Museum (another obvious Norway connection). The museum has several Viking ships on display. This was a fairly quick stop, partly due to the fact that Lucy fell asleep on the walk to the museum, so it was a ‘keep-walking-so-she-doesn’t-wake-up’ situation. Charlotte and I snapped some photos while Chris did laps with the stroller around the ships.
Surprisingly, we made it to our fourth museum of the day! Probably only because Lucy took a short nap during the Viking Museum visit. Our last museum was the Norwegian Folk Museum. They have relocated dozens of Norwegian buildings representing Norway’s history to this open-air museum. I thought it was fun to see such interesting old buildings. And the girls thought it was fun to pick up rocks. Thankfully rocks are cheap and plentiful.
While we were up on this hill side, the girls were on the hunt for the best rocks. They were getting a little too close to the edge of the hillside and we told them to come back closer to us. They were far enough away that we couldn’t hear what they were saying, but some other tourists nearby were close and heard them talking. While our girls were surprisingly and obediently walking back toward us, this very sweet tourist reached past the railing and grabbed a fist sized big rock and brought it over to Charlotte and Lucy. I guess they had been attempting to grab this rock, but it was just out of reach for them. Many times, strangers have gone out of their way to make our kids smile. I appreciate the kind people in this world.
The exchange rate is not particularly favorable for Americans in Norway, and food seemed particularly expensive. We couldn’t justify eating out because it would have been close to $20 per plate for a mediocre meal that’s far from memorable. So when we discovered the hot food section at the grocery store, which was considerably cheaper, we grabbed lunch from there every day. We bought things like pasta salad, scalloped potatoes, burgers, yogurt, and chicken wings. Of all those options, what do you think the girls both decidedly liked the best? Ha, wrong. Correct answer —> Chicken wings. So Chris (bless his heart) picked the chicken off of who knows how many chicken wings so the girls could eat lunch. It was a slow process. Chris is VERY excited to start doing Daddy-Daughter dates to Buffalo Wild Wings. Gotta keep the girls happy, right?
Apparently our little family is quite memorable (probably because Lucy and/or Charlotte are often screaming or making a scene of some sort), because on the ferry ride back to the city a couple sat across from us and they mentioned that they remembered us from the ferry ride over earlier in the day. And since our family all has blue eyes and Charlotte has her delightful long blonde hair, they assumed that we were Norwegian 🙂
It was a busy couple of days in Norway, but we made a lot of memories, had tons of fun, and ate lots of chicken wings!
Norway in a Nutshell is a series of trains, a bus, and boat ride that show off some of the best scenery of Norway. Each of them is really just public transit for the locals, but it’s the most beautiful public transit journey you’ll ever see. We traveled from Bergen to Oslo on an all-day adventure through Norway. We were traveling from 8:43 AM to 11:00 PM, which made for a rather long day (when you have two toddlers), but it was worth it.
The first leg of our journey was a train ride from Bergen to Voss. As we rode on the train, we saw tons of waterfalls rolling down the side of the steep mountains. It’s beautiful.
For the second part of the journey, we got off the train in Voss and switched to a bus. It was actually really cool because they had child seats for both of our girls (the great thing about child seats, is that not only are they safer, but they’re also strapped in! It was a much appreciated break from being climbed on, sat on, jumped on, etc.)
This boat took us from Gudvagen to Flam. It was a lovely 2.5 hour boat ride through the Norwegian fjords.
We had a few minutes before we needed to get on the boat and the girls saw the water and the rocks. They HAD to go throw rocks in the water. Lucy talks about throwing rocks into the water every time she sees a river or a lake. “Throw rocks! Throw rocks!” They were so adorable, there were even a couple other tourists who came to take pictures of them throwing rocks.
As we rode along on the boat, we would see little villages high up on the mountain side. You can see on the hillside in the picture below a few houses up on the hill.
Here’s a close up of the little village. How did they build their house there? Why? How long ago? So many unanswered questions.
When we got off the boat in Flam, we spotted a little park. We let the girls run around and play while we found some lunch and waited for our next train ride. The park scenery doesn’t get any better than this!
The fourth part of our journey was a train ride from Flam to Myrdal. It’s ‘One of the world’s most beautiful train journeys’ and for good reason. The views are amazing as the train climbs from sea level up into the mountains.
From Myrdal we took our last train ride into Oslo. Myrdal is very high in the mountains, so we passed lots of frozen lakes and snow covered scenery for the first hour.
We’re in Europe!!!! We’ve been traveling now for about one week, but it feels like we’re just barely starting to find a routine. We definitely learn a lot every single day. Rule #1: Always have snacks. Trying to keep Chris fed is difficult! Oh, and the girls too.
Here’s a picture from our first night. We are actually still in San Jose in this picture, but we had to be out of our apartment the day before our flight to Europe (which initially seemed like a pain, but it was a good thing for us because it took way longer than we thought to finish packing and cleaning our house). This way we were totally prepared for our flight the next day (though we still had last minute errands to run). These girls love sleeping in the same bed. Lucy likes to snuggle right up next to Charlotte, which makes Charlotte push her away… you can imagine how that continues for the next hour as we try to get them to sleep. “Lucy, lay down. Charlotte, don’t touch Lucy. Lucy, stop laughing. This is not funny! Both of you, go to bed!”
We had a short layover in Stockholm and oddly enough, though we’ve been to two other countries, so far Sweden is still the only passport stamp I’ve gotten 🙁 And when I tell Lucy, “say cheese!” She immediately puts her hands up by her face. We’ll keep practicing.
(Sad Side Story: The day before we left San Jose, Lucy decided to take a tumble down the concrete stairs at our apartment. She was fine, other than some hurt pride and a nice scrape on her face. Thankfully the tears only lasted a moment, but sadly the scrape above her right eye will be showing up in her photos for weeks to come.)
After a long day of traveling, we put the kids to bed and they zonked out almost immediately. They woke up about five hours later around 2am. It only took us a mere two hours of coaxing to convince them it was still bed time and they slept again.
We thought that there would be NO way that we would sleep in so long that we would miss our 12:03pm train to Bergen, so we didn’t set any alarms. After being up with the kids for two hours in the middle of the night, when we all finally woke up again, somehow it was 10:40am. We had to hustle to catch our train! Thankfully, we made it. And we even had time to grab a late breakfast and something for lunch on the train (gotta keep Chris fed!).
We packed lots of activities for the girls for our long plane rides, train rides, and all the waiting we will have to do this summer. They were very excited when I pulled out a new coloring book.
We booked tickets for the children’s car on the train. It’s a little more noisy with all the kids (so we fit right in), and they have a space for the kids to run around and play. It was really nice to have a spot for them to stretch their legs.
As we traveled high in altitude getting closer to Bergen we saw lots of still snow covered mountains.
And this is how we roll. Literally. Chris and I each carry a backpack suitcase on our backs while Chris pushed the girls in the stroller (with two day-bags hanging on it) and I lug/pull the 50 lb rolling suitcase around. I should have worked out more in preparation for this trip! I tried really hard to pack light. I limited outfits and extra items. I went over everything and rationalized the need for every item, and in the final review of our luggage, I pulled out several items to shed some weight, but after hefting our luggage around for only 20 minutes I was ready to throw more stuff out.