I decided to post this entry specially because it was Day Two of the Norway trip, at Oslo, and at the tail end of the day, while I was about to get back to Thon Hotel Opera, I chanced upon this lovely fountain at Akersgata and decided to sit for a while.
It was a reminder that not all trips must be packed to the brim, and filled with activities. Sometimes, the best trips are the ones where we give ourselves time to do nothing. It's something good to simply plan nothing, but take a chance and do something random. Maybe sit by the bench at the fountain like what I did. Or read a book at the cafe and watch the world go by. Or buy a pencil and a sketch book and doodle or draw something that you see.
Life can be filled with wonder when we experience things that we don't plan to experience.
Vision of the Fjords from Flam
It was 1153am. I was seated in the Vision of the Fjord, the fully-electric cruise boat, looking at this amazing scenery, the UNESCO-certified view of the fjords. The cruise boat quietly sailed through the narrow channel, flanked by towering cliffs with the tops covered by the mist or clouds. I saw numerous tiny waterfalls plunging down the cliffs on both sides.
As the boat was not too crowded, there was adequate space for everyone to lounge and roam around. The large glassy windows allowed us to soak in the picturesque scenery, and even though the sun was hidden by the cloud cover, the misty, foggy environment was breathtaking. This must be the most luxurious ship that I have ever taken. A quick check on the price of this cruise placed it at over SGD300, which was not that cheap after all for a short detour between Flam and Gudvangen via the fjords.
About Vision of the Fjords and its sister craft, Future of the Fjords
The two vessels Vision and Future of the Fjords represent a brand-new standard in design and technology. They have been designed to maximise the tourist experience during any kind of weather, with large windows and walkways inspired by the winding trails of steep mountain terrain. Passengers are encouraged to go out on the top deck and enjoy a very different experience compared to traditional passenger vessels. Inside you will find Nordic inspired interior design offering a high level of comfort.
Gudvangen to Bergen
Upon docking at Gudvangen, we quickly rushed to the Norway in a Nutshell coach since it was free-seating. Managed to get us front row seats. It was then a scenic drive through the countryside, passing by some majestic waterfalls before reaching Voss. We wanted to find lunch near the railway station, but it was Sunday and there seemed to be nothing open, so we got a few slices of pizza at the nearby Esso petrol kiosk instead. The train ride to Bergen was rather uneventful and once we reached Bergen we dragged our luggage on the cobblestones (not easy!) and arrived at Bergen Bors Hotel, our accommoation for the next three nights.
Day Four of Norway in a Nutshell - Oslo
Taking the train from Oslo to Flam
Right now, I am typing away using my Tab S4 tablet in the train. Its 830am and we are leaving for Flam towards Bergen from Oslo. The weather is cloudy and overcast, and it looks like it will be raining again later in the day.
So, I wanted to use this trip to journal a bit, and perhaps even to do a bit of regular journalling even after this trip, similar to my Livejournal days. Travelling is good because it allows me to experience the world and learn more about the world, and in the process get to learn more about myself too. It also allows me learn more about my travelling companion(s) and create great memories for everyone.
Travelling and Working - Is that Possible?
One of the things I wanted to test was the ability for me to remotely manage my business with an active internet connection, no matter where I am in the world. Since April, when I left my full-time job to run the business, I have travelled to Perth, to Siem Reap and now to Norway. In the pipeline are a few more countries. Quite a lot of trips planned!! So far it seems that everything is working fine, but let's see if there would be any hiccups.
The four-hour train ride got me a little bored along the way, but there was this lovely glacier area near the top of the train ride. Unlike the conventional glacier which is sandwiched by the valley, this glacier was in an open area, and merged with the surroundings. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the train and hence was not in a good position to take any photos of it.
We reached Myrvdal and then quickly got in line to queue up for the Flam Railway. This is because there are no allocated seats - it is free seating based on first come first served basis. We managed to get the best seats, thanks for an online guide which provided great tips. The highlight of the Flam Railway must be the Vjorfoss waterfall and the red dancing girl. More about the legend of the sprite later.
Arriving into the small town of Flam
Soon we arrived at Flam, and checked into the Fleheim Hotel. Flam is a pretty small town, and there isnt much to do. We rested in the hotel room for a while, and then waited for the 4pm bus ride up to the Stegastein Lookout point. The drive was a harrowing one due to the narrow path upwards, and the bus had to make way for the other oncoming vehicles. The lookout gave a good vantage point of the scenery of the Flam area as well as the inlet.
Day Three is Cultural Oslo Day
As we were anticipating a cold day of rains, we planned for indoor activities, starting with the Munch museum. The museum was a small building containing works of Munch, including the famous Scream as well as Madonna. I found out more about the robbery of the paintings in 2004. Somewhat the robbery incident got my attention more than the paintings. Of course I had to pose with the famous Scream Painting by Edvard Munch.
The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream was first exhibited at Munch’s solo exhibition in Berlin in 1893. It was a central element in “The Frieze of Life”, and has been the theme of probing analysis and many suggested interpretations. The painting also exists in a later version, which is in the possession of the Munch Museum. In addition Munch worked with the motif in drawings, pastels and prints.
In 2012, The Scream' was Auctioned for a Record $119.9 Million. It took 12 nail-biting minutes and five eager bidders for Edvard Munch's famed 1895 pastel of “The Scream” to sell for $119.9 million, becoming the world's most expensive work of art ever to sell at auction.
Next stop is the Museum of Contemporary Art located in a redeveloped district that's very modern and suave looking. I liked this museum, and was pleasantly surprised by the Damien Hirst collections which brought back memories of my London days.
Review of Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art
Arrived at the museum on a rainy day. Situated at the modern refurbished district of Tjuvholmen, I saw many lovely apartments and water channels with yachts making this a really lovely place to be able to reside. The Astrup Fearnley Museum is a privately owned art gallery which holds a large collection of international modern contemporary art. I saw Damien Hirst and his series of animals preserved in formaldehyde, which is always facinating to look at ... bewildering would be the word that I used. On the upper level, I saw Anselm Kiefer, a German painter and sculptor.
When we exited the museum, the rain started and got heavier and heavier. We made a quick trip for the oldest cathedral in Oslo but it was unfortunately closed. As my shoes were getting wet from the rain, we made a lunch stop back at Mathallen and had a duck confit sandwich and wine. The sandwich was 130 Nok or so while the wine cost about 115 Nok.
Then it was back to Thon Hotel. I decided to work on the September promotion video and cleared my emails before heading out again to catch the Oslo philharmonic.
The Oslo Philharmonic
The Oslo Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra of international renown. It was formed in 1919 and today has 108 musicians in its ranks. This year 2019 marked the 100th anniversary since the philharmonic was formed, and to commemorate this special occasion, they are starting the season with Tchaikovsky No. 5.
Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony has always had a special resonance in the orchestra. The work was performed during its very first season, and has proved remarkably popular among musicians, conductors and audiences in Oslo since the 1920’s. Half a century later, Tchaikovsky’s symphonies were in focus when the Oslo Philharmonic first achieved international recognition. Recordings of the fourth, fifth and sixth symphonies with Mariss Jansons in the 1980’s won numerous awards, granting the orchestra a new presence on the international music scene.
I did enjoy the performance generally, as the orchestra was really accomplished and played very well. Perhaps I have not been to many performances before, but this is likely the best performance for Tchaikovsky that I have ever experienced so far. Well done Oslo Philharmonic!
Day 2 of the Norway in a Nutshell - Oslo
We tried to make good the sunny weather by getting up early. In any case, the jetlag got me waking up at 6am, and I could see daylight seeping through the gap between the drawn curtains.
The breakfast at Thon Hotel was a really sumptuous one, with a large spread for Nordic standards. As the food prices are exorbitant in Norway, I decided to stuff myself for breakfast so that I will have a lighter lunch later in the day.
First stop was to the central train station where we enquired about the whole day travel pass. We got a little confused on which tram to take to Vigeland and ended up taking the Metro instead. Then it was a nice short stroll through a cemetery to arrive at the further end of Vigeland.
My Vigeland experience would have been better if not for the numerous travellers and kids surrounding the centerpiece statue. But then again, that's what tourists do so I'm pretty okay with that. I decided to play around with my Yi360 cam to capture more surround photos. Which I have started to upload to Google streetview and Kuula.
Viking Museum in Oslo
We then went by bus to the Viking Museum. The museum was a small building housing 3 ancient viking ships. (or boats). The entire exhibit could be easily covered within half an hour, or maybe a little more if you are interested in the fabric of the textiles and etc. Which I wasn't.
The Royal Palace and the Changing of the Guards
Next stop was to catch the changing of guards at the Royal palace. The Royal Palace was actually a small compound with a small park that's adjacent to it. As we were early, we went nearby to get some snacks and ice cream before returning for the change of guards ceremony. The ceremony proper was a little let down as the visitors didn't what to expect. Read more about my review of the Royal Palace here.
Next was a sudden stop to the supposedly Bohemian district near Mathallen. Along the way we discovered a nice river and also the Mathallen Food Hall, which would turn out to be the destination of choice for the next day as well. We had a light bite, and I sucuumbed to a glass of Negroni as well!
Day 1 of the Norway in a Nutshell - Arriving into Oslo
I was rather tired out (backache!) from the long flight from Doha to Oslo, and was appreciative that the flight was broken into two legs of about six to seven hours each, which gave me a chance to get out to move around a bit. It was my first time in Doha, and I was surprised by how packed it was.
Upon reaching Oslo, we cleared out of the airport pretty quickly. The train ride from the airport to Oslo was a smooth and quiet one, and the train was pretty modern. Upon reaching the Central Station, we had to walk just a little bit to reach our hotel, Thom Hotel Opera House. The weather was great, and wasn't too cold.
Opera House, Oslo
As we did not have anything planned for today, we decided to visit the tourist information center. From the centre, we proceed to walk through the city centre, passing by the Oslo Cathedral. I was busy using my Yi360 camera to record many virtual 360 photos, for the purpose of posting into the Google Street View, but also to build up a virtual tour portfolio via Kuula (seemingly the best option so far as a repository for VR 360 photos).
The weather was surprisingly sunny and while there is a constant gust of wind, I was able to get by with my dry-fit tee. The waterfront area, together with the Opera House was nice, and we also went over to the SALT area. I believe there are other interesting areas which I have yet to explore, and will allocate more time tomorrow to explore in more depth. The jetlag gradually got to me, and the night ended early.
Occasional gathering of friends that have known one another for more than thirty years. Schoolmates of De La Salle (Primary) School eons ago. I joined them while I was in Primary Four and although we went on our separate ways from Secondary One onwards, we managed to get back in touch about a decade ago, so whenever it was possible we try to meet up and catch up for a meal.
Alfred just returned to Singapore from Boston - I hope he will settle in well in Singapore!
I am MrWildy and I am trying to journal more about my life and also my travels. Find out more about me here.