August 21: At around 8:00 AM, surrounded by forested hills and small picturesque islands, the ship docked at the end of the stunning Oslo Fjord. We were anchored right below the more than 700-year old Akershus Fortress whose construction started in the late 13th century to protect Oslo from outside invaders. The first stop of our tour was by the water across from the Oslo Opera House; from there, we proceeded to central Oslo where we passed the Royal Palace, the Parliament, and National Theatre.
We walked in front of the Grand Hotel, where the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is lodged; the only winner who refused to stay in the hotel was Mother Teresa who felt it was too rich. Since Alfred Nobel came from Norway, he specified in his will that this one prize should be awarded in his country. At the end of the tour we were able to visit Oslo City Hall where the prize is awarded every year. We continued on to Vigeland Sculpture Park which is a unique park displaying the life work of Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron.
The sculpture park was very interesting and our guide had an excellent knowledge of all the sculptures which depicted man going through life from birth to death. Unfortunately, the battery in my camera died at the entrance and the spare one was on the bus so I did not get any pictures of the rest of the tour. After walking through the park, we headed to the Icebar Oslo in downtown. This is the only permanent bar in Norway made entirely of ice and is kept at minus 5 degrees at all times. Everything inside is made out of crystal clear ice harvested from the frozen Torne River in northern Sweden. We were given a thermal cape with hood and gloves that we had to put on before entering the bar; once in the bar, we were given champagne in a glass made of ice. It was a fun, cold experience! Another walk took us to City Hall where, every December 10th, the Nobel Peace Prize is presented. And then the unexpected happened! We, along with four others, got separated from our tour and the bus, heading to the ship, left without us. We ended up walking the mile or so back to the ship and arrived before the bus; since my purse was still on the bus, I was glad to see it appear! After lunch on board, I went shopping at the terminal by the ship but there was not much good quality items. The ship left the port of Oslo at 5:00 PM and we were on our way to Kristiansand, Norway.
August 22: We arrived in Kristiansand around 9:00 AM. Ginni and I had decided to walk around the area on our own instead of taking a tour so, after breakfast, we headed out on our adventure. Our goal was to head toward market street for some shopping and picture taking. The first stop was to take some pictures of the town along the harbor and then on to the Fish Market. This market has fresh seafood which includes lobster, makeral, and salmon.
After making a purchase at the market, we headed toward the center of town and the shopping district. As information, Kristiansand is the 5th largest municipality in Norway with a population of +90K and it is named after its founder King Christian IV in 1641. We arrived at the shopping center (it was quite busy); the best part of the shopping is I found a 70% off rack of baby clothes so made a purchase for granddaughter Savanna. On the way back to the ship, since it was a beautiful, sunny day we decided to have lunch at an outdoor restaurant called Enok. An interesting note regarding the menu; I ordered the chicken sandwich with toss salad and chips…when it came, the toss salad was actually part of the sandwich and not separate as we would get back here.
That evening we went to the lounge before dinner to listen to Deborah Boily, a guest entertainer who sang show tunes; she had a good voice. Ray and Vicki from Australia joined us for dinner. The Wind Surf crew took to the stage after dinner and shared their hidden talents; singing, dancing, magic tricks, etc. Headed to the cabin around 11:30; tomorrow we will be at sea all day.