Woke up quite late this morning, around 8.30am, to the sideways view of the Oslofjord gliding past our window. If you wanted to experience the scenic cruising along the fjord, you had to be up at seven o’clock but after our late night I was too tired. Nonetheless, I was still able to see some of it as Bolette made her unhurried approach into Oslo; we were due to dock at 11 o’clock but we’d be here until 8.00pm, so we had a good long day in this wonderful capital of Norway.
We pottered around the ship for a bit, watching the passing scenery from our giant balcony before going up to get a cup of coffee, which we took into the Observatory to get the best views from the big wraparound windows overlooking the bow.
It was with a sense of déjà vu that we watched as the ship berthed in exactly the same place as the Arcadia had in December, although facing in the opposite direction.
But what a difference in the weather! Four months ago it was a chilly -14°C, but today we could expect it to be 14°C, and already there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We didn’t have any excursions planned as this was our fourth visit to Oslo, but we already knew what we wanted to do – visit Akershus Fortress (or Castle) and the Armed Forces Museum. It certainly wasn’t far away; we could see the fortress, perched on its hill giving a good vantage point over the port of Oslo.
We disembarked Bolette and took a slow stroll towards the fort, enjoying the sunshine. Last time we were here the ground was thick with ice and we had to wear Spikies over our trainers to prevent slipping. As we headed towards the path and the steps that would lead us up to the fort, I took some photos of this pretty little town, steeped in maritime history. We’d already recommended to some of our fellow passengers, for whom this was their first visit to Oslo, to try to visit the Fram and/or Kon Tiki museums; definitely worth a visit for a most interesting and fascinating experience.
We continued on our way, going up the steps along the winding track that led up to the fortress. Trevor had come up here in December, but I had been terrified of slipping on the ice so I’d stayed on the ship. Some of the steps were steep or uneven and I remarked that it would have been hard going in the ice, but today was perfect as we took our time, pausing to enjoy the fresh air and the scenery.
Once we reached the castle ramparts it became grassy underfoot and was really pleasant. We marvelled at the weather; according to my phone it was now 16°C which was a full 30 degrees warmer than it had been last time we were here!
We paused for a while, and looked around us. A path led towards the harbour wall and there was a roped off area preventing people from going too close to the edge of the wall, as there was a fair drop down. It was a great spot from which to take some photos of the Bolette.
We then walked towards the fortress/castle, looking up its details on Google. Originally it was built to protect and provide a royal residence for the city. Building is believed to have started around 1290, for King Haakon V. It was constructed in response to the Norwegian nobleman, Earl Alv Erlingsson of Sarpsborg’s earlier attack on Oslo that occurred in 1287. In the aftermath of the attack, it became clear that the city’s existing defences weren’t effective and therefore, a stronger defensive centre was needed. It has also acted as a prison in addition to having been a royal residence.
Adjacent to the fortress is a military barracks which is in current use, as well as an ornate white building which houses the office of the Norwegian Prime Minister, who has been here since the 22nd July 2011 terrorist attacks in Oslo.
Soon we came to a large cobbled courtyard that contained several cannons, a tank, and some white marble stones with a picture of the Norwegian flag and lots of names, listed alphabetically. It was a memorial to those who had given their lives for their country during times of war.
We sat on a bench and enjoyed the sunshine outside the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum, before going into the building and paying our ticket fee. The museum is over a couple of levels and there are arrows and signs pointing the way to go. In the first part of the museum were several artefacts, weapons, uniforms and a helicopter and a lookout tower. The problem was that all the explanatory cards were in Norwegian; few had an English translation so we didn’t really know what we were looking at!
We could get the gist, however; this part of the display was concentrating on the fairly recent wars such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia etc., but as you went around the museum it went back in time, along with the technology, weapons, tanks, uniforms and equipment of the time. So it covered WW2, WW1 and earlier wars, right back to the days of bows and arrows.
Altogether we spent a couple of hours in there, until my legs were aching and I needed to sit down! Then we rested awhile before going back outside and down the hill towards the Bolette, after a most interesting afternoon.
It was now nearly 4.00pm; we’d missed the start of the afternoon trivia but we went into the Morning Light to do the rest of the quiz for fun and to enjoy a couple of drinks. Then it was back to 7036 to get washed and changed and sorted out for dinner. We were good and hungry because we hadn’t really had any lunch; just some crisps and some fruit from our cabin (suite!!) 🙂
Once again we enjoyed a scrumptious meal; I chose the “Treat of the Region” which I had imagined would be a fish dish, being in Norway, but it was actually liver and bacon and onions, really tender and delicious, served with asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and mashed potatoes with gravy. The wine and the conversation flowed and, at 7.30pm, a voice came over the Tannoy asking if passenger so-and-so from cabin XXXX could make themselves known at reception. Apparently one person wasn’t back on board yet, or if they were they hadn’t swiped their card.
Just before eight o’clock, as we were selecting our dessert and post-prandial liqueurs, Captain Mikael’s sing-song voice came over the PA welcoming us all back on board the “glorious Bolette” as he gave us some information about the weather and our planned course and speed for our sea day tomorrow. As he finished with “A very good evening from the bridge , and remember to….” everyone, including the waiters, joined in with “take care of each other”. It had become a veritable catchphrase over the entire ship. 🙂
Shortly afterwards, we watched the dockside of Oslo receding from us as the Bolette put to sea once again. Next time we’d be on terra firma would be back in Newcastle, but we tried not to think about that yet. We still had the rest of tonight and all of tomorrow to enjoy, and we determined to do just that. 🙂
The entertainment in the Neptune Lounge tonight featured a double-bill; the magician Davey McAuley and singer Shaun Perry. Davey was on first, and showed us some great sleight of hand accompanied by his amusing patter; he left the stage to applause as cruise director Simon introduced singer Shaun back to the stage. He was excellent, singing and playing the guitar, but there was a surprise at the end because Shaun sang and played the piano as Davey reappeared to accompany him with the guitar. A man of many talents. Once again, it was a brilliant show.
Off we went to the Morning Light to try our hand at the quiz again – still no win. We sat on our bar stools for a while afterwards, enjoying banter with the bar staff and chatting to our fellow passengers as we partook of some cocktails and made the most of the all-inclusive drinks package. 🙂
We finished the evening off by going up to the Observatory where the Bolette Theatre Company were singing some upbeat pub classics. As ever, it was packed in there – obviously a very popular venue. We couldn’t get a seat at the front but it didn’t matter because it meant I could sit on the banquettes at the back and put my feet up.
Once again, it was getting on for 1.00am before we returned to 7036 and settled down for sleep. But we had a sea day to look forward to, so we could have a lie-in if we wanted. Propping open the balcony door we listened for a while to the gorgeous sounds of the sea; the effect was soporific and in no time at all we were fast asleep.