This past week I tried to squeeze in a few things that I wanted to do before having to leave Norway. Monday, Paolina and I finally made it to the Viking Ship Museum. A couple of my flatmates said that the museum wasn’t worth going to because it only has three viking ships. Only three? I’m in awe that there is any still in great condition, let along three! And I’m in Norway – I’m going to check out those viking ships! And I am glad that we did! Paolina and I both loved the museum! When we got there, we even found out that it was free for University of Oslo students! The museum does only have three ships and is quite a bit smaller than the rest of the museums I’ve visited this semester, but I think that it made it even better; sometimes the museums get so large and have so much in them that it’s difficult to really soak everything in and take it all that you’re seeing. The three ships were found in old Viking burial grounds and date from way back in the 800’s. The museum also has other artifacts that were found with the ships, like wagons, shoes, tools, weapons, dishes, and even bones. Two of the ships are in better condition than the third, but when you realize how old they are, it’s incredible that they survived over the many years. The detail on the ships is also very impressive; there is very decorative wood carvings on the ships as well as the wagons. It’s crazy to think that they actually sailed these ships!
After the Viking Ship Museum, we headed back downtown to Karl Johans gate. Now that it’s the holiday season, the Christmas Market and all it’s booths are set up. I love just walking through and looking at all that they have. The booths sell sweaters, mittens, socks, lefsa, gløgg, and everything in between. The city is also beautifully decorated with lights and Christmas decorations, especially around Karl Johans gate. It also snowed for the first time last week, so Oslo is starting to look a lot like Christmas!
On Thursday, I hoped on a bus for a last minute trip to visit one of my Norwegian friends in the town of Skien. Skien is a small town about the size of Grand Forks just a couple hours from Oslo and is also the birthplace of Henrik Ibsen. My friend picked me up from the bus station and when we got to his house I met his family and right away we sat down for dinner. His mom had made delicious moose stew and of course potatoes. (Norwegians really love their potatoes!) I had never had moose before, but I loved it! We also had what’s called “Julebrus,” which is a type of soda that is only sold around Christmas. It was so nice to be around a Norwegian family! They were all very hospitable and talkative! They had lots of questions for me about my family and what I think of Norway. The house was so cozy with the fireplace and all of the Christmas decorations!
The next day, my friend took me on a driving tour of Skien and the area. He showed me a huge house not too far from his that has two less rooms than the palace here in Oslo. He told me the family has been wealthy land owners for many years and own a majority of the land around Skien. We also made a quick stop at his uncle’s farm, checked out a neat, old factory and dam, went downtown, and drove by some of his other relatives’ homes. It was very cool to see how much of his family still lives in Skien and how close they all are to one another. The scenery around Skien is also very gorgeous! There are beautiful mountains and calm bodies of water; it was all so breathtaking – I could have driven around all day just looking! After that, I decided I need to come back in the summertime to check it all out again!
When we got back to his house, his cousins had arrived who were staying with them for the weekend. One of them, the girl, who was only about 2 1/2 was adorable! She looked just like the stereotypical, cute Norwegian child with blue eyes and blonde hair. She was a bit shy at times, but whenever she said a word of Norwegian, even if it was just “nei” or “ja,” I almost couldn’t handle the cuteness. At one point, her and my friend’s mom were heading out for a walk and she stood all bundled up by the door and turned around to say, “Ha det!” in her cute little high pitched voice; I almost died from the cuteness!
That night I was in for a real treat! His mom made us the traditional Norwegian Christmas meal! It made me wish that I was staying in Norway for Christmas! We had the traditional ribs, some sort of Norwegian meatball (the name didn’t translate into English), and , of course, potatoes. We also had a different kind of Julebrus this meal. My friend’s brother had gone out and bought it so I could decided the final decision on their battle of which kind was best. After dinner, we had dessert – Norwegian chocolate pudding with some tasty vanilla cream sauce. His brother also made me try one of their chocolate Christmas eggs. It was all so delicious!
I hated having to leave his great family and their cozy home, but they assured me I was welcome back anytime and I plan on visiting again on my next trip to Norway. Luckily, my friend came back with me to Oslo to hang out some more before I have to leave. On Sunday, I took him to the bus terminal and saying goodbye to him made me realize how close I am to having to leave Norway. Friday will not be an easy day I’m sure, but I have to remind myself that I will be back to Norway, and I will get to see all of these wonderful people again! Until then, I’m studying for my last exam, packing up the last of my things, and trying to fit in all of the last minute fun stuff, like going ice skating near the National Theater and visiting the Henrik Ibsen Museum!