Our time in Oslo is passing quickly, with only one full day remaining before we have to head down to Sandefjord in preparation for an early flight out to the UK the following morning. Today, before the poorer weather rolls in tomorrow, I headed out of the city centre and up to an open air history museum.
There was a surprising amount to explore at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. I skimmed through the collection of homewares, textiles and clothes with some disinterest, and headed out into the acres of fields and buildings. The museum had preserved historic buildings on the verge of demolition and reconstructed them on their premises. As a result, there was a huge array of Scandinavian buildings from many different areas and times.
You could wander through and into 1600s wooden taverns and houses, with their low ceilings (poor nutrition back then didn't really produce six foot people) and creaky floorboards. Then it was up to the medieval village, set in long grass, with huts on stilts and no windows. The oldest building, a stave church, dates back to the 1200s. It also has some 19th century cottages, outfitted with antiques from the period, and an apothecary and herb garden.
One three-storey building featured six rooms dressed as they would have been in different periods. There was a funky teenager's room in the '60s, walls plastered in Beatles posters and record player prominently displayed. There was an 1800s kitchen, with a range covered in pans, and a '50s living room with classic box television. It was pretty cool to wander through the house and see snapshots of life as it was in many different eras.
The park was also had staff playing traditional roles. There was a baker making a kind of flat bread on an open fire. The town square was livened by a fiddler playing traditional music and two dancers performing old waltzes. There were squads of kids roaming in old-timey clothes, so I presume they host school groups for camps, which would be cool, especially if you got to stay in the old buildings.
When I finished up, I wandered further along to the next museum in the area (the peninsula has about six in close proximity): the Viking museum. Sounds awesome, right? It was, sadly, pretty lame. A couple of small longboats and some relics in a glass box. It was three times more popular than the Cultural History museum, and yet was utterly underwhelming. Little information, presented in an unengaging way, in a dull building. I quickly left, and made it down to the waterfront, where the Kon-Tiki museum (Easter Island artefacts) had already closed and the Maritime Museum was undergoing renovations. I sat and enjoyed the view for a while before catching the ferry back to the city centre.
Coincidentally, there's another jazz festival on at the moment, so when I disembarked I navigated through a few tents with performing musicians en route to our hotel. I don't know if that's why there's such a buzz about the city, even on a weeknight, or if it's just a naturally energetic place. There's a lovely feel to Oslo though, with cool bars and bistros scattered throughout town. It's a young population, full of immigrants, so it's got an eclectic, almost party atmosphere. I'm sure I'll see more of it tomorrow, as I stay in the heart of the city to accept my Nobel Peace Prize. Well, visit the centre, anyway.