We worked until nearly midnight last night, watching the last of the sun streak across the clouds, a brilliant fire spanning the horizon. Unfortunately, morning dawned too soon and I dragged myself out of the tent, trying to rally the energy for another day. Long term travel is so un-glamorous sometimes, and today, I’m feeling especially burned out.
I had been really excited about visiting the Viking Museum in Oslo, right until I discovered that it was a nearly ten kilometers ride including another trip up our deadly steep hill. I threatened to bail on our plans, but Ben encouraged me to take the bus if I wanted. Five minutes of research confirmed that the numerous transfers required for the bus trip was going to be altogether more hassle than I was willing to endure, so a bit begrudgingly I climbed aboard my bike and off we went.
We made quick work of getting to the museum, speeding past the under-construction waterfront of Oslo and enjoying bike lanes most of the way. A merciful batch of clouds wrapped the powerful sun, keeping the heat off our faces and making the ride nice and easy.
Soon, we arrived at the museum and were meandering around the collection of three different archaeological digs that contained three actual Viking ships from the 9th and 10th century. Though the ships were likely once used for sailing, they were ultimately converted to burial ships for important people. The ships were found with well preserved bodies, weapons, decorations, horses, carts, and weapons, all meant to accompany the dead into the next life. Each had been carefully buried in clay, leaving them particularly well preserved.
Apparently, the woodwork was all found with beautiful bright colors painted over them. The colors were lost in the preservation process, leaving everything an earthy brown, but it was interesting to imagine the carts, sleds and boats brightly painted against Norway’s blue skies and turquoise waters.
The reassembled ships were huge, filling the enormous hallways. We meandered around the main level and up to the observation decks, taking pictures and reading what we know about the people who burried these ships. As it turns out, suprisingly little is known about the purposes of a lot of the things that they found and studies and preservation are an ongoing effort.
With our meager effort at learning something about Scandinavian history complete, we hopped back aboard our bikes and I determined that we should at least roll through the city center on our way back to camp. By the, Ben was pretty much done for the day, but he humored me as we swerved slowly through the pedestrian only blocks filled with shopping, restaurants, and hoards slow moving tourists who paid no attention where they were walking.
We took a brief detour to the waterfront opera house, a big white affair with an interesting modern interior. We paused briefly for a snack on the slope outside, watching people take hilarious pictures of themselves against the architecture until we finally conceded to climb the hill back to camp.
Another sweaty round of uphill pedaling and we collapsed on the tarp in front of our tent, panting and inhaling our liter of orange juice.