The best highlight has to be The Fram Museum (www.frammuseum.no), Bygdøy, to marvel at the Fram, the world’s most famous polar ship and its strongest wooden one.
There’s a wealth of information about Norwegian polar exploration, especially Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930), Otto Sverdrup (1854-1930) and Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), the latter being the first man to visit both poles. The 800-ton Fram was built by Colin Archer, of Scottish descent, who also built the first lifeboat. Fram’s maiden voyage was in 1893 and eventually she travelled further north and south than any other ship. Onboard, especially below deck, you’ll find it compelling to imagine the explorers and crew and their prolonged time aboard, to view their possessions, and to see where the huskies lived. Don’t miss the museum’s polar simulator, especially if you have children with you. We enjoyed it so much we did it twice. A real sensory experience.
BEST PLACE TO STAY
The Thon Hotel Oslo Panorama is perfectly positioned in a quiet part of the Kvadraturen district so you can walk to the harbour, one of the biggest tourist attractions and home to the Nobel Peace Centre, Aker Brygge, Town Hall and Akershus Castle. The Royal Palace and Oslo Central Station are close by too and there is a huge choice of designer boutiques, restaurants and bars nearby. Treat yourselves to a top-floor room with balcony for fabulous view towards the city and Oslo Fjord. Ours even had a kitchen.
Rooms from NOK925 (£98.80) per night, Rådhusgaten 7b, 0151 Oslo (www.thonhotels.com)
Buy the Oslo Pass and use it on the lovely ferry boat ride from the city’s glacier-like, skateboarding-friendly Opera house to the peninsula of Bygdøy, for its museums. It is excellent value, with free public transport, entry to more than 30 museums, free parking in municipal car parks, free swimming pool entry and special offers in shops, restaurants, entertainment and leisure venues.
Oslo Pass, 24, 48 or 72 hours, from NOK270 (£29) adults/NOK120 (£12.80) child, www.visitOSLO.com
BEST MUSEUM FOR MARITIME HISTORY
At the Kon-Tiki Museum (www.kon-tiki.no), Bygdøy, you can learn about Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002), a world-famous Norwegian scientist who crossed the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia in 1947 on Kon-Tiki, a balsa raft, and whose life is celebrated in a new film that will have its Norwegian premier next month. Heyerdahl also crossed the Atlantic from Morocco to Barbados on Ra 11, a papyrus boat, and believed that you can carry ideas if you have boats, oceans being a link. There’s a copy of a 30-foot whale shark to gawp up at plus a unique replica of a stone Easter Island statue. Don’t miss the Kon-Tiki film, which won a Hollywood Oscar in 1951 and is shown daily at noon.
BEST WATERFRONT EATERY
Lofoten Fish Restaurant (www.lofoten-fiskerestaurant.no), a superb fish and shellfish eatery, is on the edge of Aker Brygge and overlooks the harbour. You’ll enjoy top-class service and can feast on specialities like baked Arctic char and Norwegian lobster from the restaurant tank. If you fancy a parcel of fish, Esteban Villalpando, its superb chef, may serve it up in a foil package like a Viking ship. In summer, sit outside and enjoy the view of the Oslo Fjord.
OSLO FOR SEAFARERS
In times past, Norwegian monks were instructed to rise when the sun came up and retire when it went down. This meant they often had no sleep, so they sent a messenger to the Pope asking for the rule to be changed. He agreed and they were told to rise at 6am and go to sleep at 6pm, meaning they missed the best of the day in ‘the land of the midnight sun’. However, there’s much more than the midnight sun to experience in outstanding Oslo, including about 50 museums, annual festivals, sporting events and a vibrant nightlife and restaurants. For relaxation, you’ll cherish the unmissable Vigeland Sculpture Park, showcasing 212 sculptures, and an
obelisk portraying the cycle of life by Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943), who designed the park. And If you adore seafaring, water and boats, visit Oslo and you’ll think your ship has come in. Check out visitoslo.com for more information.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
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