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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Circle of Life statue in Oslo
Oslo was quite a disappointment with the exception of a magnificent statue park which one sculptor dedicated his entire life to filling. The city itself is unimpressive at best, very little in the way of unique architecture, happenings, or anything else. To be fair, we were there on a Sunday, but even so, I've enjoyed myself fine in other European cities just fine. Luckily, we weren't there too long. We checked out the Vassa Museum, a museum built around an old but massive boat that sunk in the 1600s and was saved 40 years ago, which was pretty worth seeing - we especially had fun with the kid's game downstairs where you attempt to build and load a boat that stays upright in heavy squalls. We also checked out the Viking Museum and Kontiki museum which were way too expensive, but in retrospect interesting in that the one hosted the world's oldest surviving boat (from 1000 years ago) and the other a raft that sailed across from Norway to South America 50 years ago. But we felt quite slighted and wound up getting the ultimate discount on the third museum (whose most interesting feature was a map of the world so the three of us could point out our homes and see how north we were).

Kontiki Raft that sailed across the Atlantic
Darren & I split from Rob at some point (I believe he wanted to eat and we didn't want to spend that kind of money) and developed the term box seat, mainly as a result of the events of the prior night and the subsequent drama. And we sat near the water and watched the people and listened to a live jazz band. So it wasn't really all that bad, just unimpressive compared to Copenhagen and Stockholm. Oh, and have I mentioned yet how expensive things are yet? At a regular only slightly touristy cafe, for example, I found a great deal on a bowl of soup... only $21 Canadian!

Jump, jump, for my love
We left Oslo, thankfully, a day later, beginning our trek north. We stopped in Lillehammer and checked out a ski jump and more excitingly, the olympic bobsled track, which I had a chance to ride with Melissa, Lee, and Darren. We did the entire track in 65.57 seconds (1.7 km), which was one of the slowest times (because none of us are particularly heavy, I guess) but still averaged about 100 km/h (I think we peaked near 200 in there!). We had a nice lunch in the town where I found a much better deal. Emma also payed me a nice compliment today, though I won't repeat it for the sake of all those already cringing at my self-important bloggery.

Chad, the tour manager for those just joining the program, told us we should pick up a gift for Secret Santa, and while everyone was hunting through the souvenier store, I ran to the gas station, the go to place for cheesiness, and picked up the all-too-rare Scandinavia 5 CD!

Taken from the bus en route to Andalsnes
The highlight of the day was the travel up to Andalsnes, however. The views were surreal, surrounded by amazing mountains and waterfall after waterfall. One minute we're driving along, kind of casually admiring the scenery while others snoozed, the next minute we were glued to our windows oohing and awwing. It really was the most beautiful and unexpected thing I have ever seen and, as nice as the next day's trip to the pass and through the fjord was, something about the unexpectedness of this and the fact that it was "just a drive" to the next camp, it was incredible.

Our camp in Andalsnes
The camp itself was no less impressive, tucked in between the mountains, several waterfalls roaring in the distance. We took a walk to where the river supposedly was, and encountered a bog instead as well as some hungry cattle who decided we were going to feed them. Then, unintenionally, which was the word of the day, the laundry room became my room and party place. One dryer didn't work, the two washers were dodgy, and because of the group that continued to mill in and out, well, there was always someone to chat to. I think that I spent over 6 hours there hanging out with a bunch of people from the tour, which, though not exactly exciting sounding, was a lot of fun.

The big waterfall on Trolstigen Pass where we had our group photo taken
It would be a tough day to beat, but the next day did not dissapoint. Chad had warned us about the Scandinavian weather, and having had sunny and hot weather up until now, and having especially seen photos of other tours consistently getting their group photo in a fog, we weren't expecting much. We got instead a perfect day, sunshine, lollipops, and even rainbows everywhere. We got our group photo from Doc Hollywood, who was pretty amusing in getting his angles. Again, massive waterfalls and a narrow winding road to the top of Trolstigen pass, in many places the road was wet from the waterfalls. We cleared the top and entered a bit of a winter haven, the Aussies were quite enthralled to see real snow though unfortunately for them it was obviously not powder at this time of year.

The fjord cruise was simply beautiful
We made our way into the fjord and took a cruise, in the sun, looking over steep cliffs and yet more waterfalls. It's hard to believe you could become accustomed to waterfalls, but there were soooo many! Rob & I happened to peg the primo spots through a little good fortune and sat overlooking everything and eating our picnic lunch. Afterwards, we sat on the river the drained into the fjord, layed on the grass, and just enjoyed the half hour allotted for strolling around. On the bus ride, I sat with Catherine for part and Melissa for part as well, both really cool gals and it was great to get to know them better. Some very cool people on this tour, I reckon.

<Oslo Photos>
<Andalsnes Photos>
<Trolstigen Photos>

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