After a really abysmal night’s sleep we are excited to start our first full day in Oslo. We start with the hotel’s very large and free breakfast buffet. While John eats herring of all sorts and drinks copious amounts of coffee, I settle for a more traditional European breakfast known to us as lunch for breakfast.
After breakfast we walk about outside to test the weather (upper 50’s and threatening rain) and see some sculptures that are nearby.
We walk over to the train station and buy a 24-hour pass for all transportation modes. Being senior citizens gets us almost half off! We take the T-bane to the Munch Museet where we see an all-Munch exhibition that has been shown recently in San Francisco and NYC.
One of the first paintings we see is Puberty. It is a touching painting of a young girl entering puberty looking afraid and vulnerable. The bed plays a large part in many of Munch’s paintings. It is a transitional piece between life and death, health and sickness, and in the following painting childhood and adulthood. Other themes are smell and shadows.
Here in Death Struggle the bed plays a significant role again. The colors behind the mourners’ heads turn from wallpaper into their own emanations. The blanket covering the dying person is red or is it blood?
This next painting shows a weeping mother with a deformed and sickly baby. The baby has inherited syphilis. This painting crossed the line with critics of the day. Mostly, though, we take this photo because the baby looks like an alien.
In Red Virginia Creeper we see a house mostly in red. Is it fire, blood, the vine or just a nightmarish vision seen through the eyes of the man in the foreground?
Munch’s painting, Despair, is reminiscent of his most famous work, The Scream, which is not part of this exhibition but we will see it tomorrow at the National Gallery.
Finally, the exhibition’s eponymous work, Self Portrait. Between the Clock and the Bed, is from the end of Munch’s life. It is filled with the symbols of his work-the bed which is a transition to his death, a clock symbolizing the passage of time, the nude depicting sensuality and vulnerability, the bold colors, and Munch himself. (As an aside we now understand why our room at the hotel is decorated in turquoise and chartreuse.)
It is getting late for lunch and it has started raining when we emerge from the T-bane. John gets turned around and we head off in the wrong direction which leads to a little unhappiness. But we finally make it to Bacchus Spiseri & Vinhus for lunch. It is in old quarters, built in a bazaar which surrounds the Oslo Cathedral.
Next we take a gander at the Oslo Cathedral, home to the Church of Norway which is an evangelical Lutheran sect.
After the intensely decorated Italian churches we have seen, the Oslo Cathedral seems bare in comparison. Although there has been a church on this site since the 12th century the current one hails from the 17th century. There are some 19th century paintings on the ceiling and a Last Supper carving on the altar featuring a very large cooked lamb.
After the cathedral we stand outside in the spitting rain which is getting stronger and try to decide what to do. Should we head back to the hotel and collapse or soldier on. I am achy and sleepy (not to mention the other dwarfs) and say I would like to go back to the hotel. John says in a relieved voice, I do too. It is late in the afternoon and we are very tired. No one is going to present us with a gold medal for sightseeing excellence so we head back to the hotel and promptly fall asleep.
Dinner tonight is in the bar again. It seems easiest. Tonight we have halibut ceviche and two scallops wrapped in bacon off the small plates menu. It is very tasty and bettter than last night’s selections.
We will have plenty of time tomorrow when the weather is supposed to be very nice to see more of Oslo.
P.S. Munch and lunch do not rhyme.