Munch, lunch, and more – Oslo. 8/18/18

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.

Little hot dogs, salami, bread with delicious butter and salad with beets

After breakfast we walk about outside to test the weather (upper 50’s and threatening rain) and see some sculptures that are nearby.

John asking a jolly looking man for directions but only gets a stony gaze
I help out a very tall man by holding his hand to cross the street (everyone here is VERY tall, btw)
We don’t know what this is but John needs his picture taken next to it
A sculpture from the hotel lobby is of a naked woman embracing a man who appears to be floating in a coat and hat

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.

John outside Munch Museet

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.

Puberty, 1894

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?

Death Struggle, 1915

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.

Inheritance, 1897-99

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?

Red Virgina Creeper, 1898-1900

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.

Despair, 1894

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.)

Self-Portrait. Between the Clock and the Bed, 1940-1943

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.

Quaint interior of Bacchus (from internet)
John has a favorite of his, mussels in cream and white wine with fennel
I opt for a Scandinavian style open-faced sandwich of shrimp, too much mayonnaise, and dill

Next we take a gander at the Oslo Cathedral, home to the Church of Norway which is an evangelical Lutheran sect.

Oslo cathedral

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.

Ceiling paintings of the Nativity and the Flagellation
Close up of altar carving

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.

Scallops wrapped in bacon and halibut ceviche

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.





Happy times traveling to Oslo. 8/16 and 17/2018

Leaving late in the day on Thursday means we do not arrive in Oslo until late Friday afternoon. We are flying SAS for the first time and it turns out to be pretty nice. We start out by being sent to the wrong security area so we have to backtrack and go through security twice! It is the first error of the journey to Oslo but I am resolved to allow ourselves some being stupid time. We just smile as both of us are selected for additional random scanning on our second pass through.

The next error is that the check-in person has written the wrong gate on our boarding pass. We arrive at a deserted waiting area. But no problem. We find the right gate before the doors close. Still smiling! The flight takes about ten hours during which we watch movies and eat mediocre airline food. The airline staff is unfailingly pleasant so that is a real plus!

John enjoying his welcome aboard champagne

We fly to Copenhagen first. On our second flight we are held up briefly on the tarmac due to thunderstorms in Oslo. We are crammed like sardines into the plane. I am trying not to touch my seating partner (who is not John!) We just grin and bear it.

Yay, touch-down in Oslo. We go to reclaim our luggage and manage to lose each other. John thinks I am in a restroom on the opposite side of the cavernous hall and stands patiently waiting for me to come out. I, in the meantime, come out cannot find him, pick up our luggage from the carousel, and finally find him still waiting patiently outside of the wrong restroom. He says he thought there was a really, really long line in the ladies room. Still smiling!

We catch the super convenient and reasonably priced train to Oslo center and head for our hotel which we can see from the train station. Luckily it is merely sprinkling rain for the short walk. Here is our comfortable although color-challenged home for the next three nights. It has a view of the harbor.

Turquoise and chartreuse room at the Thon Opera Hotel

We take showers and do what you are not supposed to do to beat jet lag, fall into a dead sleep. Neither of us have slept for about 25 hours.  We are awakened after two hours by John getting a phone call. Caller unknown. Ha, ha!

It is going on 9pm so we head downstairs, take a quick look around outside (it is quite chilly,) then we settle for a couple of small plates in the hotel bar with a beer.

John in traditional beer pose
Some calamari and a small minced lamb stuffed cabbage leaf

So now you would think we would be so tired that we would sleep well. Hah! First time up 11:30 pm then again at 3:30am. I have been up since then. It is now 5:30 am. But I am happy to have this time to write my blog. Still smiling!