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Goats, Vikings, and Explorers

T.R. has begun to notice the kind of things that make me incredibly happy about traveling, the little details that stand out because they are so ordinary and yet just a bit different than we are used to. Here in Norway, they are serious about jaywalking: when the cars get their turn to go, the lights tell you twice not to cross.



We saw plenty of crossing indicators in the seven or eight miles we walked today. Our first stop was the Norwegian Folk Museum, which has both indoor exhibits and outdoor samples of various kinds of Norwegian buildings over time. There is a lovely stave church there, as well as various farmhouses, suburban houses, and the like. T. found the low ceilinged, dark farmhouses creepy, particularly so when we were peering in the window of one and heard a loud “Maaa!” There were goats penned below the house on the downhill side who had heard our approach and assumed we were bringing food. The indoor exhibits included one on a reform school for boys that existed from 1900 until the 1950’s in Bygdoy; at one point, conditions there were so bad that the boys revolted and soldiers, a torpedo ship, and a submarine were called out to recapture them. There was also an extensive exhibit about folk costume that we sped through (T. is not into fabric, embroidery, etc.) and an amazing doll house that I coveted (again, T. not impressed.). He cheered up when we got to the exhibit of weapons. He even picked out his favorite among the pikes.

The Viking Ship Musuem has the remains of three ships recovered from burial mounds. They are awesome.



The craftsmanship of such graceful ships amazes me. Some high-ranking people were placed in wooden tent-shaped constructions on the aft deck of the ships and buried with everything they might need in the afterlife. Despite the work of grave robbers, some beautiful artifacts have been recovered, including an elaborately carved carriage. I have issues with the exhibition of human remains, but we did see the skeleton fragments of three of the people buried with the ships. Interestingly, the two women were, for a time, reburied by people for much the same reason that I don’t like to see human remains in museums, but scientists disinterred them again because they felt the remains were too valuable a resource for study to leave in the ground.

From there, we continued our trek to the Kon Tiki Museum. It was fascinating. I remember having read Heyerdahl’s book about the expedition when I was about ten or eleven and just re-read it before we came here. The voyage and the subsequent voyages with Ra, Ra II, and Tigris were serious undertakings that only a passionate and determined (not to say crazy and obsessive) person would attempt. Whether or not the voyages proved Heyerdahl’s theories about ancient peoples doesn’t really matter: the trips themselves were historic.

By this point, T. had had enough museums for the day. We trekked back to the hotel, absorbing a late lunch on the way. T. is now fast asleep and I don’t expect to hear from him until morning. This last photo is kind of a tradition T. and I have; as long as he has had a camera, we have taken pictures of each other taking pictures.

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