Oslo Diaries: A Day In The Bygdøy Peninsula

Although most of our adventures in Oslo were in the heart of the city, we did venture a little further out to the fjords and peninsulas too.

Bygdøy is a peninsula to the west of the city centre that attracts countless visitors because it houses some of Oslo’s most popular museums.   You can get there by taking a ferry from the City Hall area (you can read more about our visit to City Hall here) but you can also grab a bus, which is what we opted for.

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Pictured: the beautiful homes in the Bygdøy peninsula.

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As you travel through Bygdøy, it’s pretty obvious that the area is mainly residential – and what a beautiful place to live it is!  The houses are large, mainly classic in architecture and set against a beautiful natural backdrop.

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Like much of Oslo, this sleepy peninsula was also undergoing significant renovations.  We came across new homes that were being built in this stunning neighbourhood.

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Pictured: new-builds being constructed in Bygdøy.

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Being the nosy busybodies we are, we did try and take a peek through the windows but there was not much to see as the interiors have yet to be completed.  I did Google the architects later and did find the plans for these new homes (prime busybodying happening here!) – suffice to say, these homes are going to be gorgeous when they’re completed.

Just a few minutes walk from this affluent neighbourhood is a cluster of museums that are dedicated to the rich maritime history that this area boasts.  These museums include the Kon-Tiki Museum which is dedicated to the life and times of adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, the Norsk Folkemuseum which vividly recreates traditional Norwegian life and the Fram museum which gives an insight into Norway’s polar history.  On this day, we visited the Fram museum.

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The Fram Museum building and it’s triangular shape which accommodates a polar ship.

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The Fram Museum is a museum that was built around the most famous Norwegian polar expedition ship which was called – you guessed it – the Fram.  Known as the strongest wooden ship every built which still holds records for sailing the furthest north and south, this great vessel was memoralised here in 1936.  Since then, visitors from around the world have visited the museum and the ship and have been able to walk in the footsteps of Norwegian polar explorers Roald Amundsen and his team.

When you enter the museum, you are literally face-to-face with the ship.

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The ship in all its glory, pictured from the third floor.

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There are three floors that span the length of the ship, with the third floor allowing you to step onto the ship and explore it for yourself.

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Getting on deck.

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Whilst you’re on deck, you’re almost touching the roof of the museum.  A film is projected onto the ceiling surrounding you with special effects that make you feel like you’re weathering a storm whilst on a voyage.  It’s a brilliant touch that really bought the ship to life for us.

In December 1911, Roald Amundsen, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel and Oscar Wisting arrived at the South Pole on the Fram after over a year of travelling at sea.  They were the first successful expedition to the South Pole, narrowly beating British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his team.  Understandably then, Amundsen is a Norwegian hero in every sense of the word.  Sadly, Amundsen disappeared with five crew on 18 June 1928 while flying on a rescue mission in the Arctic.

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Projected film depicting a rather rocky voyage at sea!

We also got to go below deck to see what life on board was like for the explorers.

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Life on board the quarters of the ship where the explorers would have spent every waking hour as they journeyed.

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On-board entertainment: smoking and poker!

Beyond the ship itself, there are a lot of other things you can see and experience at the museum.  One of our highlights was trying out the Polar Expedition Simulator…

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Before you enter the Polar Simulator, you are given ample warning about what to expect.

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The simulator allows you to experience polar conditions – from moving floors to freezing cold temperatures.  It was a chilling experience – in every sense of the word!

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Pictured: a model of a corpse that has frozen to death. Sub-zero temperatures are no joke!

We also loved the life-sized igloo and the opportunity to squeeze inside to really experience what it might have been like.

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Life in an igloo – slightly less claustrophobic than we thought!
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The suits the arctic explorers at the turn of the Twentieth century were wearing for their expeditions!
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The amount sled dogs carry.  
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An interactive exhibit allowed you to test your knot tying abilities.

Overall, we really felt immersed into polar life during our few hours at the museum. We learnt so much about the influence Norwegian explorers have had on our knowledge of polar expeditions and also about some of the darker and more tragic elements of polar exploration (such as the story of  Robert F. Scott and his crew).

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We finished our day by stepping out into the crisp winter air again, just in time to catch the sun falling over some incredible statues and sculpture art.

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Statues of Roald Amundsen and his team, the first to reach the South Pole.
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Pictured: the ‘OceanHope’ sculpture outside the Fram museum. OceanHope is a lighthouse built out of waste that was collected in Svalbard, a territory of Norway known for its severe winters and glaciers. It is meant to represent the transformation of evil into good and showing hope that if we recycle, we can clean up after ourselves and there can be hope when we’re faced with the climate change crisis.  

There was something beautiful and powerful about seeing the hopeful explorers looking out at the sea, with a symbol of hope, OceanHope, stationed next to them.

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It was a pretty inspirational note to end the day on to say the least.

 

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