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Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark
Vikings, Castles, and Canals

For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated by my grandmother's stories about Norway. Her family came from Stavanger and it's been a dream to see her homeland.


I jumped out of bed to get my first glimpse of Norway when the sun rose at 4am during our entry into the Oslo Fjord. That's a bit too early to stay up, though. By the time we'd docked, I was ready to learn about my ancestors and Norwegian heritage. After a drive through a deserted Oslo (not only was it Sunday, but also a holiday), we toured The Viking Ship Museum and discovered their ships carried them not only to distant lands but also to the next world, the heavenly Vallhalla. Once sunk and buried in blue clay, the ships were essentially perfectly preserved graves. Then we were off to the Kon Tiki Museum, which celebrates the ancient style rafts used by Thor Heyerdahl to sail the Pacific, and the Fram Museum, where we were able to walk through the strongest vessel ever built for Polar exploration.

Cruise ships dock literally at the foot of Akershus Castle. Begun as a Medieval fortress and royal residence, Akershus burned and was rebuilt in the 16th century as a "Renaissance" castle by King Christian IV. Beautifully restored, the castle currently functions as a site for ceremonial dinners and other royal events. The castle is captivating but its twentieth century history is sad. During World War II Nazis used it as their headquarters and executed Norwegian resistance fighters in what is currently the park surrounding it and the adjacent Resistance Museum.

Our time in Norway was all too short but I've promised myself a return trip. Our day ashore was absolutely perfect with brilliant sunshine in a cloudless sky. 

Copenhagen, Denmark

Although it was Monday, it was a long holiday weekend throughout Scandinavia and very little was open ashore in Copenhagen. We beat the crowd to the Little Mermaid and from there our friend Bart led us on a walking tour of Copenhagen. After stopping to change money in the New Harbor area, we enjoyed a cappuccino in an outdoor cafe that provided lap robes for patrons to ward off the chill.

Copenhagen is a wonderful city for walking, with many streets reserved for pedestrians only. We walked through the shopping district and a stroll through Tivoli's gardens and then made our way back to the New Harbor to catch a canal and harbor cruise boat for views of the city from the water. 

Tuesday was yet another holiday in Denmark and little was open in the city. We opted for a tour that took us past the Danish "Riviera" with its beaches and villas to Helsingor, the site of Kronborg Castle. Known as "Hamlet's Castle" it commands an imposing view of Sweden, only three kilometers from its ramparts. Back on the road, we past Fredensborg Palace, summer home of the current Royal Family, on the way to tour the lovingly restored Frederiksborg Castle and its Baroque style gardens.

Day At Sea

Another opportunity to relax and rejuvenate. I'm just planning to be lazy until we arrive in Tallinn tomorrow...

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