Thursday, August 30, 2012

Days 7 & 8 - Helsingborg and Oslo

Helsingborg, Sweden – August 29, 2012

We left Copenhagen at 4 AM for a quick trip across the straight to Helsingborg, Sweden. Helsingborg is very close to Denmark, and ferries run between the two countries every 20 minutes. Among other things, Helsingborg is the home of IKEA headquarters (which are not, for the record, blue and yellow).
Fishing village, Sweden
We weren't able to dock, so we had to tender ashore. We'd chosen a tour again, so we got on the coach and started out on our journey. Our guide told us about the town as we made our way to our first stop, the fishing village of Raa. After about 20 minutes there, we boarded the bus again and went to Sofiero Castle, the summer residence of the late Swedish King Gustav. For the first time this trip, it was a beautiful, sunny day, and we spent an hour there, admiring the gardens and the castle. From one point in the grounds, you can clearly see Denmark, including the castle that Shakespeare used as his setting for Hamlet.
Sofiero castle

Gardens at Sofiero Castle
Gardens at Sofiero Castle
Gardens at Sofiero Castle

After the castle, we went to the keep, the only remaining portion of Helsingborg Castle, which was built in the 1300s. We took some pictures and then went back to the dock – but instead of immediately getting a tender, we walked down the pier and through some pedestrian shopping areas before traveling back to the ship.
The Keep
We were back on board by 1, and spent a relaxing afternoon on board.

Oslo, Norway – August 30, 2012

Our day started with a city tour of Oslo. We went by the opera house (which was designed to look like a glacier), the old fortress, the palace, and city hall. Our guide told us the history of the places we were seeing. Interestingly, when we were in Denmark, our guide told us they used to own Norway. In Norway, our guide said they used to be partners with Denmark.

After that, we stopped at Vigeland Sculpture Garden. This garden is the work of one man, who designed dozens of sculptures. We walked through the garden – as it rained on and off – and admired his work. After that, it was off to the ski jump that overlooks the town. The ski jump was impressive, but I was hoping to have a view of the city from there, and that wasn't possible.

Our next stop was the open air museum. This museum contains old buildings from around Norway – including an old stave church and houses with sod roofs. Apparently, to create a sod roof, you put down a layer of birch bark, then a layer of sod (grass side down), then another layer of sod (grass side up).

We were only there for an hour, but I could have easily stayed longer.

Stave church

Sod roofs

 We came back to the ship and had lunch, then spent some time in the conservatory (which I just discovered today). When it was time for the ship to leave, we went up on deck to watch as we sailed through Oslofjord.

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