Day 42 – Oslo

Wealth / Day 42 of 64 / 20 June

My first destination for today was the Norwegian Parliament building [Stortingsbygningen]. I arrived at 9.45am, and my initial plan was to join one of the free tours of the House. However, due to significant renovations going on inside the Stortinget, the tours had been temporarily suspended. I guess I must be satisfied with just taking a photo of the outside then.

The next stop on my political trail of Oslo was the Oslo City Hall [Oslo Rådhus]. I arrived at the large brick building at around 10am. Unfortunately, due to the delay at the Parliament, the walking tour of the City Hall had already begun, and the next tour wasn’t until 12pm. Not a good way to start my day in Oslo. I decided that waiting for the next tour wouldn’t be worth it, so I hurried along to my next destination after taking some photos of City Hall.

Architecturally, the Oslo City Hall’s interior is similar to that of Stockholm City Hall.

I reached the Nobel Peace Centre [Nobels Fredssenterat 10.45am: sort of my first “real” destination. The Centre focuses on the history of the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded right here in Oslo, in the nearby Oslo City Hall. Today, there was an exhibit called “Generation Wealth”: the exhibit tries to expose the new materialistic values that we have come to accept without question. Through a series of documentaries and photographs, Lauren Greenfield, the creator of the project, sheds light on the new economy of fame and wealth. An economy that encompasses all ages, races, cultures, and religions. From sneaker-addicted low-income youth in the inner cities of the USA, to the bored trophy wives of modern-day Russian “tsars”, one thing unites this disparate collection of individuals: their worship and complete reverence of fame, money, and sexual capital. The exhibition itself was a bit difficult to get through, especially portions that consisted of interviews with materially-obsessed teenagers. But, what was way worse was realising that these people being interviewed, teenagers included, were fully conscious of their material motivations. In fact, hearing a teenage girl talk about wanting an expensive blouse to fit into the “upper class” clique somehow feels worse than hearing that they want a blouse because they want to be cool like the other kids. Fitting in is no longer about being socially accepted in a group, and Lauren Greenfield demonstrates perfectly how the only thing that matters now is how much money you have. Modern consumer society has allowed for the realisation of a new kind of stratification: a stratification that ignores all forms of morality, both traditional and modern.

The Nobel Peace Centre also featured an ongoing exhibition by ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. The exhibition, Ban The Bomb, informs visitors about the realised and possible horrors of nuclear weapons. The infamous Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, as well as lesser known nuclear weapon ”milestones”, are detailed in this small temporary exhibition. The Centre also has a permanent exhibition dedicated to past Nobel Peace laureates. The gallery, resembling a space constellation, features tablets that light up and provide information about a particular Nobel Peace laureate. Spending some time going from tablet to tablet can be quite informative.

After the Peace Centre, my next destination was the Viking Ship Museum on the Bygdøy peninsula. A return trip ferry ticket to the peninsula costs 69 NOK, and it is not part of the Ruter umbrella of public transport services. The ferry departs from City Hall Pier 3, which is located in the huge plaza across the road from Oslo City Hall. After buying the tickets from the ticketing booth on the pier, I boarded the small ferry. We reached the Viking Ship museum stop at 12.40pm. From the ferry stop, it was a short uphill walk to the museum.

I reached the Viking Ship Museum [Vikingskipshuset på Bygdøy] at around 12.50pm. The ticket to the museum includes admission to the Museum of Cultural History, as both museums are run by the University of Oslo. The museum’s main attraction is its 3 preserved Viking ships. These 3 ships are preserved to different degrees, but all are important pieces in the history of the Vikings in Fennoscandia. There’s a multimedia exhibit that attempts to evoke the more emotional aspects of life during the era of the Vikings. And, besides the main attractions, there are also many smaller but equally as important artefacts from Viking life on display: objects such as carts and jewellery.

I left the Viking Museum at around 2pm, and took the ferry back to the City Hall piers. My final destination for the day was the Museum of Cultural History [Kulturhistorisk Museum], which I reached at about 2.45pm. The museum, unsurprisingly, presents the cultural history of many different and wide-ranging civilisations. In the same museum, you’ll find a room dedicated to Egyptian civilisation, and another room dedicated to the Inuit people and their iconic igloos. Although relatively small, this museum is worth a visit since it’s offered alongside the Viking Ship Museum on the same ticket.

Lunch before heading off to the Museum of Cultural History. This was stolen by a seagull shortly after this photo was taken.

A performance in front of the National Theatre, on my way to the Museum of Cultural History.

After the museum, the chilly Oslo winds left me with little choice but to purchase a coat. Thankfully, I managed to get a cheap second-hand coat at a Salvation Army Store. The coat cost only 12 SGD: quite a steal, even if I wasn’t in Northern Europe. By the time I reached the hostel, it was already 4.30pm. I headed to the nearby Narvesen to buy my traditional (see also: cheap) Norwegian dinner of pølse (hot dog) before returning to my bed to catch some rest.

– Ryan

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