NORWAY: PART 2 - Biking, Vikings & Beyond

Oslo, the capital of Norway. Like a viking exploring the sea, I navigated the waters of this foreign city. By bicycle, train & bus, I explored the Scandinavian metropolis by visiting museums, meeting locals & searching for Turtle Power. Join me and my Norwegian pal, Mathias, as we tour Oslo in a quest for culture and cowabunga!

PART 2 of the 4-part travelogue!

After a ten-hour night of sleep, I woke up the next morning feeling rejuvenated. The jet lag subsided and normalcy had returned. Increased energy levels had me itching to do something more active. Being in Norway, Vikings were on my mind. Mathias climbed on his bicycle, I rented my own, and together we pedaled through the city streets and country-like roads to the Bygdøy peninsula. Our first stop upon arrival was the Viking Ship Museum.

Us toy collectors flaunt our vintage items when they're in mint condition, boasting even more when they're still unopened in their original packaging. But compared to the 1000+ year old wooden ships on display in the museum, our wimpy pieces of plastic from the 80s are a joke. A few decades of dusting is no match for the jaw-dropping work done to restore the Viking ships. These wooden beasts were unearthed by a team of archeologists, not found at some dingy flea market. I'm not trying to muster up any negativity on collecting toys, but the museum opened my eyes to how minuscule my pile of junk really is.

Naturally, this inspired me to buy a toy from the gift shop and build upon my collection of junk. Did Vikings have toys?

The Oslo museum jaunt continued. Our next stop was the Norwegian Folk Museum (Norsk Folkemuseum). It's biggest draw is the unique layout. It's a mini-community, sprawled out over wooded hills and grass grounds. Small houses, apartments, barns & a church showcase Norwegian life throughout the ages. The place was pretty empty. I felt like we were trespassing on an abandoned movie set, walking into ancient, wooden structures, expecting a security guard to pop out at any minute. 

Experience culture is exhausting. The museum-going & bicycle-riding combo had tuckered us out. Like responsible adults, we did nothing to hydrate or nourish ourselves all day. We forced ourselves back on our bikes and barely covered any ground before changing course for a kick of caffeine. Mathias guided us to a sun-drenched cafe in the downtown harbor area of Oslo that overlooked the water. While he strolled inside to order us two cups of mud, my inner 8 year old became infatuated with the silliest sculptor I had come across in Oslo. After quickly snapping a must-have photo, I felt kind of pathetic for being so immature. Collecting toys at 32 years old is okay, but is finding so much amusement at a sculpture?

In the cafe, we sipped our coffees and rested our tired toes. Out the window, I noticed people from all walks of life eying the absurd sculpture. Like me, they were taking photos & giggling to themselves. My coffee tasted a little better after that, knowing this side of the world finds "boob statues" funny too.

"Smoked shrimp!" Mathias exclaimed, shaking me from my moment of art appreciation. Oslo cafes offered something I've never seen in the States - seafood snacking. Our coffees were finished, but our energy was still low. We grabbed an order of smoked shrimp and a round of beers. The dish included a loaf of bread, and what tasted like a chipotle mayo spread. We peeled our prawns and sipped our suds. Relaxation washed over me. The busy hustle of NYC living completely died in the moment. I slipped into vacation-mode, a state of mind I often have trouble achieving. The power of Norwegian shrimp!

Embracing the vacation mentality, it was all play and no work for the next few days. Mathias brought me along to not one, but two birthday parties in Oslo. Each occasion had its own celebratory personality. One of them was 1920s-themed! I could easily visualize an American 1920s-themed party, but did a Norwegian 1920s-themed party hold the same attributes? I sauntered into the event donning a white shirt, dress pants, vest & a matching fedora (all courtesy of Mathias). The party was like pages of The Great Gatsby had been torn out & recreated in an Oslo apartment. It was a celebration filled with fedoras, flappers and enough champagne to reconsider prohibition.

The best moment of both parties was the singing of the Norwegian Happy Birthday song. I assumed it would be the same tune Americans sing, but in the Norwegian language. I was completely off. They have their own, entirely original song. Everyone in the room formed a big circle and chanted the enthusiastic melody. It was charming and delightful, featuring moments where the crowd hops & spins around!

Hurray for you for celebrating your birthday!
Yes, we congratulate you!
We all stand around you in a ring,
And look, now we’ll march,
Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around,
Dance for you and hop and skip and jump!
Wishing you from the heart all good things!
And tell me, what more could you want?

Both parties introduced me to a festive group of hospitable and friendly Norwegians. Everyone was kind enough to humor me, ditching their native tongue and speaking in English so I could be included in the conversation. It was a socially out-of-body experience. I felt so completely foreign being the only one in the room unable to speak Norwegian. But everyone was so overly warm and kind, I felt like a local. I attempted to ignore the mental duel of foreigner versus local, and instead, just sip whatever beverage was handed to me and say, "Skål!" ("Cheers!" in Norwegian)

NEXT: Artwork, the outdoors & a Norwegian flea market. Check out PART 3 of The Sewer Den's 4-part adventure to Norway!


  1. I still marvel at the craftsmanship of those old boats. It boggles the mind to think they were able to make something so beautiful without the use of power tools.

    I'm pretty sure Vikings actually had action figures too. Granted, they were likely carved out of wood, but still. Maybe one day they'll unearth an ancient "collection".

    That folk museum reminds me of Colonial Williamsburg. The staff actually live and work in period homes, wearing period garb.

    That smoked shrimp sounds delicious. I've never even heard of that on this side of the pond. We need to catch up to the Norwegians.

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