August 16, 2012
DISEMBARKING THE MS NORDLYS — Hurtigruten calls their Norwegian cruise “the world’s most beautiful voyage.”
They’ll get no argument from me.
Whether or not true, it’s sad to leave our cozy little cabin on the fifth level of the ship and the lounge with its expansive views of mountains and fjords. Not to mention the restaurant – which last night produced a farewell buffet with a dizzying array of seafood and other offerings. These included Norwegian king crab, fresh prawns, shrimp, lobster, reindeer meat in cream sauce, a cheese table of Norwegian blue and many other varieties — and a display of rich desserts that featured, as always, several different fruit sauces.
Our last stop yesterday was the town of Kirkenes, only 10 miles from the Russian border. We are actually further east than Istanbul and St. Petersburg. From here we’re scheduled to fly to Oslo for a special finish to this trip, a chance to explore the capital of Norway. This afternoon, another boatful of voyagers will board the Nordlys and leave Kirkenes for our very same trip — only backwards.
LATER, IN OSLO
Oslo is packed with contemporary buildings – and a huge assortment of contemporary statues — that dramatically point up the artistic talents of its own architects and designers.
The dramatic four-year-old opera house on the waterfront, designed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snohetta, has already become as much of an artistic icon in Oslo as the opera house in Sydney, Australia.
The Renzo Piano Museum of Modern Art, which doesn’t open until Sept. 29, is already receiving public hurrahs for its beautiful waterfront park., full of – what else? – contemporary sculpture. It will house, among other things, the largest collection of modern American art in the world.
Oslo can also boast about Edvard Munch, the artist who created the painting called “The Scream,” which recently sold for $180 million. The Munch Museum in Oslo holds the world’s largest collection of Munch art – around 1,100 paintings and more than 20,000 prints and drawings. And don’t forget Gustav Vigeland’s Sculpture Park, which contains scores of the large bronze works of this Norwegian artist, His huge nude depictions of people in all stages of life kept us mesmerized as we wandered through the gardens. This park should be your first stop when you visit Oslo.
Your second stop should be the Viking Ship Museum, which puts the lie to any notion that Vikings were only uncreative marauders. Their civilization, which reached its height between 800 and 1066, produced some serious artistic talent. The museum displays several of their graceful wooden ships, unearthed near here in the 1900’s. They were apparently used as sarcophagi for the wealthy. A collection of beautiful hand–carved chests, carriages and other artifacts are also featured.
Our dinner tonight was at the elegant Restaurant Ekeberg, on top of a mountain overlooking all of Oslo. While dining on an exquisite meal of pan fried ocean catfish with grilled borretane onions and a dessert of strawberry vanilla mousse, we looked out on the city’s blinking lights as the sun set over Oslo’s fjord. The rosy glow of the sunset was a pleasant surprise after returning from the land of the midnight sun.
The sight was a fitting end to “the world’s most beautiful voyage.”
Photos by Timothy Leland