One exciting activity during ISS was the excursion! Even before going to Oslo, we were already informed that all students are entitled to one free week end excursion. The choices were: Oslo Fjord, Telemark, Hallingdal, Jotunheimen I (Hike & Reindeer Safari), Jotunheimen II (Hike and White Water Rafting) and Bergen (long week end, for an extra fee).
It was an easy choice for me. Since I am not the adventurous type, I did not go for the water rafting. Besides, I have done rafting here (my city boasts of being the adventure capital of the Philippines). I am also lazy, so hiking was also a no. I went for Oslo Fjord. I thought it would be a very laid-back and relaxing excursion.
So I signed up but it was not easy to get a ticket as there was a very long queue outside the ISS office on a very hot day! The tickets were given on a first come first serve basis. Anyway, I got the last slot for the week end of July 2-3. It was the first in a series of excursions for ISS this year. I was very excited!
However, it was a challenge to wake up early on July 3. You see, I was at the ISS Opening Party the night before. Although I did not really stay very long at the party, I slept a bit late and I felt so tired after dancing. Luckily my alarm helped. I was able to wake up and prepared for the early trip. I went to the Blindern kitchen for an early breakfast and packed some sandwiches for lunch. Then off we went.
Trivia: In spite of its name, the Oslo Fjord is not, geologically speaking, a fjord, but rather a bay stretching from Færder lighthouse in the south to Oslo in the north. The counties situated around the bay are home to about 2 million people, or almost half of Norway’s inhabitants. According to Wikipedia, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.
First Stop: “The End”
I find it ironic that we started the trip with an end in mind. 🙂
It was a 2-hour bus ride to our first destination: “Verdens Ende” (World’s End). It is on the southernmost tip of the island of Tjøme, it is a scenic spot with a panoramic view towards Skagerrak. It was very windy and cold. We had lunch there and I enjoyed eating while looking at the sea. It was both peaceful and nostalgic. According to the story, in the olden times many fishermen who lived there went to the sea and never came back. Their families waited for them longingly on the shore. That is also how it got its name. When fishermen set off to the sea, their families thought it was the end of the world.
Next Stop: Lessons on History
After getting to the end, we proceeded to Tønsberg where we visited the Slottsfjell Museum. The museum had exhibits on whale hunting and the Vikings. I saw a replica of a Viking ship there and it was very interesting.
Later in the afternoon, we travelled to Sandefjord and took a ferry trip to Strömstad (Swedish side of the border). On board the ferry, we had the best meal! Well, at least in my personal taste and opinion.
We got off at Fredrikstad (Norway) and spent the night at Rica Hotels. I shared the room with a fellow Filipina, Abigail. It was a very nice hotel and I felt that it was a reward. After travelling the whole day, we all deserved a good night’s rest.
Day 2: The Fortress Tours
The second day (Sunday) was spent on two fortresses. First, we went on a guided tour around the Old Town of Fredrikstad, constructed in the 1660s and it is Scandinavia’s best preserved fortress town.
Last Stop: Oscarsborg Fortress
Our last stop on the way back to Oslo was Drøbak. We took a boat (one of many) to Oscarsborg Fortress where we had another guided tour of the fortress and we learned that it has a significant role in the history of Norway. The fortress is famous for sinking the German warship Blücher, which was on its way to bomb Oslo in 1940.
All in all, it was a very nice excursion. I am sure that the ISS students who chose the other excursions were also very happy about their experiences.
Oslo Fjord was the right excursion for me: relaxing, informative and memorable. It was also the time to meet fellow ISS students, as we were yet starting to get to know each other then.
Oh yes, it was also very tiring: we found ourselves taking boat trips several times and of course there was the bus ride. But the boat trips allowed us to see the magnificent fjords and the bus ride gave us the beautiful scenery on land. So it was okay. I enjoyed it so much!
I think that you have never been to Norway if you have not seen the country’s fjords.
Thanks, ISS for that memorable trip!