Call of the North (17): The Explorers

July 27

I couldn’t leave Oslo without paying them a visit. I mean, I literally could have, but it would have been a pity.

Train to Stockholm was leaving at 4pm, so I took a boat to Bygdøy, museum island. First stop, at the Fram museum,

specially built to host the famous polar exploring ship.

Started by Fridtjof Nansen and continued by Roald Amundsen, these were the voyages I was amazed by when i was a kid. Had no idea what a huge post-polar personality Nansen got to be, humanitarian work done after the war, with famine in Russia, the Nansen Passport for war prisoners repatriation, with the armenians – he was the only Westerner Lenin and his folks would talk to. He did so many things, and was still surprized when getting the Peace Nobel prize.

But before all that, there was Fram,

with its peculiar  egg-shaped body, so it doesn’t get crushed by ice, but lifted above. That was the revolutionary idea, to be lifted on ice and drift on polar currents from Russia to Norway. It took 3 years, but it worked. The ship passed closer to the North Pole than any other conventional ship before, or since then (!).

The museum is nice for fans, cheap (~3 EUR, like 0.5L of mineral water), you can climb the bridge,

go to the wheel,

get inside, where it’s both austere

as well as with traces of elegance.

I liked it, I learned/remembered about adventures I was once reading about. About Scott, too (Fram had taken Amundsen to Antarctica).

Fore example, I didnt know that Amundsen had disappeared in a rescue mission for Umberto Nobile, who had stranded somewhere on the ice with his zeppelin. Amundsen was asked to help, he said 2 words – “right away” – and those are the last words people know him say. He left on a plane to find them, and never came back. 30 people died trying to save Nobile, who eventually was indeed saved, but his name is on the Norwegian black list…

The second objective of the day was related to a very different, although similarily crazy explorer – Thor Heyerdahl and his Kon Tiki.

The museum displays stuff about several of his expeditions, most notably Kon Tiki itself – this is the balsa wood raft he crossed the Pacific on – rebuilt, as the original one shattered on the pacific reefs

6 people crossed from south america to polinesia, with this

Then the RA II expedition, a papyrus raft

crossing the Atlantic with a multinational crew, to prove that Europeans (even ancient Egyptians) could have reached America before Columbus.

Back to the city

whee I boarded the microwave train. That because it was unbelievably hot, no air conditioning, no reserved seat… Some swiss people had my seat, and their approach was interesting. Whenever someone is sitting on MY seat, I ask a tentative question – do you have these seats on your ticket, are you sure? type thing, always assuming that i might be wrong or it could be a simple mistake. This lady on the other hand told me bluntly – “these are our seats”. Period. No doubt. Getout. Now.

It annoyed me. Kids however were very polite, said “thank you” twice, even though, after all, it was their damn seat.

I remembered the Japanese family on the train to Bergen. Parents + 2 kids. Very interesting dynamic. parents were very “japanese”, quiet, speaking rarely, and then with their mouths closed, very polite, very “proper”. kids, however, seemed raised in a “western” way (indeed I found out they had been raised in Israel, where the family was living), and they were filling the whole train with their crystal voices, loud, laughing, speaking a lot, opening their mouth when speaking japanese – I realized I had never heard this language spoken like this, “with full heart”. Enjoyed it a lot :D.

Anyway, back to the Stockholm train, i finally found a seat and kept it for the whole journey.

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