Along with Kristiansand, Oslo's surrounding terrain is somewhat gentler than much of the rest of Norway. The country overall heavily shows the signs of being carved out by glaciers, but the extremes in sheer cliff walls, tall hills, and relatively little flatland hold less true here.

It is indeed beautiful, in a stark way. And it does call to me.

Don't bother with the town hall. You can hardly miss it if you're downtown because it's right on the waterfront, and is a Soviet-style hideous example of government "we are serious" architecture. Ditto the internal artwork, all in glory of the working man. Oh, and it's where they hand out the Nobel Peace Prize (the relvant museum is just across the street, if you care).

Akershus is neat - a beautiful collection of old fortifications.

Most of my time there, though, was on the peninsula which held most of the museums.

It's worth a walk through the Norsk Folkmuseum. It's a large open-air plot of land with restored and transplanted examples of nordic architecture including a beautiful "stave" church, and several examples of older-style villages complete with moss roofs. Looking at said roofs, those familiar with current trends in sustainable architecture would observe that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The only downer was a section of the museum set aside for the tribal peoples, which had the expected self-flagellation.

Signs of vibrancy showed up in the bathrooms.

Right around the corner was the viking ship museum. Smallish, nice display, some really cool stuff dug up out of the burial ships, and some amazing carving. A pretty neat projection movie using the ceilings and walls of one wing.

Aaaaand a "shieldmaiden" keyring pointing out that why yes, one of the "warriors" buried with gear and armor and everything else in a ship was actually a woman.

Yes, I know they existed, at least in legend, and that with the men away, the women had a lot more rights than was otherwise common at the time, including owning and managing property, but outside of last-ditch defense of hearth and home, I don't see them standing up to men toe to toe all that often in the loot, rape, pillage, burn game.

More obnoxious was a Thor Hyerdahl quote plastered all across one large surface at the otherwise excellent kon-tiki museum:

Borders? I have never seen one, but I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.

Yes, it's vaguely relevant to what Thor achieved, and the movie as I noted is worth watching, but really? He's never seen a border? I know, I know, the oceans weren't barriers, but highways, but yet, there is a distinct boundary between the water and the land, and people have homes.

Heck, I'd bet he recognizes a border between his home and some neighbors if they start trying to build stuff on his property.

It's also interesting that they have a display on his mother's influence on his life, but not his father's.

From there we went to see the Fram. Yes, the ship Admunsen took on various expeditions to reach the north and south poles. Yes, the entire ship. Inside the building they built around it after bringing it on shore.

Damned impressive.

Follow the link and look at the gallery.

All in all, the environment is stark, and beautiful. The food is great, and the people are just this side of the uncanny valley from feeling like being home - with most of that unease being how cucked their leadership is, and how many have bought into words, not deeds.