The anxiety was shared by everyone. Millions of people stared almost unblinkingly at television sets and computer monitors around the world.
Danny was no different. He had a tension headache, and on several occasions he found himself hyperventilating because of the anticipation. His wife, Eve had tried to reassure him, but she too was showing the tell-tale signs of worry.
Could this truly be the end of civilisation as we know it?
All would be known by the 25th of December. Would Santa really be replaced by the Norwegian Postal Service?
Do no take this as a comment on Norway’s equality laws, rather it is a critique of the world where Amazon, FedEx, and now Norway’s mail system have changed our social interactions, killed small shops, created “Black Fridays,” and reduced everything to consumerism.
Without their courage Norway’s king and gold would
Have met with Denmark’s monarch’s fate
When Blücher sailed into Drøbak Sound
Eriksen’s men held their nerve
Never to surrender Norwegian ground
The nation they proudly served
The Battle of Drøbak Sound was fought on 9 April 1940 in Oslofjord. Colonel Eriksen’s men fired on and sank the German cruiser, Blücher. This action thwarted the German Commando attack on the capital, and allowed for the escape of the Norwegian king, Haakon VII and the country’s gold reserve.
The Oslofjord is about 100 kilometres long and connects the city of Oslo with the North Sea. As we had traveled the northward passage at night, we had the opportunity to take in the scenery and history of the bay on our southward exit.
The “fjord” in its northern section (Drøbak to Oslo) is lined with tree-lined hills, and small settlements, and it is dotted with islands of various sizes.
The October voyage was cool and crisp, but allowed for much of the changing colours of autumn to be taken in. While much of the coastline was rocky, there remained a sense of tranquility, with calm seas, and natural beauty.
Islands and inlets
As we traveled further south the clouds came down to meet the hilltops and made for some really spectacular views. The islands, some no more than large rocks, and others tree-topped with small settlements of their own gave a variety and diversity to the scenery.
On one of the larger islands, we came across the Oscarsborg Fortress, which played a vital role in Norway’s defense on the 9th of April 1940. In what has come to be known as the Battle Drøbak Sound, the island’s batteries, and the torpedo batteries on the main land came into action to repel the Nazi invasion. The valiant defense led intentionally to a Norwegian victory with the sinking of the German cruiser Blücher, and the damaging of the Lützow. The success was short-lived as the Germans continued their assault on Oslo via a different route, it remained important as it allowed time for the Norwegian Royal Family, the parliament, and the national gold reserves to escape before the Nazi arrival.
After Oscarsborg we continued into the ever widening bay as it extends southwards towards the North Sea. We soon were into the shipping lanes, and the coastline and islands blurred into the distance.
Leaving Islands Behind Us
Coastline beginning to fade into distance
This was a wonderful passage, and while Oslofjord is not a true fjord in geographical terms, it has made me want to make a “fjords cruise” in the future.
A while back, my wife and I made a whirlwind visit to Oslo in Norway. We had arrived on the MS Marco Polo before dawn, and were able to make our way into the city as the sun rose. I spent a half and hour or so taking in the port and Akershus Fortress before heading into town.
Fortress on a Misty Dawn
The fortress is impressive, and as we were moored in its shadow it allowed some great external views before it opened to the public for the day. At the foot of the fortress is a memorial to Norway’s Holocaust victims. I have posted on these in the past.
A monument to the Norwegian Navy is also in the area.
I passed by the Kongens Gate and headed as is our family practice to hard Rock Cafe. This is very close to the National Theatre (which a a beautiful building in its own right), and is very convenient to the central government buildings.
Hard Rock Cafe
We arrived on the day of a state visit by the prime minister/president(?) of India to Norway. The entire city centre was decked with Norwegian and Indian flags. There were some security cordons in place, and it did briefly limit our (my wife and myself) access to the main thoroughfare. To kill a few moments after Hard Rock and while waiting for the road to clear, we stepped into the tourist information centre. We looked around and then departed out a side door rather than the main entrance, just in time to come within metres of the royal car with the smiling queen and Indian officials. We couldn’t have planned that one.
After our visit to the centre, I headed to the last monument of this excursion, The Scandinavian Star Memorial.
Scandinavian Star Memorial
On the 7th of April 1990, a fire broke out on the Scandinavian Star. As it spread the stairwells became chimneys and the fire became even more intense. Attempts to cut off the fire only served to spread it, and in the end 159 people died. The memorial remembers the victims of this tragedy. Another memorial is the fact that the disaster led to the reworking of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.
As we only had a morning to take in Oslo, we were very limited in our sites. It is definitely a place to return to.