Notes from Puzzle Palace

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Kristiansand and Oslo Norway

 15 May

Kristiansand Norway

First thing, it’s bloody cold here!  I mean it’s mid May and still cold.  What gives?  And why in the world did we sign up to go on a boat ride over the water? It’s a foolish thing we have done yet again isn’t it?  

Ok. Maybe not. The ride was on a RIB (zodiac to the rest of us) with seating for 14 people.  Sadly for the tour company, there were 7 of us today.  But I guess the rest of the people were all so smarter than us and said COLD! 

The ride out was frigid. Honest.  We are sitting on these things that look like you are on a horse.  You can hold on to the freezing cold metal with your hands, or use your thighs to stay in place.  For a change, no one said a word about the masks and kept them on.  They helped keep our teeth from cracking and breaking off.  By the time we got to the island after around a 15 minute ride, everyone was sufficiently numb that we didn’t feel the cold anymore.  

When we arrived, we were taken on a hike to the top of the island,  Ny Hellesund. It wasn’t strenuous, or long for that matter.  It was beautiful though.  The area reminded me very much of the Wisconsin river where I grew up.  There are outcroppings of rock everywhere. Birch, and pine trees flourish. 

As we walked, we began to get a small idea of what we were in for. We came across a ruined building and were told it was barracks for Russian POW’s during WWII.  Ah ha!  Now we have some information.  There were 39 buildings on the island at one point.  Now it is all just ruins.  

The island is also riddled with caves that can be entered and explored.  Sadly we didn’t have enough time, but I was allowed to go into a few for a short walk.  

When we arrived at the top, the view was spectacular.  I can see why the Germans took over this island. You can see for miles.  

Also at the top was a bunker and two antiaircraft gun positions.  The bunker was built above the hilltop as well as within it.  There were no lights inside, so my phone had to to do the job.  After exploring all of the nooks and crannies of the bunker, I wanted to go into the trenches.  We walked over toward one that held a gun.  Off we went.  I wandered through the caves below for a while before stepping into the trenches.

While standing there I was filled with a sense of dread. I can only imagine how the soldiers defending this position felt.  We finished the climb up to the gun position and George jumped right in.  After a few sound effects and some fake shooting, we discovered a plaque that told us the gun had a 40mm round and it also had the year 1946 on it. We are assuming that was when this particular gun was made, because it couldn’t possibly be in use during the war.  

We left the gun and didn’t see any of our party so George started to walk back to the shore.  I managed to stop him and turn around.  Thankfully we saw the guide. See, I was right! They hadn’t left without us.  I think it was more like they were looking for us.  

We continued the hike with a return to the RIB for the ride back. This time I decided to sit front and center so I could get a better video.  What a rush. I put on my gloves and had the facemask on and my jacket buttoned to the top.  Besides, by now I was used to the cold. Fun!  

Upon our return we wandered around the little town for a while.  We were surprised at the long line waiting outside a restaurant.  The food must have been amazing.  Not for me. I don’t do lines for food. Besides, we weren’t hungry just then.  We saw a few statues and sat for a while watching the birds in a park. 

After a while we headed back and on the way, stopped in a Souvenir shop and found a puzzle!  This is a hoot.  I bought the same puzzle in Finland many years ago.  We now have a mission to get one from Denmark and Sweden so we have a "Scandinavian Set".  Wish us luck. 

We returned to the boat, but not before stopping for a photo with a moose.  

16 May

Oslo, Norway

Yep. Still cold.  This time I got smart.  2 jackets.  George put on his down jacket for a change.  Again we opted to go on a hike.  What is wrong with us?  Cold weather and we are out hiking.  This one was along the Akerselva River.  

There is a bit of history here. The area used to be filled with factories, which have since mostly shut down. There is still a paper mill and one other in the area. But the Norwegians are clever people. They didn’t destroy the buildings. Instead they have turned them into shops, government buildings and even apartments for people.  The best one was a grain silo that had been converted into student housing.  

The hike was around 6km along a very nicely done up concrete path.  The city decided to restore the area and make it all for public access. What a wonderful idea.  It is a lovely place to walk.  It isn't completely finished, but there are plans to do so. 

One of the questions along the way was about the number of fathers pushing prams.  It turns out that the Norwegians share maternity leave. Mothers take 2/3, fathers 1/3.  We saw the lucky fathers on leave. 

We even saw a puzzle of sorts:

When we got to the city center, we broke off from the group and headed for a games shop. Outland.  This place was incredible.  It was below ground and simply filled with puzzles and games.  We managed to find 4 that we didn’t have.  2 ESCWelt games, an escape the book, and a escape the box game that I hadn’t seen before. It was a good day.

We opted for a little lunch in town and by this time George was getting grumpy so we stopped at the first place we could find.  Burger and chicken wings. 

Very Norwegian.  Afterwards we returned to the ship for a hot shower and a nap.  What a wonderful day.

It is a city full of statues and interesting architecture. At one point we walked through a park and I caught George tiptoeing through the tulips. (sadly youtube is not accessible so the video cannot be seen.)

Tomorrow is Denmark.  Until then, Happy Puzzling and Smooth Sailing.