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Book Reviews | Training

5 September 2020

This weekend I was supposed to play baseball in Oslo, but sadly like so many things it was called because of Covid-19. But I had plane tickets already so I jetted off anyway. The plan today was to run at least a half marathon while I took in the sights of the city. I headed out in the morning and stopped at the Tronsmo bookstore which had been recommended to me. I was not disappointed and took note of several books which I planned to purchase on the return journey. Sadly I did not, however, take note of their 4 o'clock closing time, so those books will have to be bought another day.

Next stop on my running tour was the royal palace. I still can't say that with a straight face. How can I live in 2020 in a country with a king? Nevertheless, there is a nice park to run through at the palace and the guards are all beautiful young women. It's good to be the king! After that it was on to the Vigeland sculpture garden in Frogner Park. Last time I visited these places was on pokéwalks during my first visit to Norway in 2016. How quickly the years fly by! Since I got a late start it was lunchtime so I stopped for lasagne outside the park before heading down to Bygdøy.

Brittan and I explored Bygdøy together last time I was in Oslo, and one of the things we saw was the nude beach. At the time we were both too chicken to swim there, so we swam swimsuited at the beach nearby with a diving platform we could swim out to. I felt like it was something of a failure of my puritanal Americanness, and decided to conquer that fear today. So I ran through the woods on Bygdøy, which of course belong to the king, and found myself again at Huk. Again it was a beautiful, sunny September day and the water looked cool to my sweaty self after running. So I stripped down there in front of all the other beachgoers and waded out into the Oslofjord. Since moving here I've taken many a swim in my birthday suit, but never with such a large audience. It was a bodypositive triumph! Afterward I enjoyed a beer and raspberries as the sun dried my skin, before putting my stinky kit back on and heading back onto the trails.

My Little Mermaid

I have been fascinated, as I think we all are, by explorers and in Norway there have been some impressive ones. Several of them, including Roald Amundsen, used a ship called the Fram on their journeys poleward around the turn of the last century. After technological advances had rendered it obsolete, the Fram was brought onshore and a museum built around it. It was to this museum I ran next. Stepping onto the deck of this storied ship and exploring it was a more moving experience than I had expected. You can read books, look at photos, and watch films, but there is just no substitute for physically being there. Seeing where they slept and ate and shat. Seeing the technology they had available and the brilliant flexibility of it to adapt to situations as needed. The sleddogs that could then be used as food. The smithy and sewing machine and woodworking tools for fixing equipment. The windmill rigged up to generate power while they were locked in the ice. It was all real, and there, and I could touch it.

The run back into the city was tougher than expected, as I guess I'd gotten a little stiff in the museum. But I was hurrying back to a bookstore that turned out not to be open! Definitely a day well spent though Oslo still has so much to offer that I haven't seen.

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