Hamar’s Glass Cathedral

Day two in Norway and the clouds cleared and gave way to blue sky and sunshine.  We headed north on the E18, catching glimpses of Oslo-fjord as our hire car picked up its heels, making the most of the 110km/hr speed limit that this stretch of road allowed.  We soon reached Oslo and we plunged underground as we navigated the tunnels beneath the city.   Emerging, dazzled, on the other side, the E6 took us further north still until we were driving alongside the Mjøsa lake at a steady 80km/hr – a speed we would become very familiar with on our trip!

We had stopped briefly for lunch at a picturesque roadside picnic area, overlooking a sheltered inlet that harboured dozens of tiny day boats, and eventually pulled off the road at Hamar, at the Glass Cathedral.

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Having only read a brief paragraph in our Lonely Planet guide on the glass cathedral we weren’t quite sure what to expect, and stood in surprise staring at this giant greenhouse-like structure.  The ‘greenhouse’ was built over the ruins of Hamar Cathedral, the construction of which was started by the first Bishop of Hamar, and completed between 1232-52.  The cathedral fell in to disrepair during the Reformation in Norway and in 1567 the Swedish Army attempted to demolish it.    The arches remain inside the glass cover, and today it appears to be a popular place to get married!

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Set on the side of a beautiful lake, we saw at least three couples in the cathedral and grounds.

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The cathedral sits on a small peninsular into the lake, alongside a collection of historic Norwegian houses.

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A large, traditional wooden house sat proudly on the edge of the lake, watching teenagers play in the water and boats sail past.

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The turf roofed cottages, with their heavy log walls and wild hair-dos were both quaint and amusing.  The jaunty angle of this one gives it so much character!

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Even on a sunny day, the park was quiet as we strolled around in the sunshine and had an icecream from the gift shop.

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A wonderful place, combining the old of the traditional farm buildings, and the sleek, ultra-modern design of the glass cathedral.  A place where lots comes together but oh, so peaceful.

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Tønsberg

Our first 24 hours in Norway, it rained (our first three days in Norway it rained).  A constant drizzle with intermittent torrential downpours that ensured that shoes were soaked through and hands became clammy and cold.

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We had arrived at Oslo Torp and made our way to Tønsberg, the oldest town in Norway, were we spent a day exploring in the rain and visited the tower on a hill in the middle of the town.  For the most part the camera stayed firmly in its bag, tucked up behind the waterproof cover.

We wandered down to the riverside which appeared to be where the most was going on, and stumbled across a viking shipyard.  The boats were under the cover of large canvas tents constructed with a simple timber frame, and the air smelled of wood and tar.

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Unusually (is there a usual way to build a viking ship?), this boat appeared to be being constructed by a pirate.

Tønsberg boasts 1200 years of maritime history, and at the quay is a replica exact replica of the Oseberg viking ship, and several smaller vessels are under construction.

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The Oseberg ship was built around 800AD and was excavated in 1904-5 from a burial mound along with the skeletons of two important female figures, and plenty of treasure in the form of ornately carved carts, sleighs, and ornaments.

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Maybe all that treasure is why the pirate is hanging around…?

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