Luciana and I arrived in Oslo early afternoon, desperate for sleep – that imperative could not be ignored. I have to say though that the drive from the airport was beautiful – rolling hills, trees in fall colours, tidy fields, some with rolled hay bales waiting to be gathered… lovely. Very Canadian!
Our hotel is in the centre – old and pretty basic, but the staff is friendly and helpful. We met up with Isabel, and on the recommendation from the front desk we set off to Lorry for dinner – what a trippy place! Taxidermy, folk art, newspaper clippings, reindeer burgers… and excellent Norwegian beer.
It’s raining. Feels like Vancouver. We haven’t seen much of the city yet – were in meetings all day today.
Finding our way around is a challenge! We set off on foot to our meeting at Oslo and Akershus University College in the morning – in the wrong direction. Our 4 minute walk stretched to 20 as we tried to decipher a minimalist map and find street signs. When we finally found the right general location it was still a challenge to find the building, which was through a walkway, around a corner, down some stairs… finally arrived!
We aren’t the only ones having trouble finding our way. We took a taxi to the National Archives for the meetings today and the taxi driver got seriously lost! It turns out that several addresses are confusingly similar. If Luciana hadn’t been to the Archives before we might never have arrived. However, we were the only ones under a cloud of confusion, apparently, as everyone else found the location and did not wait for us to start! (and we were only 10 minutes late!) How embarrassing.
The agenda for the day included a tour of the Archives – now that was impressive! We saw several amazing documents including a 12th-century letter from Pope Clement III instructing the priests to refrain from getting involved in the Norwegian Civil Wars but just to give sacraments and last rites. The document is quite small: maybe 5 in by 7 in, written on white donkey skin, with hemp attaching the lead seal – this identifies it as an order. (Extrinsic elements, diplomatics students!)
Another fascinating document is a petition from the workers of the Roros Copper Works about hours of work to Chancellor Ove Bjelke – sealed by the workers who signed it.
The Archives has three levels above ground and six floors under ground – encased in a cave to help with environmental controls. Several areas are secure enough to withstand a nuclear blast. What a location for a movie! James Bond…?
More trouble leaving the Archives. The train runs right past so we thought we would take the train rather than take a taxi. Ha! The ticket machine wasn’t working. For us, at least. Luciana would have happily hopped on the train without a ticket… but we ended up heading back up to the Archives and ordering a cab.
Late afternoon was going to be one of the only times we could explore, so we set off for the harbour, Luciana, Vicki and me.
We ate at a wonderful seafood restaurant, Lofotef, where we had amazing fish soup, and … whale. The meat was very dark and dense – a bit like venison – with a slightly gamey, liver-ish flavour. I was very skeptical about eating whale – possibly endangered, mammal, etc. I asked what species of whale it was and we were told Minke whale, which I knew nothing about. I have now learned that Minke whales, the smallest of the baleen whales, are protected in many countries, so I don’t feel very happy about having eaten it. Clearly I need to do my research before, not after dinner. Don’t judge me!
Today is the Tidsskriftet Arkiv’s 2016 conference Trust and Transparency in E-government. We are back at the Oslo and Akershus University College – and we now know how to get there. The 4 minute walk is… 4 minutes! Many excellent presentations on the work of InterPARES Trust but also compatible and related research from Zimbabwe to Finland.
Our last night – Vicki and I walked downtown past the palace … we couldn’t visit any museums though, or visit the opera house, or go on the Ghost Walk… I will just have to come back.