Back in 2001 it was decided to visit England, Scotland and Wales and to delve into the history, architecture and culture of the country. What we discovered was an excellent way to do this, Living Outdoor Museums. This was the first Living Open-Air museum that I had ever visited and it started a search for additional ones during all future travels in the USA and Europe. Visiting one gives you the experience and a real sense of the past as you discover what life was like. Within the different buildings there usually are actors in period dress demonstrating the daily life of the time being depicted, while answering questions you might have and explaining what it was like living in those times.
On a fateful August morning in 79 AD Pompeii (LINK), a Roman town-city near modern Naples, was totally destroyed and buried under a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius (LINK) killing around 3,000 people as the rest of the population had already fled before the eruption. A flood of ash and protoplasmic heated air rained down on the town for approximately 6 hours completely burying the town and its inhabitants in up to twelve layers of ash and debris up to 82 feet (25 meters) deep.
After our 2-3 hour exploration of the Viking Ships we board the bus for the short trip to the Norsk Folkemueum (link) just down the road.
Arriving at the museum we gain access using the Oslo Pass (link) again without an admission fee. Founded in 1894 the Outdoor museum is Norway’s largest Cultural History museum that includes 160 buildings from around the country and 230,000 artifacts from the 1500’s to the present. The grounds include architecture and artifacts from towns, country farms and estates and all social classes. It is interesting to see the folk art, costumes, toys, exhibits, artifacts and life from the areas these buildings were brought from. They have costumed actors in some of the buildings providing insights into the daily life and crafts during the time period of that building, the actors are so happy to discuss how life was during that time period with any guest entering. The Stave Church is one of 5 medieval buildings from the 1200’s and is very impressive both inside and out. It was deconstructed and moved to the museum when the congregation needed a larger church. Our bodies need refueling so we stop in for a very good quick lunch of sandwiches, desert and drinks in the museum café and head back out to continue our exploration of the grounds. (Text continues below gallery)
After a full day of walking at 5 PM we jump back on the bus, transfer to the T-Bane and arrive at our apartment for dinner and then off to the store to pick a few snacks for tomorrows adventures.
During all the vacations Jodi (a graphic artist) and I (architect) take you will notice a pattern, we love history, art, architecture and the culture of the country we visit. Both our families have members that have immigrated to the USA from Europe since the early 1600’s and we have visited places that just feel comfortable to us, only later to find out that our forefathers came from that area 100’s or 1,000’s of years ago.
Going to museums, art galleries, walking the streets and alleys of a destination, eating where locals dine and talking with people are the best ways to understand the similarities and differences of our countries. Never ask where to go to eat always ask where they would go to eat. It is pleasant to learn by seeing and actively participating in the ways of other cultures. We have met very wonderful and colorful individuals in our travels and would not change the way we travel for anything. We have discussed governments with the owner of a Laundromat outside of Amsterdam while we did laundry, and discussed local sites to visit during breakfast with the family of a B&B in Southern France, during all these encounters we have had wonderful conversations with so many people. Getting on the ground, staying and eating with locals rather than other tourists is amazing (better and inexpensive). Going to a café or restaurant and not being able to read a menu can bring unexpected delights, very seldom not so much, but that is the adventure. We have never been treated with disrespect and it seems a majority are willing to do their best to converse and help us with our travels.
Our first visit after wandering around the streets in morning was Kungliga Slottet (link), the Royal Palace, a magnificent baroque style building by the Architect Nicodemus Tessin. This is the King of Sweden’s residence with over 600 rooms on seven floors with a state apartment. The Royal Palace of Stockholm is His Majesty The King’s official residence and is also the setting for most of the monarchy’s official receptions. The palace is a daily place of work for The King and Queen as well as for the various departments that make up the Royal Court.
This combination of royal residence, workplace and culture-historical monument open year round to visitors makes the Royal Palace of Stockholm unique amongst Europe’s royal residences.
The palace contains many interesting things to see. In addition to the Royal Apartments there are three museums steeped in regal history: the Treasury with the regalia, the Tre Kronor Museum that portrays the palaces medieval history and Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities.
Before entering this residence we must first put all our bags and cameras (yes even phones) in a locker and don little bootees over our shoes to protect the floors and carpets. As with all European palaces this one does not disappoint in its opulence. What a shame we could not take any pictures inside to share but as with any of these palaces you must experience them in person to understand the grandness of the spaces.
After our long walk inside the Royal Palace we head over to the underground Stockholm Medeltidmuseum (link) (Museum of Medieval Stockholm). This museum is the largest excavation in Stockholm under the Riksdagshuset (Parliament House) and on Riksplan Plaza, this museum houses 55 feet of the original 16th century fortified wall, a 1520’s war ship, the Riddarholmsskeppetand, reconstructed buildings and artifacts from the time period. The exhibits tell of Stockholm’s emergence and the town’s development in the Middle Ages. The exhibition inside describes with compassion how the people lived and made a livelihood. It was very interesting to see the life and history of the people of Stockholm during the 16th century.
10-7-08 Paris, by Jodi
A full day to explore Paris, we start with our pastries and milk that we bought at a local patisserie and start our planned walks. On and off the metro all day, going to the specific neighborhoods we wanted to see. Even though the metro saves tons of time getting around, my butt cheeks are sore from all the stairs and walking, he he!
10-2-08 – Amsterdam, by Jodi
Our breakfast was wonderful again this morning – baked ham & egg mini casseroles, assorted breads, jam, platter of meats and cheeses, kiwis, OJ and coffee – Inge really gives us nice breakfasts. We head out for the nice walk to the train station at 9am, hop on the train and take the 20 min ride into Amsterdam. No one ever asked to see out tickets, like so many other public transports around Europe, it is on the honor system.
10-1-08, by Jodi
There was a huge rain and windstorm all night. We decide to use this as our lazy rest and a walk around Haarlem day. We just hope it clears enough tomorrow when we train into Amsterdam. Inge brings breakfast to the room at 8:30. There was a beautiful, large tray outside our door on a small table. We brought it in to the dining table and had pink grapefruit, OJ, coffee, a basket of warm bread and croissants, raspberry jam, hard-boiled eggs, and a platter of ham and cheese. Breakfast was very good and nice to eat leisurely in the room at our dining table for a change. We watched some news as the rain the wind raged outside. Our Internet connection went out, we suppose because of the bad weather.
By noon, the rain stopped and sky partly cleared so we decided to try for a walk. We walked up to the main square, admiring the Dutch homes, buildings, churches and canals. We continued on to the train station to check it out for tomorrow and ended up buying our round trip tickets into Amsterdam, E6 each. By 2 pm we had walked the whole town and the hard rain had started again.
9-30-08 – Haarlem, by Jodi
We wake up to rain, our good, clear weather has finally run out. And of course it rains when we want to visit an outdoor museum. We walk down the 3 flights of stairs to Margot’s ‘in kitchen’ dining room for breakfast. She pulled out all the stops for her great breakfast, we didn’t know where to start. There was granola, milk, drinkable yogurt, regular yogurt, a huge basket of all kind of warm breads, jams, butters, a platter of 3 different kind of lunchmeats and 2 cheeses, a basket of wedge spreadable cheeses, a bowl of strawberries, soft boiled eggs, coffee, hot chocolate, and OJ. YUM – our best breakfast yet and we stuffed ourselves. We were glad to have such bellyful knowing we would be walking the museum all day.
We thanked Margot for her hospitality and drive the 2 km to the Netherlands Open Air Museum. This museum is a collection of historic buildings from all areas of the Netherlands, relocated to this wooded land to form it’s own little historic village. The buildings included mostly farm homes, windmills, businesses, a train station and roundhouse, a doctor’s office, blacksmith, milk and cheese factory, and a brewery all from different eras depicting the lifestyle from that time. The center of the town are buildings converted to be used as a bakery and restaurants to buy food. Some of the buildings had people dressed in period dress that would answer questions, it was very interesting talking to them. Other buildings were well signed in several languages explaining their history or function.
9-27-08 – Dijon, by Jodi
Got ready this morning and opted for the corner patisserie for bread, croissants, and milk for breakfast, the hotel breakfast didn’t look like it was worth the E8 each for basically the same darn thing we got at the local patisserie. We ate and left Avignon early on Saturday so we lucked out with no traffic and it was pretty easy, except through Lyon. The 4-hour drive to Dijon was all on the AutoRoute, France’s toll system, and boy is it expensive. To drive 4 hours cost us E30, our only other alternative would have been about an 8 hour drive on tiny village, farm roads . . . um, let’s see . . . no.