Oslo – Getting Acquainted

I hope you don’t mind, but you’re coming along with me again on a jaunt.

This time, of course, we’re going to Oslo for MyHeritage LIVE. #MHLIVE2018

The most convenient, meaning the fewest number of connections involved flying overnight and attempting to sleep sitting up in an airline seat. I left Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Oslo Thursday afternoon.

Landing at dawn at in Amsterdam.

That means the day you arrive, you’re terribly jet lagged AND in my case, you’ve walked from one end of the EXTREMELY large Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to the other. This airport is the only airport I’ve ever seen where distances to gates are given in the number of minutes it takes to walk.

However, Schiphol is fun with lots of interesting shops selling everything from diamonds to chocolate.

The pragmatic Dutch people get right down to brass tacks!

My Scandinavian Connection

Norway has a very frustrating and special connection to me. My mitochondrial DNA full sequence matches are almost all to people from Norway and Sweden. Clearly, our common ancestor before the time of records that can be traced came from there.

My most distant matrilineal ancestor is found in German church records around 1700. Her ancestors were clearly not German, at least not on her mother’s side, and I have to wonder about the 30 Year’s War and if her ancestor wasn’t one of the women who accompanied the Swedish soldiers who marched through almost all of Germany. A map of the locations where Swedes were known to have traveled during that time is shown here. My ancestor was earliest found in the mustard colored region of this map about half way between Bamberg and the  Czech border, labeled Bohemia on the older map.

Somehow, my ancestor found herself in Germany and had children there. The telltale sign is in the J1c2f mitochondrial DNA that I myself carry – a distant vestige of my Scandinavian roots.

I’ve returned to the land of my ancestors – distant and unknown maybe – but my ancestors nonetheless. Illustrated succinctly by my matches throughout Norway and Sweden.

I’ve discovered that I love Scandinavia – and I must admit, for someone who doesn’t much care for the cold – that’s saying something!


The airport is located about 54 km from the city itself. Train, bus and taxi service is available (word to the wise, use OsloTaxi if using a taxi) to the city itself.

The conference is being held at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

Notice the greenery on the roof.

I tried to stay awake my first day in Oslo, with a moderate amount of success. I did need lunch, so I now have a favorite new pub.

The atmosphere is wonderful and they have Ginger Joe’s Ginger Beer. I can’t manage to find Joe’s in the States, so if you see any, let me know where I might obtain said Ginger Beer. By the way, Ginger Beer (generically) comes in both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety, although Joe’s does have about as much alcohol as near-beer. It’s so pop-like that they often serve it over ice here.

That’s lentil soup and bar bread. Yum!

I love old-world pubs because there is nothing cookie-cutter about them and they all have their own unique personality.

Fantastic atmosphere. I’ll be back before my week here is over.


The long Scandinavian winter has begun, with dusk beginning about 2:30 and the sun setting about 4 in the afternoon.

Yesterday was relatively clear, but today is rainy and the rest of the week promises to be so as well.

Not to say that it rains a lot here and the residents are used to it, but even the baby buggies have raincoats here.

In case you didn’t know, the troll is the symbol of Norway. They are everyplace, both today and in legend.

At breakfast, I was reminded that the Norwegians have an acute sense of humor.

I googled and discovered that there is a quilt shop in Oslo. I had half a day today, so I decided to find the shop and get to know the city a bit.

Arriving by cab, I discovered the Kathrine Quilte Stue was closed. Thankfully, the cab driver translated the sign, and I heaved a sigh of relief to discover that it was only closed from 11:30-12:30. The time I arrived? 11:32

I walked a block in either direction when I spied a lovely bakery.

It seemed pretty busy, which is always a good sign. I decided to have something healthy for lunch. That is, right up until I went inside.

Here’s my compromise. Avocado toast and a cinnamon bun😊 What do you think?

I have to tell you, this was the best sesame cracker I’ve every tasted. Very savory and crunchy. This is why Scandinavian people generally aren’t heavy. Their health food is so doggone good.

Just ignore that cinnamon roll. Not there. Didn’t happen.

Ok, well, it did, BUT it was sweet but not overly sweet and no icing.

Perfect lunch.

However, it got even better when I discovered the lovely antiquarian book shop next door.

You may not know that I love maps, especially old maps, especially old maps of where my ancestors lived.

This lovely shop purveys maps from around the world. In the owner’s words, “The internet changed everything.”

I would like to have stayed longer, but the quilt shop was calling to me.

For some reason, Scandinavia, with their long cold winters, isn’t terribly interested in either quilts or quilting – with a few exceptions. Kathrine’s shop is cram packed full of quilts, fabric, patterns and more.

Treasures are buried just about everyplace. Of course I found some fabric for a souvenir. How could I not find fabric here?

The rose fabric makes me think of mother, whose ancestor’s were from here someplace of course. Bicycles are such a European thing. Many people ride for basic transportation, especially in the Netherlands.

I was reminded that even though many buildings have been renovated, at least the street-facing exterior, the underlying structure is still old, giving an old-world charm to the portions of buildings not normally seen by customers. This bathroom window is the only ventilation in a bathroom that is about 2 feet by 3 feet – if that large. Literally your knees were touching the door.

I decided I wanted to see the city and the walk back was only a couple of miles. With Google maps, what could possibly go wrong?

Let’s just say I did have a lovely walk through the city, just a bit longer than I anticipated.

Let me share some of the beautiful architecture with you.

Small shops interspersed with apartments.

Very little graffiti here.

Lots of cobblestones.

Plenty of parks and public areas. People walking dogs and children walking alone. Oslo is very safe.

Obviously, business vehicles, but they look like quilt patterns to me. These look like so much fun to drive!

It’s late fall here too.

Norway is one of the wealthiest countries on earth. The standard of living is high and their residents are very happy. Homelessness is almost nonexistent.

This style of stone walls with thick seams is very popular.

I’m not sure what these trees are, but I saw several.

Lots of gardens. This rose bush was not quite ready to surrender to fall just yet.

I love this picture, especially with the lost glove on top of the lower fence by the wall. You might surmise that Oslo is a city by the sea built on hills.

If you walk enough in a strange city, you might just run into a palace. I had no idea that the park I was walking through was actually the palace grounds.

Yes, the palace is guarded.

The palace sits on top of a hill.

Standing here, looking left, the Radisson is the large building just behind the trees.

Who knew?

Not sure what this building is, but there are a lot of embassies and ambassadors’ residences nearby.

Walking around the block behind the hotel, I found a combination antique shop/second hand store. What fun!

Treasure has to do with what you are looking for. Love this old sewing machine. I can image the original owner sewing in the long winter days. Maybe she (or he) made quilts.

I enjoy browsing because places like this always tell me something about the history and culture of the people.

Norwegians love to read.

By this time, the sun was already setting and conference registration had begun.

I met several people this evening at the reception, including many blog followers, and am looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions.

Remember to join by livestream or later, after MyHeritage has had the opportunity to edit and upload the sessions. As soon as it’s announced, I’ll let you know where you can find them. The recorded sessions will be free.

Here’s the link to my article with livestream link and the timezone converter.



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37 thoughts on “Oslo – Getting Acquainted

  1. Small correction. The airport is “Schiphol” and it’s one of many airports that has the time to gates in minutes displayed. Singapore comes to my mind (as I live there). It leads to less delays because passengers are still in the duty free shops or in the lounges 😉

    Enjoy Oslo, pretty cool city though at this time of the year a bit cold already.

    • Dankjewel…I was going to comment, but you did so nicely! I remember, as a child, Schiphol had an outdoor protected area to take your meal and sit in the sun, but protected from the wind. The KLM was the only airline, the magic carpet, that served my island home in the Netherlands Antilles. I first flew in an airplane in April 1945 on a KLM, PJ-ALT, named, appropriately, Troepiaal, also the favorite bird of my Dutch Caribbean childhood. Aruba was my birthplace and home, cradle to college, 1944 to 1962. KLM took me to visit my Oma en Opa on Wittedewithstraat in Amsterdam every two years. First, we visited my American grandmother in Kansas. We crossed from Rotterdam to Hoboken New Jersey or the reverse, one way, on the Darling of the Dutch, the former troopship, Nieuwe Amsterdam, through 1960, our last overseas furlough before my father retired and I was exiled to college in the States! My heart will always belong to mijn eiland in de zon, Aruba and to the KLM!

  2. Welcome to Oslo! You really captured the citys spirit with you pictures!
    Unfortunately I can not attend the conference, even thought I live almost next door, but I will watch the recorded sessions.
    Your articles inspire me so much, and I use a lot of your stuff and examples when I give courses in how to work with autosomal DNA here in Norway.

    Just one thing: next time you have the opputrtunity, have a Norwegian waffel with butter and the special brown cheese! You´ll love it. Put just a little spot of marmelade on top, and it is to die for. And VERY Norwegian.

    I wish you the best of luck at the conferance!

  3. What wonderful photos. The cinnamon roll looked scrumptious, and loved the map shop. I have been there until they ran me out at closing time. Have a wonderful trip.


  4. Love this blog! Roberta, we are the same haplogroup. I am really enjoying your trip to Oslo! Lol! Perhaps I will visit there one day on my ancestor search. Thank you!

    • So am I. I was hesitant to try it but I figured if I had a problem I could always hail a taxi. I was very careful around those cobblestones.

  5. Oh my word Roberta I LOVE everything about this post!!!
    What a perfect narrative with such delightful photographs!!
    Fantastic!! Please do share updates, especially on the pub 😉

  6. Norway is wonderful. We also stumbled onto the Palace grounds, right before the changing of the guards. Be sure to visit the Fram museum and the Nobel Peace Prize museum, if you have some free time.

  7. I enjoyed seeing the photos of Oslo. Norway is the only Scandinavian country that I haven’t visited yet. Norway is the mother country for many Minnesotans. They came here to farm the land (and also to fish in the Pacific Northwest coastal areas).

    Have you seen any rosemaling designs? Have you tried the gravlox (lox), lefse, krumkake, meatballs, herring, and lutefisk (yuck)? Will you also visit Bergen?

  8. I don’t know how you found time to write and upload all those wonderful photos but I appreciate it so much. Thank you

  9. I have really been enjoying your Blogs lately. With this one I almost feel “at home”. I am certain that I once met that Troll in Tennessee. Not long ago my Father informed me that his father of German descent was not, in fact, his father but his Mother’s second husband. His real father was Swedish. This was disappointing only in that I loved my German Grandfather and also that it took me years to discover his Pennsylvania ancestors (German immigrants) only to have to start over and the Swedish ancestors were even more difficult. On top of those things, I recently found that one of my Bayless “cousins” in TN ran away from home and was taken in by a man named Estes in KY. The more I learn, the smaller the world gets. Thank you for sharing all of your interesting discoveries and travels!

      • John William Bayless (1851-1903) left home in TN at about the age of 10. He made it to KY where he met a cattle buyer named Joe ESTES who raised him and took him to Lexington. John was b. 4 May 1851 in TN and d. 3 Dec. 1917 in KS. John William is mostly a mystery. John is a very common Bayless family name. It is believed that he was born in or near Claibourne Co., TN. He married Martha (Mattie) Green in 1887, Winchester, Clark Co., KY. I have a bio of John William that was shared by a descendant. It has no further info about Joe ESTES or even enough about John’s Bayless family to clearly ID him. I work on it every year or so. it is not easy to separate the “story” from the “facts”.

          • There were Baylesses in Claibourne but I know little about them and they are not close kin. Daniel Bayless, one of several of that name, lived in Speedwell as I recall. He came there from KY I think. Most of these Baylesses in TN, KY and other places are descended from John Bayles and wife Rebecca of Long Island, NY, the immigrants. I have had DNA tests at FTDNA, 23&Me, Ancestry and NatGeo. I also have my tests at GEDMatch – Barbara Ribling

  10. Thank you for the post and the wonderful pictures. So excited to hear about the stamps and envelope DNA extraction. Both of my parents are deceased and they were gone before the DNA for genealogy purposes was well established. However, I have old letters with the stamps and envelopes. Hopefully, when this is established at MyHeritage I won’t be turned down in an effort to try for them to extract. The other companies who do forensic DNA and DNA testing for legal paternity suits turned me down flat even at the very high price. They said it couldn’t be done.

  11. Wonderful photos and descriptions, Roberta! Thank you for sharing your visit to a place that is on my bucket list!

  12. My maternal ancestors are also from Norway; and, are those Monkey Puzzle trees? We see them in the Pacific Northwest. They look like tropical trees but grow here where it gets quite cold.

      • Not trimmed; the foliage that grows off the branches is a tight spiral of big thorn-like things. So the foliage grows close to the branches. The branches themselves might be trimmed for shaping. They are very neat to look at up close!

  13. Pingback: 2018 – The Year of the Segment | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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