Norway is not on top of the travel lists for most Americans, and most Americans don’t seem to leave their home states that often, let alone the country. However, that does not mean that Oslo is full of tourists, especially during the summer months, when it seems you are just as likely to hear Mandarin or Russian as you are Norwegian or English. The bad news is that Oslo is full of tourists. The good news is that everywhere else is not.

A typical side street in Drobak

On day three of The Great Norway Vacation of 2012, From The Barn finally reached the first fjord. The town of Drobak lies about an hour south of Oslo, well out of reach of the hordes stampeding off of cruise ships, at the most narrow point of Oslofjord, the long body of water that snakes its way to the capital of Norway from just north of Denmark. It does not have majestic cliffs and you wont find base jumpers flying from its modest heights, which are not much taller than the hills along Lake Superior’s North Shore. In the fjord are several islands including the Oscarsborg Fortress, originally built to protect Oslo from the Swedes in the 1800s and in 1940, did protect Oslo just long enough from the invading Nazi’s to allow the Norwegian royal family and parliament to escape to Great Britain. The German cruiser The Blucher was sunk by two shots from German cannons purchased in the 1890s. The Blucher actually passed through the channel directly between the fortress and the town of Drobak. If either of the shots missed, Drobak would have been hit by friendly fire.

Oslofjord looking south from Drobak

Norway was invaded anyway, several hundred people were still deported and ultimately executed, and the Norwegian people still had to endure five years of occupation, but at least they were able to maintain some continuity between the pre and post-war periods.

Inside the fortress

Like most historic sites on a Monday afternoon, this was a popular destination for the very old and very young. The young seeing one of the more important historic sites for the first time, and the old, many of them elderly former soldiers, visiting the place where they saved their country, for just long enough.

To add insult to the Blucher's injury, Drobak is Norway's Christmas capitol.