Oslo, Norway

  • By Wendy
  • 27/12/2015
  • Comments Off on Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway

A short journey of just over an hour from Edinburgh brings you along the flight path less travelled to the beautiful Norwegian capital city of Oslo. Is it expensive? Yes, but it’s worth every penny as it deters the thugs in their football shirts. Is it cold? A little colder than Scotland but not as much as I feared in late November. Read on and I shall tell you all about it.

I stayed at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel on Holbergs Gate which is quite centrally located and offers stunning views over the Oslo Fjord from some rooms and the Sky Bar on the 21st floor. Clean, comfortable and a cracking good breakfast made this an excellent base for this explorer. As we arrived in the evening, a quick dinner was had at the Italian restaurant across the street called La Cucina then back to our room for a nightcap, booze purchased at duty free on the way out to avoid the pricey bar bills Norway is legendary for.

With so many sights to see, an early start was essential. Our first stop was the Royal Palace which is just along the street from the hotel and easily accessible being set in a public park called Dronning-parken at the top end of Karl Johans Gate. We then walked down the afore mentioned Karl Johans Gate past the University of Oslo, The National Theatre, The Hard Rock Café (good for a wee snack of mac ‘n’ cheese later in the afternoon), the Parliament building and lots of lovely shops (yes, I couldn’t help myself!) which brought us out at the train station with the visitor centre just on the side. It was here that we purchased The Oslo Pass which gives entry to lots of galleries, museums, free local bus/ferry travel and restaurant discounts. Well worth the money if you want to do a lot of sightseeing.

As we visited in low season, the hop on-hop off bus and accompanying boat trip were not running however this was totally fine as this is a deceptively walkable city with many of the major landmarks being close together. As we were down near the station, we decided to nip around the corner to The Norwegian National Ballet & Opera House which overlooks the Fjord and is architecturally stunning! This modern structure has a sloping roof which permits visitors to walk right up to the top and admire the breath-taking views out over the Oslo Fjord.

Back over by the station, we caught the number 30 bus. In the wrong direction admittedly which took us to a very residential area of Oslo but eventually took us back through the city centre, the beautiful suburb of Frogner (where I would aspire to live if I pitched camp in Oslo) and out to the museums. A serendipitous little detour letting us see more of the place and it didn’t take too long so no biggy really. Due to limited time, we skipped the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and went straight to the Viking Ship Museum where we saw 3 burial ships and artefacts which were beautifully preserved and dated from around 800-900AD. Next stop was The Kon-Tiki Museum. What a story this was! Crewed by 6 men led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, this raft crossed the Pacific Ocean from Peru, South America to the Polynesian Islands in 1947. Incredible! There is also an exhibition dedicated to the Ra expedition. In 1970, the Ra II set sail from Morocco to Barbados. Heyerdahl reported his concerns about oceanic pollution and this was discussed at the United Nations Environmental Conference in 1972. Our next museum was The Polar Ship Fram. Like true Arctic Explorers we were able to climb aboard and take a look around the cabins which was really interesting. An opportunity I would never get in real life. Thereafter was The Norwegian Maritime Museum where there is a room dedicated to the most beautifully ornate Figureheads. They were placed at the front of boats to ward off evil spirits back in the day. Having absorbed this nation’s fascinating maritime history over centuries we headed back into town.

Being a little short for time, we made the decision to skip the Munch Museum and went to The National Gallery instead. Here we found in amongst some amazing works of art, The Scream by Edvard Munch. I really wanted to see this particular piece as it resonates with me. I’m sure we have all had moments of anxiety when it all gets a bit too much. Munch created 4 versions of this piece so I am delighted to have seen one of them with my own eyes to fully appreciate the inner turmoil of the subject.

Usually when I travel, I like to indulge in the local cuisine but as a vegetarian, I don’t eat salmon or elk so for dinner we went right off piste and headed to an Ethiopian restaurant called Lalibela where I had the vegan special and quite interesting it was too! At least I now know what to expect if I ever go on a blog trip to Ethiopia! (Calm doon parents, it’s highly unlikely! But you never know…)

After dinner it was lovely to take a stroll through the Winter Market which had just opened. The ferris wheel & twinkly lights made for a very festive feel. Having visited the Christmas market in Munich last year it was lovely to see what the Scandinavians had to offer. The theme was very much warmth. Cosy sweaters, slippers, socks, elk burgers and everything else you would expect from Norway. It did not disappoint. Trolls seem to be quite a ‘thing’ here too for reasons unknown. Nordic folklore I expect.

Not quite ready to call it a night, we headed up to the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Normally I would not advise 2 females to go wandering around a park at night however Oslo feels like a very safe place to be. Full of lovely, welcoming, tall, beautiful, healthy living people and I did not feel under threat at any time. I kept my wits about me anyway. You can take the girl out of Glasgow but you can’t take Glasgow out of the girl. A stark reminder of how defensively we live at home. Anyhoo, this is a very strange park unlike any park I have ever visited. Full of sculptures as the name would suggest but I felt some of them were not quite ‘family friendly’ and a bit inappropriate to my British eye. Quite ‘Peter Howson’ in style, naked & sexually aggressive. I suppose art is very subjective. Although I was slightly amused by the one of a baby throwing an absolute hissy fit. The temper tantrum written all over its face was absolutely bang on. Feet on fire from all the walking we took the number 11 tram back down to the hotel and fell asleep almost instantly.

Our final day was a bit more chilled as we were flying home late afternoon. We visited the Nobel Peace Centre which was really lovely and threw up a few surprises as past winners but all the worthy winners (in my opinion), The Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Malala Yousafzai to name but a few were there in an LED lit garden of iPad type devices, telling their story of humanitarianism, charity and good deeds working towards global peace and harmony. Suitably chilled, outside the centre & across from the City Hall, we took the local ferry from the docks which makes an hour long round trip servicing the small inhabited islands of the Fjord. The cutest multi-coloured houses lined the shores and were an absolute joy to behold. I’m under no illusions that life on the islands may be a little challenging at times and require a lot of organisation & planning but they sure are pretty.

Our final stop having collected our baggage from the hotel was lunch at a lovely café called Fragrance of the Heart. Reasonably priced and good vegetarian options available. This was the perfect end to a perfect trip. We did stop off at Krispy Kreme for donuts on the way back from Edinburgh, but you know what I mean.

Did I enjoy my trip? Yes. Would I go back? 100% YES! I saw a lot, but I didn’t see it all.

 

Top Tip : Take plenty of money to fully enjoy the experience & get The Oslo Pass.

 

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Categories: Europe, Scandinavia

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