Have you ever been to Scandinavia? The trip to Norway’s capital was my first encounter with cool Scandinavia. My husband and I spent a weekend in Oslo in April last year. I didn’t have any preconceptions of Oslo which is probably one of the reasons that I felt so relaxed there. Oslo is actually in a fjord and surrounded by hills & forest. There’s even a ski jump tower in the city area (Holmenkollen National Ski Arena with museum and jump tower). I mean where can you ski and then go to the opera in the same day?
Why did we go to Oslo in the first place? Sometimes we go on a trip because we particularly want to visit that town/country and sometimes, which was the case this time, we go somewhere because we found a cheap plane ticket and/or budget accommodation. So we landed on a Friday afternoon and had an early morning flight back on Monday which gave us just enough time to explore Oslo. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time to do anything else like visit the fjords.
We arrived on a crisp sunny April day, just a week before Easter celebrations. First impressions of Norway from the plane (sea&islands) were very promising as was the landscape just outside the airport (forest). But then our airport shuttle arrived and I burst into laughter. I have never ever been driven in such an old dilapidated van/airport transfer.We were dropped off at the main bus station and continued on foot to our hotel which was 20 mins from the aforementioned station. It was a leisurely stroll around the center since our hotel was just around the corner of the main street Karl Johans Gate and the Royal Palace. Yes, Norway’s got a royal family but we didn’t see them :). We’ve also came across the stout and sombre Cathedral on our way to the hotel. It’s a bit odd that there are shops and cafes just behind the cathedral in the so-called Bazaar halls.
After a quick respite at our tiny but affordable room we started our sightseeing of Oslo. First stop naturally, the Royal Palace. Don’t you think that many of the royal palaces around the world actually look alike? We didn’t go inside the palace but continued to the main shopping street Karl Johans Gate where you can also find the National Theatre, the old University Buildings, the Norwegian Parliament and the National Gallery which is just around the corner. The street sorts of finish at the big square (with a tiger statue of all) and at the entrance to the main train station (Oslo Central Station).
Then you have to cross another street and you’ll soon be in front of the big and imposing Oslo’s opera house ( the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet). It’s made of glass and it’s got wooden interior and people lie on its roof and have picnics! It was around 12°C degrees but most of the people who were sitting or lying there took off their shoes for some reason! Didn’t their toes get frostbite?! 😉 There’s a big stainless steel and glass sculpture/art installation called She lies which floats in the Oslo fjord just in front of the opera house. For some reason it reminded me of an artificial island on the river in Graz, Austria. Anyway, you can freely go inside the opera and even have a drink at the bar there or watch some performers at the foyer as we did.
When we were walking down the main street we first turned left towards the red brick City Hall and then we returned to the main street. The Nobel peace prize is actually given at the ceremony at Oslo’s City Hall and not in Stockholm as are all the other Nobel prizes. We admired the astronomical clock and the artwork depicting motifs from the Norwegian history and Vikings’ legends. It’s a very striking building and it looks even more interesting from the south side, from the waterfront. I think a lot of people wouldn’t consider it beautiful but I really liked it.
I prefer cities that lie on the river or which are at the seaside like Oslo. So what can you see at Oslo’s waterfront besides the City Hall? There’s the old Akershus fortress which we visited, then the Nobel Prize center which we didn’t visit and of course the harbour and the newly popular Aker Brygge wharf with lots of restaurants and bars and there’s also some museum too.
There were a lot of road works and construction work around Oslo when we visited. But we mainly just walked around except when we used the little ferry to get to the museums on Bygdoy peninsula in the bay just opposite the City Hall and the fortress. The city center was full of people because it was sunny and not too cold (still way too cold for me for April). I’d hoped to see a lot of blond people around but there weren’t that many actually. I know it’s a stereotype but what can I do? Besides my husband is blond 🙂
We did some souvenir shopping too but basically after the visit to the Opera house we returned to our hotel and called it a night. Oslo is very expensive so we didn’t really eat much in the restaurants apart from the fast food places. However, we managed to find a great restaurant for our Sunday lunch which was the only decent meal we had during this weekend trip. In the end we paid more for the museums& attractions than we did for food 🙂 One must know his priorities 🙂
ps. stay tuned for more Oslo posts!
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