On our last trip to Vilnius, Lithuania (click here for that trip), we finished out the Baltic countries. This trip to Norway was the last of the Scandinavian countries for us to visit. Oslo was a forty-five minute flight from Stockholm.
We met up with our friends Marie, from New York, and BiBi, from Bulgaria (currently living in the UK). You may remember Marie (pictured on right) from our visit to Portugal (click here for that article). That was a great trip!
We spent two days in Oslo, which was plenty of time to see the highlights and get a feel for the city. From the minute you step out of the airport, you will notice that Oslo is far different from most other European cities: it looks completely modern.
No medieval buildings, magnificent churches, or historic Old Townes. So my first reaction to this was a shrug of the shoulders and an audible “Hmph.”
Our hotel was situated right next to a food market called Mathallen Oslo. A great market with fresh meats and vegetables on display.
We found a nice Hungarian restaurant inside where I enjoyed a sandwich called “The Messy Pig”. It was a delicious pulled pork sandwich.
When we travel, we take public transportation as much as possible. We used the busses and trams during our visit. It was easy getting tickets and, using Google maps, easy to figure out where the bus stops were and which ones we needed.
We walked over to see the opera house. Very modern and beautifully architected.
We spent some time at a couple of pretty cool museums. The first was, what else but the Viking Museum!
They presented original viking ships that had been used as part of their conquests. After having been at sea for several years, the ships were pulled ashore and used as “burial ships”. The dead were placed in burial chambers built onboard the ships, then the entire thing was buried underground. The moist soil by the sea and clay helped in preserving the ships from around 400 A.D. There were also a number of artifacts that had been buried with them and those are all on display at the museum. It was a very good exhibit with lots of good information and was well presented.
From there it was a short walk over to the Fram Museum. The Fram is a ship that was specifically built by the Norwegians back in the late 1800s to allow deep and extended exploration missions of the Antarctic regions. The idea was to freeze Fram into an Arctic ice sheet and float with it over the North Pole.
Here is a really old photograph I found on Wikipedia of the ship in action (above). The ship is displayed in all of its glory inside the museum and I must say, it is fantastic. You even get to go inside the ship and see how the crew lived. But the best part was that on the top deck, the walls and ceiling come alive with a multimedia presentation of a storm, and then later as the ship is drifting amongst the frozen glaciers.
Absolutely fascinating to see. If you go, make sure you stay on the top deck long enough to get the sea storm. And if the bench is available, sit on the bench and will rock from side to side in unison with the waves.
We wrapped up our first day enjoying some drinks right on the river:
I will say that by the end of the first day in Oslo, the city had worked its magic on us. We were starting to fall in love with its modern yet laid back way of life. And there is still enough old stuff and history around the town if you really want to see it.
On our second day, we ventured out to the Frogner Park.
The entire park is an exhibit of the sculptures of the famous Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943). The featured photo at the top of this article is from there.
Over 200 sculptures of granite, bronze, and wrought iron. Gustav tried to capture the human experience, for better or for worse, the happy and the sad.
After that, we walked along the water and found a nice place to sit outside for a bite to eat. Then we took a three hour bicycle tour with “Viking Biking” tour guides.
This showed us a lot more of the city than we would have ordinarily been able to cover. We got to see the Nobel building, as well as many of the major tourist attractions of the area.
By the time the bike tour was finished, we were definitely liking the city. The people are warm and friendly, the food is delicious, and the restaurants and pubs are cozy as ever. We totally enjoyed our stay here and would come back again.
With all of that behind us, we went to central station and took a train to Bergen, Norway. This was a seven hour ride through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. I will be documenting that as part of my Bergen article, so don’t miss it!