Surprisingly Oslo

Expensive!
beautiful views
a weekend
April 2015

You know that some unexpected trips come from a tempting offer of a low-cost airline, don't you?
Well, I had never paid attention to Oslo until Ryanair "suggested" it with a cheap ticket. Who am I to say no to a weekend away? This time I've overwhelmed 6 friends with my enthusiasm and convinced them to pack their stuff!

Flight, bus, hotel

The flight from London to Rygge airport takes 1 hour and 45 min, we paid £40 each (return).

As soon as we left the airport, on the right, we found a Rygge Ekpressen bus that took us straight to the city centre in about 50 minutes. A round trip costs 300 nok (£25), you can pay directly on board both in cash or by card; all the buses connect each departure and arrival: for example, we landed at 11 pm and caught the bus at 11.30. On the bus we had our first approach to the Norwegian slowness: the unflappable driver took half an hour to let all the passenger board the bus so that we left the airport past midnight!

We eventually arrived to the city centre and walked towards our apartment: being 7 of us, we choose 2 rooms for 4 ppl each at Oslo Hotel Apartments, located about twenty minutes walk from the station. Very nice one! Clean, comfy beds, our room had a mezzanine, a sofa, and a table too. We paid £21 per person per night, with no breakfast: great value for money!

Oslo Pass

The next day at 8.30 am we were ready to explore the city. We noticed that all the attractions we intended to visit did not open until 10 am, so we decided to look for a bar to have breakfast. The streets were weirdly desolate, so I asked a random guy where we could have breakfast. His answer was: "Breakfast? Now??" I checked my watch, it was nearly 9 am, I asked him why that question and he told me that it was a little early! Anyway he suggested to go to the city centre, and walking through the streets I realized that the guy was right: everything was still closed! We laughed at the fact that at 9 am on a Saturday morning a whole European capital was still sleeping when we miraculously found a bar open: needless to say we were the only customers! We decided to take it easy and we all had a big breakfast: muffins, croissants, cappuccinos, teas and juices, we all agreed that Norwegians are good bakers!

We kept on walking, loaded of sugars, arriving in the city center. We bought the Oslo Pass, £27 for 24 hours, that gave us free travels on all public transport, free access to the museums and a 20% discount in some restaurants (including Hard Rock and Cafe Christiania).

Walking around the Cathedral we found a huge red heart decorated with flowers: a memory of the massacre carried out by Breivik in 2011 at Utoya lake.

National Gallery

At 11 o'clock, the National Gallery opening hour (they take it easy too!) we entered this museum and went straight to the hall dedicated to Munch: and here they are, its famous Scream, the Virgin Mary, and The sick girl studied in my high school! Finally! We took a quick stroll, just an hour, admiring the impressionist paintings of Cezanne and Manet and run away, we had very short time!

Norwegian Folk Museum

Just behind the City Hall, we took the bus 30 that dropped us in 15 minutes to the Norwegian Folk Museum, located on the small archipelago facing the harbour. This open-air museum shows the culture and history of the different regions of Norway: 155 houses (some of which are perfectly furnished), old shops, a wooden church back from the 1200s, a farm, a pretty little workshop showing how to make a "lefser" (a kind of sweet flatbread) ... all surrounded by lush nature during the spring full bloom! It was really beautiful!!

Vigeland Park

We were about to fall asleep on the benches, due to the warm weather post lunch, but quickly we realized we had no time to waste, so we caught the tram 12 that took us to Vigeland Park!
Oslo is the city with the most statues I have visited so far, and if that wasn't enough, this park has the complete collection of the works of Gustav Vigeland.
They all are human sculptures, white and harmonious, representing the cycle of life and leading up to the Monolith, an obelisk made of what? Human bodies, obviously 😊

Akershus fortress

We then came back to the harbour, this time to take a stroll to the fortress of Akershus, a medieval castle built to protect the city and then used as a prison.

Aker Brygge

For dinner, we decided to look for a place in Aker Brygge, the neighbourhood built on the seafront, but the prices of restaurants scared us away!
We slipped into a lane and found a restaurant with slightly lower prices but very characteristic: Cafe Sorgenfri. We ate divinely, I took a plate of meat and fish with a delicious vegetable side, my friends were happy with their meals too. We waited about an hour, but ok, we know that here things are done slowly 😅A few quick shots at Aker Brygge by night and then all to sleep!

Holmenkollen

The next day we had the flight back to London in the afternoon, so we spent the morning in Holmenkollen to see the oldest ski jumping in the world.
Line 1 of the underground (there's a ride every 30 minutes), rather than an underground it looks like a cable railway climbing up this hill up to 300 meters!.
The sight enjoyed during the ride makes you want to spend the rest of your life there! ❤ The typical Norwegian wooden houses, surrounded by the trees of the forest, the quiet paths, families walking the dogs, everything seems to be out of a fairy tale! I was so absorbed by the view that I didn't even take a picture! 😔
Once we got to the top we had to walk 10 minutes to reach the foot of the ski jumping. From there the view is not bad at all!
We got into the ski museum, had fun watching the evolution of skiing from prehistory to today, then with an elevator we climbed the top of the launch pad: 60 meters high, I get the chills just thinking about a launch from up there! A few more steps and we were on the top!
Oslo with its archipelago and the mountains surrounding form a breathtaking view! The air is clean and, despite the 18° C of the sea level, up there we found some snow! We took thousands of photos and that's it, it was time to go back in town, eat a bite, buy postcards and walk slowly to the bus taking us back to the airport.

Oslo has been a touch and go, none of us had holidays nor much money to spend, so we had this quick weekend just to break the dullness of everyday life ... but it left me so much desire to visit the whole Norway!

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Pros

  • the contrast between sea and snow
  • Norwegians' kindness and friendliness
  • cute houses
  • public transport reliable and on time

Cons

  • business hours are too short
  • everything is quite expensive
  • water tastes weird
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