It’s that time of year again, where A Girl, Her hubs and a suitcase go exploring the world. This year we channeled our inner Viking to embark on the Nordic wonders of the world. First stop Oslo. But, first-just a brief word on the travel logistics. We started the journey in Tampa, Florida. A rather uneventful and quite pleasant half-filled plane took us directly to Frankfurt, Germany. With a Dr. prescribed “happy pill” on board, this girl alongside her hubs slept almost the entire flight. Flight anxiety usually percolating like a hot cup of sanka is the norm for this nervous ninny, so the tranquil plane ride and much needed rest was an appreciated surprise. Additionally, the final short leg to Oslo went just as smooth.
We picked up our adorable Peugeot and nestled our bodies in the heated seats as we made our way through Friday evening rush hour traffic. The rain was pelting down as the slick road challenged the hubs keen driving skills. But, off in the distance, blue skies emerged and the sun slowly started to appear, a friendly and inviting welcome greeting.
Stone walls flanked the highway displaying jagged rock as rolling hills and mountains peeked off in the distance. On a tree lined street, as auburn colored leaves slowly tickled the ground we approached our hotel –Saga Hotel http://sagahoteloslo.no/. The unassuming, charming 19th century dwelling is our residence for three nights. It is a stone’s throw from the hustle-bustle of the city center, but situated in a chic, upscale, neighborhood with a young and energetic vibe.
We got ourselves settled in our quaint and cozy room, took much needed showers and embarked on a mission for food. The hotel suggested Agra Indian Restaurant http://agrarestaurant.no/, as traditionally The Girl and her hubs love to dine on Indian food the first night of any European excursion. A 10 minute walk later and we were sitting amongst the fragrant, spicy aromas of mouthwatering Indian cuisine. The meal was hot, flavorful and deliciously satisfying. The service was good. The meal was pricy and indulgent, but seemed to be in line with the inflated prices that seem to pervade Norway that we have seen so far.
From there, bellies full, feet sore and jet lagged we trudged on back to the warmth of the hotel for a nice night’s slumber.
Day 2 /Oslo
Our first real full day in Oslo began with remnants of sun poking through the curtains. After an uneventful shower scene (yours truly usually has some catastrophic international incident such as the Hong Kong shower flood of 2015, the Milan coffin sized shower event of 2014 or the Hubs bidet assault of 2016 in Turkey that would make the Sultans blush….) But, no issues here-thus far. We crammed our way to the crowded breakfast area, teeming with hungry and ambitious young Norwegians fully embracing the concept of free breakfast.
We made our way through Karl Johans Gate where the Royal Palace and the accompanying park called Slottsparken dwell http://www.visitoslo.com/en/activities-and-attractions/boroughs/city-centre/#! Lush green spilled out from the grandeur of the palace and it seemed every Norwegian was out soaking up the last remaining sunny days left- rambunctious dogs, enthusiastic kids and kissing couples all out enjoying a splendid Saturday. We made our way to the National Art Gallery of Oslo http://www.nasjonalmuseet.no/en/. There was a special exposition on Japanese Art that was truly enjoyable. The highlight was the notable Scream painting from Edvard Munch http://www.nasjonalmuseet.no/en/. Of most interest were the annoying patrons, that took side by side pictures depicting their own agonizing version of the tormented face. This traveling twosome was no exception, displaying their unique version of this representation. All in all the museum was top notch, entertaining and well worth the visit.
As we piled out on the busy street, we made our way down towards the water. We stopped at a Norwegian version of Starbuck’s called Wayne’s Coffee http://www.waynescoffee.no/. Wayne could have picked up a few tips from Starbuck’s. However, the stop served dual purpose as we replenished our energy with a light snack, hydrated and refueled-for this brief stop would carry us over for many hours.
The sun was smiling down on the Norwegian peeps and according to the happy young blond faces-everyone was fully taking advantage of this gift from the climate Gods. We made our way to the pier, where outside restaurants were surrounded by ques of eager diners. Grateful for our light snack, we pulled up at comfy lounge chair/bench and took in the scene. We sat there for a long time, many moments in silence just relaxing the day away-a welcome respite in this thriving energetic atmosphere. We walked on further down the wooden boardwalk, looking out at the blue sea, an isolated lighthouse in the distance-like a lonely soldier protecting its people.
It took many steps, some foul language and a stern pep talk from the Hubs to get me moving and in the direction of the hotel. For dinner, we went a couple blocks down to a bar/restaurant called Homan http://www.homanbistro.no/. As a vegetarian, my trips always involve preparation and research of the food in the region. For Norway, my potential prospects were limiting, so I really prepared for the worst. I have so far enjoyed the food and considering I thought my choices would be fish or reindeer, neither have I had to choose from. At Homan Bistro, the vegetarian options were scant. However, the very savvy Hubs asked if an omelet could be made. A couple audible grumbles from the waitress later, and Voila- I had a delicious omelet with mozzarella and tomato served in a hot piping skillet. We dined by cozy candlelight amongst a small crowd-the Hubs happily slurping his fish soup. Again, the prices were a bit steep, but were pleased with the meal and the service.
After dinner, we took a stroll as the dark autumn night settled in. The last remaining heat of summer slipping away as cooler weather just ever so slightly chilled the air. We stopped at Deli de Luca http://delideluca.no/ -an upper scale convenience store of sorts. We indulged in passion fruit sorbet for a bit of sweet pampering and then made our way back to the room to call it in an early night.
Day 3 Oslo
I awoke upside down, disoriented and sore. I guess all good things -when on vacation. I quickly got myself together preparing for our last real day in the “big city”. Another breakfast with the rest of the eager beavers, fighting like a real Viking over the last waffle (not really, but this crew is a feisty bunch and they do take their breakfast quite seriously). We got in our temperamental Peugeot and drove the 2 miles to the Viking Ship Museum https://www.khm.uio.no/english/visit-us/viking-ship-museum/ situated in Bygdoy https://www.visitnorway.com/listings/bygd%c3%b8y/2785/. It is an island literally right off the city center of Oslo. However, as you enter this region, there are cows and farms and it is anything but the energetic pull of the city. With impeccable timing we arrived a minute before the museum opened. As we breached the entry way, a tour bus of approximately 100 enthusiastic Asians dispersed, camera snapping ready to embrace all things Viking. On a serious somber note, the museum holds 3 ships from the 9th century. These 3 ships are sacred to the Norwegian people. The ships were used to transport the dead of high ranking chieftains. The ships are truly pristine and the chronicling of the excavation was meticulous. Several selfies later, a quick rampage through the gift shop, fighting off the rambunctious tour group, a splurge on “Moose Droppings” (a delicious cinnamon chocolate covered candy) and we were off.
About a mile down the road, we went to the Norsk Folkemuseum http://norskfolkemuseum.no/en. However, unclear as to how to pay for parking, we became annoyed and abandoned the idea only hitting the interesting gift shop for some overpriced souvenirs. Back to the hotel, we dropped off the car and walked on foot to Vigelandsparken http://www.vigeland.museum.no/en/vigeland-park. Within walking distance, it was a nice stroll through the quiet neighborhood. We were not alone in this idea as swarms of people were out enjoying the pleasant weather and family time. The park is comprised of 212 bronze sculptures depicting the many stages of life. Rising high up in the air 56 feet tall is a phallic sculpture called the Monolith. As one gets closer, it is easy to see they are over 100 human figures entwined around the column. There are many layers to the grounds with colorful gardens and vibrant flowers. Of particular interest/annoyance was a large population of school aged children, tethered to their phones, eyes planted on the screen chasing after phantom pokemons. Apparently, the Pokemon Go was launched recently in Norway. Whatever the case, and however ancient this makes me sound-I was sad to see young children (and a lot adults) completely disengaged with life and careening through the park with no regard to anyone or anything around them. It almost felt as if it was the takeover of zombies, shuffling and scuffling through the park, eyes fixed on their phones.
A few words I would like to share on my interactions with the local people of Oslo. Although, I am viewing everything through a small microcosm- I have made note of some fine characteristics of the Oslo-nians. There is a true sense of family and community seen. Young nuclear families, sturdy and able bodied, sun kissed with the glow of innocence and youth. The mothers seem to display a juxtaposition of strength and will; however, they also seem to embody fragility and delicacy that is truly powerful to witness. The fathers have a child-like energy, fit and athletic as well. But, in contrast, they are in control and seem to be in charge of this unique family dynamic. I have been perplexed with the culture and feel of the city as strangely, it all seems so reminiscent of somewhere in Europe I have been. It holds the romance and allure of many of the European cultures. However, oddly, as familiar as this all feels, it also holds a mystery and a unique nature that I simply at this point cannot put my finger on.
Tune in for more travels of Nordic delight,
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