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Published: July 12th 2009
For Kristi's birthday this year I took her to Oslo the Capital city of Norway for a weekend break 😊
Kristi had no idea where I was taking her, all she knew was that on Friday she had to meet me at Liverpool Street station at 12.30pm so we could take the train out to Stansted airport. (I emailed her a series of misleading clues throughout the week, hints suggested everywhere from Somalia to Iraq!) We arrived at the airport and I managed to get Kristi to the actual boarding gate with her still having no idea where we were going, she only found out about 30seconds before we boarded - and even then only because they announced it over the intercom!
Flying into Norway was fantastic. The fjords and tiny Islands are all spread out all along the coastline and everything is heavily forested, it looked stunning from above; like something from a fairy tale.
We arrived in Norway at Oslo Torp; an airport about 1.5hrs from Oslo city itself. We caught the transfer and had a leisurely bus ride through the stunning green countryside of the Ostlandet region. One of first things to strike us was
the large number of tunnels - they went right into the solid rock of the hills after hill, it seems that no attempt was made to go around anything - rather they just smashed right on through! We got to Oslo amidst a pretty grim thunder storm, which thankfully cleared by the time we had to get off the bus. In short time we were at our hotel: Residence Kristinelund, a newly refurbished 19th century manor house - in the very wealthy Bygdoy Alle area of the city. The hotel was very nice and still carried much of its historical character, while being modern and comfy. That evening we didn’t do a whole lot, other than roam the streets marvelling at the clear evidence of Norway’s considerable wealth. The buildings were all in fantastic condition (but still with lots of period charm), the streets clear and well organized and the city is easily navigable, with easy public transport. It was almost like a European version of Singapore, but without the skyscrapers - everything was clean, functional and orderly. Overall the city is very charming, full of art and history - we both enjoyed it immensely - which is really very
lucky, as the city is the namesake for Oslo, our Norwegian elkhound. There is of course one other thing to note, and that is how expensive the Norway is, I could go into lots of horrific details/comparisons about the cost of eating/shopping but suffice to say: it makes LONDON look cheap!
While we had heard that Scandinavia had incredibly long days, we had assumed that as Oslo was quite low in Norway that it would still get dark for a bit... not so. We went to bed to a clear blue sky at about midnight and woke the next morning to the same. We asked the lady at reception what time it got dark - she replied “Impossible. Not till October.” Yikes.
The next morning we woke to an extremely hot sunny day, thankfully the forecast thunder storms had not eventuated. We headed down to start a tour I booked to ensure we maximized our time. We explored the main marina and Alle Brygge area and soon were on a lovely sailboat, cruising around the Oslo Fjord and admiring the sights and the islands. Lunch was a prawn buffet (by buffet we mean a huge bucket of prawns),
Kristi sat there eating bread :-) but it was lovely on the boat in the hot, hot sun.
On one island we passed there were dozens of tiny little colourful houses. (Maximum 40 square metres in size). These were originally built illegally, people were not allowed to build on the island but they would go and camp there in their tents in summer. Over time they began to build wooden rooves for their tents and after a few generations they had become little houses. The government stepped in and said no more could be built and the existing ones had to be painted in the traditional norwegian colours of red, blue and yellow. Because no more will ever be built they very rarely come up for sale - they are now passed from generation to generation through the lucky families that originally squatted there! One came up for sale last year and caused a major news story and huge excitement!! Prices went crazy and it eventually sold for the equivalent of 2 million Euro (for a tiny house! and they dont even own the land it's on!!)
We left the ship and went to visit some of the
multitude of museums in Oslo; we visited the Maritime Museum, Fram Museum, Viking Ship Museum, Kon Tiki Museum and an open air Museum of historical buildings. Norway has such a long maritime history (2000+ years) that it would be easy to spend all day listing their heroes and achievements. We had a great time and learned a great deal at the museums, it wasn’t too rushed but we saw heaps of cool stuff and still managed to enjoy the heat. That afternoon the tour visited Vigeland Sculpture Park, which was very impressive as well. Over a span of 900 metres are 3 clusters of statues, based around an Obelisk , a fountain and a bridge. All of the statues depict humanity; either the cycle of life or the relationship between men, women and children. It was very impressive, there were hundreds of Oslo residents in the park lands, out enjoying the sun - it was a pretty cool place to be 😊
After a final driving tour of the major architecture in the city we were back in the city centre and exhausted! We had a simple dinner and then headed home. That evening, we, like fools, decided to
wake at 2.30am and 3,30am to take photos. The light is really whacky, as the sun is not actually visible in the sky, so there are long shadows that give the illusion of night, but in the open you realize it’s not dark at all!
The next morning the storms arrived 😞 Na, it wasn’t too bad actually; we whiled away the morning, nice and toasty in a cafe overlooking the Fjord and main square/marina. It was nice to chill for a while after such a busy day the day before. All too soon though, it was time to take a last wander through the city and then head to the bus station and from there the airport. That’s the problem with weekend breaks - its all over too fast!!! Oslo was an amazing place to visit and we are so glad we got the chance to visit (especially while earning the pound!) We'd definitely recommend it as a fantastic weekend getaway!
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