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Published: April 27th 2012
I don't know what pops into your head when you think about Norway, but for me it's Vikings! As well as bolluck numbing coldness and chest-pain inducing prices, of course. And funny accents. Not to mention weird TV adverts with dancing naked people. But mostly just Vikings. Harbouring a worsening case of man-flu, I decided to leave the comparitively tropical climes of London and head for the fjords to investigate, this time with 2 lovely ladies to accompany me: My Welsh ex-flatmate from Auckland, Ruth, and my South African friend from London, Megs. We decided Viking names would be more suitable though, so after much deliberation we became Ruth the Battered, Megs the Awesome, and Clay the Undecided (Our plan was to wear Viking hats for the duration of the trip, but unlike Copenhagen Oslo is actually historically accurate with its tourist crap, and don't sell any horny hats! Lame.).
As per usual for weekend trips (and no doubt Vikings too) we arrived under the cover of nightfall to begin our rampage. As the man of the group, and therefore able to read a map the right way around, I was instantly afforded the title of navigator, where I succeeded
in taking the least direct route to our nearby hotel. We made it inside just before the onset of severe hypothermia, narrowly avoiding the loss of any extremeties to frostbite. It was fricking cold! At least we had a veritable castle compared to the hostels I've been frequenting, as this time we were actually staying at a hotel.
Luxury! (For the record we stayed at Anker Hotel, and I highly recommend it!)
Our plan of attack the next morning was to get our Viking fix right away, so we took a bus further along the harbour to Bygdøy where all the ancient Viking ships are kept. We couldn't help but have a snow fight on the way - you just can't pass by thick snow without wanting to throw huge quantities of it at someone! Once inside the museum we laid eyes upon at least three 1200 year old ships. They were huge, mostly in-tact, and magnificent. I wondered how much devastation and terror these very ships had visited upon lands afar. There was also a decent collection of Viking artifacts like wagons, clothing, jewellery and even some actual Viking remains. It's certainly the biggest peep into those elusive
The bastard horse
just before he snotted on me
Viking's lives I've ever had!
Moving into the relative future, we went next door to check out a traditional rural Norwegian village which had been moved and preserved. There weren't many people around - probably due to the aforementioned bolluck numbing coldness. We had the place mostly to ourselves, which made it easier to believe that we'd actually been transported back in time to a secluded village. There was a welcome silence all around us that you just don't get in London! We ambled through the rather extensive village with its shops, pubs, alchemists, and endless rows of intricately carved wooden houses on stilts, until we came across a horse. A majestic snow horse. It all but glided over the snow, frollicking with a smaller mare, before walking up to us with a playful curiosity reflected in its beautiful big eyes. And then it snotted all over me. Bastard fricking horse!!! I decided I'd had enough of rural Norway at this point, although my travel companions seemed to be finding it rather entertaining!
We headed to Frognerparken next, which is Oslo's largest inner city park. We went partly because of the name, but also because it houses the
Vigeland Sculpture Park, of which Lonely Planet says: "A processional walkway lined with statues of screaming babies, entwined lovers and other naughty people leads to a giant phallus". And it didn't disappoint! So we took a walk through a winter wonderland towards the giant phallus, marvelling and mimicking the multitudes of weird statues along the way. All I can say is that the sculptor must have been doing some serious compensating!
It was time to check out the Oslo nightlife scene, but not before having a few drinks back at the hotel, courtesy of a shrewdly purchased duty free bottle of spiced rum! It was wholly necessary too, as a beer in Oslo can cost anything upwards of £7. Ouch! To make it a local affair we accompanied it with some delicious Norwegian brown cheese and crackers. Brown cheese is weird stuff which tastes like a mix between condensed milk and crayon. You get used to it though, and I still have a block of it in my fridge to this day which I'm slowly working through. While washing down the cheese, me the Undecided and Megs the Awesome somehow managed to polish off the entire bottle of spiced
I bet nobody's ever taken a photo like this before...
rum between us, while Ruth the Battered shied away from her namesake and wisely sipped on a beer instead. Suffice to say, I think we peaked a tad too early, and after an awesome pizza (recommended by locals along the way), followed by a wild goose chase trying to find a locally recommended club, we ended up having a quiet beer at a pub before calling it a night. It's a shame really, as I'm sure the Oslo night-life would have had a lot to offer! Still, an enjoyable night was had by all nonetheless.
The next day saw us at the Munchmuseet, which houses a collection of Edvard Munch's paintings, including the infamous Scream painting. It's just something you have to see really! Though to be honest it was a little more basic than I was expecting, but apparently he painted about 3 of them, so perhaps the others are slightly different. Apparently this particular one has been stolen and recently returned too, though security still didn't seem that beefed up around it!
We finished off our remaining time with a ferry ride through frozen waters. I hate to think how cold it has to be for
the sea to have a frozen top, but it was definitely somewhere in the bolluck-numbing range! As the photos will attest, it was a peacefully picturesque voyage around the harbour, and a nice way to finish off the trip.
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