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Published: October 23rd 2016
The rail trip from Gothenburg to Oslo is rather more entertaining than its predecessor, with some pretty lagoons and inlets north of Gothenburg followed by an extended series of regional towns and outer-outer suburbs on the Norwegian side of the border. The public transport system in Oslo is nice and friendly, and we found our way easily to our digs in an old apartment building, close to the centre of town. It was just down the road from the National Theatre, where Ibsen was booed and celebrated; as well as from the American Embassy and the Nobel Institute, both of which bring to mind the new Nobel Prize-winner for literature receiving a similarly mixed response. We had a little trouble contacting our host (who was up on the top floor) but a friendly co-tenant helped us out.
The apartment seemed to us quintessentially modern Scandinavian. Much that is white or timber, ultra-new kitchen and equipment, “surfaces, darling!” Maya was a generous and informative host and her two cats became very friendly to us after a standoffish welcome. There was no time to do much on the first afternoon beyond getting our bearings and heading out to dinner at a friendly
pub-ish place, a decent walk away down in a waterfront district that resembles Melbourne’s Docklands but with people.
Next day was an extended tourist excursion to a handful of guide-book attractions. The Viking Ship museum, Folk museum, King’s Gardens (closed), Opera House and a section of the old precinct took us most of the day. The Opera House was the highlight, a marvellous piece of architecture inside and out, lacking only some sunshine this day to bring out its highlights – the sun has been an infrequent pleasure all holiday so far. We bought some ingredients for spag bol after ascertaining the Norwegian word for beef, which doesn’t resemble any English relative you might think of, cooked it up (making Maya’s kitchen look worryingly lived-in), and opted for an early night.
Helen was now at peak sore throat, so next morning, like me in Gothenburg, she took a tactical half-day off for the sake of her health. Meanwhile I did a tour taking in a view of the palace, the National Theatre and the Art Gallery. The last is a small affair but cleverly laid out into a generally chronological tour, international and local, that includes a Munch
room with The Scream, Melancholy and several other recognisable canvases. The afternoon and evening were given over to the International Horse Show, affording Helen plenty of opportunity to watch horses jumping, doing many clever things in the dressage arena and wandering around just being horses. Also state-of-the-art floats for horses, exercise tanks for horses, leather gear for horses and other horse-themed items. We headed home on the bus at about 8.30 – buses every ten minutes from an outer suburb – what a great system, just like – it seems – every other one we’ve used so far.
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