After 5 blissful days in England, Kara and I packed our bags and excitedly set out for Norway. This was uncharted territory for both of us and we were excited to begin the Scandinavia leg of the trip. We flew into Oslo and took the train from the airport into the city center. We were in Oslo a total of 1 and a half days–although that time was interrupted by a 24 hour fjord trip in the middle (which I will cover in the next post.)
So Oslo. Oh Oslo. I am not going to lie, we had a rough go of it in Oslo. First off, it was cold. I should say that we expected Scandinavia to be a little chilly. We were prepared for 50-60 degree weather but that is not quite what welcomed us when we stepped off the plane. I started to get nervous about the light layers I packed, especially considering that when you are on a trip like this, you spend most of your time outdoors. That first day was cold–around 40 degrees. And then you add to that the second issue we had with Oslo. Hunger.
We soon learned that food was expensive here–especially considering the weak US dollar. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on average food and so we bought groceries and instead we lived off of bread, cheese, fruit, and my favorite Norway treat, Nugatti. Nugatti is basically a Nutella like spread that you squeeze out from a toothpaste container.
I love me some Nugatti.
So despite a few set backs, we still managed to enjoy some great sights in Oslo. One of the things I really wanted to see in Scandinavia was some Viking stuff. I wasn’t sure what “stuff” meant. Just that I wanted to see something having to do with Vikings. I think this counts:
Real Viking Ship.
We went to the Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset) on our first day in Oslo. You have to take a ferry to get there. We quite liked taking the ferry.
At the Viking Ship Museum they have finds and ships excavated from the Viking age. It is a small museum and really you won’t need to spend too much time there, but we felt it was worth it for the unique items you get to see. I loved this decoration that was from a ship of the time:
The Vikings were artisans!
The rest of that first day we spent walking around the city and visiting the National Gallery of Norway. The highlight of that museum was seeing Norwegian Edvard Munch’s paintings. We even saw one version of The Scream.
The second day we spent in Oslo was the one we were looking forward to the most. It was May 17th which is Norway’s Constitution Day. We heard tell of parades and native dress and flags and dancing in the streets. And yes, we did see all those things. The only struggle is that they were accompanied by freezing rain and wind. By far, this was the hardest day we spent on the trip. Here is a picture of us waiting for the kid’s parade to begin:
We had no where to go to warm up as we were leaving that evening on the train. We also had slept the night before on a train and had no where to shower in the morning so we were wearing clothes we got cold by wearing the day before and had no opportunity to warm our body temperature. I had soggy socks and shoes on. Kara was wearing 4 layers. There was really nothing we could do about it so we just had to deal with the elements and still try to appreciate and absorb all we were seeing. Eventually, the kids did start the parade. We were watching in front of the palace along with the royal family.
One thing about Norway’s Constitution Day is that many Norwegians dress up in native costume. Not just performers but normal people just coming downtown to see the parade. It wasn’t just the old people either. It was a really cool thing to see and made me think how festive the 4th of July would be if we all dressed up in Colonial wear.
The other thing we saw a lot of were flags. Specifically the Norwegian Flag.
Me on Karl Johansgaten.
Karl Johansgaten is the main drag of Oslo. You can step on it right when you leave the train station and it is a straight shot to the palace. This street was lined with tall beautiful flagpoles flying the flag of Norway. I loved the sight of it.
When I couldn’t feel my toes anymore, we went and hid out in a subway station to try and get the blood flowing again. We knew we had one more sight in Oslo that we couldn’t miss out on or we would hang our heads in shame. With only a few hours left in the city, we gathered our courage and started the trek to Vigeland Sculpture Park. Frogner park is a large, beautiful, and green place to walk around and at it’s center is the coolest sculpture park filled with sculptures crafted by artist Gustav Vigeland. Most sculptures seemed to be of humans in various stages of life.
Attack of the toddlers.
I should admit that some of them kind of creeped me out. But then there were some that just exuded beauty and strength.
I could show you picture after picture but trust me, this is something you are going to want to see for yourself. In the end–and in hindsight–I really did enjoy Oslo. We made some great memories and I feel bad that the weather distracted us from the beauty of this city. I am glad I have pictures to finally allow me to fully appreciate the incredible view.
Next up: One word. Fjords.