Oslo, Norway Day #2
I come from a family where vacation is basically a synonym for going somewhere warm, beautiful and ideally full of beaches. If you asked me a list of places I was going to travel before I came abroad, Oslo would definitely not have been on it. I cannot ski or snowboard and can barely ice skate due to a lack of good balance. Yet somehow I ended up in the World’s Winter Capital and adorable (yet freezing) ski town as my first trip outside London.
Day 2 in Oslo definitely did not go as planned, in any sense. Running on just a few hours of sleep, my boyfriend and I and our German hostel roommate were awakened from a fire alarm at 3a.m. The alarm was blaring and rang for a good ten minutes. We groggily got up, met, and tried to communicate with the German decked out in Star Trek pj’s, before deciding to follow the rest of our hostel hallway back out into the freezing snowy and slushy outdoors. Fortunately as we were getting our coats on the alarm shut off and we were able to go back to bed.
Three hours later our own alarm went off, super early because I was set on waking up to see Karl Johans Gate (the main street of Oslo) before it became crowded and also to see the gorgeous hot pink sunrise that I had been told occurred just the day before. Sadly, it was rainy and cloudy this morning, so apart from a few shafts of yellow light peeking through the clouds, we saw nothing. However I still think it was worth it to get out of bed and make the most of our last day in Norway! It was great to see more untouched snow on the main street and we walked to an open café for breakfast and much needed caffeine.
We started wandering around the area, passing by the National Theater, National Gallery, and the library. It wasn’t long before I realized that the front of my right boot had started to rip and snow kept getting in and sloshing around my toes – making me worried about frost bite! It was still too early for the shops to be open, so we wandered towards the pier (me walking solely on my heels) where we were supposed to hop on the 10:30 am Fjord Sightseeing Cruise! The stores opened at 10 a.m., so after warming up in an adorable coffee shop I purchased some cute wool socks with moose and the Norwegian flag on them, put my now-happy feet in them, and then put a plastic bag over my foot to avoid more water getting in (genius idea, Ben)!
Sure our morning was less than ideal, but isn’t that one of the important things about traveling? Rolling with the punches and making the most out of things? The rest of the day was entirely worth it. We walked onto this (open-aired!!) wooden ship and sat down at a picnic table (they put fur down for us to sit on!). We soon grabbed blankets and hot drinks because the wind chill was unbearable as we got further out into the water and closer to the Arctic border – definitely the coldest I’ve ever been!
The scenery was entirely stunning – like nothing I had ever seen before! The fjord is made of of dozens of tiny islands with one or two houses on them, and in the summer must look something like Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard (except with a fjord). After an hour and a half on the cruise, we got off at a small island that houses all of the famous Nordic museums. Budgeting our time, we first went into the Fram Museet (hehe) where we learned about how awesome Norwegian explorers were at Arctic exploration and we got to actually walk through the Fram, the ship that they sailed on and lived in on explorations to the Arctic and Antarctic.
Next we stopped at the Kon Tiki Museum about the explorations of Thor Heyerdahl – which was so cool that we now want to read his book! And then, of course, it wouldn’t have been a trip to Norway without visiting the Viking Ship Museet – where the only four remaining Viking ships are housed!
This was incredibly cool to see, as well as the meticulous detail that was put into the artifacts found with the ships.
At the Viking Museet, while I was examining the gorgeous gold and gemstone decorated Viking jewelry I overheard a very intelligent American man explaining to his friends that we have the Vikings to thank for part of the English language. Apparently on Viking conquests they were extremely lazy with learning how to speak to others, and thus would only conjugate one verb per sentence… and it stuck!
After navigating the Norwegian bus system we made our way back to the dock and rode the boat back to the mainland.
Starving, we ate at a delicious restaurant overlooking the water (we ate outside, with heat lamps and blankets!) and then rushed over to the Munch Museet to see some of Norwegian artist Edvund Munch’s works, including The Scream. The museum had closed just ten minutes before we made it there… I guess there’s always something left to come back to!
That night we went back to the Vulcan district to try our luck at the Norwegian bar and club scene. The route that we took led us to a huge, steep hill, which we soon found to be covered in ice. I stopped halfway through, realizing that this was probably where I would end up breaking my leg or sliding into the river below. Ben continued slowly on his own, and ended up sliding down the last bit until he hit into the barrier separating him from the river. Frightening! Then, of course, a Norwegian woman wearing heels laughed at us as she briskly made her way down the hill…
After affirming my fear of heights, and cold water (which comes from the amount of freezing showers I have to take in my London flat), and falling, it started raining again as we got in line for the club. We waited half an hour, witnessed an intense catfight, and made friends with a group of Norwegian girls before we got the bouncer and got turned away… because we weren’t 23. Apparently the Norwegian law is that you must be 18 to drink beer and wine, 21 to drink hard liquor, and 23 to go clubbing. Yeah, I don’t understand the reasoning behind the last part of this either.
Regardless, our flight back to London was in just a few hours that this point, and we decided that Norwegian nightlife just wasn’t meant for us.
Despite our struggles on this trip, it was definitely a fantastic experience and I was able to see somewhere I had never even dreamed I would get to go! We definitely learned a lot about each other and ourselves, especially as travelers, and this was a great test run, because we were tackling Paris next!
Stay Classy (&Warm) ! xx