On December 27th, we were reunited with our lost luggage and arrived in Oslo, Norway. We were relieved to be on the last leg of this ambitious journey through Scandinavia and hoping to finally see snow.
When we arrived at the airport, we purchased a 7-day transportation pass (about $32 each) to get us through our 2 and 1/2 days. The Oslo airport is a bit outside of the city center which looks a bit intimidating, but once we got there, the information desk quickly explained how to get from the airport to the city center with the right ticket and transportation pass.
We stayed at the Comfort Hotel Karl Johan which was on the main shopping street, right next to the Oslo Cathedral, moderately priced ($119 a night), with free wifi, comfortable rooms, amazing breakfast, and just a few blocks from the Oslo Central Station. It was by far the best hotel we stayed in on this trip and we definitely recommend it.
By the time we checked into our hotel, we hadn’t showered in a few days. We basked in the glory of a shower and clean clothes and then went out to find something to eat. We found a cafe which served pizza. We ordered a four cheese pizza with reindeer meat on top. The cheese was markedly different from cheese in America, but this made it all the more fun to enjoy a super nordic meal.
After dinner, we went on a hunt for dessert. The Oslo Central Station is also a mall with a gelato place inside. The mall was full of people from all over the world. I ordered a gelato made of Kinder Eggs (which are apparently illegal in America). Then we walked around the mall looking into the different shops, flirting with the idea of buying thicker hats and scarves.
The next day, we had a full agenda and were super excited to get out into the city. We started at the Oslo Cathedral. Though beautiful, it didn’t compete with some of the other cathedrals we’ve visited.
We then went to the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, an open air museum. It was cold enough to snow in Oslo, but snow wasn’t hitting the ground. Rather, the whole ground was frozen over. Just picture Steve and I linking arms, sliding across ice, and trying not to fall to the ground. We tentatively and slowly glided around the outdoor museum.
We’re big fans of the show Vikings and were pumped to see things in Norway that looked like the things we’d seen on the show. The Stave Church was one of those. It was like nothing we’d ever seen and totally impressive. There were carefully carved details in the doorway and the church smelled of wood and winter.
The museums in Oslo are all close together like they were in Stockholm. After the open air museum, we headed (by bus, but only to avoid the icy ground) to The Vikingship Museum. This museum has a handful of ships that were recovered and preserved by The University of Oslo. These were burial ships and in true Viking fashion they had relics and items buried with them. Looters had stolen most of the good stuff, but what survived is on display at this museum.
The most popular museum in Norway, The Fram Museum, is located right near The Vikingship Museum. The Fram is a polar ship that was so strong and impressive, it went on a number of voyages to the north and south poles. This museum is well done, has a ton to read, and you can actually get into the Fram ship. That being said, I think it loses some of its authenticity when people are allowed to climb all over it. We learned a lot and it was super cool, but the Vikingship Museum really stole the show.
No matter which museums you go to in this part of Oslo, everyone needs to go to the shore and look out at the water. There are mountains and houses and it’s absolutely snowy and lovely. Plus, you get to see this weird lighthouse thing.
The National Gallery in Oslo, Norway is an art museum. This museum is located near the city center. We waltzed through the museum looking for one piece of art in particular: The Scream by Edvard Munch. We love visiting art that we can only see in the country we’re in.
When we felt warm enough to brave the outdoors again, we headed to the Oslo Christmas Market. We bought some chocolate drizzled churros, checked out the different stalls, and watched people ice skate on a super choppy rink.
That night, we didn’t know what to eat, so we headed to a food court called Mathallen. We ate homemade pasta at a place called Via Italia and it was definitely the best meal we had on our whole trip. We sat at a bar basking in the pasta, taking selfies, and enjoying the wifi.
The food was so good that we walked around looking for dessert and to our delight, we found another shop called Bistro Budapest which had a sign for Trdelniks (Chimney Cakes! The ones we had in Prague!). Though we were full from pasta, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat chimney cakes!
The next day, we visited the Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower. We took the metro and at every stop, more people piled on with skis, sleds, and snowboards. When we finally arrived, everyone got off of the metro and immediately sat onto their sleds. Down the hills they went and into the white forest ahead of us. We stood watching the most wintery thing we’ve ever seen as we waited for the sledders to pass so we could walk.
The ski jump wasn’t far from the metro stop, but in the gentle, but thick white snow, it was hard to find. This was the first time we really saw snow so we stopped often to take photos.
When we found the ski jump, we were among other tourists visiting it, staring down at its wonder, and trying to catch a glimpse of the view. It was a very foggy morning, something we didn’t take into account before purchasing our tickets to the top. But, we stood where olympians have stood and the clouds parted briefly to reveal a winter wonderland below.
When we headed back to the Oslo city center, the sun was actually shining. We had read about an observation tower that we thought would be the perfect view to look at the city, fully covered in a setting sun. It was, of course, closed. So, we ran (literally) past it to the pier. Steve’s hands nearly froze off while taking these photos, but it felt so good to see the sun.
After our visit to the pier, we decided to simply walk around Oslo. On our past adventures, we’ve spent more time walking and exploring the city we’re in. This trip was packed full of things to do, see, and ways to keep warm. On our next adventure, we’ll likely schedule less and explore more.
We explored a part of town called Bjørvika Barcode or the barcode project. This area is comprised of twelve skyscrapers that resemble a barcode. This was a really neat part of town. Between each building was art, sculptures, artsy architecture studios, and an interesting bridge.
Oslo felt the most modern of three Scandinavian cities we visited. The transportation is efficient, the city is bustling and exciting, and the art is incredible. Oslo highlighted the viking history of the region, boasted forests and sculpture gardens, and has a unique culinary scene. It was snowy, slippery, and yet easy to explore. Each area of the city is different and we could have spent days getting to know each of them.