There’s something to be said about timing. We ended up traveling to Oslo during Easter weekend. As you might imagine, the Scandinavians make a pretty big deal out of Easter because it signifies the coming of spring, which means the return of the sun! The sun! The sun!
“Ooh Mommy, it burns it burns!” “Gunnar! Where’d you put the SPF 3,000?”
We saw more than a few Scandinavians just sitting on a bench with their face toward the sun and a small smile on their reddening lips. In January and December, Oslo only gets 6-7 hours of daylight. In June it’s almost 19 hours. I’m not sure how flat-earthers explain that. Of course, I don’t know how flat-earthers explain anything.
There’s also something to be said about expectations. We took an overnight ferry from Denmark to Oslo. We were excited to see the fjords, and we were told that a ferry boat would provide the exact same views as a tour boat out of Oslo. So when we woke up on the ship in the morning, we were excited to go to the viewing decks and see the magnificent fjords. This above is what we saw.
I mean, there was nothing wrong with that, but this is kinda what we expected.
And this is what we got.
Yep, expectations vs. reality.
Oh, well, we saw some fjords. We just didn’t realize the grandiose ones were on the other side of the country. On the other hand, we expected it to be cold… and it was. Expectations met! Actually, it wasn’t arctic cold. Upon our arrival, there was just a little bit of snow lazily drifting down. The temperature hovered around freezing but then warmed a little above that for the bulk of our short visit to Oslo. So, the weather was better than expectations. Score!
After we left the ferry, we realized we could make the fifteen minute walk to our hotel, even through the howling blizzard. (Well, I mean, everything is relative, right?) Sharing the bay with the dock where we arrived was a magnificent opera house. (What is it with magnificent opera houses anyway?) In the middle picture, you can see floating saunas with the opera house in the background. Scandinavians love their saunas. The idea is that you roast yourself alive, and then jump into freezing cold water in order to, what, I guess shrink up everything the heat of the sauna made saggy? Needless to say, we didn’t partake. We’re fine with our sags.
I’m not sure what that floating thing is. Maybe it’s leftover construction material from the magnificent opera house? Or a futuristic Chinese junk?
This is the view from our hotel room. I like it when societies make things look interesting or pretty instead of just functional.
It had been a while since we’d seen snow. Notice the only people in the photo of this Easter-stricken city is a group of statues. It was actually kinda nice, because we could wander the downtown streets without worrying about being hit by a car. Or seeing one. It was deader than the height of Covid on Christmas day. I kept an eye out for zombies in case we were actually in an apocalypse but missed the news. Especially since, you know, Norwegian zombies are the worst.
So this is one of the more “interesting” buildings we saw in Oslo. But it’s not all that interesting, and therein lies our Oslovian theme.
It’s a stock exchange building and was constructed in 1828. It is recognized as Norway’s first monumental building. We also noticed it was yellow. You’d get a pretty good idea that a tour was a little short on excitement if the tour guide stopped in front of a building, commented that it was yellow, and then said nothing else and moved on. So here we are.
I wanted so badly to try some reindeer meat. I’ve never had reindeer meat, and you know Santa has to be fat for some reason. In addition to this sign featuring reindeer casserole, we saw signs for reindeer burgers, reindeer Swedish meatballs, and…
… of course a plate of Rudolph. His guts look like noodles. Actually, this is just a picture from the internet, we never saw portions of Rudolph being advertised. Anyway, as luck would have it, in both Oslo and Stockholm, I was never able to coordinate our meals with being near a reindeer meat provider. Next time I’m in Scandinavia, Comet and Blitzen better watch out!
One of the main tourist sites in Oslo is Akershus Fortress. It’s a medieval castle and fortress, constructed somewhere around the late 1290s. It was representative of Oslo in terms of the idea that compared to most other castles we’ve seen, it was just kinda brown and boring and not that much to it. It wasn’t terrible, it was just… a little blah, just like the rest of Oslo.
If you’re blown away by all that scenery, have I got a city for you! I don’t really mean to pick on Oslo, but as you can see… it’s just a city. It’s really hard to say how much the lack of people added to the blasé nature of the place, but given that there were really no sites we were dying to see from any of the guides we read, I think it’s safe to say that Oslo is just kind of an unexciting city. Nothing wrong with that, though, it’s certainly better than Bakhmut!
Besides, I never said this would be an everyplace-we-go-is-amazing blog. However, I will add that we had perhaps the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever been to at the Clarion in Oslo. Maybe Norwegians put all their energy into buffets, I dunno.
Like so many European cities, the bus and train stations are huge, clean, modern, efficient, and good-looking. Even though we’re suburbanites and are kinda lousy at navigating mass transit, even we could figure out how to buy tickets back and forth from the airport.
On top of all that, the toilets in the airport are a perfect little room for one, complete with your own sink. Compare this to a typical line of urinals, or in America, a row of toilet stalls with doors that start halfway up on walls you can peek over. I’ll take a private European restroom any day, thanks.
They even have special farting facilities for the disabled!
As we rode the train to the airport and then took off from Oslo, we realized that we hadn’t really given Norway a fair shake. Like most countries, the country is far more than its biggest city(ies), and Norway certainly offers a ton of impressive and amazing scenery. Just not in Oslo.
After our return to Portugal, we had dinner with some friends who invited us to go on a cruise of Norway in January. The ship meanders up the entire coastline all the way into the Arctic Circle. The cruise company even guarantee a viewing of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) or you get another cruise for free. So that’ll be a future blog entry, and makes me feel better about our little taste of Norway. While a cruise of the Norwegian coastline was never on our “A” bucket list, seeing the northern lights definitely is, so we’re very much excited for that!
But as far as this particular trip goes, next up is a flight to Stockholm, Sweden, where we complete the Nordic Trifecta! (Sorry Helsinki!)
One thought on “It Was Oslo Week in Norway”
A Norway cruise in January sounds pretty, but coooold! We have one planned for end of July, early August. It has five stops; Olso, Geiranger. Flam, Olden, and Bergen. Thanks for the warning about Oslo! But how bad can it be if they have farting facilities for the disabled?