I slept through my early flight like a baby, so it felt like I hopped from Helsinki to Oslo within a few minutes. Ergo, I was slightly confused when I stumbled out of the plane in need of coffee and a train ticket. Both issues were quickly resolved, I sipped my (how original, I know, blame me, damn hipster) Starbucks coffee and waited for the train to arrive. My personal mission was to spend as little money as possible on this trip (yes, that aforementioned coffee wasn’t the best way to start that, but hey, birthday treat), so the NSB train was the cheapest alternative to the Express train, so it only cost me 180NOK (return ticket) to get to the city.
Once I got there, I had slight problems with orienting myself, I guess that coffee hadn’t started working just yet, but once I got those cardinal directions figured out I found my hostess and Airbnb apartment quickly. After my recent terrible hostel experience, I decided something like “never again” and found this beautifully renovated private room in the East of Oslo. Also, there’s a cat included in the price, so a definite plus, and an affordable alternative. When walking through the neighbourhood somewhere between the districts of Sofienberg and Grønland, I felt like it was much more ethnically diverse than any district in Helsinki. Despite Kallio being all boho and stuff, the kind of open street markets and hectic supermarkets with all kinds of people rushing about is not something I see in Helsinki (at least not this close to the main city centre).
The apartments location allows is to easily move around on foot, so, this time in need for lunch and headphones (why do things always break on the road?) I headed towards the centre. My colleagues from Spotted by Locals had recommended “Rice bowl” for a decent lunch, check that, and continued my walk through the city direction of the Tourist Information Centre to pick up my Oslo Pass which has generously been offered by VisitOslo. The pass is available for 24, 48 and 72 hours and includes free entrance to over 30 museums and many discounts on sights, activities and a couple of restaurants, and free use of public transport. So if you’re in for some serious sightseeing, you should really consider the pass. I got some great advice on how to spend my time in Oslo the best once I am back in the city after my upcoming one-day-roadtrip, the list is long!
I spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the southern piers and the Akershus castle and fortress which give you a beautiful view on the harbour and the city. The fortress was originally constructed in the 13th century to protect Oslo, nowadays it’s mainly used for official purposes and it hosts the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and Norway’s Resistance Museum.
On my way back I passed the Opera house, which I find super impressive. The photos look like those animations architects do before actually building something. Wow. Well done. As you can see it is very popular to walk on the roof and see the view, I skipped that for the moment and decided to come back one other day when my feet are less tired.
I took a break at home, cuddled the kitty and made some dinner, then headed out again to the Underwater pub, a local bar where professional opera singers perform twice a week.
On my walk there I was, again, surprised by how Oslo doesn’t seem all that Scandinavian to me. The air does, the people do, but the city is so different in how it looks, how architecture varies and how it just feels. During the day I saw areas that reminded me of Montreal or Stockholm, now during the night I walked through neighbourhoods that even reminded me of Luxembourg a little bit.
I like that. I like how Oslo surprised me and how it hopefully will continue to do so.