I am reading Jo Nesbø’s crime novel “The Snowman” as the bus pulls out of Rygge Airport. I wonder what secrets lie behind the deep dark Norwegian woods we’re passing en route to Oslo…
It’s something I will have to discover some other time; the next few days I will spend the weekend in Oslo, the result of a dirt-cheap ticket and a curious attitude.
Today is bank holiday in Norway, the weather is balmy and crowds occupy Oslo’s terraces and beer gardens to soak up the first rays of sun this year. At the Royal Palace, preparations are underway for the Norwegian’s Constitution Day a few days later.
On a sunny day like today, locals and tourists alike head for Aker Brygge, the former shipyard, nowadays home to a lovely promenade filled with bars and restaurants. It’s a nice stroll along the water with views over the fjord, the Rådhus and the Akerhus fortress.
But Oslo is more than just the city centre. The fjord invites you to discover one of the many surrounding islands. It’s merely a 15 minute ferry ride to the Bygdøy peninsula or “museum island” as it is also called. Between the Viking Ship Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Kon Tiki Museum, there’s no shortage of museums to immerse yourself into Norway’s maritime history! I opt for the Fram-museum, which gives an overview on how Norwegian adventurers managed to sail the treacherous waters of the North and South Poles. An absolute must, seriously one of the best museums I’ve ever been to!
Back to the city and feeling more adventurous than ever, I head for the Akerselva river. It used to be sawmills and factories that lined both banks, but nowadays the river banks have developed into a paradise for dog walkers and nature lovers. There’s even a few bars to quench your thirst! Several waterfalls gush down beside the path and, if that’s not enough to convince you to go for a stroll, a wooden red-painted house is home to a café that serves the best fresh waffles of Oslo! The buzzing city centre is only a few hundred meters away, but the “Hønse Lovisas Hos” is an oasis of peace and quiet!
Talking about peace and quiet, it’s time for a rest! And what better place to lie down than on the roof of the opera house? Yes, you read that correctly! In Oslo one of the best places to lie down, take in the views and get a tan is on the rooftop of the Opera House! The sparkling white building slopes down to the water and is built for people to walk on! How cool is that?
And there’s more “coolness” in Oslo! I was told not to miss Grünerløkka, Oslo’s very own “hipster” district! Strolling around on a Friday night, the main thoroughfare is packed with bars spilling out onto the pavement! For some reason it doesn’t grab me… I am more charmed by the multi-cultural district of Grønland where between kebab-shops, samosa vendors and chadors, I discover some of my favourite bars. “Oslo Mekaniske Verksted” is an old metalworker’s studio converted into a cosy bar, ideal for relaxing and deep conversations. And what to say about “Crowbar & Bryggeri”, where they serve Norwegian beer from local micro- breweries?
On my last day, I finally feel ready to tackle Oslo’s number one tourist attraction: Vigelandsparken. 212 sculptures made of bronze, granite and wrought iron attract over a million visitors every year! I can see why: the details and expressions of the sculptures are incredible!
In café Laundromat, I finish “The Snowman”. The book was just as captivating as my long weekend in Oslo itself…
Have you ever been surprised by a city that you didn’t have high expectations of? Where was it? Looking forward to read it in the comments!