22 – 25 May 2015
Day One: Friday
After I finished work – at around 5.30pm – on the Friday before the May Bank Holiday weekend, I arrived at the Heathrow Terminal 2, ahead of my 7.30pm flight to Oslo. The Flatmate met me there and we spent the time before boarding grabbing some dinner (meatballs from Leon) and stocking up on bags of sweets for the flight (Wine Gums and Starburst to be precise).
Our flight was slightly over two hours, so we landed between 10.30pm-11pm. We descended from the plane to find that, despite the time, it wasn’t completely dark. Since we only had carry-on luggage, we were through passport control and out the other side pretty quickly. Finding the airport express to Oslo Central Station was easy. The train ride wasn’t cheap (the first proof we had that Norway was not a cheap country), particularly since it was only 20 minutes, but it was efficient and the train was pretty nice. In fact, in comparison to London trains, it was so nice that I thought we had accidentally sat in first class. The train ride was uneventful, apart from the moment when The Flatmate’s suitcase started wheeling away on its own accord.
We arrived before midnight and, after a station guard pointed us in the right direction (well, he told us to follow the tram tracks which turned out to go in multiple directions), we found the HTL hotel relatively easily. We were happy to discover it was not far from the station at all. Our room was small but clean and seemed to have been refurbished in recent years. It even had a WiFi connection so we fell asleep to Norwegian Netflix, which happily had more/better choices than UK Netflix. Point one to Norway.
Day Two: Saturday
On the plus side, we were awoken the next morning to the sun peaking around the edges of our curtains. On the less plus side, we discovered this at 6.30am, as our neighbour was shouting, screaming and, by the sounds of it, either kicking something or jumping up and down. Noisy roommates may be the norm in hostels but in a hotel it’s more unexpected and so even more frustrating. He stopped, we fell back to sleep and then he started up again – but thankfully not for long.
We ended up leaving the hotel around 11am-ish, on the hunt for breakfast. We found a bakery around the corner called Baker Hansen. Food in Norway is expensive so bakeries turned out to be a good option for cheap(er), but still tasty, food. My cinnamon bun was an excellent choice.
After breakfast, we made our way down to the harbour. Since it was sunny, we decided to leave visiting museums until the next day and make the most of the nice weather by hopping on over to one of the islands in the Oslo Fjord. Since Akershus Castle is on the edge of the harbour and overlooks the fjord, we stopped there first. It was an interesting building but didn’t take us long to look around. We took some pictures of the view and then made our way to the ferry.
By 3pm(ish), we were on the island of Hovedøya and found some ruins of a monastery to explore. We then went and sat by the coastline and soaked up some sun. After we became too jealous of all the people with picnics and barbecues, we went to grab a bite to eat on the mainland. We found a bakery/convenience store for something light which we took back to our hotel room.
After we re-energised, we left for Vigeland Park to see the sculptures on display there, of which there were many. After checking them out we found a spot for more sun-soaking, where I actually took a bit of a nap, before returning to the hotel.
Sometime between 8.30pm-9pm, we left for a restaurant we uncovered through much Googling: Elias, Mat & Sant. We had an amazing salmon dinner (Oslo seemed to be big on salmon) accompanied by a side of Scrabble, since the restaurant had range of board games for its customers use. Neither of us were very good.
After dinner, we looked for a bar. We didn’t want a big night out as we had big plans for the next day but we figured we couldn’t have an early night on one of our few nights in the city. Everywhere seemed pretty quiet at about 10.30pm but we settled on a nice place called Sosialen Bar & Bistro and treated ourselves to a couple of cocktails before bed.
Day Three: Sunday
Although our plan was to leave the hotel by 9am, this unsurprisingly became 10am. We tried to return to Baker Hansen but it was closed on Sundays so instead found coffee shop called Kaffebrenneriet by the harbour. We then hopped on a ferry over to Bygdoy, where there were many a museum. We started off at the Viking Ship Museum, which had two (and a half) viking burial ships on display and some of their contents. It was probably one of the coolest places I have ever been.
We weren’t in the museum for that long and afterwards walked to the Norwegian Folk Museum. Here we could wander around old folk villages which had been moved to the site. You could probably spend hours there but we didn’t have that option. After walking around for a while, we went to the museum’s cafe for lunch where I found the most amazing slice of marzipan cake. I know I should focus on how good the museum was but, I’m sorry, that cake was one of the best things ever. The open salmon sandwich I had first was also pretty nice (open sandwiches seem to be a thing in Oslo) but really it was all about that cake.
From there it was quite a bit of a walk to the Fram Museum on polar exploration so we didn’t arrive until about 3.30pm. This was unfortunate because the place closed at 5pm and there was A LOT to read and discover. This included two ships that had been used for the exploration missions, one of which we could climb aboard. There were also interactive activities, including a short film and ways to test your exploring capabilities, such as whether you could pull a 300kg sleigh or kill your own food in the wild. Spoiler alert, I failed miserably at both but the museum certainly made me wish I could be an explorer.
As the museum was closing, we left for the mainland and made our way back to our hotel. After a bit of a rest we ran through the rain to a restaurant back in the harbour, called Viltgryte, where we had an 8pm reservation. There was some kind of car show going on so we had to fight our way through. We arrived to find that, due to a technical fault, our booking had been missed. Happily though we were sat by a fire while we waited for a table. As a waiter apologetically directed us towards it, I cried “amazing!” and started trying to warm my hands and dry off. Being from rainy old England, the fact that neither of us remembered an umbrella was ridiculous.
Since we were in Norway, we ordered something local – reindeer and moose stew, with a wine glass full of Mystic Arctic beer, apparently the first beer to reach the North Pole. The food is amazing, the restaurant decor was cosy and seemed to be designed to look like a ship and, when we finally emerged outside, the rain had stopped. By the time we made it back to our room, we were full, happy and ready for sleep.
Day Four: Monday
The next morning was our last morning in Oslo, so we planned to be up and out. Obviously, that didn’t happen quite the way we planned but we could have been out later. We headed to Kaffebrenneriet for breakfast. This time I ordered a Bringebærbolle. I didn’t actually know what this was but it looked like bread covered in sugar. I was delighted to find it also had a jam filling, like a breaded doughnut. Happy days.
The Flatmate and I had planned to go to the National Gallery but it turned out to be closed on Mondays so we headed to the Nobel Peace Centre instead. The ground floor exhibition was on the latest winners of Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi. The next floor had displays on some of the other winners of the prize over the years and information on Alfred Nobel, the man responsible for establishing the Nobel Prizes. It was an incredibly interesting place and I am very glad we didn’t miss it.
We left sometime after 11am and headed to Oslo Cathedral, near our hotel, for a quick peak before we had to check out at 12pm. Unfortunately, at that time on a Bank Holiday Monday, a service was still in full swing, so we headed back to our hotel instead to grab our stuff. It was time to leave Oslo.
After picking up a snack from Deli de Luca – Skolebolle, a breaded ring covered in coconut flakes with custard in the middle – we headed to Oslo Central Station. We passed the cathedral and noticed people were leaving after the service. We popped our heads around the door to find a beautiful interior before heading to the station to catch the train to the airport.