That first evening we made our way to the Cafe Con, where a pizza cost us 17eur and a pint 8.20eur. This was quite reasonable I thought – I was expected a 12 euro minimum per drink. After the pizza we headed next door to the Brew Gata, where an English language table quiz was underway. I randomly won a spot prize of a vinyl copy of ‘The Sound of Music’ soundtrack which is now hanging on my wall.
The next morning I wolfed down my muesli (purchased in the supermarket in an attempt to save some pennies) and we headed to the Akershus Fortress. As it was now Autumn season museums only opened at the weekend so we were unable to enter. Ours was a Monday to Friday trip.
Afterwards we walked down to the Pier to watch the ferries coming and going.
The city was pristine looking – to neither of our surprise..
The next few days were a whirlwind of activity. We ate dinner one evening at Restaurant Schrøder – the restaurant where the fictional detective character Harry Hole (from the Jo Nesbo books) was often to be found. This was a traditional Norwegian restaurant. I had the Norwegian platter – various meats, gravy, spuds and lingonberries. Nothing fancy but it sated my appetite.
We took a public transport ferry from the Pier on the fjord of Oslo out to some sparsely populated islands in the harbour. We stopped at Hovedoya to see the ruins of a 12th century Cistercian monastery.
We climbed the slanted roof of the public library. We used our Oslo travel app to take a bus out to Vigelandsparken – a park designed by Norway’s most famous sculptor, Gustav Vigeland, and containing hundreds of his pieces. This was quite an astonishing place – such a volume of one artist’s work. I was slightly ashamed to have never heard of him before.
One afternoon while my travel companion was having an afternoon siesta I walked out of the city to visit Ekeberg – a national heritage park with a panoramic view of the city. I wandered about and decided to take a spontaneous short cut down a gentle slope through a mound of fallen leaves, rather than walk an extra twenty metres to the footpath. I ended up flat on my back, extravagantly decorated with Norwegian mud. A friendly gentleman helped me to my feet. When I asked him if my back was covered in mud, his answer was a succinct ‘Yes’.
Our evening meals were basic – although pricey. A plate of spaghetti bolognese cost twenty euro which I felt was slightly excessive. Then again I imagine Norwegian salaries are plush, so affordable if you live there. We found an Irish bar that sold a pint of lager for fourteen euros. We did not have many of those.
We visited the Lutheran cathedral which was underwhelming. When it comes to churches, I think the Lutherans should take decorating lessons from the Catholic or Orthodox churches when it comes to extravagant interior design.
On my last afternoon I visited the Nobel Peace Museum where an English gentlemen and myself collaborated to solve the interactive puzzle on the top floor.
Overall Oslo is an interesting , friendly place with several neighbourhoods worth visiting. What was surprising was how few people were wearing face masks in shops or public transport. Looking at the Covid rates however, they place lower in numbers than Ireland.
I’ll go back to Norway. The Viking Museum was not open during our trip and seems essential. Perhaps my next visit should be in the summertime.