After Copenhagen in December 2015 and Helsinki in August 2016 I was really looking forward to this trip to another nordic capital. I have visited Oslo once for couple hours few years ago on way back from family vacation in central Norway. I remembered the city a little bit and knew that it’s worth visiting again. Once again I was going to have only one day to spend here. At least this time I was going Couchsurfing so I would have some local tips before I would venture to the city.
My visit to Oslo was going to happen on my way to Tallinn for Erasmus exchange. Two nights and one full day promised some good time to spend exploring. Luckily I landed a couch offer from Zuzka, slovak girl on Erasmus in Oslo. After exhausting weeks before departure she made my trip so much easier, especially since I didn’t plan pretty much anything in advance.
Following Zuzka’s advice I used the NSB train for 92 NOK to Oslo central station, from where we went to her place at Sogn Studentbolig which is student dorm of Oslo university. Quite nice place with flats with six single bedrooms sharing one kitchen and bathroom. In the evening we meet more erasmus students and on the second night there was Czech-Slovak dinner evening cooking our traditional bramborák (potato pancake)[1:1].
Arriving on monday meant that Zuzka would have some school stuff to do on my free day in Oslo. Not being able to join me, she showed me lake where they went during weekend for a hike and also some interesting places downtown. So I started the day in the mountains near the lake.
Late morning I head off to the edge of the city. Walking to the train stop Sognsvann near eponymous lake. Weather was great. I couldn’t wish better. The sky was almost clear, with occasional white clouds playing shade performance on the frozen lake. The ice crystals were glittering in the sun rays all over the lake.
Nearby parking lot full of cars would suggest tons of people everywhere, but no. In typically nordic fashion all the visitors disappeared in the vast hills around the lake. Some of them having short stroll with their kids or four leg friend. Meanwhile others were ice skating or cross country skiing across the frozen ice. I wish I could have joined them and ski over the lake.
Anyway it was the perfect place and time to spend couple hours enjoying the winter nature, that I missed so much for couple last years at home. The trail around the lake was obvious choice.
After few hours walking and photographing around the lake I thought it’s probably time to move to the downtown before the sun goes down. It’s still January and Oslo is pretty high north so the days, despite being beautiful, are short here.
Leaving this glittering land and catching metro train to the center I was on my way to explore some architecture by the sea. You can walk pretty much everywhere in the center which saves you money on the public transportation which is not the cheapest.
Good place to start the tour around Oslo downtown is Nationaltheatret metro station. You get out of the metro right at the western end of Karl Johans gate which is the main boulevard in Oslo.
Little bit further west you will find the King’s palace where you can see the guard changes and also you get pretty nice overview of the Karl Johans gate in front of you, leading towards the center of the city.
You could find most of the interesting and important old buildings down this street but this time I choosed to went south to the shore near the Oslo Rådhuset, where the city mayor has his office.
Walking from the Oslo Rådhuset, you pass the Nobel peace prize center and enter partly artificial peninsula with modern housing and office buildings. The name Tjuvholmen comes from past when thieves were executed there, therefore thieves island.
In last century it used to be port area which was recently converted more into office space. You can find Norwegian Ballet academy or Google Norway located here. If you are there in summer or are tough enough to try in winter you can enjoy the wooden bathing pier at the end of the peninsula.
Art lovers can enjoy the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. I was enjoying the views to the sea and the architecture more so I can’t tell you what the museum looks like inside.
Walking east from the Tjuvholmen district by the frozen Oslo fjord towards the famous Operahuset you pass the Akershus Fortress. By the way, seeing frozen sea for the first time is really something special despite being quite inland and inside port. Back to the fortress. It was built in 13th century to protect Norway’s capital Oslo from enemies. During the times it was used as a prison as well and now is still in use by military[1:2]. Visitors can enjoy the castle as well as museums of Norwegian resistance and military here. On the other side the defence headquarters of Norway are still located here. The fortress is located on a small hill in the center of the city so you can use it’s viewpoints as nice spots for photography or romantic sunset observing.
Further east is the famous Operahuset which everyone knows from postcards and images of Oslo. The building is really cool and the views from top of it as well. There is just slight disappointment for taking pictures. There are construction cranes all around now and once they are gone there will be buildings instead of them. So we are pretty much done with it’s pictures. That’s a bit sad but we will see how the scene will look like once the construction sites are finished.
The Opera was my last stop for the day. The sun went down while I enjoyed the view from the glacier like roof of the Opera. Once the sun sets here north in winter it get’s dark and cold pretty fast so it was time to finish the day and go to my temporary home to Zuzka’s place. Before I wrap this great day in Norway’s capital up, I want to share two more things with you.
The capital of EVs
If you are at least a little bit into EVs you already know that Norway is the promised land for them. What you don’t realise until you come here is how much difference that can make. You meet electric cars, particularly Teslas and Leafs all the time. I think you can somehow feel that the streets are a bit more silent compared to similarly sized city. Together with walkability, public transportation and fees for entering the city by car it makes quite big difference for the city and it’s citizens.
With EVs people are often afraid where they will charge them but around Oslo you can find charging equipped parking spots everywhere. The energy is clean here and cost of owning ICE[1:3] car is way higher here so it only makes sense to get EV in Norway. You don’t have problems using it as primary car and now it’s becoming clear that further down in the future you will have no other choice up here. And I guess that’s a good thing. Hope to see this spreading at home soon as well.
Memories of home
One last thing and I promise I will end this post which is already way too long. You remember I started the day at Nationaltheatret metro station. True to it’s name there is a national theater there and apparently there was going to be Sci-Fi festival at the end of the month. And what would that kind of festival be without robots. Robot as some of you may know is originally Czech word appearing for the first time in theater play R.U.R. (Rossum's universal robots) by Karel Čapek. And guess what the play was on the program for the festival. Such a nice reminder of my home. Unfortunately it was only after I would leave and in Norwegian so I didn’t see it, but I bet those that did attend it have enjoyed it.
And that’s it for today. I finished the day in the evening having dinner together with other Erasmus students at the dorms. I went to bed after I packed my stuff so I could leavy easily to the airport in the morning. Until next time over and out.