In roughly 27 hours I hit the main tourist attractions in Oslo and also opted for the budget route as it’s one of the more expensive cities I’m visiting this summer. After spending £20 on a chicken dinner when I arrived, I didn’t want to ‘waste’ money on entrance fees and took to walking by foot rather than public or private transport. This was a great decision as wandering through residential and quieter areas gave me a glimpse into normal Nordic life in the city, while I earned my first daily total of 20k on the FitBit.
First impressions are a little difficult as the train station wasn’t the prettiest; as my boyfriend and I struggled down the never ending steps to the main street, it was 31C and filled with tourists (pot, kettle etc). Suffice to say, it wasn’t as laid back as Bergen but this was never to be expected. Once we dropped our bags off at the hotel and once again changed into shorts and t-shirts, the real exploring began throughout the afternoon/evening and for the next day.
After ambling through the main shopping streets, we went to the central park where musicians performed, children played in the fountain and there were lots of dogs. We then found another fountain which looked like a dog’s suction toy and sat in the sunshine; I managed to nearly destroy by sunglasses by forgetting they were on my lap and then left them on the ground and walked off before remembering, then going back to collect them. With all this walking and sitting in the sunshine, my skin is definitely sun-kissed by now and my sun cream is working very had to protect me.
The Royal Palace
The park was followed by a trip to the Royal Palace (Norway’s answer to Buckingham Palace) or Det kongelige slott. You can see it from the central park and can fall foul of assuming it is very close, whereas it is actually just massive and about a fifteen minute, straight walk away. The heat at this point was unrelenting, yet I saw a good number of people on tours wearing coloured raincoats.
As you approach the palace, you can see a lone guard to the left and a great view of Oslo when you turn around. The walk up is all up a slope so you get quite a good perspective. Turning back to the palace, the grounds are very well-kept and offer welcoming shade. I was struck by the very honest information sign which (to paraphrase) said that the gardens aren’t as spectaclar as they use to be, owing to the fact that 50% of the trees originally there one hundred years ago have rotted away and several lakes and flower gardens have been removed. I found this interesting and it was of course still a beautiful walk.
There is the option to go inside with a fee, but on such a beautiful day it would almost have been a shame.
A thirty minute walk in the eyes of Google Maps from The Royal Palace to Frogner Park somehow turned into nearly an hour and a half… can’t quite work out how but it resulted in buying an apple juice box and getting yelled at by an angry tennis man for trying to use the tennis only loos which he hadn’t signposted.
Approaching the park from the side rather than the main gate, the main bridge over the water was covered with over twenty nude stations. Tastefully done, they look like frozen ballet performers and some are rather haunting. Especially the one with hair.
Next up is a fountain that doubles as the world’s most impressive bird bath for the local wildlife, the wheel of life sculpture and the most visited tourist attraction in Oslo, the Vigeland Sculpture Park.
Apart from the unusual sculptures unlike any I’ve ever seen, which I think relate to family and the human experience… you also get a fantastic view of the city and lots of places to sit and relax in the surrounding gardens. This was followed up with a trip to the waterfront and the old fortress and castle of Oslo (Akershus and Festning), which was very quiet during the late hours of the evening.
National Art Gallery
Free admission on Sundays, you can’t go wrong. We went just after it opened at 11am and had the pleasure to stroll into the gallery containing the famous artwork of Edvard Munch, Norway’s most famous artist. Of course, the main attraction is The Scream; I stood examining the brushstrokes for a good ten minutes alone and then with one other person, but by the time I moved on to another room, a huge queue had built up and then the staff limited entry. I felt very smug indeed…
Inside the galleries, which are colour coded by style eg. modernist, there’s a fascinating range from Picasso’s bold simplicity to the very detailed and specific works of Harold Sohlbere. All in all, it takes one to two hours to see all the exhibitions, depending on how much you inspect what’s on display.
Very central, there isn’t a great deal to say about this quick pit-stop apart from the fact it is free! The exterior doesn’t credit the artwork within but only give it half an hour to explore. In addition to the main foyer art, there are some rooms laid out exquisitely and overlook the water, as well as modern portraits of the royal family.
Moving on to Sweden, Country No.2
My first interrail journey wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped; I was unable to get the train I planned and had to wait at the train station for a couple of hours once my boyfriend had left to go back home. Missing this train meant I was unable to check-in at the hostel in time, so I booked a cheap hotel right by the train station instead. After a few minutes of panic, chatting to the train staff and going on booking.com, all was resolved. I feel it was the first real challenge of the trip but was resolved fairly easily, it was just unfortunate it was also at the same time I was alone for the first time on this two-month holiday. Looking on the brightside, if all else fails, I’ll always have somewhere to stay by booking last minute, which made for a very good value room in this case.