I was the first to get off the ship on this Sunday morning. Oslo was like a ghost city. There were no cars whatsoever. Empty streets, and this is the capital of Norway?
Oslo is modern and is in facto one of Europe’s fastest growing cities. On every corner a surprise is awaiting.
I started my day in the Grand Café with coffee. Once it was a popular hangout for famous writers, artists and the bourgeoisie in late 19th century. No worries, in this fancy place you don’t have to be a Grand Hotel guest to drink or eat something. I liked it there, coffee was nice, came with a glass of water (why don’t they do this in Belgium?), and the traditional interior is beautiful. Oh yes and there is internet too.
I went into the train station to look for the tourist office and I was glad I did, it has many shops inside (most of them were closed) and it all looked very efficient and clean. The tourist office is located next to it, slightly hidden. There are free city guides, computers to look up information but also helpful staff.
One of the highlights of my short visit to Oslo was the National Opera and Ballet House. Located next to the water, it reminded me of the Opera House of Sydney. On this one though you can walk on the roof and enjoy the view on the surroundings.
On my walk I stumbled upon the Armed Forces Museum. I was not planning to visit it. It kind of makes me sad to see what humans are capable of doing. But the friendly receptionist and the fact it was free made me decide to visit it anyway. And it was worth it. I did not have the time it deserved but Norwegian military history was well displayed from Viking times until now. Most of the info is in Norwegian but you receive a leaflet in English and there are QR codes that you can scan to receive the info in English (I did not test this).
The museum is located in the same magnificent verdant area than the Akershus Castle, a medieval castle from around 1300. I did not visit it but the whole area is pretty. Everything is very clean and attractive and you have a nice view on the water and waterfront beneath you.
I had my breakfast/lunch at Café Alfred located in the Nobel Peace Center. They serve local and ecologic food. I had haddock cakes with carrots and mashed potatoes, one of the Norwegian specialties. The elderflower juice was the perfect accompaniment.
After this food moment I strolled along the attractive waterfront. The tourists and locals were finally awake and it was quite busy. I loved the new Astrup Fearnley Museum, designed by by Italian architect Renzo Piano. Unfortunately there was no time to visit this contemporary art museum.
The museum shop gives a nice taste of what you can see. The place has also an attractive bar with a view on the water and there is a small pebble beach.
The whole modern development around the museum is called Tjuvholmen and it is amazing.
Mike joined one of the ship’s official excursions by bus. His report:
The first surprise was the fact that there was Wi-Fi on the coach. The second surprise came when the driver stopped after a few minutes only. Surprised I interrupted my download activities to look, and saw the magnificent new Opera building. I had been several times in Oslo but never saw this finished. Simply impressive.
Our second stop made me smile: we were going to pay a visit to the Vigeland Sculpture Park. On my two previous visits –years ago—I had felt a huge admiration for the creator, Gustav Vigeland, and the view of the numerous sculptures that depict life in all its aspects.
The visit to Holmenkollen, the ski-jump, didn’t leave such a great impression to me. My advice: if your time in Oslo is short, skip it. However, since I was there anyway it was nice to imagine the frightening jump. For no money in the world I would dare to do what these champions do.
Next stop was the Viking Museum and the Fram Museum, which are definitely both worth a visit. Fram is the name of the ship from the famous Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen who went both to the Arctic and Antarctica.
After the tour bus dropped us off at the ship I saw there was still some time for a walk along the Oslo Waterfront, where I enjoyed the obvious signs of creativity, the quality of life, the hipsters and youngsters, the sun- and sealovers, the nice terraces and so on. I could have spent the whole afternoon here, enjoying this paradise along the Oslofjord.
We are travelling on board VOYAGER with Belgian cruise tour operator All-Ways, discovering the Baltic Sea and St-Petersburg. Mike often joins the excursion, while I mainly go explore myself. In the evening we gather our stories and share on the blog the things we loved most.