Oslo: Snow, memories and… more snow
Ah Oslo…As I reminisce upon this delightful gem of Scandinavia, feelings of profound sentimentality, happiness and a heaving desire to once again experience its wonder overcomes me. Sentimentality? For a place I visited less than one month ago? Yes… for all you Northern Hemisphere dwellers *cue gasp*: it was the first place I ever experienced real, tangible snowfall…in
sunny snowy, old, Norway. I’ll never forget the magic scene that befell me as I witnessed my first snowfall– looking out from my cozy hotel room and out onto the street below; peering past the gentle, white flakes and seeing sleepy, naked trees draped in soft, amber lights shroud a sea of frozen white– children joyously gliding across it with not a care in the world. Its scenes like this that make me think that there is more magic to the small, seemingly mundane things in life (like seeing snow blanket a street) than meets the eye.
Rita vs. Oslo
Now whilst the aforementioned visual sounds gloriously magical and quite beautiful, let me just say this: there is nothing more terrifying and anxiety inducing than the extreme fear that grips one who wears ill-suited shoes on icy surfaces. Myself, a pair of Nike Roshe Runs and a city swathed in icy goodness– a combination made for slapstick films. If I had a dollar for every time I let out a small “AH!” followed by a profanity followed by an “oh my god, I slipped”… I could probably have paid for a small starter at an Oslo restaurant. The implication: I didn’t slip that much? Nope. The implication: Oslo is bloody expensive. Do i exaggerate? Not really! Be warned…If you are ready to experience the magic of Oslo– be prepared to spend big. Paying for food is a shocker– after perusing many menus displayed in the frosty streets of Oslo city I was, to say the least, a little disheartened at the prospect of starving in this wonderful city. The equivalent of $50 AUD in Norweigan Krones for a few fajitas? Nei Takk. Travelling in Oslo whilst trying not to spend my life savings on food proved quite a task but alas there is a solution! Albeit not a great one…load up on those breakfast buffets fellow travellers.
Scandinavian Breakfast Buffet, Karl Johan’s Views, Warmth and Comfort: Best Western Hotel
Best Western Karl Johan Hotel was my temporary home for the 4 days I stayed in Oslo and what a cozy, comfortable delight it was. The view out onto the main street of Karl Johan’s Gate was exquisite and granted me a straight-out-of-a-postcard image of the city each morning I woke up and gazed out of the window. A comfortable bed, great heating, a clean bathroom and a selection of English speaking tv stations made me feel right at home in a place that couldn’t be further from home (and all for a reasonable price!). The breakfast buffet was a fantastic spread of Scandinavian goodies: smoked salmon, various salads, meat-balls, breads of various shapes and sizes, cheeses, pickled fish and much much more; the food was filling (thank god), delicious and fresh. Top marks for Karl Johan’s Best Western.
So you’ve arrived at Oslo Airport which is located about 35km away from the city centre. Now what. Well luckily Oslo is a place of relatively easy-to-understand transportation systems and friendly people. Straight after walking through customs and making my way down to the airport bus station, I was greeted by a extremely friendly, generous and hospitable (and a little kooky!) coach driver who made the transition from airport to the city as easy as possible. Driving me a 1 minute walk away from the hotel, informing me exactly of where I needed to get off and where I needed to walk to– catching the Flybussen Airport Express Coach couldn’t be easier. Adult tickets are 175 NOK (Note: night fares are higher at 220). After settling in, exploring the city on foot and experiencing the atmospheric wonder of Oslo its time to get around on wheels. The most effective and efficient means of getting around Oslo via public transportation involves first: buying an Oslo pass. The extremely convenient Oslo pass gives you unlimited access to all means of public transportation in Oslo + free access to many attractions around the city and is certainly worth your money. An adult pass for 72 hours is 620 NOK and will not only take you all around the city on trains, trams and buses but also makes your trip much more interesting with free access to the numerous sights Oslo has to offer.
What to see
Using the Oslo pass here’s a quick summary of all the free (with your Oslo pass) must-sees:
- The Munch Museum
- Norsk Folkemuseum
- The National Museum
- Oslo City Hall
- Nobel Peace Center
- Kon-Tiki Museum
- The Norweigan Opera House
- Vigeland Sculpture Park
- Akershus Fortress
Note: Many attractions that are Summer based such as visiting the Oslo Royal Palace and the fjords are not open in Winter months.
All in all: Oslo is a city rich in culture, art and atmosphere. It’s attractions and sights make for an unforgettable travel experience. From strolling against the bitter cold to witness the poignant, bizarre and profoundly expressive Vigeland Sculpture Park + Munch Museum to walking on top of the Opera House at sunset: seeing the throngs of people turn into silhouettes–painted black by the yellowing, blue sky… Oslo is one magical experience after another.