It’s very gratifying to see where your ancestors are from, walk the streets they may have walked, eat the traditional foods they may have eaten - and maybe that’s why I’m already enjoying Norway so much, I’m seeing where my ancestors are from.
“But aren’t you Scottish?” You say. “And Belgian?”
Yes. Yes, I am. But I’m also 3% Norwegian. According to my 23 and Me results, I’m 3% Norwegian. I have a three-, four-, five- or six-great-grandparent who was 100% Norwegian, born between 1740 and 1830. So yes, I’m in the home of my people. And I must look like I belong, I’ve already been asked for directions.
Anyway. Not really the point. Point is - Oslo is lovely.
EDP and I met at the Oslo airport on Thursday. We both flew through Frankfurt but both of us had tight connections. Mine was two hours, landed on time and everything but with security and customs, I still only got to my gate a few minutes before boarding. EDP had to run to catch his connection. But, we both made it to Oslo and after a quick train trip into the city centre, we got checked in to the hotel, grabbed a couple of showers to wash the planes off us and headed out to take a look around.
We quickly found the main pedestrian street and wandered up it, eventually reaching the royal palace, where we got some great views of the city and checked out the gardens. The palace isn’t open to the public, as it’s still the official residence of the Norwegian monarch but we were able to wander the grounds. There were a couple of ponds, each with a little island on them that had a couple of fairy houses (we think) and one of them had a handful of bee hives. It was nice to see people sprawled out on the lawns, enjoying the late afternoon sun, as we were certainly pleased with how warm it still was. Then, we headed back towards our hotel, stopping for some dinner, for early bedtimes.
Friday was a lazy start. Once we were up and fed, we grabbed our books and headed off towards where we were meeting our guide for our food tour, enjoying some hot chocolate while we waited & read. Food tours have become our absolutely favourite way to introduce ourselves to a city. You get a great walking tour, lots of restaurant recommendations, and some incredibly tasty foods to try. This tour started us off with some microbrewery beer, which I quite enjoyed, and a selection of cheeses and meats, including the traditional Norwegian brown cheese. Then it was on to a chocolate tasting, a sampler board of traditional Norwegian meats (including whale, reindeer hearts, and a variety of smoked fish, among other things...) before ending with a few more beers. Honestly, it’s not our favourite food tour that we’ve done - this was only a few stops with larger tastings at each but we much prefer lots of smaller tastings, to see more places and try more things. But it was still a great way to see the city. There were three other people on the tour with us and they were from Oslo, so it felt like we had four personal guides for the city, not just one.
Once we were done the food tour, we headed off to the Munch Museum. I’m not overly familiar with Munch, beyond the Scream, so it was nice to see some more by him. I really liked his Starry Night, which was similar to Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night but I can’t find anything about them being of the same place or that one was influenced by the other. It has been one of my favourite lesser known works that I’ve seen, by far. Then, it was back to the hotel, with a stop at the wine shop, for a bit of time with our feet up and letting the food tour fully digest before popping back out for a few minutes to get waffles - blueberry for EDP and raspberry & Nutella for me. They were DELICIOUS. They were a thin, soft waffle that you fold over once your fillings are on it and frankly, I could eat nothing but those for the rest of the trip. In fact, I suggested them for both lunch and dinner today, but that idea was shot down.
Today was an earlier start, catching the first ferry over to Bygdøy for a morning of heritage museums. We started at the Viking Ship Museum, where we saw three Viking ships, all of which had been used as grave ships, each in a different state of preservation. Some of the artifacts that had been on the ships were also on display but all of the ships had been subject to grave robbers. Then, it was over to the Folkemuseum, an open-air museum showcasing Norwegian life from the 1500s to almost present day. We saw one of the stave churches while we were there, which are wooden churches of a certain type of construction. They are so stunning, it was lovely to see one in person. Finally, we ended our morning at the Kon-Tiki museum and whoa, that guy was... well, as EDP put it to me “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to build a boat, I’m gong to sail it to Polynesia. And I’m going to take five people and I’ve never learned how to sail. Or build a boat.” Which is pretty much what this guy did. He was trying to prove you could cross from South America to Polynesia in pre-Columbian time. Crazy! Google it if you’ve never heard of Kon-Tiki before.
The afternoon was spent at the National Gallery, where we saw the Scream, along with some other lovely works of art. It was a nice few hours wandering through the gallery and quite a rich collection, given that most of the more commonly known artists on display aren’t Norwegian. From there, we got some iced chocolates, stopped at some sort of cultural festival to grab some lunch and then it was over to Akershus Fortress. Unfortunately, the castle is closed but we were still able to wander the grounds, seeing all of the various medieval buildings that were part of the fortress. There was also some kind of weird children’s festival going on, so we also got go hear hundreds of children trying their hands at musical instruments, various sports, and building stuff. It was a lot of children. And there was cotton candy. It was........ something else.
Tonight’s dinner was not waffles. But it was delicious. We went a bit outside the city centre, taking the tram to an Italian restaurant that was quite lovely. And now, we’re settled back in for one last sleep in Oslo before picking up the car tomorrow and shifting from city gear to nature gear for our three big hikes! Tomorrow will be a long day in the car, driving into the fjords so I’d better head off to bed. Well, better finish the rest of this glass of wine, actually...