My London colleagues are always perplexed at my random weekends abroad. ‘What, you’re going to Norway – just for the weekend?’ they exclaim in sheer shock and awe. Hell yes I am! I think it’s an Australian thing.. Given we live at the bottom of the earth our perception of length and time and travel is definitely different to our European and U.K. counterparts. Two hours on a plane is like the blink of an eye to us. Hell, many of us commute that far to work in Oz – one way!
Heathrow airport and an 8pm flight, talk about easy. I do a whole day at work, and comfortably make it to the boarding gate. Once you arrive at Oslo airport, there are a few options to get into the city. The general rail, express train or taxi. Price wise you’re looking at a difference of £3, £15 or £77. Given there were four of us, and it was 11pm at night, we opted for comfort and four wheels. About half an hour later and we are in the city centre. In the other direction headed back home, we took the general rail, which is just as easy given the train station is smack bang in the centre of town.
It’s definitely best to stay centre of town. We had an ideal spot at First Hotel Millenium, walking distance to all the main attractions and public transport links.The hotel has a killer buffet breakfast and the rooms are modern and comfortable.
WHAT TO DO
The Opera House: Is the most impressive building in town. The architecture is truly something to behold, and the view from the top is pretty spectacular as well. The restaurant inside is a little on the pricey side, but for a simple coffee on the cafe side prices are pretty comparable to everywhere else in town – and the view is worth it. It’s a great place to recharge after exploring the city.
The harbour: If you keep following the water around from the Opera house, you’ll stumble across a delightful harbour setting. Amazing modern residential apartments, the Oslo museum and lots of trendy restaurants and bars to choose from. If you walk right to the end, the museum cafe has prime position. On a sunny day, it’s the perfect spot for some nibbles and a crisp glass of champagne.
The Nobel Centre: An amazing experience, and must see. It costs about £10 entry, and if you time it right you can jump on the free guided tour which is about 40 minutes long. The bottom floor of the centre is dedicated to Syrian refugees. (Well, at the moment it is!) This space changes depending on the issues of the time. I actually found this exhibition the most moving part of the whole centre. It includes various photography installations and video documentaries depicting the struggles of displaced families. For one of the exhibitions you text ‘hello’ to a number at the front of the room, and then you are messaged real texts sent between friends and relatives separated by war. Upstairs, the next exhibition is dedicated to the latest Nobel peace prize theme. You then move to a room, which reminded me of the blue neon lights in the movie Avatar. It is filled with hundreds of tablets with the faces of every peace prize winner. When you step closer to an individual tablet, it describes the person’s history and claim to the prize. In the next room, you learn about the history of Alfred Nobel. Who was the most fascinating character. The whole centre is beautifully put together and really futuristic. A great tourist stop.
Best coffee in town: We stumbled across this little cafe, while wandering through the back streets of Oslo. After visiting the Palace and checking out the main strip, head behind and wander through the amazing picturesque streets – the homes are gorgeous and have an almost regal feel. It was then, that we found Apent Bakery. Filled with locals; the vibe was hipster, welcoming and fresh. Amazing aromas greet you as you walk in the door, and the selection of breads and pastries is out of this world. Gourmet, quality produce. The coffee rivals that back home in Oz. Which is a hard find in Europe!
Ski fields: The higher into the hills of Oslo you go the more snow you come across. Given we visited in mid march, I wasn’t expecting the mountains to still be covered in thick splatterings of snow. Up the top, there is an incredible restaurant and bar overlooking Oslo, and a series of ski fields. We had managed to rock up on the last day of the season and paid a discounted rate for unlimited tobogganing. £15 for helmet, sled, boots and access for as long as your legs can carry you. We managed 3 runs. It was more fun than i’d had in a while. I felt 12, and the run is long – and very scenic.
Oslo is often given a bad wrap, as its one of the most expensive cities in Europe. So I went in expecting the worst. But the prices were fairly comparable to London. All up including food, activities, flights and accommodation for two nights away, I spent approx £250. You could definitely spend less, but I would say this is the budget for a ‘comfortable’ trip with little luxuries along the way.
Norway is beautiful – and March was a lovely time to visit. It wasn’t too cold, but there was still snow. We had beautiful sunshine and had just enough time to fit in everything we wanted to do. Definitely worth a weekend away.
On to the next adventure I go! Where to next?