Oslo, the capital of one day

Chapter I

Oslo, the capital of one day

(Rule of thumb: Click on images to enlarge)

City: Oslo
ountry: Norway
Travel d
ates: 24 Dec 2007 – 27 Dec 2007
Currency: Norwegian Krone (1€=8NOK)

n: Anker Hostel
Travel buddies: E
gon, Clare, Rahma, Siddharth, Stella

Caption: Karl Johan Gate

After three months of preparation, the month long winter trip kicked start at home base, Norway. It is such a shame to mention that a visit to its capital, Oslo has never been carried out even though I’ve been staying in Trondheim for four months.

Divided into two groups, Egon and I departed from Vaernes Airport in Trondheim to Gardemon Airport in Oslo by Norwegian airline, while the others were riding on train running by NSB at the same day.

The travel time in Oslo was obviously a horrible one. It was scheduled right around the Christmas days. We, a bunch of smart alecks, learnt from the extremely leisure working environment in Norway, thinking there would be no supermarket opened when we were visiting to Oslo, stuffed our luggage with immense amount of food, including two turkeys for Christmas dinner. The pale faces with serious lack of blood circulation due to densely packed luggage were certainly pitiful.

It was well thought. However, it wasn’t necessary at all. To our realisation after arriving in Oslo, shops were only closed on Christmas day itself. Nevertheless, efforts were not wasted as the first meal on Christmas’ Eve was a grand celebration to the official introduction of winter travel to everyone of us, though we were forced to prepare our meal only on two hot plates. Imagine the pain of waiting food to be cooked.

Caption: Some night scenes of Oslo

Oslo wasn’t as snowy as in Trondheim when we visited. Instead, snow was melting in this early winter time. Our dreams to a white Christmas vanished in no time. However, this certainly wasn’t a bad news to us. The absence of snow indeed favoured walking tour around the city of Oslo. The ease of walk on normal paved roads was indeed gratefully appreciated, not to mention the spare from risking ourselves with broken arms and legs.

With the desire to truly experience a metropolitan city in Norway, after being confined in small town Trondheim for months, we soon came to a disappointment after the first day of walking. Capital of the country, suppose to be the hub of trades and social interactions, is relatively small if compared to any other capital in the world.

By giving it a serious thought, it wasn’t hard for us to realise that there isn’t really a need to develop a city so huge when you only have to accommodate a population of less than one million. Indeed, everything is without surprise but has to be in smaller scale, including its capital, in this approximately four millions population country.

Again, not intended to linger around the topic of size, it was absolutely coming to my surprise on how everyone I approached for direction knew the location of my hostel in their finger tips. I couldn’t help but wonder, is the hostel a really well known one or is it really because the city is so small until everyone has the power to remember the name of every street.

Of course, it is kind of unfair to emphasise just on the size of the city.

Despite its tiny appearance, Oslo city has everything it needs to be the nation’s capital. A well developed centrum, city hall, royal palace, harbour and surrounding fortress, shopping district, great number of pubs and clubs, and various tourist destinations, for example the Vigeslands Park are all what one can find in this city, with most of them located in the main street of Oslo, Karl Johan Gate.

However, let me assure you, a visit to all the aforementioned points of interest can really be done in one single day, with free time to spare.

If you ask me what are the most visit-worthy places in Oslo, it is definitely not a challenge before Nobel Peace Price Centre and Vigeslands Park slip out of my mouth. The former clearly leaves a message about the importance of peace and the desperate need in environmental conservation after your visit, while the latter fascinates you with its enormous amount of human sculptures in one park. The latter is also one of the newest tourist attractions in Oslo.

Caption: Previous Nobel Peace Prize winners and one of the interactive boards.

By having said that, the desire of the municipality to develop the capital as a tourist-friendly destination is vividly demonstrated. However, to a visitor who is paying big bucks in this most expensive country in the world, it certainly doesn’t strike a balance between expenses and satisfaction, if one is looking from an economical point of view.

There were two special events in Oslo for us; the visit to the house of Rahma’s mother’s friend, and the visit of Erik, our Norwegian friend in Oslo. It was definitely a pleasant evening with simple post-Christmas dinner. The generosity of the host in receiving us warmed our hearts fairly quickly in the winter, and thus, the impression of reserved Norwegian faded away, temporarily.

On the other hand, visit of Erik was totally a golden opportunity for him to reminisce his good old days as a guard in the royal palace. Under his guidance, we have got to know a lot about the behind-the-scene stories of a guard’s life in the royal palace, while witnessing the in-my-opinion lame changing of guards.

Night life in Oslo is pretty active. Of course, the statement was made based on a Norwegian point of view. Contrary to the relaxed environment among the pubs in Trondheim, youngsters hanging around in pubs in Oslo are certainly dress to impress. If you enjoy night clubs, these clubs in Oslo are definitely recommended. But then again, if you can enjoy yourself so much more in Stockholm while paying so much less, why visit to Oslo?

Having said that, it brings us to our next chapter; Sweden, the capital of Scandinavia.

Caption: Vigeslands Park with its dominant sculpture column (left) and group photo.