And just like that Spring Break has come to an end, I’m currently in the Oslo airport, waiting for my flight to take me back to work and classes in Paris, so let’s look at all the care free fun I had these five days in Oslo!
Starting at the beginning, sailing into Oslo’s harbor is a a amazing way to enter the city. Oslo is inside of a fjord so the skyscrapers and the old forts are all surrounded by tree covered mountains under a gorgeous blue sky filled with cotton ball clouds. As you’re docking you pass all these little islands with brightly colored wooden framed houses. It seems like it would be an awesome place to explore with a sailboat.
Oslo is pretty unique among Scandinavian cities in that it does have skyscrapers right I the center of town, Stockholm and Copenhagen kind of hid theirs away from the waterfront/ more touristy places which is pretty standard practice in Europe. Paris only has one skyscraper in the city limits and after it was built in the 70s they immeadiately regretted their decision and forbid any more from being built, which is why the business district La Défense is way out at the end of the metro line. Anyway, Oslo’s skyscrapers are actually pretty good looking, they’re small which helps, maybe 10-15 stories tall, but they also have interesting architecture and zones of light colors alternating with reflective metals which look awesome against the water and the mountains.
Anyway, my first two days were mostly spent enjoying the surprisingly strong sun. I hung out at Aker Brygge a lot, it’s the renovated dock area in front of town hall, and it has plenty of restaurants and cafes and waterfront seating.
Some Aker Brygge canals.
At the end of the dock there’s even a contemporary art museum. Across the harbor from there is Akershus Festning, an old fort and castle that kept watch over the fjord and was a partial inspiration for Frozen. It’s free to wander through and I explored a good chunk of the grounds, unfortunately I couldn’t get into the castle part when I went because they were filming a movie there. So I just had to settle for stunning fjord views.
Now there was one thing in Oslo that I was super excited about, and even after I did it I was still so pumped that I made my entire Coffee Time about it. And that thing was the Viking Ship museum. This museum and several others including the Kon-Tiki and Roald Amundsen museums are on a peninsula a short ferry ride away from central Oslo. I successfully avoided ever saying the name of this peninsula aloud because it is the Bgydøy peninsula.
So the museum was absolutely incredible. It’s got two complete Viking ships, about half of another one, and all of the stuff that was found with each of them. One of the ships, the Oseberg ship, is the most complete Viking burial ever discovered. I talked a lot about it and it’s conservation issues in my Coffee Time video, I highly suggest checking it out. Suffice to say here that seeing all this stuff made me even more excited about studying the Vikings, and knowing that my first choice graduate program is associated with the research into this museum’s artifacts is even cooler know that I’ve seen it all in person.
Now it’s Viking spam time!
The prow of the Oseberg ship- look at those carvings!!
The Gokstad ship- a real war ship capable of sailing the open seas
Look at that carpentry!
The burial chamber from the Gokstad ship- built to look like a tent and placed in front of the sail.
One of five carved animal heads found with the Oseberg ship, each one was carved by a different sculptor and this one has silver hardware!
A thousand year old leather boot!
The Vikingship museum is also associated with the National Historical Museum which also has a lot of Viking artifacts and is currently being renovated, which is good because a lot of their displays have no interpretation (in Norwegian or English) and there’s a lot of puppets that really don’t need to be there. (Though to be fair they were pretty impressive puppets). This museum is in central Oslo and it’s on the same plaza as the University, the University I would very much like to do part of my Graduate studies at.
Other things I did included the Nasjonal Galleriet, the art museum, on a rainy morning. It was much smaller than I expected, I’ve been terribly spoiled growing up and thinking the Met is a standard sized museum, and the Louvre membership isn’t helping. But it had a great range of Norwegian art that you never really see other places but is really cool and beautiful.
I think I have a new favorite artist, and his name is Sohlberg.
And of course they have a good section of Munch too.
Small as it might have been though this really was a grade A museum, the path was organized so that it was both thematic and chronological with a good amount of explanation for each room. There was also a fantastic use of colors, and I don’t mean by the artists, each room had a different paint color that worked especially well at accenting it’s pieces. Blue in the landscape room, yellow for the abstract expressionists, purple for the Norweigian Romantics. It was obvious that there was a lot of thought put into every aspect of these displays and it definitely paid off.
And in other Norway related things, April is a fantastic time to visit. First of all the country is getting ready for their Independence Day on May 17th, so fancy stores have started selling traditional Norwegian costumes which is pretty neat to see. Second, the school year is winding down so the Russ are about. Russ are Norwegian high school seniors and they celebrate by wearing red overalls and drinking a lot. They even ended up on Buzzfeed, but of course it isn’t quite as wild as they say it is, it is cool to see groups of teens in their matching overalls and it seems like more fun than prom season. Finally though, if you are on a tight budget maybe don’t come to Norway just yet, Oslo is consistently battling with Singapore for most expensive city in the world and honestly I was missing Parisian prices, but I’m really glad I came and I will definitely come back some day.
So that was my trip to Oslo, stay tuned because my week in review will be coming at you soon! Thanks for following along with me!