We really had a day and a half in Iceland because we arrived early the first morning, but booked our flight to Oslo in the late afternoon thinking we would be able to see even more of the area surrounding the airport. However, after a gloriously warm sunny day, we awoke to driving rain and high winds. What a difference a day makes.
We sat looking out the windows in the sitting room at our guesthouse and noticed some poor tourists dragging their suitcases behind them as they walked around the tiny harbour and into the little town of Keflavik. We poured ourselves a second cup of coffee stayed warm and dry inside. However, we did have to venture out into the storm in order to fill the gas tank on our rental car, and I went along with Anil so he wouldn’t get lost on the way back.
Our hostess kindly drove us to the nearby airport and we crossed our fingers as our flight took off in the heavy rain. Before we knew it, we were above the clouds where the sun was shining as brightly as it had been the day before. I watched as we passed over the Faroe Islands and then the west coast of Norway, but the clouds were thick and it was impossible to see the sea or the land. I kept hoping for good weather in Oslo, situated on the eastern side of Norway. It would be difficult to see the sights if the weather was poor during our four days in the capital.
It was dark by the time we landed and bought tickets for the 50km train journey into the city. We met a young German gal who was also in Norway for the first time, and we chatted so intently that we almost missed our stop at the National Theatre station. We were trying to help her figure out how to take the metro in order to meet a friend in the northern suburbs. The Lonely Planet Norway came in very handy, and the female conductor on the train was a great resource as well.
We were pleasantly surprised with the size of our room at The Karl Johan Hotel, especially after reading several comments on TripAdvisor complaining about small rooms. We were delighted with the view onto the park, and also the fact the windows open for fresh air. Previous guests had complained about the lack of air-conditioning in this period hotel, but the nights are cool now and it’s not a problem at this time of year.
We slept poorly due to jet lag, and woke to find the skies overcast and all the ‘worker bees’ rushing to their desk jobs under large umbrellas. There wasn’t much we could do about the weather, but the forecast looked promising. After enjoying a terrific buffet breakfast, we headed back to bed and didn’t wake up until almost 3:00pm. To our delight, the sun was shining brightly and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
We were keen to walk off the cobwebs and decided to stroll across town towards the Frogner Park to see the renowned sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. Our route took us through the centre of Oslo and out into the nearby residential districts. I was surprised to see so many beautiful 19th century buildings, lovingly maintained along tree-lined streets. As we walked we came upon parents picking up their children from school, enjoying the opportunity to chat without any interruptions.
We entered the massive gates of the sprawling park and were immediately captivated by some of the 212 granite and bronze sculptures. People of all ages, shapes and sizes were depicted in all their glory, surprisingly anatomically-correct. We spent the better part of an hour admiring the artist’s creativity and talent. Small tour groups came and went, but for the most part, we were relatively alone with the stone carvings and bronze castings. As we made our way back to the main gate, we came upon a father and son out for a stroll together. When I noticed the scrape on the toddler’s cheek, I commented to the father that his son was putting on a pretty brave face. He told me the fall had happened only 15 minutes earlier, and that the tears had been short-lived.
We took a different route back to our hotel, passing cafés, shops and more beautiful period buildings. We ducked into a small grocery store to get a sense of the merchandise they carry, and to gasp at the relatively high prices. We picked up a few things for picnicking in our room because our appetite was poor due to the time change from North America.
Day two didn’t start off much better because we had both been sleepless for much of the night, but we got up early and set off to the central train station to pick up our tickets for the ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ excursion we had pre-booked a few weeks ago. After four days in Oslo, we will board a train across the country, change to a narrow-gauge railway, board a ferry to view a famous fjord, take a bus from the ferry to another train station and make our way to the city of Bergen on the west coast. All this will be done over a 14-hour period. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for continued good weather.
From the station, we walked to the harbour and caught a ferry across the water in order to visit two outstanding museums. One is dedicated to presenting Norwegian folklore though displays of artifacts and an open-air arrangement of 140 different buildings from around the country. We spent over four hours studying the various buildings, many of them furnished with furniture depicting the styles of the 19th to 21st centuries.
From the Norsk Folkemuseum, we walked the short distance to the Viking Ships Museum to view the remarkable remains of three ships unearthed in the Oslo region. Our jaws dropped as we stepped inside and saw the most elaborate, best-preserved ship, looming high above our heads. I can’t begin to describe how stunning the ships and their artifacts were, they were like nothing we have ever seen before.
We were exhausted from being on our feet since early morning, and every now and then we found ourselves light-headed from lack of sleep. It’s hard to accept that we’re getting older and that jet lag takes longer to overcome than it once did. We settled into the business lounge at our hotel and drank hot cups of tea and munched on shortbread biscuits.
To my surprise, we were more than a little revived, and I see that it’s almost 10:00pm. I never imagined I would be able to stay awake through the evening, but now my photos are posted, and I’ve described our day. It’s off to bed, there’s so much more to see in this beautiful city, and only two days left before we head to the train station. It’s only noon back in Alberta, but I’m heading to bed, and hopefully, we’ll both sleep straight through till morning. Good night.