EIGHT DOLLAR COFFEES
11.03.2014 - 13.03.2014 4 °C
Norway was next on our travel hit list and as it is one of the most expensive countries in the world it required us to thoroughly research and book all cost saving solutions. This involved the obvious answers such as choosing the cheapest accommodation options and booking all flights and internal transport as early as possible but we still had the problem of food one of Norway’s biggest expenses. In the end our food solution was to fill an entire medium sized backpack full of Berlin's finest muesli bars and nuts to eliminate the one meal of the day we could do without - lunch… sorry lunch. Food smuggling and mission Norway on a budget had commenced first stop Oslo.
We arrived in the Norwegian capital quite late at night and our first experience with exorbitant prices was the menu at the airport that was offering a hamburger for the bargain price of $40 AUD - holy moly what have we got ourselves in for. Next up were our transport options from the airport to the centre which included a 19 minute fast train for $34 AUD per person or the 30 minute slow train for $20 AUD per person hmm tough choice. Hello Oslo the second most expensive city in the world, please don’t take all our money.
We had booked a hostel in the centre and to our great relief it offered free breakfast, which we had found in our research was not a common thing for Norwegian hostels. Our plan with the free breakfast was of course to make some sandwiches to take for our lunches throughout our three-day stay. The hostel had obviously cottoned onto this idea though and had plastered signs everywhere warning you that this behaviour is strictly forbidden and that you should instead buy their lunch pack for $20 AUD - bargain. Signs are obviously not a huge deterrence but unfortunately for us the hostel had ALSO realised this and thus had put in place a secondary measure of staff member “security guards” strategically placed at the exit to the breakfast room to shoot the evil eye over everyone exciting; ok you win hostel our scrumptious lunch of muesli bars and nuts will have to suffice.
Our first visit in Oslo was to the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park (FrogenPark) that is filled with about 200 stone /granite and bronze sculptures made by one artisit- Gustav Vigeland. Upon walking into the park Drew quickly lost me as I got distracted by a gorgeous puppy that looked so much like my dog at home, I think the owner was quietly nervous that I was going to steal her dog but once we got past this she proceeded to tell us all about the park and pointed us in the direction of all the must see statues including the hidden Angry Boy. The most intriguing sculpture for us was the Monolith a 14 metre tall column consisting of 121 human figures carved out of a single piece of stone– quite amazing and a little bit disturbing with its human lifelikeness. After marvelling at all the sculptures we decided to pose with the ones that suited us the best…
Once we had finished posing we headed to the National Museum to view some more amazing art this time in the form of Edvard Munch and his paintings. Having studied Munch’s work at high school it was quite an experience to view his art up close especially one of his most famous pieces The Scream. During our visit we also grew quite fond of the paintings of J.C Dahl and his view of the Norwegian landscapes and scenery – quite spectacular.
After our art filled morning it was time for lunch and as the idea of a single muesli bar did not seem so appetising we thought it was our lucky day when we spotted a sign in front of a café that stated we could get a coffee and sandwich for $10 AUD. However, after a few minutes of us trying to buy this amazing deal from a confused staff member the manager came out and told us that this offer was just a “suggestion” and didn’t actual exist… to this day we still do not know what that meant but all we knew is that our lunch of muesli bars would have to do. Not a good sign that on day one we were already disinterested with our cost-saving lunch.
Post “lunch” we headed down to the old habour area to visit the architecturally stunning Olso Opera House. What is most extraordinary about this building is that you are able to walk on the white marble roof that slopes up at quite an angle from the Oslofjord to offer panoramic views of Oslo city and its surrounds – Norwegian architecture at its best. The interior made up of wood, stone and glass was also pretty special and we found ourselves spending the rest of the afternoon exploring and marvelling at the design of this building…
The rest of our days in Oslo were spent wandering the streets and exploring more beautiful designed buildings including the Oslo Cathedral, Parliament and City Hall. We were also lucky enough to visit the interior of the Oslo City Hall and its elaborate mural rooms and grand hall where the Nobel Prize ceremony is held – it was an amazing building. During our street exploration we got drawn into a café that had cool furniture and beautiful people in its interior and may have been sucked into buying $8 cappuccinos… twice… whoops! After our necessary coffee purchases we had to use all our will power to stop ourselves buying furniture, household items and clothes in the AH-mazing Norwegian stores we kept (stupidly) walking into – it breaks our hearts to think about it.
And of course it would be absolutely sacrilegious to visit Norway and not explore the barbaric world of the Vikings. Drew was the prime driver of this due to his love of all things Víkings and so we found ourselves at the Viking Museum which among other treasures houses the best preserved wooden Viking ships in the world, two way back from the 9th century – they were extraordinary. We spent a good hour here admiring these monster ships and then headed down to the Bygdōy Peninsula where we walked along the foreshore and tossed up whether to pay the high admission fee to visit the Fram museum. After spending about 10 minutes in the entrance hall where we got a good view of the famous Polar Ship Fram we decided to save our money and use it to visit a similar museum in our next Norway location Tromsø. We then used our free time to make friends with the ducks near the fjord and enjoy the views across the bay to Oslo.
We wrapped up our Oslo adventure with an exploration of the historic Akershus Fortress and the new Tjuvholmen area, which was an architecture wonderland full of amazing buildings and outdoor areas consisting of wooden pontoons and decking all around the fjord. The design and set out made it so tempting to jump into the water but due to the freezing cold temperatures and icy winds we thought it best we just stuck to dry land.
We loved our three days in Oslo minus the mind-blowing food/drink prices and surprisingly high number of beggars around all the main centre streets. It was architecturally stunning, full of amazing museums, and a great city just to wander- the perfect start to our Norway adventure. Next stop TROMSØ - the top of the world!