Tim likes to travel. Follow his adventures as he explores the world.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Oslo, Norway: Naked Statues and Supermodels

The 40th country I've visited!!!

A little over 25% of the world. Almost there!

Synopsis: Norway has thousands of square kilometers of nature and great outdoors to explore. So, two of my friends and I are going to look at the city-life of Oslo, deemed by several Norwegians I work with, as unrepresentative of Norway. And we will base all of our opinions of Norway on our three-day experience in this city, tussen takk.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Will, Steve, and I drive to Charleroi and park in P1. 59€ for 3 days is not bad at all. Chillin’ at the airport and then board our flight. The flight isn't too crowded, so we all sit together in the exit row. Land in Oslo just before 10pm. I am asked by border control if I speak French and I end up assisting a lady who doesn't speak English and a customs agent who doesn't speak French, with passing through customs. (pat myself on the back)

We catch the Rygge-Ekspressens to Oslo’s central station, where we grab some food and head to the hotel to drop off our stuff. We go out and walk down Karl Johans gate and the surrounding area. The night life in Oslo is in full force and there are costume parties still going on from Halloween, evident by the superheros, ghouls, and sexy-anything-women-want-to-be costumes, of people in line.

Thoughts: There are black people everywhere, very contrary to my experience in Riga. I didn't even see this many when I was in Morocco, and that's in Africa! Curiosity made me google it, and couldn't find much except thisOnly thing I saw more than black people were Narvesens, a local convenient store. McDonald's, 7/11, and Burger King are also plentiful, and still open at 2:30am.


Ready to start our adventure

Free ketchup!!! (so uncommon)

View from our hotel

Youngstorget late, late at night


Day 2: We were smart enough to buy food for breakfast at a supermarket last night, so we eat in the hotel room, since our hotel doesn't offer breakfast. Then we head out to the free walking tour. The tour guide never shows up so we leave and decide to get bus tickets and go to the Viking ship museum. 

The museum is pretty cool. And we stay there for about an hour. Head back toward the center and stop at Rådhusplassen, City Hall and a plaza full of statues. Then we walk along the harbour until the cold and rain force us to head back. 

After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, and since Steve is a loyal supporter, we head to Hard Rock. It's around 4:30pm and it's getting dark already. At Hard Rock, the Norwegian beer, Ringnes, costs $14. Steve says it's tasty, but Will and I think otherwise. 

Leave the restaurant and walk around to see a bit more of the city. It's raining pretty hard now. It's Sunday with bad weather, so it's hit or miss of what's open and if people are out. 

Thoughts: Lots of beggars and gypsies in main areas. Norwegians are similar to Belgians, as the rain does not stop then from going out. Museums and stores are open on Sunday. Night life is not made easy via pub crawls and such, which don't seem to be offered or we can't seem to find. Central train station is always open and is the hub of activity. I remember complaining about expensive stamps and postcards in Rome, but in Oslo its way more. I recommend all travelers to go to Norway as your first trip and then every trip after that will be cheap.


Trying to climb the tiger statue

Not even trying

Iconic handstanders

Not as much money as you think

Taking pictures of everything

A viking readying his ship for a new voyage

Battle of Giftshoppendor

Can a brotha get a ride?

The trio at city hall (Radhaas)

I'm noble and he is peaceful, I think we deserve a prize

Walking along the pier

Typical Americans


Day 3: Grab a cappuccino on our way to Vigelandparken, the sculpture park, in Frognerparken. We spend just over an hour there taking photos. On the way back, we speak to a very nice elderly lady from Oslo and she welcomes us to her city. 

Back at Centrum, we grab some food. We want to do the Freia chocolate factory tour, but I can't read the website, so we decide to just head up there on foot. Once we arrive, cold and wet, we are informed that tours must be prearranged, and we are forced to leave. We stop at a cafe for hot chocolate and regroup. We meet some nice Norwegian girls who tell us where to get some authentic Norwegian food, but later find out that their recommendation is closed on Monday.

Again, there are no walking tours, so we make up our own. We head over to the Royal Palace and then on the way to the Akershus Castle we stop at an outdoor sporting goods store and Steve almost passes out when the employee says that after the 40% discount, the Canadian-made rain jacket is 3600 NOK (425€). Walk over to the castle and we are greeted by an amazing view of the harbour. We tour the fortress and castle before heading over to the National Opera and Ballet. There, we can walk on the roof of the by building and get more great views of the city.

Driven by extreme hunger, our desire to eat authentic Norwegian food, plus everyone we've asked's inability to recommend a good restaurant, we find ourselves at Gamle Raadhus, an extremely high end place. They don't even have Wi-Fi, so you know it's upscale. I won't say how much my meal cost, but I can tell you that my rent may be late next month. I have the Pinnekjøtt fra Vestfold (mutton ribs and sausage with mashed rutabaga), Will has Lammefilet fra Vesterålen (lamb filet with potatoes), and Steve has Dåhjort fra Skåne (deer filet with potatoes). The food is pretty good, but we decide to go elsewhere for dessert since they didn't have any authentic Norwegian desserts.

We go back to the hotel and ask the staff to help us find a good place that serves multekrem, a local dessert of cloudberries and whipped cream, and we head there. Take the metro to Larsen, the restaurant where we finally get to try the dessert. It is delicious! We also try the local spirit called Gammel Aquavit, which we will never not ever have ever again, ever.

Across the street is the Colosseum, the world's largest THX movie theater, but it's closed so we can't see a movie. So, we head back to hotel. On the way we buy some brunost (Brown cheese) and a Solo (orange soda with a hint of vanilla and aspartame) and neither of them are very good.

Thoughts: After September, Norway's tourism industry shuts down. We couldn't find any of the inexpensive guided tours that seem to be widely available in most major cities. Many places around the city, like restaurants and stores, have free Wi-Fi. See quite a few Teslas and electric cars and charging stations in the city. First European city I've been to that understands and embraces the concept of separate checks.



Fueling up for the day

You know what we are about to do

GQ photo shoot, and Will is the makeup guy

Vigeland has some new statues

The Angry Boy. "Who would win in a fight, him or Manneken Pis?" -Will

Just a good picture of the bridge

Three viking-a-teers

Paparazzi got us


Race to the top

Standing at the Monolith

More sculpture modifications

This was in a shopping center and it was 3 times bigger than me

The chocolate factory tour that never happened

Hot cocoa at Cocoa near Grünerløkka

Royal Palace with the fellas

Guarding the Palace

Hey Wench!

What is FDR doing in Norway?

Guess who?

The Opera where you can walk on the roof

Strike a pose!

Presentation is everything

Our faces when we saw the bill for dinner at this restaurant

Dessert was delicious and much cheaper, at a different restaurant

Gladiators...



Day 4: Wake up and head out into the first sunlight since we landed. Go to the Historical Museum, since the ticket we got at the Viking ship museum is good for 48 hours and covers both museums. (Even though somebody who Will not be mentioned forgot his ticket...)

From there we head back toward old town and stop at the Domkirke, but inside, you can't see the high dome, but rather an elaborate series of ceiling paintings. We grab our bags from the hotel and then go to a pizza place before our bus ride to the airport.

Thoughts: Oslo doesn't seem as crowded as other major cities, which is a nice thing. The gypsies were out in masses today, and one had the nerve to be begging while talking on a cell phone.




Trying to catch a bike ride

About to go and get the history of Norway

Inside the museum trying to figure out where to go...

...but all you have to do is follow the viking's direction...

...but be careful because they are violent

This exhibit looks strangely familiar

Trying to holla at a Norwegian girl

National Theatre with two up and coming performers

Mr. Tim goes to Parliament

The photographer extraordinaire

Inside the Domkirke

Outside the Domkirke

We finally made it on top of the tiger


Final Thoughts:
I wouldn't say that the women in Norway are more beautiful than anywhere else in the world, but the high concentration of them, and the low ratio of unattractive women mixed in, plus their friendly nature, gives the impression that all of them are every man's dream woman.

I'm usually the only silly photo taker (ham) when I travel, but all three of us are hams, and we had more fun taking photos than probably anything else. The lack of organized tourism and few hostel choices, made it a bit more difficult to embrace the city and meet locals. We met a few people here and there but we wanted a guide or at least someone hanging out with us. But, we had lots of fun touring the city on our own and making it up as we went along. 

Visitnorway.com and visitoslo.com were both helpful sites for knowing what food to eat, where to go for tourism, and helpful information like addresses and opening hours. We have decided when we come back, it will be in summer.


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Location: Oslo, Norway

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