Holiday in Oslo

As many people dream to travel the world, I do as well. Unlike most people, though, I make a point to actually do it. My most recent escape from the normalcy of staying in one place for a long time was Oslo, Norway.

I was taking a direct flight from Copenhagen, Denmark and had arrived at the airport far too early. At least that’s what I had thought at first. It turns out the Copenhagen airport is filled with way too many things to do in the amount of time a person has before boarding their plane. First of all, this is the only place in the whole country of Denmark that has a Starbucks. Secondly, there is another brilliant coffee shop, Joe and the Juice, which is just as good, if not better than Starbucks. This already presented a problem as I then had to choose where I would get my delicious cup of coffee. For anyone that cares I chose Joe and the Juice.

After finishing my perfectly crafted soy latte, I decided to explore the airport as I had another hour before my boarding time. I found out that I was actually in a very large shopping mall. Not just any shopping mall, though. One with a two-story H&M. I foolishly spent the remainder of my time trying on clothes and realized I had no more time to peruse the rest of the shops. I hurried through a bookstore, searching for a very specific English book (Catching Fire) I am dying to get my hands on, but had to settle for a Sudoku book instead. I got on my plane 15 minutes before it took off and was on my way to Oslo!

* * *

 Oslo was almost just as I had imagined. The “city center” was a long cobblestone street lined with cafes, shops, a tall cathedral, a few government buildings and also parts of the university. Enclosed in the middle of the street are beautifully filled gardens, fountains and outdoor seating areas. I was able to just simply sit and admire the beauty and tranquility outside for quite a while one day.

Placed at the bottom of this long street was the main train station and the opera house, which was completely built of white marble, aside from the wooden staircase. Then, sitting at the top on a small hill overlooking the city is the King’s castle and gardens. The long shopping street is basically a driveway for the castle.

Right to the side of the city center is the Oslo Fjord and harbor. You can see large cruise ships that mostly travel between Sweden, Denmark and Germany. There are also other various ships that are used for tours around the harbor or other various things.

Outside of the city center you will find many other gardens, castles and of course, museums. In particular, there is a famous art museum that houses the work of Edward Munch. Munch was a famous Norwegian Symbolist painter whose most infamous work was, The Scream. Although most people would not know these paintings, I can assure you that you are familiar with the Scream movie trilogy, in which they used his work to inspire the masks. Unfortunately this museum was closed while I was there, so I was unable to admire the paintings.

Instead of visiting museums, I decided to devote my time to visiting Oslo’s most famous attraction, the Vigeland sculpture park. It is actually filled with 212 sculptures! This large green park is also filled with towering trees, dirt paths for walking or running, and benches to sit on and contemplate life (or just relax). The main part of the park begins with two small lakes separated by a bridge that is lined with green, granite sculptures of various human poses. Some of the poses are quite funny, while others are even romantic.  Following the bridge is a large fountain that is encircled by sculptures of children climbing and playing in trees. Then, even further along, after walking up a few large staircases, you will find the most well known sculpture of the park, the Monolith. This incredible display of talent and true artistic thought is a 14 meter high tower composed of 121 human figures. Not to mention, this was carved out of only one piece of stone. Looks like Michelangelo had some competition.

The one downside of visiting Norway is the outrageous prices.  I chose to use couch surfing instead of looking for hostels so I was able to save some money there. And that was a smart decision considering how much I spent on my meals. I had mistakenly thought that the conversion between the  Euro and the Norwegian Krone was almost exactly the same as that between the Euro and the Swedish Krone. This was actually quite a devastation once I found out that it was more than twice the amount I had thought. So instead of paying 3 Euro for a cup of coffee (which is also outrageous), I was actually paying 6 Euro for a cup of coffee!

Public transportation is also way too pricey (6 Euro for one way), but luckily it’s one of those things where you just simply don’t need to pay for it. I’ll never understand the public transportation system in some places. I cannot even begin to comprehend why the environmentally friendly societies make such high prices for the people that are helping to reduce carbon emissions.  And of course I also don’t understand the concept of paying for a ticket and then not showing anyone your ticket. It’s just madness!

Despite the high prices and public transportation problem, Oslo is a beautiful place. The Norwegian people are very quiet and keep to themselves, but are also friendly and very accommodating when you need help. I hope to get back up to Norway later on so I can visit some more mountainous cities!

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