norway truly is the country of peace. i can’t even begin to tell you how calming and healing this holiday really was for me. my soul felt so refreshed.
we started at the oslo opera house, using the last remaining moments of sunlight to see some beautiful views of the city. the building is reminiscent of a glacier in the fjords and has a sloping marble roof which tourists can walk on!
we then went to the nobel peace center, an absolute must when in oslo. their permanent exhibition “the nobel field” is a display of all the previous peace prize laureates – everyone is allocated their own screen and the space is surrounded by thousands of twinkling lights. the 2018 peace prize laureates were denis mukwege and nadia murad, so the display “the body as a battlefield” explored their work (which focussed on the way sexual violence is perpetrated in areas of armed conflicts as a weapon of war).
in the evening, we stopped by the oslo city hall and the royal palace before starting our quest of gorging ourselves on traditional norwegian cuisine.
we ended up in kaffistova where mumma lau had steamed salmon with sandefjord butter sauce and i had reindeer patties! what could be more norwegian?
i’d initially only planned on visiting the kon-tiki museum, the viking ship museum, and the norsk folkemuseum in the morning, however seeing as the norwegian maritime museum and the fram museum were also in the bygdøy region, we decided to hit up all five!
the fram museum is dedicated to norwegian polar exploration and the main draw is that the original interior of Fram (a vessel used in arctic and antarctic expeditions) is on display. visitors can actually go inside the ship!
the norwegian maritime museum is admittedly a little drier but if you’re into your naval/maritime histories, it’s definitely worth a visit. there’s also a wonderful view behind the museum!
the viking ship museum contains three burial ships as well as a range of artefacts taken from the burial sites. one of the ships (the oseberg) is completely intact and was taken from the largest known ship burial in the world!
(the ticket also includes entrance to the historical museum, which we visited on the following day. there, you can see the only complete viking helmet ever found!)
the kon-tiki museum was perhaps my favourite of the indoor museums. it houses the kon-tiki, a raft of balsa wood that thor heyerdahl used to sail from peru to polynesia, as well as the ra ii, a reed boat he used to sail from north africa to the caribbean.
thor actually seemed like such an inspiring (and eccentric) dude – he was terrified of water; had almost drowned twice as a child; and could neither swim nor sail yet he was determined to navigate the oceans to prove his theories. he wanted to show that ancient peoples could have made long sea voyages and had cross-cultural contact using only rafts made of primitive materials. after 101 days on the high seas (and multiple brushes with death), he and his team successfully arrived in polynesia!
we then headed to the norsk folkemuseum, an open-air museum with more than 150 buildings(!) relocated from various towns and districts in norway. buildings of note include the 13th century gol stave church, wooden lofts from the telemark region, a 1920s standard oil gas station, and a tenement building from the 19th century! unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the exhibition space which houses various ethnographic artefacts including folk art, folk costumes, toys, and various household items – be sure to check it out if you have time!
we ended our day’s activities at the astrup fearnley museum, where notable pieces by koons and hirst reside in its permanent collection. gilbert and george’s rather provocative artwork was also temporarily on display in “the great exhibition”.
for dinner, we went to mathallen oslo, a bustling foodcourt jam-packed with enticing stalls. we opted to dine at vulkanfisk to indulge on more fresh norwegian seafood. we ordered the waiter’s recommendations of fish soup and seasoned crab and ended our evening with some gorgeous dark chocolate gelato from paradis gelateria.
we started at the munch museum which was in the midst of its final ever exhibition before it moved location. the exhibition entitled “everything we own” presented (for the first time ever!) pieces from all four of its collections, showcasing works donated by munch himself, the collector rolf e. stenersen, the family of amaldus nielsen, and the widow of ludvig o. ravensberg. altogether, these works give an insight into over a century of norwegian art history!
we then visited the vigeland museum which contains many of the sculptor’s early works as well as models for his installations in vigeland park.
of course, we then went to the park itself which contains over 200 of his sculptures! despite the drizzle, seeing the scale of his pieces in open air was truly remarkable.
the oslo city museum is located on the edge of vigeland park and is home to an exhibition showcasing highlights from the history of oslo, as well as a display dedicated to the seventies and the radical political movements that shaped the decade.
we then passed by the storting building on our way to kaffebrenneriet. rather cutely, this particular coffee shop had a little population of birds flitting around, making me feel like i was living inside a disney film.
around sunset, we found ourselves at akershus fortress. the castle itself was closed for renovations but the grounds were a lovely place for a relaxing evening stroll.
dinner was spent inhaling yet more glorious norwegian seafood – this time at fiskeriet youngstorget! mumma lau actually wanted to have their prawns but they’d already sold out so she instead opted for mussels. i chose their fishcake. it was a really interesting texture and more akin to chinese fish balls than the starchy uk chip shop fishcakes – they were actually so good i ordered a second portion!
we started off our final day taking photos on damstredet, an adorable little cobbled street with houses from the 1800s.
we then took a short ferry cruise to admire the inner oslofjord.
the views were truly spectacular and somewhat made up for the baltic weather. i had a lot of regrets about not packing any winter clothing…
we decided to spend a couple of hours in drøbak afterwards upon recommendation from our airbnb host. it’s a cute little town with lovely views of the fjord but it’s most famous for the tregaardens juleshus, norway’s only year-long christmas house with its own official post office! how adorable!
after making our way back to oslo, we realised we still had a couple of hours of daylight left and decided to visit ekebergparken sculpture park, otherwise known as the site that inspired munch’s the scream!
for dinner, we ended up at olympen, one of the oldest establishments in oslo which dates back to the end of the 19th century. it’s been through many incarnations from theatre to cafe to beer hall but now it’s a gorgeous restaurant serving traditional norwegian dishes with a modern twist. i ordered the three-course meal, sharing my starter of fenalår (cured lamb) and my dessert of crème brûlée with mumma, and we had venison and halibut for our respective mains. i honestly could not rate this restaurant more highly!
anyways, that’s it for another trip!
all in all, i had an amazing time in oslo and i can’t wait til i get to revisit norway – i’m hoping i’ll be able to do a trip in summer after grad and see the western fjords and bergen!
although norway is admittedly pricier than most other european destinations, don’t let that dissuade you from going! mumma and i only really ate out once a day and the rest of the time we bought baked goods from the supermarket to sustain ourselves. we also limited our souvenir shopping and cut back on transport fees and museum entries by investing in the oslo pass. even if you have to work to a tighter budget, it’s definitely still possible to enjoy yourself!
anyways, i went off to poland this winter break so i’ll catch up with you all (hopefully) very soon with another post!
p.s. click on the pic above for some outtakes!