Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Next stop after Stockholm: out west to Oslo! I hopped a six-hour train through the Swedish and Norwegian countryside to head to Norway's capital city. It's funny, I had decided on my destinations already and contacted Silje, my housemate for 5 weeks in Quebec in 2006. We hadn't seen each other since then, but I thought it'd be nice to see her for coffee or something. Instead of coffee, she generously invited me to stay with her! How kind, right?! I was super excited to see her after 7 years, catch up, and let her show me some of her life.
a still half-frozen lake on the way into Oslo
Our first night, I was super tired from my early departure from Stockholm, and we stayed in, watched TV (in English - in Scandinavia, they don't dub their English language movies/TV, but they put on subtitles in the local language). Dinner was tacos! Apparently Norwegians really like to make tacos on Friday nights. Fine by this Texan!
Norwegian breakfast, which shares the same concept as German breakfast, but with some different ingredients - Silje prepared this for us every morning! How welcoming! It was such a beautiful spread, and delicious, of course.
harbor in the Pipervika bay
Akershus fortress, built at the end of the 13th century and has survived many an attack (especially by Sweden)
Oslo Opera House, finished in 2007
walking up the opera house and... being cold
interior - I thought it to be a very humble interior, and I thought it interesting that all the nave and the transept seem about the same width and length; I must be too used to Gothic cathedrals after living in France.
"... greatest of all is love" (in the courtyard of the cathedral)
the Stortorvet plaza
flower market in Stortorvet
architecture along Karls Johans gate, the main thoroughfare in the city which runs from the central station to the Royal Palace
"Hmmm, that building is pretty..."
"...I wonder what it is?"
It was a bakery. Obvz I headed in.
Kanelbolle, a cinnamon roll, which was just as delicious as it looks, I assure you.
looking down Karl Johans Gate toward the Royal Palace
women dressed in traditional dresses
... and then I got another pastry. SURPRISE. Here's me & my pastry in front of the Royal Palace.
another woman in traditional garb
Finally I conceded to the cold and decided to go to a café to read, only for my plan to be THWARTED by the face that there were no more interior spaces. So I settled down with one of the free blankets and tried to do my best. It lasted approximately 15 minutes.
That was when I met up with Silje and we went to her boyfriend Danijel's apartment, where he graciously prepared us the very Norwegian meal of... burgers! That's right, friends. My first two Norwegian dinners were tacos & burgers. It was like a little bit of home!
The next day, Silje, Danijel, and I all took a little excursion (in Danijel's car, no less!); first stop: a view point in East Oslo to take a look at the city!
looking out over the harbor and the islands
the harbor (construction forefront, whoops)
me & Silje*
Next, we headed to the Bygdøy peninsula in West Oslo to head to a museum, but we got stuck in traffic due to the hundreds of people gathered to watch the releasing of the royal cows. No joke.
The houses on the peninsula are really really nice; West Oslo is the upper class area, and the peninsula is even moreso.
My Oslo museum choice: the Viking Ship Museum! Here's the Oseberg ship, the most beautiful of the three ships. The only reason we have these three ships is due to the Viking tradition of using ships as burial mounds to aid rich and powerful people on their journey to the afterlife. They found lots of various trappings in the ships meant to accompany the dead; the Viking culture was similar to ancient Egyptian culture in this way (think: Pharoahs buried in pyramids with tons of loot).
view from above - Can you imagine 30 men eating, sleeping, and living in this boat for who knows how long? Not exactly spacious. These people sailed all the way to Canada in conditions like this!
intricately carved cart found on one of the three ships
beautifully carved sled, also found on one of the ships
We then headed down to Huk, a beach on the peninsula. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and lots of people were out to enjoy!
Silje had packed us a perfect picnic lunch!
Danijel & Silje
Seriously. Look at how nice.
Did you know a sandwich could be beautiful?
Something was funny, apparently!*
Next, we baked (okay, Silje baked and I watched) dark bread! Culinary Katy intends to do this when she gets home, but Lazy Katy may stop her. We'll see who wins in the end.
After our dinner of cauliflower soup and fresh-from-the-oven bread, we had some of the most famous/traditional chocolate in Norway! The slogan says "a little bit of Norway."
a house near Silje's
houses on the way to the subway stop
architecture in West Oslo
In Frogner park, there are a ton of statues by Vigeland, a 20th century sculptor. The sculptures all reflect different human relationships and interactions.
See all those people laying in the sun on the left hand side? After I took these pictures, I joined them. It was lovely.
The Angry Boy, the most famous of all the statues there... not sure why, but okay.
I personally like this one and think it's funny, especially contrasted with the mother-child statue from a few pictures up.
Here you can see a gate with the obelisk behind it.
not the best of the Norwegian pastries I ate, but still good
Then I met up with Silje for a last meal together downtown, and we ate a very traditional Norwegian meal! Meatballs, potatoes, mashed peas, brown sauce, lingonberries, and traditional flat bread. Delish, and quite hearty!
I had a really great experience in Oslo. I mean, yes, it's a great city; I especially liked the easily accessible green spaces and real nature, as well as the beaches on the islands/peninsula. The real reason I had such a great experience, however, is Silje! I loved getting to see her life, meet her boyfriend and some of her friends, and learn a bit more about Norway from her. We hadn't seen each other in 7 years, and we didn't really know each other extremely well in Quebec, either. It could have been just pleasant, but instead it was fantastic! I really enjoyed her company, and she made me feel right at home. She was so kind and generous with me, unnecessarily so (originally I was just planning to see her for coffee!), but I appreciated it so much. I enjoyed "re-getting" to know her. We're hoping to keep in touch more often, and we discussed her and Danijel taking an American roadtrip and stopping in Fort Worth as well as me coming back to Norway someday to see the magnificent fjords in the west of Norway. A huge takk (thank you) to Silje for being the best hostess!
*These are Danijel's pictures he took with his awesome camera, they're not mine!