Oslo and appreciating the work of Edvard Munch
Our trip from Gothenburg to Oslo was unfortunately longer than expected. What would have been a 3.5 hour ride on a high speed train ended up being partially replaced by a bus. Neither of us were too chuffed about this—I was sincerely hoping that the bus ride wouldn’t cause me to have motion sickness, and that there would be a restroom on board. I’ll say it right now: there was no restroom on board, and most of my friends can probably attest that this situation is one of my worst nightmares. I’m not being dramatic. Being on a bus for two hours without having access to a restroom is futile. Some people can’t not use a restroom over the space of two hours, for medical reasons or otherwise, as hard as they try. Needless to say, I was uncomfortable for a good portion of the two hour bus ride, even though I tried so hard to drink nothing that morning. Please, I can’t be the only person who has this problem. 🙄
Since I can’t make the entire contents of a blog post about nature calling (well—I probably can, to be honest), let’s move on. We were hoping that our late arrival in Oslo would guarantee our Airbnb be available. Our original expected arrival time would have been too early to check in. We were able to use a restroom at the station in Halden, just on the border of Norway, but in my absolute discomfort and desperation to avoid having an accident, I just walked into the first available restroom cubicle I saw, which was the men’s. Whatever. We should have more gender neutral toilets. Anyway, I said I was done talking about restroom breaks, so really moving on now.
We spent about half an hour having coffee in a cafe and killing time once we got to Oslo. Unfortunately, the machine at the 7-Eleven convenience store that we were supposed to pick up our Airbnb keys from was broken, and the staff member working there said a technician was on their way, but could give no time estimate. We returned after about an hour and the technician still hadn’t arrived. Despite us showing him the conversation from our Airbnb host that had the description of the apartment key, he still couldn’t give it to us. Apparently our host needed an app to give the correct number to unlock. After trying to contact our host, she showed up and gave us a spare key instead. It was a bit of an annoyance since we planned to use the laundry in the apartment and we already felt like we wasted many hours, but at least it got sorted.
I was craving some ramen so we ate that for dinner, completely ready to—as I put it—drop $100 on every meal in Norway because it was so expensive. 😆 Look, yep, it is expensive, but it also is what it is. Travelling sometimes means you gotta deal with the reality that some countries are going to be expensive in relation to others.
We explored a bit of the area we were staying in, Sofienberg, and then left more exploring to the next day. Very few coffee places in Norway were open as early as 9am, which maybe wasn’t entirely surprising, but when you have coffee shops that open from 6:30am back home, and you’re used to living in a place where a morning coffee is so needed, you sort of just grin and bear it when you’re visiting somewhere different… well, really, you adapt. I wasn’t really left with a choice, although I did pack some of my own coffee from home for days when it might really be a struggle. 😛 But in Oslo, Tim Wendelboe was my favourite coffee place and I enjoyed both their filter coffee and their milk coffees! We went there several times. Kuro was also a nice coffee spot.
The next day was dedicated to exploring downtown where there were many shops—a rather touristy area—then heading down near the national theatre, and eating lunch at Den Glade Gris, a restaurant that served Norwegian cuisine with many pork/bacon dishes. They also had this lovely cider, Fjellsider, which we enjoyed but didn’t seem all that common. We didn’t come across it again on our trip (although we weren’t trying very hard to look).
As it was a lovely day and we wanted to make the most of the good weather, we hopped on a ferry to Hvedøya, one of the islands around Oslo. It was only a very short ferry ride. This was maybe one of my favourite things about Oslo—that these lovely islands are just far enough away from the mainland, physically, but easy to travel to, and can offer a nice getaway. Of course, I’m saying that as a tourist, haha. There are a few other islands with their own features, like beaches, but we were most interested in Hvedøya for seeming like the most “green”.
That afternoon we went to a nearby gym called Athletica Vulkan, where one of the trainers there was nice enough to let us in for a “free trial” and waive the visitor/drop-in fee. I may have mentioned in a previous post that we were doing our best to stick to some semblance of a gym routine while on our travels, even if we could only work out 2–3 times a week. Having access to at least some weights was useful.
For dinner, we went to Villa Paradiso in Grunerlokken, which wasn’t too far from where we were staying. I wouldn’t say we were disappointed, but we didn’t think the food was anything to write home about. Later we realised it was just a chain of restaurants so not necessarily anything special.
The next day, thinking we might get a little less favourable weather, we went to the Munch museum, dedicated mostly to the works of Edvard Munch, the artist who famously painted The Scream. The museum re-opened in 2021 in a new building in the area of Bjørvika, which is near the opera house and close to the waterfront. There’s a beautiful view of Oslo from the top, that museum visitors have access to, but the museum itself does a terrific job at paying homage to Munch. I’d really only known him for The Scream (which, amusingly, inspired a short story I wrote when I was a kid), but the museum—excuse the pun—really painted a picture of his life and him as a person. I came to really appreciate some of his other works that I found were in a similar style to The Scream, and the depictions of love and sorrow in his work.
Although I didn’t care too much about the details in the recreation of his home, it was still an interactive part of the entire museum, and interactive without being too tacky.
The Scream was displayed in a dark section of the museum. There were actually three different versions: a lithograph, a painting, and a drawing (crayon), and because they were all done on cardboard or paper, cannot be permanently displayed due to their fragility. One artwork is shown for half an hour at a time, while the rest are covered by a dark automatically operated sliding door. Of course, so many people wanted to be very close and waited in front of the covered artworks in anticipation of it opening for the next half-hour slot. I think I actually have a soft spot for the lithograph!
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring parts of Oslo by the water. The opera house with its bright white appearance and roof you could walk on was a bit of a fun moment.
We walked to the Akershus Fortress and explored that for a bit, but were definitely getting quite tired by this point. It was a relatively warm day and we had done a lot of walking, and still wanted to continue walking around to Aker Brygge, an area that reminds us a little of Barangaroo in Sydney. By the water, modern buildings, but still a slightly corporate vibe.
The following day we decided to start the day with a workout instead of doing it in the afternoon. This time we paid the drop-in fee, but we obviously didn’t have a problem spending the money. 😁 Nick went to get a manicure and pedicure, while I explored almost every vintage shop in Grunerlokka. I definitely exhausted myself after that. I didn’t find anything I liked. It’s just a tiny bit of a shame because I always hoped I would be able to find interesting second-hand or vintage pieces on my travels, but oh well.
Our Airbnb host had a little map pinned on the fridge that pointed out the area of Homansbyen, so we decided to check out that area while we still had one more evening in Oslo. Dinner was at Eldhuset, a steakhouse style restaurant. They had very good food. I didn’t feel like eating red meat, so I ordered a portion of prawns and chicken, and they were both tasty.
Oslo was a lovely city. It was a lot quieter than I expected, but the coffee was very good. I think we didn’t have the best meals, and I’m not sure if we just didn’t find the right places or are harsh food critics. 😆 I still enjoyed our time there, and again, Tim Wendelboe was my favourite coffee place.