Smile #162 – Nice to Meet You, Oslo, Norway! [Part I]

Nice to Meet You, Oslo, Norway!  [Part I]

A year ago, Bubble met Europe and Europe introduced him to a whole new adventure.  He connected with the people, tasted the local cuisine (pasta and pizza, anyone?), and experienced the Italian culture.  A year ago, Bubble fell in love with Europe.  Now, Bubble is ready to return and experience another facet of Europe.

Welcome to the Scandinavia!  

Our flight landed at 8:20 am Norwegian time, which is equivalent to 1 am EST.  We were basically walking zombies at this point.  Luckily the Oslo airport is very easy to navigate.  It also helps that all signs are written in both English and Norwegian.  And there are attendants standing by to offer any assistance.  I mean how much easier can this get!  Shh, here is a secret, take the regional train instead of the airport express.  It saved us $20+! And every bit counts when you are visiting the most expensive city in the world!

Despite our hotel is only a 5 mins walk from Oslo S, it was still a test of our geographical navigation skills.  After a bit of circling, we spotted our hotel at the end of the street.  We dropped our bags and immediately headed to the local coffee shop next door.  Coffee is much needed!  Once we stepped inside, my attention was shifted to the pastries.  Bubble and I shared the famous Skillinsboller buns.  Boy, oh boy did it live up to its reputation!

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City map spreaded across the table.  We flipped through the Oslo guide book and started planning our route for the day.  I guess the two Norwegian guys at the table next to us overheard our conversation.  On their way out, they came up to us.  One guy asked how long we have been in the Oslo.  Without thinking, Bubble replied, just two hours and you?  The guys chuckled and replied we are from Oslo.  LOL.  Clearly our minds are still in zombie mode.  So far, the plan for the day is explore the city a bit, make our way to the Viking ship Museum and maybe stop by the Royal Palace.  They nodded in unison.  Instead of going straight to the pier, they recommended starting the route near the harbor at Akershus Fortress.  From there follow the road up to the pier and make our ways to Bygdov to Viking Ship museum and maybe check out Kon Tiki Museum as well.  Before we parted ways, we thank them for helping us plan our agenda.  I might be falling in love with Norway already!

We took up the two Norwegian guy’s recommendation and headed toward the Fortress.  Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle built to protect Oslo.  Unfortunately the castle is closed for maintenance, but visitors are free to roam the ground.

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While on our stroll, we noticed a strange high pitch chirping noise.  It seems that a little brown bird was trying to charm a white/greyish bird.  The little brown fella trailed behind the white one, chirping in his best vocal in attempts to get her attention.  The white/greyish bird just marched on with no regards.  When she jumped in the pond to avoid him, he followed her and never left her side. Hopefully they have a Nicholas Sparks ending!

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Without disturbing the birds’ love story, we continued up the massive fortress.  We followed the cobblestoned walkway to the top of the hill.  The overlook offers wonderful views of Oslofjord and the city.

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On our way over to the pier, we stumbled across Christiania Torv, a giant finger pointing to the ground.  The unique statue supposedly marked the spot where King Christian IV pointed to the ground and declared, “the new town will lie here!” after a great fire burned large portion of city down.

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Across from Radhuset (City Hall) is the vibrant waterfront area, Aker brygge.  Lined with restaurants and great view of the harbor, it is no secret why it is a busy attraction.

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Right by the pier, we took the ferry to Bygdoy.  This residential area is Oslo’s museum center.  Bubble has been excited to check out Viking Ship Museum.  This museum houses three original Viking ships, the Oseberg ship, the Gokstad ship and the Tune ship, along with other artifacts that were found in the excavations.

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At the entrance, we fought our ways past tourist groups and greeted the first viking ship.  We climbed up to the balcony viewing platform to admire the massive ship at a bird’s eye view.

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The Oseberg ship was used as a burial ship for women. The Gokstad and the Tune were used for men.  The dead were buried with food and drinks, animals and gifts, such as jewelry, wood carvings and pottery on the ship.   When scientist excavated the ship, they found four Viking carts in the burial mound with the Oseberg.  It is believed these carts represent a huge value, but the true purpose is unknown.  These carts are decorated with  detailed carvings of animals, people, and symbols.

Bubble was very impressed with the well preserved ships and all the history.

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Moving on to the our next destination, Kon Tiki Museum.  This museum documented the famous Norwegian explorer, Thor Heyerdahl’s attempts to cross from Peru to the Polynesia.  It was a journey most experts had predicted failure.  Thor defeated the odds.  With his multinational crew, they  completed the quest in victory.  How inspiring!

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“Borders?  I have never seen one.  But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people” – Thor Heyerdahl

This was my favorite museum and it has nothing to do with the name Thor…I genuinely enjoyed the laid out of this museum.  I like the dual story line approach, a cartoon based story line for children and a factual version for adults.  This allows adults and children to both experience the exhibition at a similar pace.  To be honest, I might’ve liked the children version more.  🙂

Browsing through both museums have shared with us a great view of Norway’s past.

To end our first night in Norway, we spoiled ourselves with homemade Norwegian food at Cafe Elias.  This little spot was a trek from our hotel and we definitely had multiple second thoughts   I am so glad we didn’t submit to other options and stuck to our goal!

We were mesmerized by the menu.  We could’ve ordered the whole menu!  Wolfish fillet?  Barley risotto?  Lamb shank?

After some serious consideration, we decided to split a fish soup.  It was so creamy.  The seafood was flavorful!

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For entrees, Bubble ordered Norway’s iconic reindeer stew.  It was amazing!  It lived up to its hype and more!

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Norway also has a reputation for its salmon.  I was excited to try their oven baked organic salmon.  I am not even sure what shallot sauce is, but mix that with the fresh salmon paired and it is to die for!

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Because alcohol is ridiculously expensive, thanks to the government’s strategy to prevent people from turning into alcoholics, we only ordered one drink to share – Elias’s Aquavit.  Aquavit is Norway’s national liquor.  It is distilled from potato and flavored with herbs.  Our drink tasted just like orange juice.

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The meal might have cost us an arm and a leg, but it was totally worth it!

Time to get ready for our next adventure – Norway in a Nutshell Tour!

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