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Adventures of a short vet

Out and About in Oslo

NORWAY | Sunday, 19 June 2011 | Views [660]

I had to get up stupidly early to catch the 6 hour train to Oslo, where I walked the 15 minutes to Anker Hostel. Once again it is more of a “hotel” feel than a hostel, with a large waiting room, no kitchen but a hotplate in the dorm room, and very busy reception staff. The 'hotplate in the room' idea is okay until the other people in the dorm decide to cook a sardine dish which then stinks out the entire room. Not cool. I dumped my stuff and got out of there as soon as I could. I headed back to the information centre near the train station (which is surprisingly dodgy – on a par with Rome or Naples) and bought an “Oslo 24hr card” which works out as good value if you are planning to visit more than three museums (and there are at least 6 just on Museum Island) and includes free travel on the buses, trams & the ferry. So if you can’t afford a fjord cruise you could always take the ferry out to the furthest island in the main fjord and do your own mini cruise.

One of the drawbacks of staying in a hostel is that occasionally you get very inconsiderate dorm mates and unfortunately the women in my dorm thought it was acceptable to wake up at 4:30am and stomp around the room turning on lights and packing their bags for an early departure. When I have to leave early I get everything ready the night before and do my final pack in the hall outside the room so as not to wake everyone else up. Sadly not everyone is as considerate. Fortunately, years of being on call at night has trained me to be able to fall back asleep easily when rudely woken up so I managed to get some more shut eye once the annoying women had left.

I managed to make it in time to catch the first ferry out to Bygdøy Island, where most of the city museums are located. I visited the Fram Museum first to see the polar ship used in the Arctic and Antarctic Expeditions (which looked miserably cold), before heading to the Kontiki Museum to see the rafts made by Thor Heyerdahl for his sea voyage proving that island people were able to use rafts to cross the ocean. I then visited the Maritime Museum where there are heaps of model ships and ferries on display which was quite impressive. My fourth museum to visit was the Viking Ship Museum where I now had to fight my way through the crowds to check out the well-preserved Viking ships. By now it was lunchtime (hence the crowds) so I stopped for lunch outside the museum before heading down to the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, a large open air museum and one of Norway's largest museums of cultural history. There I learnt more about the Norwegian way of life, got caught in a rainstorm in which I sheltered in a little hut, and met a cute Norwegian pony. I caught the 4pm ferry back and had enough time to visit the Nobel Peace Centre, with its stories about refugees, peace prizes and Alfred Nobel. After being inspired by what some people do for others, I walked down to the waterfront and followed the piers around to the ferry that heads out to the other islands, but after looking at the timetable decided it as probably a bit late for a fjord mini-tour. Instead I headed out for a lovely steak dinner at TGI Fridays, where you get a 20% discount with the Oslo card (though still expensive).

After my massive museum effort the previous day I didn’t have much left to do, so decided to spent the day visiting the Castle and National Gallery. But before hitting the gallery I walked over to the Opera House, where I climbed the roof, built to resemble the glaciers for which the country is so famous. Apparently you need to wear sunglasses to block out the glare off the white walls, but I didn’t have to worry about that as it was another cloudy day. I then visited Akershus slott (Oslo Castle), where I wandered through the halls with an audio-guide listening to a pretty interesting history with a few ghost stories thrown in for good measure. By the time I emerged from the castle the sun had managed to break through the clouds, so I was able to have a picnic lunch on the castle walls while watching people erecting a concert stage for the “Oslo Festival” that unfortunately was set to start the day I left. After lunch I headed over to the National Gallery where the famous “Scream” painting by Edward Munch is kept. I also really like Johan Christian Dohl’s work as he is a landscape painter, which is my favourite subject for photography. I took advantage of the short break in the weather to walk out to Vigeland Park, which has the world’s largest collection of sculptures by one sculptor. There are around 250 sculptures of people depicting “life”. It was absolutely incredible and definitely my favourite attraction in Oslo. I just loved the emotions that were clearly depicted through these relatively simple statues and the monolith of intertwined human figure is awesome. I came home to find my room full of Brazilians cooking dinner together. They were a lovely group and insisted that I join them for dinner (despite my protestations that I’d already eaten), and a couple of them entertained us with an impromptu salsa lesson. I ended up heading out to the pub with them around 11:30pm for one very expensive drink, which was about the extent of our budget!

Tags: akershus slott, bygdoy island, castle, fram museum, kontiki museum, maritime museum, nobel peace centre, opera house, oslo, vikings

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