Oslo probably deserves at least 2 full day to visit. But I was on a tight budget in one of the most expensive cities on the planet. In addition I had an early flight to catch the following morning, so the plan was to make the most of the 15 hours in downtown Oslo and spend the night at Garmeonden Airport. The only downside, I had to eat out.
I didn’t sleep too well on the train last night and the first thing I wanted to do upon arrival at Oslo Central Station was finding the toilet to freshen up. Then I left my luggage at the train station locker. I realised I didn’t have much to eat since yesterday and needed to refuel myself. I bought coffee, yogurt oatmeal and an apple for breakfast and dropped by at the tourist information centre to get a copy of the free city map. Being frugal, my Oslo self guided city tour focused only on FREE attractions.
My first stop was Radhuset, Oslo’s City Hall. It is much more than just a red brick-building from the outside. I was in time for the English free guided tour. The moment you stepped inside the building, Norway’s historic tales and culture starts to unfold. The massive murals illustrate the history of Norway of the first part of the 20th century, how every citizen is given equal opportunity. The country provides free education, healthcare and takes care of those unemployed. In order to do that Norwegian pays very high income tax. The main hall were decorated by two famous Norwegian artists: Henrik Sørensen and Alf Rolfsen, is where the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held annually on December 10. I was very impressed with the Ceremonial Gallery, sumptuously decorated with beautiful tapestries and scenes from Norwegian history.
Then I spent a couple of hours wandering along Karl Johans Gate, the street named after King Karl III Johan, who ruled Norway and Sweden in the 19th century. Some famous highlights found here are the National Theatre, the Parliament and the Grand Hotel. The popular Hard Rock Cafe can also be found here.
My next stop is the Royal Palace, currently the home to King Harald V and Queen Sonja. I was in time to watch the changing of the guards. Quite similar to what you could see and experience at Buckingham Palace in London. Here mounted police officers and a Norwegian military band lead the King’s Guard through a procession to the Royal Palace where the changing of the guard occurs at 1.30 p.m. The palace is a prime landmark of Oslo, as seen from Karl Johans Gate. Architecturally stunning in a neo-classical style, surrounded by a beautiful park with ponds, statues and open grass.
From the castle I took the tram to Vigelandsparken, said to be the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. There are more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron placed along an 850 meter long axis comprising the Main Gate, the Bridge, the Fountain, the Monolith Plateau and the Wheel of Life. His works portrays nakedness of mankind, not only in the perspective of them actually being naked, but also their soul, joy, fear, anger, happiness, sorrow, hardship and lust. His total nakedness gives an insight into the lives of people, showing emotions or phases of life that everyone can relate to which I find inspiring. I was dead tired whilst at the park partly because I didn’t sleep to well on the train last night. Found a bench under a tree and I had a good 1 hour power nap.
By the time I woke up, it was already 4.30 p.m. Feeling hungry, I took the tram to Aker Brygge, a popular area for shopping, dining, and entertainment. A great place for people watching and see what the locals do. I grabbed a sandwich and bought a cup of coffee from Starbuck.
From Aker Brygge I slowly walked along the coastal path, passed the imposing Akershus Fortress, towards Oslo Opera House. Ending my short time in Oslo couldn’t have come at a better time. The golden sunset light washed over the modern Opera House. I climbed the roof, don’t worry it is legal to do so, and I took one last look of the city skyline.
The Oslo Central Station is only 5 minutes walk away from the Opera House. Collected my bags from the left luggage locker and took the train to the airport. By 9.30 p.m. the airport seems to be less busy, I started scouting for a good spot to sleep. I found seats not too far from a female washroom, which seems to be convenient if nature’s call. However my quite time was interrupted when the cleaners decided it’s time to polish the floor. That thing they drive on was noisy and driving me crazy. There’s no way I could sleep. I scouted for a new spot. Not too far from the check in counters is SAS ticketing office and there is a huge round sofa which I happily turn it into my bed for the night. I do have a fleece blanket to keep me warm.
There’s also charging point nearby which I use to charge by camera batteries and powerbank. It was 11.30 p.m. and I was the only person there. I got up at 5.30 a.m. and to my shock the floor is full of backpackers sleeping in their sleeping bags. I bet they must have envied me sleeping on that sofa. Well done Nana for getting there before anyone else. My camera batteries and powerbank were still where I had left it and fully charged. I need to get ready, a visit to the washroom beckons before checking-in for my 8.30 a.m flight to Tromso.
The journey continues…
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