Vikings, Architecture and delicious Halibut in Oslo, Norway

May 5, 2010 0 comment

Oslo is not a destination city, but you might as well spend a week end there on your way to the beautiful fjords. We were in the Viking capital to attend the wedding of a dear friend, and it was a delicious taster for a future trip in the rest of the country. This article One mom and two kids going Wild in Norway is great inspiration.

Mind you, many places were closed because of the May 1st holiday / then it was sunday / then it was a Monday when all the museums are closed simultaneously! But we still managed to have 3 full days of strolling around. Here is a suggested itinerary:

DAY ONE:

Start with a visit of the Akershus Castle in “downtown” Oslo, say hello to the horses and walk around the fortress to take in the views of the city. After that, it’s a short walk to one or all of the following: Museum of Contemporary Art (3,000 pieces of Norwegian artwork), the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (famous for featuring Jeff Koons’ Michael Jackson and Bubbles) and the Museum of Architecture, opened in 2008. And appreciate the massive austerity of Oslo City Hall where the annual ceremony of the Nobel Peace prize also takes place.

For dinner, reserve a table by the pier at Lofoten Fiskerestaurant (+47 22 83 08 08) for absolutely delicious fish (the halibut is to die for). Very child friendly too as Marcelo was taken to the chef to choose his own ice cream. A real treat and a big smile for the rest of the night.

DAY TWO:

After picking up some fresh cinnamon buns and a hot chocolate at super-family-friendly United Bakeries (the one on Frognerveien no. 58. Pictured below), walk around Vigeland Park.

It’s the largest sculpture park in the world made by one single artist. It’s also the place where all the families meet up over the week end. There’s a big playground to your right as you enter from the main gate, a very nice cafe / restaurant with a sunny terrace in the center, Herregardskroen. And then, on to the viewing of the more than 200 sculptures done by Gustav Vigeland. It’s outdoor and the air is always fresh in Oslo.

As we discovered over the week end, Gustav Vigeland is particularly famous for The Tantrum sculpture (right above). You might or might not like his style, but you’ll agree that his very prolific collection is breathtaking for the huge array of interprations on the human feelings.

To finish the afternoon on a high note, hop on tramway 20 and then change for 30 to arrive at the Bygdoy peninsula (20min ride). There, you’ll find a whole lot of interesting sightseeing.

The Viking Ship Museum, tiny but so exciting for everyone in the family, with the 100 year old ships. And a must buy afterwards: Asterix and the Vikings.

Further on, inside the interesting Norwegian Folk Museum, you’ll find the Gol stave church. I loved it. That’s where our friend’s wedding ceremony took place. A small, all wooden church from 1212, dark and cold inside with barely any windows, and just the mystic light of the forest coming in. Mural paintings, very naive as you would imagine from Scandinavian folk art. A place to remember.  Thank you Rita for offering us this special moment.

Finish this full day with a pirate boat ride from the peninsula back to downtown Oslo. Marcelo and his friend Eloise loved it and it was free so we loved it too! And for dinner, try Pizza da Mimmo (must reserve +47 22 44 40 20) or the old power station converted into eatery Bolgen & Moi Briskeby, very trendy apparently.

DAY THREE:

Start with the breathtaking new Opera House. All glass and marble, it’s a masterpiece of architecture. Even Marcelo 4 years old seemed to appreciate the beauty of it.It rises like a glacier out of the Oslo fjord, in a bit of a no man’s land near Oslo Central Station, an area that will surely get transformed over the next few years.

Then onto the National Gallery for a peak at The Scream from Edvard Munchen, Norway’s most popular artist. And finally, a stop at the Nobel Peace Center and its wonderful cafe where the murals are from British painter Chris Offili (btw, his exhibiton at the Tate Britain finishes May 16th and is completely worth it).

Our last dinner was at the Theatercafeen. Exactly how I like it. Grand and nonchalant at once. Located in the Hotel Continental, it’s a dining hall from 1900, very elegant with parquet flooring, vaulted stucco ceiling and another delicious meal of Salmon gravlax and steamed halibut.

BozAround tips:

– Save before you go. It’s the most expensive city I have ever visited! And don’t forget to check weather.com because spring is a very relative concept…

– Never take anything for granted. This is what I often repeat myself and yet we still got (almost) caught with our taxi ride from the airport. The driver put on the meter when it should have been a fixed fare. We did not question it at first (we were in Norway after all), until it reached 1,600NOK, a mere US$265 for the 30min ride!!!! Nice try, buddy. Next time, we’ll reserve a taxi in advance for 600NOK (+200NOK after 5pm…) on +47 23 23 23 23 23 or we’ll take the express train to Oslo Central Station (every 10min, 160NOK p.p.) .

– We found good value in Hotel Gabelshus. It’s in the residential area of Skillebekk yet just 10 minutes by tram from Sentrum. The family room 411 accomodated all 4 of us quite comfortably and they have breakfast and an early buffet dinner included, useful for the little ones. Not to mention the free waffles all afternoon!

– The hotel was not able to organize babysitting. However, the agency Oslo Barnevaktformidling found us (for a NOK250 fee) 23-year old Emma (+47 456 00 226), a very experienced babysitter at the reasonable rate of NOK100 per hour.

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