Firstly, it is such a strange feeling to stay in a stranger’s home. I used Airbnb to book our lodging for our 3 night stay in Olso (Friday night to Monday morning) this past weekend. The flat itself was so impeccably decorated that it felt straight out of an IKEA catalog.
The Bob Dylan sketch & record player were personal touches though. It was a one-bedroom flat belonging to Otto, a young Norwegian who had lived in Los Angeles for five years (he seemed to live a cool life). Using his stuff wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought—even with my messy & loud Indian family. Despite the sun never fully going down & never reaching pitch blackness at night, we still slept fairly well and felt really relaxed. I definitely prefer it over living in an uninviting and impersonal hotel room. The neighborhood was really safe and full of young people—but I think Oslo might just be a city like that.
Overall, the city is pretty small and only about 600,000 people actually live in it. Norway is an underrated place—it has a rich and diverse history (from Vikings to the Sami people) and awesome landscapes.
Obviously, I visited when the weather was at its best—sunny and warm. Everyone was out island hopping via the public ferry. I love the sea (and the sky) so I was all about island hopping. It wasn’t quite what I thought it would be (the water was not as warm for sure) but it was still nice. We mostly sunbathed and read books. This is when I felt like we were kind of just on holiday with the locals rather than being tourists in a city. The Singh family style is usually to jam pack as many activities into a short amount of time as possible. However, since I planned this holiday because it was my dream to go to Oslo, I kept it pretty chill.
On our first night we ate at the Ekeberg Restaurant—and I knew it would be fancy shmancy so I only brought along my dinky iPhone 4S, not my DSLR, but the view was fantastic from that hill and I regret not bringing a better camera. I still got pictures with the family, though. The food was great too—amazing way to kick off our weekend in Oslo. It was quite expensive, but it is okay to splurge every once in awhile.
Me being an explorer. I could do it right??
The next morning we kind of rolled out of bed and headed straight to the Oslo Opera House. I had seen photos of it and knew that it was meant to resemble a glacier jutting off of the coast—but did not realize how much fun it was to just walk all over it. The building slanted every which way and there were loads of people there (it was a Saturday, after all).
I honestly don’t know why I loved it so much, but I really did. The architecture had a dwarfing effect on the people. In fact, all of Oslo seemed super modern and streamlined—as if it was built in the past 20 years. Even the Royal Palace was so clean and modern. I guess the Scandinavians really always had that minimalist style. I should probably read up more on this later.
I am usually not amazed by architecture so easily (I have been desensitized from all the royal palaces I have seen—it is sad because I wish I could wonder at the baroque styles now), so well done Norway! Well done.
I took photos of strangers throughout the trip because everyone seemed to just be having a chilled day. That is another theme from Norway—everyone seems SO chill. My mum was talking to a young man on the bus randomly and he was telling her that he didn’t like that Norwegians weren’t ambitious. Even though I think I really admire ambition in people, I kind of just mean ambition in life. But not like constant I-know-what-I-want-and-I-must-get-it ambition. I mean more like a person who has a passion in life and reason to live outside of just existing. Everyone knows that famous Oscar Wilde quote—that’s kind of what I mean. And who is to say that Norwegians don’t have that?
We also went to the folk museum and learned about that rich history I mentioned earlier. The only thing I could really relate to was the Samiland exhibit because Frozen was loosely based on the Sami people.
After that we went to the Vigeland Sculpture Park! I took some very epic & solemn photos. It was slightly overcast—but ever so slightly.
By the way, the public transportation was very punctual and clean and when we tried to pay for a ticket, the bus driver just waved us off so I guess it’s tourist friendly? Hehe maybe not.
The fountains were so inviting—I wanted to jump in them. Also the sculptures were…interesting. They were all nude and in very dynamic positions. I mimicked a few of them, but I’d rather not post the photos of that.
Parting thoughts on Norway: A gorgeous place that I would definitely consider living in—if I ever learned the dizzying language. It is on the expensive side, but isn’t all of Europe?
TRANSPORTATION was A++ (frequently free because bus drivers couldn’t be bothered. // FOOD was nothing amazing, but that’s mainly because I don’t eat red meat (definitely not reindeer). // WEATHER was fabulous! Sunny, warm enough to swim (low 70’s sometimes) but cool enough that you need a sweater or jacket at night. // PEOPLE were very nice! Mind you, we didn’t really interact with the locals too much. When I’m with my parents, we do our own thing. // LODGING was A++ and our Airbnb host, Orvind, was extremely conscientious & helpful // SIGHTS were great! A mix of old Norwegian culture, modern Scandinavian architecture, gorgeous hilltop views & sun & sea! // $$$ were high, but we expected that from Norway
See you elsewhere in the world!