A maritime weekend in Oslo, pt. 3

Ah, Oslo. You were truly wonderful! If only you could have given us slightly better weather, we would have lost our hearts completely. But you know that saying “any city looks great in the sun” - Oslo can even pull off rain and still be stylish and pretty. Upon waking up on Sunday, the first glance out of the window was still promising, but as we were sitting down to stuff ourselves at the lovely breakfast buffet, it was already raining cats and dogs! We laughed at tourist groups in matching rain coats and then grabbed our umbrellas to brace the weather and head down to the harbor.

Our plan was to take a ferry out to Bygdøy, a peninsula where a lot of museums are located. After completely leaving out muesums in Helsinki, we felt it was high time for some culture and learning, and also, museums are (usually) an indoors activity, hence no rain! We hopped on the adorable little ferry boat and chug-chug-chugged away on the stormy seas towards the island.



The first museum we headed to is called Fram, a museum about polar exploration, which houses the famous polar vessel by the same name, as well as tons of information about polar explorers and the trips they took, especially the race to the South Pole between Roald Amundsen of Norway and Robert Scott of Britain. You can go aboard the ship and go under deck (a slightly claustrophobic experience, and the air in there is really bad - I have no idea how they actually managed to live on the ship for so long!), and read up a lot about the polar expeditions, the North and South Pole, and the explorers, who, without fail, had a strong mustach game going on!



From the Fram museum, it’s only a stone’s throw to the Norwegian Maritime Museum. Norway as a whole is so strongly dependent on the sea, and the museum has a great selection of exhibitions that showcase the different ways the ocean influences the life of Norwegians. My personal favorite was the selection of maritime paintings. They also have an interactive section, where the boyfriend and I spent about 20 minutes playing a computer game simulating the shipping industry. He won, even though I got the cars to Norway faster and my clients were really happy… but I digress. It was a fun museum, and they had a very delicious apple pie in the cafeteria, which made up for my unfair defeat.


We needed some fresh air, and the timing was perfect because the sun had just decided to peek out from behind the clouds, so we sat for a bit in the park and enjoyed the weather.




The third and final museum we visited was the Kon Tiki Museum. I hadn’t actually heard of this before, but the boyfriend was adamant in his wish to visit the museum, so I came along, of course. In case you, like me, aren’t aware, the museum centers around the work of Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian adventurer who wanted to prove that contact between ancient cultures was possible. He did so by constructing boats and floats using materials and techniques that would have been available to those ancient cultures, and he managed to cross the Pacific Ocean on such a vessel (see Kon-Tiki Expedition). His other explorations took him to places like the Easter Islands. The museum shows the original vessel from the Kon-Tiki expedition - insane to believe that six men spent 100 days on that tiny float (picture shows Ra II, used for another expedition)! A very interesting museum, as also evidenced by the entries in the guest book.



Then it was time to head back to the hotel, collect our stuff and head out to the airport, where we decided to spend some quality time in the lounge before boarding. I may or may not also have bought a handbag on the way to the gate - oops!




All in all, a great weekend, and I can’t wait to go back, maybe in the spring? I could imagine Oslo is lovely in the spring!

A maritime weekend in Oslo, pt. 2

After arriving in Oslo last Saturday morning by boat and slightly hungover, we headed right on to the hotel, which was about a 15min walk through the inner city. Luckily, my boyfriend had been in Oslo before and remembered a lot, so that spared my poor hungover the excessive strain of actually having to process a map and directions, something I naturally suck at. The weather was a bit odd, like it couldn’t quite decide whether it should be rainy or sunny, or both at the same time. We arrived at the hotel, right off of Karl Johans gate, at the Esplanades, with the royal palace and the harbor in immediate walking distance. The hotel itself was already very nice, but after the dreadful cabin on the ship seemed like pure heaven! They scored so many points by having our room ready for check-in at 10:30am already, and for upgrading us to a beautiful executive room with a sitting area, a huge, comfy bed, and a massive rain shower. We freshened up and relaxed for about an hour, before heading out to do some exploring.




We strolled back down Karl Johans gate and to the opera house, which is located right at the waterfront. A very fascinating arcitectural structure, and a stark contrast to the otherwise very classic, old-timey Oslo building panorama. We climbed all the way onto the top (not that easy when you’re still not feeling 100%!) and enjoyed a nice view over the city center and up to the ski jumping hill Holmenkollen for about five seconds, before it started to rain, so we decided to head back.



Back up Karl Johans gate (there are probably other streets in Oslo, too…) and then down the Esplanades, all the way towards the royal palace we strolled, as the rain shower luckily ended as quickly as it had appeared. We even got the occasional ray of sunshine! I really love the colorful, whimsical buildings - Oslo must be one of the most universally beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. Helsinki had its charming corners, but in Oslo, you’re hard pressed to find a building that isn’t amazing.



I had been told ahead of the trip that Oslo would be “dead” and there wouldn’t be any people in the streets. I have to disagree - the streets were filled with beautiful Scandinavians on a Saturday shopping trip or enjoying a coffee in one of the cafés along the Esplanades, and of course with tourists snapping picture after picture (including me!). It was a really nice atmosphere, the kind that makes you wish you were one of those young, hip, Oslo people that just promenade up and down the city center.

After a short hike up a hill - in truth, it was more of an elevation, but living in flat Copenhagen for two years has made me soft! - we arrived at the royal palace. I love that it’s in the middle of the city, but still manages to give off that imperial vibe,  sitting there on top of the hill surrounded by beautiful gardens.



We strolled through the park and enjoyed the flowers and the sunshine, which had by now broken through the clouds. How cute is that little gazebo? I would like to think the royal family comes down there to drink a cup of tea every once in a while, but that’s probably not what usually happens…




From the gardens, we headed down to the harbor and went to the Nobel Peace Center, which is definitely worth a visit. We also took some time to sit down, rest our tired legs and feet, and enjoy some well-deserved refreshments!





Luckily, the museum and the harbor were very close to our hotel, so we headed back to relax for a bit, before heading out again for some pre-dinner drinks. I’d made plans with Alina, a blogger friend of mine, and her husband, at the roof top terrace at the Grand Hotel (across the street from ours). It was great meeting her in person, as I’ve enjoyed her blog (Life in a Bubble) and her Instagram pictures over the past months, and we had a great time. They’re coming to Copenhagen soon, so hopefully we can return the favor. Here’s a very rare picture of the boyfriend (in the center) - he usually doesn’t let me put his photo on the blog, but made an exception (photo credit is to Alina).




We had lovely drinks (but boy, is Oslo expensive!) and headed on to a small cozy vinyl record store with a bar on the second floor, where we had another glass, before heading to dinner. Again, I thought I really have to get some speakers for my old record player, which is currently only collecting dust in the closet. Records are awesome!

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After all of that action, we were just tired as hell, so we made use of the small dinner buffet at the hotel and turned in very early with some TV, so we’d be fresh for Sunday. The rest of the weekend is coming up, so stay tuned!

A maritime weekend in Oslo, pt. 1

This summer, we’ve been doing a lot of weekend trips instead of one big vacation. Had my Stockholm weekend not sadly fallen through, I would’ve gotten all Scandinavian capitals under my belt this summer! After a great weekend trip to Helsinki two weeks ago (read part 1, part 2, part 3), we boarded the DFDS Crown of Scandinavia last Friday afternoon to head on up to Oslo - a city I’d never been to, but heard great things about.

First things first, once we had managed to board the ship, amongst troves of mostly Asian tourists, we headed under deck to find the door with “5613” on it. You will notice I didn’t use the word “cabin”, because what we found behind that door certainly does not deserve that name! We had been a tad bit late with the booking, and there were no more cabins with windows available. So we thought, well, it’s just for one night, how bad can it be? The answer may surprise you… It could be WORSE. We found a tiny little hole in the wall with two fold-out bunkbeds and a bathroom that seemed to be carved out of a single piece of plastic… So we did what any reasonable and responsibe adult would do: start drinking!

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For departure, we headed up to one of the on-deck-bars and started the afternoon with a cocktail and a beer, but when the winds on sea got too strong and chilly, we headed to one of the bars under deck and continued with some delicious champagne.

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Once we got a good buzz going, we decided to catch some fresh air and take some pictures against the beautiful ocean scenery. Turns out, it’s not that easy when you’re buzzed and it’s windy! These two shots were pretty much the only ones where I didn’t have hair in my face or my dress was flying up, Marilyn Monroe-style.


Then it was time to head to dinner, for which we’d chosen the “Explorer” steak house. We commenced by sharing a starter of crab cakes with mango salad and a red pepper and chili sauce. Absolutely delicious! I really need to learn how to make crab cakes…


For the mains, we dug into some nice meat - I got a tenderloin (in the picture), which was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and my viking boyfriend selected a good ol’ manly sirloin. They came with crispy fries and some delicious herbed butter that complemented the meat perfectly. I also stole about two thirds of the boyfriend’s bearnaise sauce for my fries! Mmmmh…


I didn’t even need a second glance into the dessert menu before the decision was made - peanut butter cheese cake? Yes, please! As soon as the first spoonful hit my tongue, I made a mental note to find a recipe for this deliciousness. It might even earn itself a spot on my “mini-cakes for Thanksgiving”-list…


We were lucky enough to be seated at a window table, so we could enjoy the beautiful sunset while eating dinner. In between courses, I even raced up on deck to take some real pictures - together with pretty much all the other passengers… There is just something incredibly beautiful about the sun slowly melting into the ocean at the horizon, isn’t there?

After dinner, we headed back to the bar to try some of the cocktail offer, which all in all was quite good (no Hendrick’s gin though, major minus!). We ended the night in the ship’s own Irish pub-like bar, with some live music and some more drinks, before retiring to our tiny hellhole of a cabin.

Somehow, we managed to make it through to morning - despite me waking about seventeen times during the night thinking I was about to roll off my top bunk, which I luckily didn’t - and, eager to leave the cabin and actually see some daylight, went upstairs to grab some breakfast. On deck, with the fresh, cold wind and a nice hot coffee in my hand, the world looked much better already! And the view sailing into Oslo is just breathtaking, despite the gloomy weather that morning.


We made our way off the ship and walked to our hotel - just a 15min walk through the streets of Oslo, which were pretty empty that early on a Saturday. But more of that to follow later!

Hope you all had a great start to the week. Don’t forget to check back soon for parts two and three!