Written by LenR on 04 Dec, 2008
Town HallThe once controversial town hall is only a few minutes’ walk from Karl Johans gate towards the waterfront. The imposing dark brown brick building with its twin towers was opened in 1950 to celebrate the city’s 900th anniversary.The main approach to the town hall…Read More
Town HallThe once controversial town hall is only a few minutes’ walk from Karl Johans gate towards the waterfront. The imposing dark brown brick building with its twin towers was opened in 1950 to celebrate the city’s 900th anniversary.The main approach to the town hall is up a wide ramp. There are side galleries adorned by wood panels illustrating pagan Nordic myths. Inside the main hall the décor is dominated by vast stylized murals by leading Norwegian painters. Entry to the main corridor is free as the building is home to the city’s political administration but the main hall is only open to tours which depart Monday to Friday from September to May and daily at other times.Outside, at the back of the building there are six bronze statues representing the trades who worked on the building and a fountain with four massive female sculptures. When the weather is fine, this is a lovely spot with views of the harbor, the Akershus peninsula and the ultra modern Aker Brygge shopping and office complex.Nobel Peace Centre.This relatively new complex was built to celebrate and publicize the Nobel Peace Prize. This is awarded each year to an individual selected by a committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament. Some past recipients have been Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.The building’s ground floor features a series of displays about conflict and peace while upstairs there is a display on the Nobel family and the ‘Nobel Field’ where each of the past holders of the peace prize has a light bulb on a flimsy stalk.Opera HouseThe dramatic marble Oslo Opera House is the home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. The stark white exterior is in the form of an iceberg or a ship. In stark contrast, the interior glows with curving oak walls. The building is on the edge of the city, at the head of the Oslofjord. The structure includes 1,100 rooms, and there are three performance spaces. The Opera House was finished in 2007 with the opening event held in April 2008. Unlike the Sydney Opera House, the building was finished ahead of schedule, under budget.The building won the culture award at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in 2008. The Royal Palace.The Royal Palace is a monument to Norwegian openness. The palace is at the end of Karl Johand gate. It sits in a park which is open to the public. The building has no walls or strong barriers; just a small royal guard unit for effect. The building was commissionjed by Karl XIV Johan in the early 19th-century but he died before it was completed.Norway was handed to Sweden at the end of the Napoleonic war in 1814 and was ruled by Karl who was the Swedish King from 1818. Swedish power was devolved, however, and the union was ended officially in 1905.The palace is partially open to the public during the summer but you can watch the changing of the guard any day at 1.30pm. Close
Oslo’s main street is called Karl Johans gate. It starts at the Oslo S train station at the eastern end of the city centre, up the hill passing the cathedral and on to the parliament building as a pedestrianised street. From here it sweeps down…Read More
Oslo’s main street is called Karl Johans gate. It starts at the Oslo S train station at the eastern end of the city centre, up the hill passing the cathedral and on to the parliament building as a pedestrianised street. From here it sweeps down the hill past the university towards the Royal Palace. It really is the main thoroughfare for the central city.The street starts off unpromisingly. Outside Oslo S station there are a collection of young and not so young junkies hanging about and the first 100 metres or so of the street contains mainly tacky shops and a few beggars. Things pick up somewhat when you reach the curious two-teired Basarhallene building, once the city’s food market but now a shopping and restaurant centre. Just past this is the cathedral.From the outside the cathedral looks quite plain. It was built in the late 17th-century but the tower comes from 1850. Once inside it is a different story. The elegantly restored interior is a delightful surprise with maroon and gold paint splashed everywhere. The flashy Baroque pulpit, the royal box and the high altar are all worth seeing. Enjoy the elaborate stained glass windows by Emanuel Vigeland and the brilliant painted ceiling.From here, it is a brief stroll to the parliament building. From Karl Johans gate it is difficult to know what purpose this building serves but in summer it is periodically open to the public. The yellow-brick building is a solid imposing piece of neo-Romanesque architecture.The street now opens up with a long slender piazza stretching from here to the National Theatre. There are fountains, statues, gardens and kiosks. I’m told that in winter there are small open-air ice-skating rinks. Along the other side of Karl Johans gate there are shops restaurants, nightspots and the Grand Hotel which was constructed in the 1890s.Near the National Theatre you pass three of the main buildings of the university. These are grand 19th-century buildings with classical columns and imperial pediments. The middle building is the Aula where the imposing entrance leads to a decorated hall with controversial murals by Edvard Munch. Unfortunately, it only appears to be open during summer.The National Theatre built in 1899 has only marginal appeal from the outside but the 800-seat hall has been restored to its turn of the century glory. I am not aware of any tours inside the building – you must go to a performance. This was built primarily as an outlet for the works of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and a statue of him and another of Bjornstjerne Bjornson can be seen outside. Close
Oslo Airport, Gardermoen is the principal airport serving the Norwegian capital. It is also the main international airport serving Norway, with flights to a large number of European airports, and some flights to other continents. It is located at Gardermoen 48 km (30 miles) northeast…Read More
Oslo Airport, Gardermoen is the principal airport serving the Norwegian capital. It is also the main international airport serving Norway, with flights to a large number of European airports, and some flights to other continents. It is located at Gardermoen 48 km (30 miles) northeast of Oslo. When you arrive you notice that the airport is crisp, modern and efficient.When planning your trip, however, you need to be careful because Sandefjord Airport, Torp also serves Oslo, primarily by low-cost European carriers and regional airlines, though Torp is located more than twice the distance from the city as Gardermoen. In early2008, a third airport, Moss Airport, Rygge began serving private airlines as well.Built as a military airfield, Gardermoen was enlarged and reopened in 1998 as a commercial airport. Now it serves more than 19 million passengers each year. The airport has two parallel runways, and 34 passenger bridges. The airport functions as a national hub, with 25 domestic destinations. The airport compound includes the Radisson SAS Airport Hotel, a 7-story building with over 500 rooms. The hotel is within walking distance of the terminal building, but there is also a shuttle. The hotel was completed shortly after the airport was inaugurated and expanded in 2006. Recently a couple of other hotels have been built just outside the airport.We found transport to the city extremely efficient but quite expensive. The rail station is built into the airport terminal. The main service is the Airport Express Train that operates to Oslo S Station in 19 minutes, six times each hour. Three services continue onwards to Asker station. All inter-city and express trains on the Skien-Oslo-Lillehammer-Trondheim route also stop at the Airport station so you can quickly get up-country. Taxis are readily available from the terminal. There is a taxi information desk in the Arrivals hall and the taxi rank is located outside Arrivals. Prices to central Oslo are horrific unless you are in a party of three or four. The SAS Airport Bus runs between the airport and Oslo Central (journey time: 40 minutes). There is also a night service to Oslo Bus Terminal.There are ATMs and bureaux de change in both the Arrivals and Departures halls. Wireless Internet is available in all public areas of the terminal. Fax/photocopying is available at the information desk in the Arrivals hall. Various restaurants, cafés, snack bars, fast-food outlets and bars are located throughout the airport. Duty-free shopping is available in the International Departures hall; various other shops are located throughout the airport. Because Norway is not part of the European Union duty-free is huge. There is a left-luggage and lost property office, located opposite the railway station and a porter service is available. There is a travel agency in the Departures hall (before security). The airport is located just off European route E6 and there are rental car facilities which we found very efficient when we returned our car here. Close
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 18 Sep, 2007
I spent a month in Norway and two weeks in its beautiful and friendly capital of Oslo. I spent a lot of time walking around the city sightseeing and meeting people along the way. One of my favorite walking routes in Oslo was from my…Read More
I spent a month in Norway and two weeks in its beautiful and friendly capital of Oslo. I spent a lot of time walking around the city sightseeing and meeting people along the way. One of my favorite walking routes in Oslo was from my friend's apartment in the Bislet burrough, down the road and into Palace Park where I would walk around and enjoy the fresh air. It was here that I met a young man named Ule Andreas, who would exercise his two dogs in the park every day. We met twice in the park and had a nice discussion about our lives in Norway and America.
After catching my breath in Palace Park, I would arrive at The Royal Palace (Slottet), and if I was lucky to make it to the Slottet by 1:30, I could catch the Changing of the Guard that occurs at the palace every day like clock work. I would wait with the gathering crowds for the ceremony to begin or stop my walk to catch the remainder of the ceremony if I was late for the ceremony. The soldiers assigned to guard the Palace are very formal and like Buckingham Palace's Beefeaters, they don't move from their stations no matter how noisy and crazy you act in front of them.
The history of the Slottet is not that old. The Slottet was built in the first half of the 19th Century when Norway was under Swedish control, and Oslo was then called Christiana. Construction began in 1825 by the architect who designed the place was named Hans Ditlev Franciscus Linstow (1787-1851) and his crew. It was to be the residence of the Swedish King, Karl Johan (Norwegian: Charles III or in Sweden: Charles XIV) whenever they were in Christiana. Sweden was ruled by the Bernadotte family in the early 19th Century, and this line still rules Sweden today.
Charles III never saw the Slottet completed, but his heirs Oscar II and Charles IV used the Slottet as their residence after its completion in 1849. The Swedish Royal Family stayed at the Slottet whenever they were in town, but Oscar also spent a lot of time at his palace at Bygdoy (big-day), and his wife Queen Sophia, who was ill most of the time, spent most of her time in Norway in Skinnarbol near the Swedish border.
In 1905, Norway wanted independence from Sweden, and Oscar II was nowhere to be seen during the dismemberment of the Norwegian/Swedish union, but his son Prince Gustav, tried to save the union and visited Norway often. The attempts to save the union were unsuccessful, and later in the year, Sweden resigned from the Norwegian throne and Norway came under the control of Danish prince Carl, who became Haakon VII, and one of Norway's beloved kings. Haakon VII took control of Norway as an independent country, and he was the first to use the Slottet as his permanent residence.
During King Olav V's reign (1957-1991), the Slottet fell into some disrepair due to neglect and lack of upkeep. Renovations of the Slottet began after Olav's death in 1991 and his son Harald V became king. It cost a lot of money and many years to complete, but the renovations were worth it, and the Slottet is open for visitors.
I didn't make it inside the Slottet in 1995 due to the renovations, but the outside with its pale yellow and white colors and view of Oslo from its hilltop home is spectacular. There is a statue of Karl Johan overlooking Oslo's main drag, the Karl Johan Gate that is popular for photos.
Today, the Slottet is used mostly for ceremonial purposes since the current Royal Family lives in another palace outside of Oslo. On 17 May, Norway celebrates Norwegian National Day, which celebrates Norway's independence from Sweden in 1905. The Royal Family watches a huge parade on Karl Johan Gate with the Norwegian population, and the streets are festooned with flags and streamers in the colors of the Norwegian flag, a blue and white cross on a red background.
It is free to tour the Slottet grou
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 17 Sep, 2007
My second day in Oslo, I wanted to go out and see Oslo and all of its glory. After breakfast in the Haraldsheim Hostel dining room, I returned to my room to get my things, and as I was getting ready to catch the bus…Read More
My second day in Oslo, I wanted to go out and see Oslo and all of its glory. After breakfast in the Haraldsheim Hostel dining room, I returned to my room to get my things, and as I was getting ready to catch the bus at the bottom of the hill to downtown Oslo, I met two Australian guys, Tommi and Denham, who were heading in the same direction. We hit it off immediately after introducing ourselves and decided to hang out together for a day of sightseeing in Oslo.
Our first destination once arriving in Oslo was to the information center near the Akerbrygge, Oslo's fashionable district near the Oslofjord. At the information center, we saw brochures for the Akershus Slott (Fortress), and we decided that was going to be our next destination.
It was starting to get hot on the walk over to Akershus, but Denham, Tommi, and I were talking the whole way about our homes and ignoring the fact that we were turning into human lobsters. It was a short walk to Akershus, and we paid our admission fee (30 NOK for adults, 10 NOK for Children, and a student discount for anyone with Student ID) with yours truly getting a student discount with my University of Idaho Student ID.
Akershus Slott was the fortress and former royal residence of Norwegian royalty for many centuries. It protected the royal family and residents of Oslo from enemy attacks and never had been successfully captured by a foreign enemy.
Construction of Akershus began in the 1290s by King Haakon V (hoe-kon), and it replaced Tonsberg and other fortresses and castles in the area as the primary fortress and castle in Norway. The first test of Akershus as a fortress came in 1308 when the Swedish army under Duke Erik of Sodermanland attacked it. Sweden wanted a big seaport that could house the large Swedish Navy at the time. Whoever ruled Akershus, ruled Norway, and after this victory, Erik won the throne of Sweden.In 1940, Akershus was surrendered to the Nazi occupation without a fight. The castle was used as a prison by the Nazis, and several Norwegian resistance fighters were executed behind its walls. After the war, war crime trials were held in Norway, and eight Norwegian traitors, including Vidkun Quisling, were tried, found guilty, and executed at Akershus Slott.Today, Akershus is still a military area, but it is open to the public for tours until 9pm. The Resistance Museum (see my other entry on Oslo) and the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum are located at Akershus, and the Norwegian Defense Ministry is stationed here. Akershus is also used for formal ceremonies and other official functions by the Royal Family and Norwegian Government, and it is the final burial place for most of Norwegian royalty including the beloved Olav V and King Haakon VII and several Norwegian queens. I loved Akershus Castle for its rustic interior and exterior. It wasn't as ostentatious as Versailles or other French chateaux, and unlike Versailles, photos are allowed to be taken in Akershus. There are guided tours of Akershus Slott daily, but my Aussie friends and I chose to tour the fortress on our own. Later on in my trip, I returned to Akershus to see the Resistance Museum and toured the Fortress Grounds. There is a statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is considered a hero to the Norwegian people for his stand against the Nazi tyranny during World War II.A tour of Akershus Slott takes about 1-2 hours and is very much worth your time when you visit Olso.
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 16 Sep, 2007
Vigeland Sculpture Park was one of my favorite places when I visited Oslo, Norway in the Summer of 1995. With its free admission and 212 realistic and fascinating statues by Norway's favorite son and sculptor, Gustav Vigeland, I visited here at least three or four…Read More
Vigeland Sculpture Park was one of my favorite places when I visited Oslo, Norway in the Summer of 1995. With its free admission and 212 realistic and fascinating statues by Norway's favorite son and sculptor, Gustav Vigeland, I visited here at least three or four times during my two weeks in Norway's capital city.
For one to understand Vigeland's work, one needs to learn about the man. Gustav Vigeland was born in 1869 in Mandal, Norway, a small coastal town in the south of the country. Both of his parents and several family members were craftsmen or handymen. When Gustav was young, he was sent to Oslo for his formal schooling and to learn how to carve wood from one of the best wood carvers in Norway. However, Gustav's education was cut short when his father died, and he had to return to Mandal to help the family out.
In 1888, Vigeland returned to Oslo determined to make sculpting his livelihood. From 1891-1896, Vigeland studied sculpting in France, Denmark, Germany, and Italy. It was in France that Vigeland studied under the great French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. In 1894 and 1896, Vigeland had his first sculpture shows in his homeland that got a lot of praise from the Norwegian people and critics.
Vigeland did a lot of his work in a studio in Oslo. Several of his works garnered praise but some of them caused some controversy. A fountain that Vigeland had planned to put in Oslo was postponed because of its size and looks. In 1919, Vigeland completed his most famous sculpture "The Monolith (Monolitten), which was actually 121 smaller sculptures put together by Vigeland to look like they were clamoring to the top of the sculpture. At first it was a controversial piece, but as years went by, it became one of the most beloved and famous sculptures in Norway.
In 1921, the Norwegian government wanted to destroy Vigeland's studio in order to build a library there. Vigeland wasn't a happy camper about this destruction of his home and studio, but the Norwegians compensated Vigeland nicely by giving him a new home/studio in the Kirkeveien burrough of Oslo, which is near the Frognerparken, the location of Vigeland Sculpture Park today. Vigeland moved into the new studio in 1924 and continued to work there until his death in 1943.
Today, Vigeland's home/studio is the Vigeland Museum, and his ashes are interred there. I didn't make it to Vigeland's home, which was a 19th Century home that was formerly owned by the Anker and Wegner families before the City of Oslo bought it in the early 20th Century.
To really appreciate Vigeland's work, visit Vigeland Sculpture Park. Located in one of Oslo's biggest parks, The Frognerparken, you can see all of Vigeland's work in its realistic glory. Among the 212 sculptures, my favorite pieces were the "Crying Baby Statue", The Baby on his Back Statue, The Monolith, and the "Sonia Henie Statue." I saw that one on a rainy day with a friend as we were heading to a bar to avoid the rainy day blahs, and the statue is so realistic, you would think that Sonia Henie, the three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and actress, would have jumped off the pedestal the statue is on and started skating for you!
Vigeland Sculpture Park is free to see, and it is open from dawn to dusk daily. It is well worth seeing it more than once if you have time in Oslo.
Written by Owen Lipsett on 28 Jan, 2005
Oslo is a wonderful city... and a very expensive city. If you can’t afford the Oslo Pass, which entitles you to free entry to all museums, free public transportation, and free parking, don’t worry. You can visit all of the following attractions free…Read More
Oslo is a wonderful city... and a very expensive city. If you can’t afford the Oslo Pass, which entitles you to free entry to all museums, free public transportation, and free parking, don’t worry. You can visit all of the following attractions free of charge, and they’re all within walking distance of Central Oslo, so you won’t have to pay for transportation, (except, perhaps, to refuel, but be warned--food in Norway is rather expensive as well)...
About half an hour’s walk northwest of central Oslo is Frognerparken, which might be described as the city’s lungs, but for the fact that Oslo is so verdant and spread out that comparing the city to an amphibian that breathes through its entire skin might be rather more apt. Even such animals have gills, however, and Frognerparken serves this purpose for them (it contains numerous ponds and is bisected by a stream), as well as much of Oslo’s human population. What distinguishes it from being a merely pleasant city park, however, is the presence of dozens of bronze figures lining its central walkway, executed by Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943), Norway’s greatest sculptor. These lead to a fountain and an even more impressive granite monolith composed of interlacing human forms.
Royal Palace and Slottsparken
Norway’s citizens voted overwhelmingly for the country to become a monarchy when it achieved independence from Sweden in 1905. As Norway had not been an independent state since 1380, it lacked a royal family, and Prince Carl of Denmark (Norway’s other former ruler) was chosen as king, taking the name Håkon VII. He ruled until 1957 and is beloved by Norwegians for his role heading the country’s government in exile during the Nazi Occupation (1940-1945). His son, Olav V, known as "Folkekongen" ("The People’s King") for his common touch, ruled until 1991. His son Harald V, who shocked the country by marrying a commoner in 1968, is currently the country’s monarch.
Although the relatively modest Royal Palace itself is only open to the public for irregular tours (usually at 2pm in the summer, and there is a charge), you can watch the changing of the guard daily at 1:30pm in front of the palace, which faces down onto the city center. Slottsparken, a green area which surrounds the palace, is open to all, and surprisingly seems to be one of Oslo’s least visited public parks. The area to the rear of the palace, with benches overlooking a pair of ponds, is thus an excellent place to take a solitary respite from this most relaxed of capital cities.
Just down the hill from the Palace, on Karl Johan’s gate, sit the classical buildings of the University of Oslo, Norway’s oldest and most prestigious university. The largest, appropriately named the Aula Maxima, contains a little-visited lecture hall containing a series of murals painted by Edvard Munch between 1911 and 1916. Representing life, education, and the arts and sciences, their bright colors and optimistic themes stand in stark contrast to the morbid master’s more famous small canvases, although they’re rendered with the same broad, expressionist brushstrokes.
Just behind the Aula Maxima, the Nasjonalgalleriet (National Gallery) contains many of Munch’s darkest and most famous works, including "The Scream" and "Madonna" (copies of which were stolen in August 2004 from the Munch Museum). As well as the inevitable collection of 19th-century Norwegian artists, their Danish contemporaries are well-represented. In particular, the works of the neoclassicist Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1783-1853) and the under-appreciated Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) merit particular attention. Unfortunately, the rather confusing floorplan, relative dearth of explanatory materials, and cursory collection of non-Scandinavian paintings (assembled with more emphasis placed on the reputation of the painters than the quality of the individual works) make the museum pale in comparison to its impressive counterpart in Bergen. As it’s stuffy in summer and chilly in winter, there’s no reason to see much more than the highlights.
Situated on Karl Johans gate, at the end of Eidvollsplass, the park which bisects central Oslo, stands the peculiarly shaped yellow-brick Stortinget (Parliament) building. Completed in 1866 to a plan by the architect Victor Langlet, it can be visited on daily English-language-guided tours at 10am and 1pm from July 1 to August 15, and at the same times on Saturdays only during the rest of the year.
Norway’s Parliament has met since 1814, when a group of revolutionaries sought independence from Denmark and promulgated the country’s constitution. Seeking to recall the medieval assemblies that ruled Norway prior to Danish rule, the framers named the body the "Storting" (literally "Great Assembly.") This accounts for its unusual "qualified unicameral" system, where all members are elected simultaneously by popular vote every four years, but a quarter of these members are then elected by their colleagues to form a Lagting (Upper House), while the remainder compose the Odelsting (Lower House). Legislation originates in the Odelsting, while the Lagting only has the power to amend legislation.
Although Norway fell almost immediately under Swedish rule, the new overlords allowed the consitution to remain, meaning that it is the world’s second-oldest constitution still in force, after its American counterpart. Unfortunately, it too reflected the prejudices of its times, as Article 2, included at the behest of the clergyman Nicolai Wergeland, banned Jews from the country. Ironically, it was through the efforts of his son Henrik Wergeland, Norway’s national poet, that this restriction was removed in 1851. It was subsequently reinstated under Nazi occupation by Vidkun Quisling, the collaborationist whose name has since become a synonym for treason.
Quisling’s Nazi masters used Akershus Festning, the medieval fortress overlooking Oslo’s harbor, as a prison and execution ground. Today, however, its grounds are given over to a large park, whose walls afford a host of attractive views over the city and Oslofjord. While there’s a charge for entering the Norges Hjemmefront Museum (Norwegian Resistance Museum) and Akershus Slott (the fortress’ castle in which Norway’s kings are buried), you can get a reasonable summary of the fortress’ history at the information center. Whatever you choose to do, the fortress contains a wealth of old buildings that reward idle strolls and lawns that positively invite sunbathing during the brief, but beautiful, Norwegian summer.
Written by AnaMH on 19 Nov, 2000
Vigeland Park has an interesting history. In 1901 Gustav Vigeland made a fountain for Oslo, which was so popular with the town that it was purchased in 1904. They just had one problem…they couldn’t decide where to display it. It was put into storage until…Read More
Vigeland Park has an interesting history. In 1901 Gustav Vigeland made a fountain for Oslo, which was so popular with the town that it was purchased in 1904. They just had one problem…they couldn’t decide where to display it. It was put into storage until 1921, when the city made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. They would give him a home and studio for life if everything he produced was for the city.
In the park, Vigeland used 3 different materials. All the gates are made of wrought iron, the figures in the central area are bronze, and those in the far end are carved from granite. Highlight of the park is the Monolith, a 52 feet sculptured granite pillar, which is all one piece of granite. The park’s sculptures represent Man’s progress from the cradle to the grave. It is a work of Stone and Bronze art from the beginning to the end of the park.
First you encounter the bridge that has works of art from birth to death. You then arrive at the gardens and the fountains. The fountains are trees of life and are quite spectacular. Next up will be the Monolith, with it carvings of human limbs and finally you come to the Ring of Life at the end of the park.
Written by BRAMCOTE on 31 May, 2005
Due to bad weather conditions and the ship not being allowed to dock at Helsinki, we arrived in St. Petersburg a day early. As our visas were for the following 2 days, we were not allowed to leave the ship other than to walk down…Read More
Due to bad weather conditions and the ship not being allowed to dock at Helsinki, we arrived in St. Petersburg a day early. As our visas were for the following 2 days, we were not allowed to leave the ship other than to walk down the gangway.
However, the good news was that Royal Caribbean arranged extra entertainment for the evening. A wonderful group of singers and dancers performed in the atrium. The only sad thing was that the area was really too small for everyone to crowd into. We were fortunate in being able to record the show to watch again on our return home. The various costumes were beautiful, and they performed with such expression that it was a delight to see.
The following morning, it was a relief to see fine weather following torrential rain in Stockholm, storms through the night as we sailed from there, and the announcement from the captain saying, "Helsinki is cancelled," the following day, having gotten up early in order to get a full day off the ship.
As we went out onto our balcony, we were greeted by a Russian band on the Quayside. We had booked a half-day city tour, but arranged to be left in the city to "do our own thing" in the afternoon. The tour ended at a souvenir shop where we were able to buy local items at very reasonable prices, which saved having to barter with the stall holders at the markets.
Having the afternoon at leisure meant we could soak in the beautiful architecture and set the camera in motion. The Church of the Spilled Blood was probably one of the most magnificent sights in the city. It would have been nice to have longer to explore, but maybe that is the downside of cruising. There has to be positives and negatives with any type of travel.
The following day, we took a tour to Peterhoff Palace. As we arrived and stood in the queue, musicians in period costume played outside the door, giving visitors the opportunity of being photographed with them for a donation.
As we entered the palace, everyone had to wear what could only be described as sackcloth slippers, which were a sole of sackcloth held on your feet with elastic bands. Health and safety regulations were certainly not adhered to, but it was certainly worth suffering sliding along the floors in the slippers to have the privilege of seeing such beautiful furniture, portraits, china, glass, displays of dolls, etc., etc. Unfortunately, we had a guide who rushed through the whole process with a loud, monotonous voice, so we stayed a few steps behind and soaked in the atmosphere at a steadier pace.
Outside the palace were the fountains, and, once again, the camera became very busy. It was so beautiful, we really did not want to leave as soon as we had to.
Back at the ship, there was further Russian entertainment - Royal Caribbean should be congratulated at offering such high-class performers.
We sailed that evening with so many memories and hope to return to explore further.
Written by Mr. Wonka on 18 Jan, 2004
Better start applying now for those low-interest credit cards if you’re planning on shopping in Oslo. Nothing is cheap in this city, and consumer goods are no different. Clothes, music, and electronics all sport heftier price tags than you’ll find in the States and most…Read More
Better start applying now for those low-interest credit cards if you’re planning on shopping in Oslo. Nothing is cheap in this city, and consumer goods are no different. Clothes, music, and electronics all sport heftier price tags than you’ll find in the States and most of Europe. However, to speak to the many high-paid celebrities that religiously read my journals, if cash money isn’t a concern, you’ll have no shortage of boutiques and department stores at which to flaunt your unbreakable bank account like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Hum-Vee dealership.
You’ll undoubtedly find yourself on Karl Johan’s Gate within the first day or two of your visit to Oslo. This is the main shopping drag that runs right from the main train station up to the Parliament building. There aren’t as many touristy shops here as I thought there would be, but of course there are a few hawking mediocre T-shirts, Norwegian flags, etc. Go ahead and skip these shops–even for souvenirs, they were all pretty disappointing.
Look for camera stores, hair salons, and a slew of standard retailers like The Body Shop and H&M, plus Norwegian-centric shops like KaapAhl, Cubus (women’s fashion), and Bombay Brasserie. There’s also two Carlings department outlets and Kondomeriet, one of the few sex shops I saw. Keep in mind that since this is such a popular tourist strip, prices will be even higher than elsewhere in Oslo.
You’ll probably need to eat or drink something after it sets in that you just spent your next two months' rent in 30 minutes. There are plenty of restaurants like Flamenco Pizza and Jaf’s, as well as numerous English pubs. If you somehow miss the four 7-11's located within a few blocks of each other, you should probably get your eyes checked. The odd thing is that all these 7-11's are missing the one thing they’re good for back here in the States: the frozen coke machine.
Another popular and slightly more varied shopping area is Grunerlokka in northern Oslo. The bars and cafes around here attract the hipper Osloians, and the skate shops, vintage boutiques, and head shops stand in stark contrast to the watered-down wares sold on Karl Johan. This is also the area to go if you’re looking for a tattoo, but again, getting some ink work done is pricey. Scorpius, on the corner of Toftes and Schleppegrells gate, specializes in, well, hippie wear and accessories. Over on Thorvald Meyers gate you’ll find Los Lobos, which stocks an interesting selection of vintage clothes, CDs, rare vinyl, and other odds and ends. On the same street is also a book/comic shop and a small Salvation Army that sells mostly women’s clothes.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of Oslo shopping, just two of the more popular areas to do it in. The opportunity is there to go buck wild with the new plastic in your wallet, but I urge you, exhibit a little self-restraint on your visit to Oslo. The fashion isn’t so hot here that you have to take advantage of it, and vintage shops with similar wares can be found in any major city across the globe.