Our last few days in Norway were spent in Oslo. We spent one night at an Airbnb close to the airport, then said goodbye to our rental car and hauled all our luggage into the city on the train.
Our next Airbnb was a little bit different to our previous rustic and Hytte choices, but this was exactly the kind of Scandinavian cool I wanted to come home after a day in the big city. I mean, who doesn’t want to be greeted by a sassy Barbie when they walk in the door?
Well hi to you, too!
The whole place was colorful, cool, and fun of fun touches. We sadly didn’t meet our hosts as they were on vacation (and spend most of the summer on their boat on the Oslo Fjord anyway, which sounds like a fairly decent life), but they left a binder full of recommendations for the neighborhood, as well as the very-cool nearby area of Grünerløkka and the rest of Oslo.
I was very into my morning coffees on the balcony, and especially out of this mug. Granted it’s probably more applicable on the average workday than mid-vacation, but when in Rome (Oslo). 🙂
I didn’t have a huge to-do list for our time in the city, but the most important thing came first. I had been carrying around a fairly large box in my suitcase for our entire trip, as I had very unwisely tried to send my friend ECS (of the gorgeous Fjord wedding) a package riiiiiight when they moved house. At least it had come back to me*, and we’d have the chance to hand-deliver it to their snazzy new apartment.
They were heading out of town to the family Hytte the next day, but after a coffee and a tour of the new place, we strapped the baby into the stroller and she walked us all through the city center and harbor area. Neither BV nor I took a ton of pictures, considering we were busy chatting, and still had a few days when presumably we’d see the palace again (we didn’t), but oh well. If you want to know where the Norwegian Royal Family lives, Google away!
So what did we see?
A very moody-looking harbor
A fairly colorful food truck set-up next to the moody harbor.
A sauna boat.
A highly-questionable statue (note the reflection if you’re confused).
A dramatic square.
More colorful buildings… a favorite anywhere.
After the baby reached his wind tolerance, we parted ways, and BV and I headed back towards our apartment. E had recommended a few places in our area as well, and since we had worked up a thirst in all that fresh air, we swung by a microbrewery for a drink (or two).
I wish I could tell you exactly what we had, but a year later, I’m afraid I’m out. I can tell you that the bartender at Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggerei was knowledgeable and helpful, and that the patrons at the bar were eager to quiz a real-live German on what German beers he’s had, so that’s something, right? It was a nice place to rest our feet and enjoy some local beverages… so if you go, take better notes than I did. Which were zero notes. It’s a low bar.
Our second day was mostly museum-focused as we had bought an Oslo Pass, and I’ll have a post about that coming shortly, but we did do a bit of wandering around our neighborhood as well.
I particularly enjoyed this store nearby our tram stop. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve stopped to buy flowers and lamented the lack of jeans available!
After we filled ourselves up on culture and history, we decided to take our host’s advice and visit Lille Herbern. In the information that they left us, they described it as “one of the true pearls of Oslo,” and I really couldn’t agree more.
For starters, this is how you get there…
After we left the Viking Ship Museum (which itself is a bit out from the city center on the Bygdøy peninsula), we walked a few minutes in search of this pier. Shortly thereafter, a small boat appeared and for a few krone we hopped on board for a 1-minute ride to another island. The boat shuttles back and forth all day, and he deposited us on the other side just as enormous rain drops started to plop down on our heads.
We sprinted to the buildings in front of us and found more boat shelters, and, a bit wetter than we planned, the restaurant.
The Lille Herbern restaurant from the other side of the storm.
We only planned on a drink because we were saving our meal out in Oslo for our last night, but I regretted that a bit because everything smelled (and looked) pretty great. We enjoyed our drinks on the patio, safely undercover from the weather blowing in and out, and watched all the boat traffic.
It was late afternoon when we arrived and it filled up quickly. Next time, I shall be eating. But eventually we ceded our table and stretched our legs for a few photos before taking the boat back to Bygdøy.
BV getting those water and rainbow shots.
Old boats, new boats, all the boats!
We did very nearly lose our heads to some seagulls while walking around because we were so fascinated watching a guy prep his boat that we didn’t notice how close we were to nests and baby birds. We avoided incident, but if you go, watch out for the little guys! And eat dinner and let me know if it tastes as good as it smelled!
Back on the peninsula it was back on another boat that runs between the harbor and the Bygdøy museums. The weather continued to blow around dramatically and the Oslo harbor architecture is really built for that contrast. It was dripping and blowing like crazy so we don’t have too many pictures, but believe me, a stormy day is not always a bad thing.
En route back to our apartment we decided we were hungrier than we thought (darn you deceivingly long Nordic summer days), and stopped off at a brew pub that we had noticed this morning. As it turned out, after we ordered drinks we learned that their chef was sick, so it was just another drink this time. Oh well, it was another cool pub with a snazzy-industrial interior and all kinds of interesting things on tap.
And now that I’m googling this again, it seems the food reviews aren’t great anyway. So I guess it’s good that we just picked up pizza on the way home?
For our last morning, we decided to again take our host’s advice and walk down the river all the way to the city center. Piles of cool cafes with great coffee, parks, and literal waterfalls made this so different to any other city walk I had ever taken before.
I really cannot emphasize enough that THIS IS IN THE MIDDLE OF A CITY. It’s wild.
We also managed to find the most insane antiques store on the way. All the bars, restaurants, and shops that we’d seen thus far were chock-full of very cool old furniture and I guess this is where they all shop?
Please especially don’t overlook the giant moose head in this last picture. Slightly blurry as I was trying poorly to be sneaky.
I also wanted to stop by the Mathallen, as I love a good market. We got there at about 12:30 though, and it seemed most of the stands were already closed. The larger ones and restaurants that were serving lunch were still open, but since we mostly wanted to browse and not sit, it was kind of a wash. That’s what I get for sleeping in. Next time!
At least the area was interesting. Please note the motivational message on that back building.
When we reached the city center we did a bit more museum-visiting (again, more later), but then indulged in our vacation tradition of waiting until the last possible day to purchase, write, and mail (what feels like) 75 postcards. We popped into a souvenir store for the cards in question, then chose a fancy cafe with good foot traffic and healthy pours of wine to fill them out.
Get fancy in the city center on your last day!
Outside the train station.
Cards written, we headed for a busy square full of restaurants in Grünerløkka for dinner. The meal itself was fairly unremarkable but we enjoyed people-watching and meandering home through the still-bright evening. Luckily that great light meant that I didn’t miss this festively colorful bike display.
As I said, I had no major agenda for this city trip. That’s really not how I travel, but also it’s not like Paris or Rome with checklists of sights to see and must-dos. We managed to completely miss the famous sculpture parks, and didn’t even go into the new opera house to use the fancy restrooms (yes, that was really a recommendation that I got).
I’d love to have a little more time to get lost in another neighborhood or two, or to take the T-Bane out of town to where my friend likes to cross-country ski around the city when there’s fresh snow. I hear there’s a glorious lodge in the forest with a giant fireplace that’s heaven in winter, and being able to reach that kind of place from the capital city has to be such a treat. But since I’m also not the kind of traveler that says, “welp, I’ve already been there, no need to go there again,” I would hope that I can make those things happen sometime. Soon.
*For once. I have terrible luck with sending mail.