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davidx Oslo - A travel report by David
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Oslo,  Norway - flag Norway -  Oslo
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davidx's travel reports

Absurdly underrated Oslo

  20 votes
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So, I only went because it was part of a package but at least I know a fine city when I see one. Much conventional wisdom on Oslo plays it down as a sort of ‘cheat’ capital. To my mind it can compete on equal terms with Stockholm or Helsinki.

Woodstore, Folk Museum
Woodstore, Folk Museum
First and foremost, I am not an addict for city cards but an Oslo card is excellent value, because here the museums are so good that you will probably go into enough to save with the card, even excluding the free travel. Next, be prepared to use all forms of transport for views. The short [50 minute] boat trip from the quay near the Town Hall is great, the tram out to the old Marine School gives fabulous views of the Fjord and its islands in an evening and the Tunnelbahn only goes underground for a short distance in the centre. Lines 1 and 3 take you to places with great views and super walks.

Bygdøy Peninsula can be reached by bus but it’s more fun to take the ferry from near the Town Hall. Here there is a surfeit of fine museums, to the extent that one visit is not really adequate. The outdoor folk museum loses nothing, to my mind, from not being combined with a zoo like Stockholm’s Skansen. It sounds odd when there is a wonderful stave church and buildings from all parts of Norway but my favourite is a WOODSTORE! Look at the photo and you may see why. Three other great museums on the peninsula are the Viking Ships [three burial ships reclaimed from the mud and partially reconstructed], the Kontiki Museum [which has both the Kontiki and the Ra II – and if you don’t know the Kontiki’s story, get cracking now with your favourite search engine, and the Fram Museum where you can see the ice-breaker used by both Nansen and Amundsen in their explorations.
For art a number of places shout for a visit. I can’t call the Munsch Museum enjoyable – what an insult to Munsch that would be – but its beautifully arranged and informative. The National Gallery has some French Impressionist paintings that I meant to see. I looked in for a glance at some of the Norwegian paintings of the same period and left after two hours. Perhaps I’ll get to see those French paintings some time. The Town Hall and the Vigeland Park will come in other sections.

Favourite spots:
Mural, Town Hall
Mural, Town Hall
Reaction to the Vigeland Park must be a personal thing because I know otherwise sane people who hate it. I may be regarded as a cultural cretin for it but I think it’s really outstanding. The park was largely designed by Vigeland, himself and it contains 192 sculptures with over 600 figures in full size, all done unaided by the one man. So much for quantity – for quality decide for yourself on

The Town Hall only dates from the 20th century but the murals in the great hall are phenomenal. You may like to look at
The area all round is great in fine weather and, if it’s wet, you can slip into the shopping centre of Aker Brygge – though cheapness could hardly be claimed as one of Oslo’s virtues.

What's really great:
Prow of one ship, Viking Ships Museum
Prow of one ship, Viking Ships Museum
I have never been a skier but the Ski Museum in Oslo and the Ski Jump simulator do have a considerable appeal. I admit that I was almost as taken with the Tunnelbahn Line 1 out to its terminus in that area and the walks all around. In places here you can convince yourself that you are deep in the country.

Details of sculptures on steps to Monolith
Details of sculptures on steps to Monolith
The 50 minute boat trip from the quay near the Town Hall provides some excellent views, including a retrospective of the front, Bygdøy, the nearer islands, the royal yacht and the oldest lighthouse in Norway. Unless you have time to stop on one of the islands, there is little merit in taking the ferries out to them as this trip is as good and has a commentary.

It’s interesting to see how little the royal palace is segregated from the community.
If you want to see somewhere that’s open before the trains to Trondheim or Bergen, how about the Botanical Gardens? [near the Munsch Museum] The only snag is that the names on the flowers are Norwegian only and the Botanical Museum, which sells an English guidebook is not open until later – but it’s still a real pleasure.

The Monolith
The Monolith
I’m probably out of date on this so I will restrict myself to some general comments.
1] By and large hotel accommodation isn’t cheap here.
2] Unlike many cities in Europe, Scandinavia is far cheaper for accommodation in the summer. If you are planning a trip around in Norway, you would find considerable gain in using the weekends for the big cities – other places are also cheaper at weekends but the savings tend to be less.
3] You may gain by looking up what can be done on an Oslo Package – when accommodation and an Oslo card are covered together.

The Kontiki
The Kontiki
The Vegeta Vertshus at Universitetsgaten 11, near the Memorial Theatre which is one of the hubs of Oslo’s transport system, is good if you want a very pleasing [if somewhat unexciting] and substantial meal. You can get an ‘eat-as-much-as-you-want’ meal for what constitutes a really low price in Oslo. Personally I prefer their raw vegetables to the cooked ones but you can make up your own mind with that sort of meal. It is as vegetarian as it sounds.

Other recommendations:
Stave Church, Folk Museum
Stave Church, Folk Museum
I’m afraid I have yet to see the Resistance Museum in Akershus Castle. I have had excellent reports of it.

Published on Tuesday January 4th, 2005

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Thu, Mar 23 2006 - 06:06 PM rating by ragnvaeig

I'll use some of your recommendations when I'm in Oslo on business next week.

Thu, Oct 27 2005 - 12:51 PM rating by isaacmolina

all are good reports yours

Wed, Jan 05 2005 - 04:55 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii david ,
glad to read your report.

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