Saturday, 12 November 2016

OSLO | NORWAY

So last week my boyzie, Ben, and I went to Oslo, Norway for four days. Like with most of my travel posts, this is picture heavy hence why I am writing up here! I personally love looking through these sorts of travel posts, on both my own and other blogs. It means you to see a lot of a place and imagine in a few years looking back on all these posts too - so many memories in one place! I have travelled so much this year but I was particularly excited for this trip due to the fact my Mum's side of the family is Norwegian and I really wanted to get closer to the country of my Viking ancestors. 

Where we stayed:
We stayed in Anker hostel, which is about a ten-minute walk from central station. We got a private room with a little kitchenette and en-suite. If you ever lived in halls at uni; it reminded me a lot of that here. They do have mixed dorms and you could get what we got for much cheaper if you were to share. However, I think I would just find it too weird whilst travelling with a boyfriend if I am honest. 

When we arrived we weren't particularly overwhelmed, but it grew on us. So, we had to pay for our bed sheets (£5.00pp), which we found a bit strange, and you then have to pay for towels too, which is just bizarre but there you go. There are no kitchen utensils but you have to pay a deposit to get a 'kitchen set' or hairdryer for a short period of time. It turned out we didn't need to use the kitchen set in the end and I only needed the hairdryer once so it was absolutely fine. The bathroom was deceivingly unglamorous. The shower looked like it was going to be some piddly little shower but in actual fact, it was powerful and blooming amazing. The tiled floors in the bathroom were also heated, which is an absolute must in such a cold country. 

The hostel has free hot water, the best heater you'll ever have, free luggage storage, and most importantly - free wi-fi. The staff were absolutely adorable, they were all so friendly and kind. We felt so at home in our little hostel and there was nothing better than coming into our heated room after exploring freezing cold Oslo!

What we did:
On our first day, we spent hours walking around Oslo and getting an idea of where everything was. We climbed the Royal Opera house, walked by the river, and had a look at the town hall. We then went for the most epic vegan meal of our entire life (see food post linked below). After our gorgeous meal, we went to the supermarket. I learned that in Oslo (Ben wanted a couple of beers, I didn't) - alcohol is only sold until 8pm and on Saturdays, it is only sold until 6pm. The alcohol is also ridiculously priced there too. I really like that they do this. Alcohol is hardly good for you and should be had as a treat only, so it's great that they care about their citizens enough to make it difficult for them to harm themselves. Go Norway! After our supermarket sweep, we retired back to the hostel and had a cosy evening of reading like the two old fogeys we are.

On our second day, we got up, made sandwiches and headed to central-station to catch the metro to Frognerseteren. Now, you can buy metro tickets for an hour, or twenty-four hours in Norway. We thought a single ticket would take us one way as it would in England, but no sir. So we ended up with a £95.00 train fine, which was not fun. It's sad that they take advantage of two unsuspecting tourists in such a brutal way - it was originally going to be £95.00 each but one of the security officers took us to one side and said only one of us had to pay, which was half decent of him.  

Anyway, despite the journey costing us a total of £108, it was fabulous up there. To be completely honest, I moaned A LOT on our walk. Ben wanted to walk all the way back to Oslo and I had slippery shoes on, it was snowing, neither of us had a map or data and I didn't feel safe with the idea. So I moaned more or less the whole way. So, those photos when I am walking off into the distance aren't fake. I really was walking as quickly as I could in order to stay warm and get somewhere quicker. 

The trees, buildings and winding roads were absolutely beautiful. It was also absolutely silent out there too, which I loved, as I do love a good old bit of peace and quiet. Although I was absolutely freezing, it was relaxing to be there. We eventually made our way to a log cabin restaurant and grabbed a cup of tea by the fire, which was even more relaxing and made me appreciate warmth more than I have ever appreciated it before. 

After our log cabin visit we went down to the Loving hut close to our hostel then went back to the hostel to play cards and drink lots of fruit tea (again; because we're a granny and grandpa). Sometimes, the nicest thing about going away with someone you love is that time spent just you two, in your hotel/hostel room, really bonding and I felt that on this trip. 

On our third day, we went to the beautiful Vigeland sculpture park in the snow. It was absolutely picturesque and I actually saw the prettiest graveyard I have ever seen - we walked around in silence deep in thought asking ourselves existential questions about life and death. 

I've never seen snow so pretty, due to the fact the autumn leaves all fall on top of it and compliment it greatly. I would like to go back to this park in the Summer as my Mum said she used to spend a lot of time there when she was a child during her Summers. 

After our stroll through this huge masterpiece of a park full of smaller masterpieces, we headed out on a walking tour of the city. The lady who did our tour was lovely and she told me everything I wanted to know about Norwegian culture without me even having to ask. She took us from the Tiger in front of central station all the way around to the parliament buildings. The tour was 90 mins long and was one of those 'free tours' that you pay £5.00 for. I would say that these tours are worth doing wherever you go as you get to learn the things that you wouldn't learn about a place from museums and books.

After our walking tour, we were frozen so we headed over to Funky Fresh Foods Cafe for a lovely evening of great food, quality time and picturesque views. Funky Fresh Foods Cafe looks over onto a river and a bridge. At the time it was snowing, so we sat by the window and watched the ducks in the snow all wrapped up in our coats and warm clothes. Aw, this night was seriously one of those perfect couple nights, so glad that happened now I am looking back on it.

On our final day in Oslo, we did too little of something and a lot of nothing. Seriously, we wanted to make the most of our last day but everything was a fail, aha. We went to the Viking ship museum, and whilst the Vikings fascinated me; their boats alone don't. You pay £8.00 to go and look at a room with four boats in. It seriously wasn't worth it in my opinion, but then I like the social aspect of history and seeing how people lived. We then went to the botanical gardens and they were swamped in snow, so we couldn't see anything. So, we went into the inside ones, which were actually wonderful - they were just like the one Jazz and I visited in Sweden. We planned to go to see some lakes or a fort but realised they were too far away. We rounded off our last day with a great meal before we set off to the airport to come back to good old Inglaterra. 

What we ate:
The food was exquisite! Check it all out here, there's lots of photos, reviews and information about the restaurants, dishes, and ingredients we chose and ate. 

A few last thoughts...
I love that Norway seems to be so at one with nature. Everything still works perfectly even when it is snowing, and they seem to have a 'waste not want not' attitude and ensure they make use of nature's resources. For example, they use logs to build with, burn fires and have roofs made out of grass for extra insulation. There were also lots of electric charging ports for cars. From what I gather, they are an eco-friendly nation with a great deal of respect for nature. 

Like with Sweden, the average wage is high in Norway. It is £40.000 before tax and £28.000 after, but still, this is a good basic wage right? You pay for labour there, which is the right thing to do as it's disgusting that we pay so much for things here in England and some staff aren't even making in an hour what a lip balm costs at their workplace (God I thank my lucky stars on a daily basis that I do not work in retail anymore ha-ha).

Their standard of living is prestigious in comparison to most other places in Scandinavia. Someone there told us that all the profits made from the oil produced there are put into a fund for future generations; how amazing is that? They actually care about their citizens leading nice lives!

I probably loved Oslo even more for the fact that Ben and I got to spend just time on our own without any distractions. No work, no friends, no family, just us in a beautiful winter wonderland. I think because Ben and I are both sociable people, we sometimes go far too long without spending time just us two for a few days and it's so nice when we do.

Another great trip. Another great country.

Peace out Potatoes xo

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