Must Do in Oslo
- Frogner Park
- Viking Ship Museum
- Oslofjord Island hopping
Onward to continue our Scandinavian adventures!
Having already spent a week in Copenhagen and attended the best beer festival of my life, I was riding quite the high when it came time to head north to Norway. There are many options for making the ~380 mile trip from Copenhagen to Oslo: drive a car, take a bus, fly, take a train, or take a boat. In keeping with our aquatic adventures, Danielle and I took an overnight cruise, and I am very glad that we did so.
On Sunday afternoon we boarded the reasonably sized DFDS cruise ship with ease and set off around 4:30 PM local time. This ship was no Carnival monstrosity, considering it held what I estimate to be ~500 passengers, but it was no lake floating pontoon boat either. We immediately took note of our room which had enough space for the two of us and afforded us a nice ocean view. As the ship undocked, we made our way to the main deck to enjoy the sight of leaving Copenhagen along with some adult beverages. Viewing the city from ~60 feet up in the air while slowly moving was a cool sight. Apparently the only photo I kept was this mediocre selfie.
We mosied about the boat trying out the various bars available to us and eventually found a reasonably priced happy hour where I drank some mint juleps. Dinner reservations had been made at SJØ, an upscale Scandinavian restaurant. The 4 course meal was surprisingly excellent and wound up being one of our best meals of the trip. The restaurant features fresh seafood and various dishes cooked with a Scandinavian flare. While I don’t remember everything we had, there were some awesome scallops, roe, and also sweetbreads which were delectable despite their unappetizing description. We matched our food with well-made cocktails and nicely paired wine. The restaurant elevated the entire cruise experience to a very memorable level and assured us that we had definitely chosen the best mode of transportation to Norway. After dinner, we had some more drinks in our room before hitting the “club” onboard the ship. Some singing and some dancing and a Blue Chimpanzee with lots of strangers was very fun. Overall a top notch experience that set me up nicely for sleepy time.
In the morning we awoke to views of the fjords as we neared Oslo. After a breakfast buffet, we chaotically disembarked and walked to our Airbnb. After settling in, we wandered about the city with no solid plans for our Monday. We checked out the historical houses of Oslo just a short walk away from our place, and we admired the quaint community garden where locals would gather. In search of lunch, we were not having luck as many places were closed. We eventually settled on a quesadilla bar which was pretty decent. I drank a Brooklyn East IPA to complete the full circle of American beer and Mexican food in Norway. With subsistence in us, we made the walking trek west and stopped by the stylishly designed bar The Broker, known for its ornate ceiling. I had my first Norwegian beer in Norway, Tjommi Pale Ale. From the bar we walked to Frogner Park, home to the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist. 212 bronze and granite sculptures are located throughout the park, most of them depicting humans in typical activities such as running, dancing, wrestling, etc. The park is considered the most popular tourist attraction in Norway, and its centerpiece is a 46 foot tall monolith consisting of 121 human figures stretching towards the sky. It was an impressive sight and made for a great photo taking opportunity.
We met up with Danielle’s cousin next at Kulturhuset, a trendy bar with a nice beer selection. Sandstorm from BRUS was my first selection, and it nicely tickled my hazeboi itch. I perused their impressive bottle selection and unsurprisingly decided to go with an Omnipollo Original Texas Pecan Ice Cream stout. Deliciously and not overly sweet, it drank very easily and smoothly for 10%, probably owing a bit to its lactose and vanilla. This Texan felt right at home drinking a Swedish tribute to our culture.
While we wanted traditional Norwegian food for dinner, the lack of open restaurants forced us to an agreeable second option in pizza. I’ll never complain about trying new pizza, and Villa Paradiso had some good pies. Post-dinner we walked around the city some more and finally settled into the patio outside Ingensteds. The weather was lovely, and the atmosphere alongside the river was perfect for relaxing and soaking in the sights. I sipped on an Ink & Dagger from Amundsen Bryggeri while chatting with my drinking mates until late at night. As with all good things, the night was coming to an end, and Danielle and I headed back to our Airbnb to rest up for our next day.
On Tuesday we were determined to get in some Viking history, and that’s exactly what we set out to do. We took a short ferry ride to Bygdøy and admired the upscale homes in the area near the museums. The Viking Ship Museum was our main destination, and it is home to 3 recovered Viking ships, one of which is the best preserved in the world. These ships had served as underground burial tombs after they were put out of active commission, allowing them to survive centuries without completely deteriorating. The museum itself is set up in a church-like structure and wonderfully displays the ships in all their glory. There is a wall projected movie depicting the life of a Viking ship along with a myriad of recovered artifacts. Throughout the museum there are tons of opportunities to read about fascinating Viking history and how that played into the history of Norway. I would recommend the museum as a must-visit for anyone going to Oslo. After our tour, we ate our self-packed sammies outside the museum and then made the short stroll to the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. It didn’t seem that all attractions were being offered that day, so we chose to skip the museum and take a ferry back into the center of the city.
I’ve mentioned my love of water public transit before, and Oslo did it amazingly well. There was a whole circular route stopping by 5 Oslofjord islands. These islands are well preserved and are primarily used as recreation by citizens and some summer cottages for the rich. Danielle and I hopped on a boat towards the first island, Hovedøya. This was the largest and probably busiest of the islands. While exploring the island we stumbled upon both the ruins of a castle and old canons set up to defend the city. Naturally we had brought along some adult beverages, so I took this opportunity to capture some photographic evidence.
Our next island hop was to Gressholmen. We hiked around some more here, and Danielle’s cousin met up with us again. He brought along some Swedish microbrewed goodies from a brewery he had invested in, Train Station Brewery. Their Third RAle Brown Ale was an easy drinking mildly roasty affair, and the Dark Side Imperial Ale turned up the intensity with some strong coffee and malt flavors. Along with the view, it was a pretty ideal situation.
The final island we stopped at was Nakholmen, and we found an amazing lookout spot after walking through the tiny village. We drank a bottle of wine while admiring the beautiful scenery and reflecting on how lovely Scandinavia is when the weather is behaving. After hanging out for a while, we headed back to the mainland and checked out another BRUS offshoot of To Øl. I drank a NEed Wheat, an interesting hybrid take on a hazy wheat beer.
By the time we did some more walking around, it had suddenly become after 10 PM even though there was still plenty of sunlight. We had planned on getting some Norwegian food, but our procrastination got the best of us, leaving us with few late night options. Fortunately the cousin knew a good Indian spot offering takeout, so we got our food and ate on benches by the river which turned into a surprisingly charming occasion.To put a relaxing end to the night, we headed up to his top floor condo for more conversing and a light perusal of his whiskey collection. Danielle and I had an early morning train to catch, so we retired to our place relatively early.
Our time in Oslo had come to an end. It was not very long, but we made the most of it while reconnecting with a cousin Danielle had not seen in ~20 years. We had a very relaxing stay and were able to see a good part of the city including several cultural highlights. While it was probably a low point of my Scandinavian beering, it was a definite win for water public transit induced fun. Come back soon when I get around to writing about our time spent in Sweden!