Oslo, The Rainy City
I mentioned before in my Bergen post that me, Cody and Erik had a running joke going about how beautiful and sunny Bergen was (it’s funny, because Bergen is actually one of the rainiest cities in the world – just not while we were there!). Oslo on the other hand, is known for being a very sunny city with great weather year round. As luck would have it, when we were there it rained/drizzled almost every day! Thus, we now refer to Bergen as “sunny” whenever we speak of it, and Oslo as “rainy.” Erik was not amused…. 😀
Anyway, Oslo is where Cody and I had a lot of time to ourselves to explore, relax, and see the culture of the country. Erik and Emily run a Chiropractic practice together, and during the day were mostly at work. That left me and Cody time each day to wake up (or sleep in), shower, take the train or tram to the city, and explore a new district each day. I’ll write about some of the highlights that we saw!
Oslo Royal Palace
On our first day we took the train to the Oslo Main Central Station, picked a direction, and started walking. We were hungry, so we stopped in a small cafe called Cafe Cathedral for lunch first. It was there, that I had probably the best vegan burger I’ve ever had in my life! It was a chickpea patty on a pretzel bun with fresh guacamole, pickles, tomatoes, just… oh man I may have to put a recipe up on the blog that recreates it some day. 🙂
I forgot to mention – before departing on this trip I downloaded the free Vegan Norway app on my phone. It’s a lot like Happy Cow, and it lists all of the vegan-friendly restaurants in Norway by city on a map. It came in handy big time! I used it every day while in Bergen and in Oslo to find cool/unique restaurants. I highly recommend it!
On our way to the palace we passed by the parliament building (Stortinget), and a few other government buildings that were intricate and pretty in their architecture.
We passed by a beautiful cathedral too, called the Oslo Cathedral. I couldn’t help myself, I had to peak in and snap a quick photo of the decor inside. The ceiling was a mosaic of small tiles that fanned out in a sun pattern around a chandelier. It was gorgeous!
We passed through a few parks (There are a lot of public parks throughout Oslo, which I thought was very neat) and eventually found our way to the Oslo Royal Palace. The walkway leading up to it is suuuuper long, but once you get to the end you get to see a cool statue and the palace itself! There were even guards posted outside a watch-post which reminded me and Cody of Buckingham Palace.
We decided not to go in (you had to pay for tours), but instead just walked the grounds and saw the outside. It was very pretty. After that, we continued walking in the same direction, winding through streets, side-streets, through busy and quiet districts alike, until we finally made it to our main stop for the day. The Vigeland Statue Park.
Vigeland Statue Park
The Vigeland Statue Park (also called Frogner Park) is a well-known attraction in Oslo. It’s pretty famous, and if you are ever in the city I really do recommend you stop by. It lives up to its infamy!
Ah, but how to describe it. The Vigeland Statue Park is… odd. The statues are very weird, and confusing at times, but I think that’s part of its appeal!
It starts out with a long bridge over water, depicting various people in poses, all naked, wrestling with each other, throwing each other, body-slamming each other, hip-chucking each other, and doing all sorts of strange things!
My favorite was the “man drop-kicking babies” statue.
This one below (called “The Angry Boy”) is the most famous one in the whole park. You can tell by the gold-coloring that many people rub this one for luck.
Eventually we reached a huge fountain, and a long yard filled with pretty gardens, flowers, hedges, and ornate gates.
And after that you’ll eventually reach stairs leading to… the monolith.
Yes, that is a giant tower reaching towards the sky of naked people writhing all over each other…
The whole surrounding area around the tower had tons of statues over a series of concrete stairs. Some of them were scary (like the swarming babies), and others were kind of sweet – like the old couple embracing each other, or the one of the man comforting the woman with a loving gesture.
Like I said, the Vigeland Statue park is odd, but it really is a unique place to see! The park continued even further back, eventually reaching a giant bronze statue of people forming a circle, and some kind of bronze piece inspired by the Zodiac? I’m not sure. Our friend Emily later let me borrow a small pamphlet she bought explaining the man behind the art, and how the park came to be. It has some very interesting history behind it!
Gustav Vigeland, the artist who did every single statue in the park (more than 200 statues total, across 110 acres) was very interested in depicting the relationship between children and the elderly, and children and their fathers. Apparently the depiction of children and their mothers was a very popular theme throughout all of history in the art world, but the depiction of children and their fathers was unheard of at the time, which is what Vigeland mostly focused on (he was making art around the time of 1920’s – 1940’s). This is one of many reasons Gustav Vigeland was thought of as a revolutionary artist of his time.
So while his art of naked people trampling over each other (and body-slamming each other) may seem weird to us now, it was even weirder at the time he was making the sculptures!
Anyway, the moral of this small story is, I highly recommend you don’t pass this place up if you’re ever in Oslo! We really enjoyed our time there.
Ekebergparken Sculpture Park
Let me tell you, Norwegians really love their statues! One of our other main adventures in Oslo was with Erik, Emily and Pondis (their dog) to the Ekebergparken Sculpture Park. But before we begin, here’s an adorable picture of Pondis resting on his favorite coffee table!
The Ekebergparken sculpture park is a mix of wooded trails, and large, lush open grass fields. It has a much more casual feel to it, as opposed to the well-manicured landscaping of the Vigeland Park. It was nice to walk the wooded trails, and throw sticks for Pondis to chase when we came across some of the open fields.
It was a very pretty area, and though it was a bit chilly out, I didn’t mind at all! So far, I was really enjoying the park.
And then, we got to the actual art in the Ekebergparken sculpture park. Oh, where to begin. The statues in this park were… odd, hahaha. Norwegians don’t just love statues, they love weird statues. Some of the highlights from walking around this park include The Tall Lady…
…of which we all agreed was pure nightmare-fuel. She was so creepy! She was about 8 ft tall and from a distance, just looks so unnatural and unnerving as you approach her… I can’t describe it, but we all felt it. This statue might have been possessed!
Another notable “art” piece we saw included the giant 40ft tall…yellow peni..er, male anatomy statue… Also the talking lamp post (Cody’s absolute favorite).
In the photos below, I promise that’s not Cody fondling one of the statues! This was another weird one we came across, where this lady had a bunch of handles sticking out of her, and drawers you could slide out of her face, stomach, chest, etc. It was interesting stuff!
One of my favorites was this one below: the wall of talking scary pictures called “Klang.”
And here’s a video of it in action. Imagine running along these wooded trails at night and coming across this – it’d be scary to be left alone with it!
We also came across a scenic lookout point where the famous “The Scream” art piece was painted at.
Ah, and I can’t forget to mention the “Poop Ladies!” That’s what Erik kept calling them. They were two, er, silvery, blobby looking people suspended in a circle of trees high above the ground. None of us could keep a straight face around them.
This next piece is possibly another tribute to anatomy in some way? We think?
I’m not sure, but above is a photo of what was inside. Next to this art piece outside was a huge cliff that overlooked Oslo. I’m happy that we managed to get a really nice photo of all of us at the top!
So all in all, even though I had a hard time “getting” some of the art pieces, it was still a really fun time here. I’m glad we went! I’ll definitely always remember it. After all, not every piece was strange. Some were really beautiful. I liked this one below a lot, of these two metal pieces that twisted towards the sky and rotated slowly in the wind. It was peaceful to watch.
Homemade Dinner Night
After the park we went to the store and picked up ingredients to make dinner together.
Erik, Emily and I made an AMAZING Indian/Mediterranean themed meal. I made a channa misala dish, they made a second curry dish, and together we made some homemade hummus and toasted some naan bread with garlic and rosemary in the oven.
I love cooking with others, and Emily and I had a great time talking while making dinner together. It was so much fun! And the food, oh man, I swear it was a restaurant-quality meal. It was so good!
Final Days Relaxing & Exploring
In our final days there, Cody and I slept in, relaxed, and simply enjoyed our vacation time. It’s fun to have points-of-interest in mind when you travel, and have a list of things you want to do. But it’s also fun to have no plan sometimes, and simply sit around doing nothing. After all, we were on vacation and wanted to be able to rest and catch our breath too. We didn’t want to be just go-go-go the whole time, and end up exhausted from our trip.
Each day in the morning we’d take Pondis for a walk then set out to the city and explore a different neighborhood. In Grønland we came across one park that had life-size chess pieces. We found a little cafe, got some tea/coffee to go, and rested here while people-watching.
There was a public slack-line set up too, and we each tried our best at it.
As you can see, I was not that good at it! And… here’s Cody walking across graceful as a cat like it’s nothing!
As far as meals go, Oslo had no shortage of amazing vegan good. That same day in Grønland we had some delicious middle eastern food (even though I tried ordering more food than is shown, but the owner talked me out of it saying “no, too much for you” – well it wasn’t, I totally could have eaten more! (I have an insane appetite…)).
We also ate lunch one day at a cute little bike-themed cafe called Peleton. We had, you guessed it, pizza once again! For like the millionth time on this trip. I can’t complain though, it was delicious, and this place actually had vegan cheese as an option!
One of our nights-in with Erik and Emily I remember we ordered Thai food and sushi, which was also amazing. I don’t have a photo of that one, but take my word for it, Oslo had tons of great dining options.
Overall, I loved our time in Norway. It was a perfect balance for me of exploring the city and exploring nature. Cody got to see the World Championship Races he was dying to see, and I got to experience the Fjords, which I was dying to do.
It was also really great to be able to see our friends again, and I am so thankful for everything they did for us to make our stay amazing (including those Chiropractic adjustments – thanks guys!).
The people of Norway were friendly, the food was great, the scenery was beautiful. I can’t recommend my trip enough! If you are ever traveling in Europe and you have the opportunity to visit Norway, you definitely should. It is such a gem, and truly a unique place with a lot to offer.
Closing Thoughts On Oslo
- I’ll say it again, Norwegians love their pizza
- Norwegians also love their statues
- There is a lot of green space in the city. There are many public parks scattered throughout it, which I loved!
- The architecture is similar to other parts of Europe in its old style, but also different. It’s hard to explain
- It’s true what they say about fair-skinned, tall, blond hair, blue-eyed Scandinavians. Beautiful people were everywhere, men and women!
- Norwegians were very stylish overall. The average number of well-dressed people was definitely higher than that in the U.S.
- Some of my must-do things for a return trip are more hiking locations (like Trolltunga, which is in the western part of the country) and visiting The Well (a supposedly amazing spa and public bath house I must try next time!)
- Public transportation is very reliable, and everywhere in Oslo. We had many options everywhere we went to take either the train, tram, or bus system throughout the city
- English was spoken most everywhere we went in public. We never ran into any major language barriers (though we did try our hand at speaking Norwegian when we could. Cody is much, much better at it than me!)
- Oslo was very clean as a city overall, and so was the rest of Norway, from what we saw at least
- Oslo was one of the pricier places I’ve been to in Europe, but I guess that is to be expected. Many things are imported into the country
- The city is on the water, and so it has some amazing views of the ocean. You can even walk along a few beaches