How I Spent 36 Glorious Hours in Oslo, Norway
Welcome back to my blog, Into the Forests I Go, where we're traveling together on my adventures across Lithuania and Europe - and this time, I'm just coming back from Oslo, Norway, my first visit to a Scandinavian country.
Why was I in Norway in the first place? Well, I was in town to see Harry Styles, whose first two records' rock and psychedelic spin had won me over with a vengeance. So, never ones to pass up a good deal, The Scientist and I bought our Oslo Passes and ventured around the city. And you know me - I've got some thoughts.
Something that surprised me? Oslo was really dirty in comparison to the city's image in my mind's eye. I guess I had just assumed that all Scandinavian cities were absolutely pristine - but it wasn't. It was beautiful and lush in some areas (botanical gardens!), with tall and modern lines in others, but still... dirty. So much trash, and not in the way that Vilnius has a grungy, raw energy to it, either. Let's just call it what it was: cognitive dissonance.
On the other hand, Oslo was also far more international than I expected, a welcomed surprise. Once again, I was expected a proliferation of blonde hair, blue, wide eyes, dilated pupils. I did see quite a few, but there were even more international people, restaurants, shops. It was thriving with diversity, although I'm not entirely sure how well the country supports its newcomers. Cue to my preconceived notions being burst open.
Another thing I noticed? Along the lines of the Scandinavian architecture and design boom, I only saw one area of the city that was holding onto its creativity with everything it had. I could tell those artists didn't want to be pushed out for the cool, new Oslo, similar to Austin and so many other places around the world. Vilnius has its own bohemian culture and district that has a love-hate relationship with the masses, Užupis, and similar to the moment I stepped foot in Užupis, I felt right at home in this little corner of Oslo. I kind of wish there was more of it - so on that note, if you know of other artsy places in Oslo, share them with me in case I return to Norway! That's where I want to be.
But I also didn't venture out to Norway to feel "right at home" - I came to experience something new, not necessarily the raw, unadulterated vibes of Vilnius - still a relatively undiscovered gem on the European front. I'd read plenty of blogs about how expensive Scandinavia was, and it made me realize how much that must prevent people from feeling like they can visit. And while it wasn't as affordable as Vilnius, there are ways you can make it work: taking the train into the city instead of the Fly2Get (thanks to my awesome AirBnb host for that tip!); picking up certain items from the grocery store (Freia milk chocolate!); indulging in your priorities. (For me, that was Norwegian waffles and Ethiopian food!) Also, the Fram Museum was one of the best museums I've ever experienced - and that was me walking in with zero expectations.
If I'm lucky enough to visit Norway again, I'd like to see more of the country's natural beauty, although I happily ferried across the waterway in between museums and culture. I just feel like there's so much more to see, so many natural places to explore.
And the good news is that there's still time. That's the beautiful thing about living in Europe: I'm closer to all of these places now. And the freedom of adventure that allows me to have was well worth the huge 3-ring binders, spreadsheets, and moving boxes.
If you've ever been to Norway (or have a favorite spot in Scandinavia!), feel free to comment, message me, or email me. I'm always curious to learn more!
Until next time, take care of each other and viso gero!