Not your typical walking tour, to say the least. I’ve been MIA because I went to Norway with DBF. Why? Because it’s summer and if you get lost, you won’t be lost in the dark 🙂 The beauty of Norway is you can get your nature kick in and still have access to a city where you can do artsy things, or, what I like, explore the city by foot and still be able to stop for ice cream (more on this later).
The architecture of Oslo can’t be described with just the word “unique” or “modern.” So, being the good stat major I am, I will use a word that most people have the same understanding of: “Ooooooohhhhhhh.” Yes, I looked like an idiot in Norway taking pictures of what Norwegians think are the most mundane things, like clear sky and sun. I was born in China, need I say more?
The path through Oslo, by foot, was about a 5 mile run from the east to west side of the major city center. See the map below, courtesy of my Nike running app, which also decided to stop working for about a quarter mile:
Mile 1: Modern Buildings viewed from an Old Hill
It started out nice: cool breeze, not too sunny, the Opera House to your left as you slowly cruise down the street. Then, jog for just a little bit more west, and you reach the Arkeshus Fortress. Of course, a proper fortress should have a clear line of sight across the Oslo fjord, which means it needs to be high. So…hills…oh the joy. Training on the Woodway curve kicked in, as well as that aero-dyn bike of death. Once you’re up on that hill, though, you get to see this:
You also enter what appears to be the most popular part of the city. After having driven through Fjordland, this area feels like the rest of Norway was there. So let’s back track a bit – what do you really want to pass by vs where would you be a prime target for either a pick pocket or a seagull. Yes, the latter is evil, I was a victim, kinda funny…but not really.
Must Pass By:
Opera House: Modern architecture that I understand! The Opera House was meant to look like a glacier, and it does! It also helped that there was a metal sculpture of an iceberg in the water next to it, which further drove home the point. What’s really cool about the Opera House is that it also serves as a public space.
People are allowed to walk and stroll atop the white. However, I wouldn’t recommend anything with wheels unless you’re Tony Hawk. There’s grooves everywhere to help people keep their footing, but they’re camouflaged amongst the rest of the white tiles. But what you can do is walk up the inclined front façade of the building and take a picture of the windows that reflect puffy clouds…oooooohhhhhhh
Arkeshus Foretress: The only old part of the Fjord facing section of Norway. The Fortress was used by royal families to host state dinners, as a military post, a dungeon, and, sometimes, a home. Before entering the Fortress, there’s the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum. Not a heavy participant in the major historical wars, Norway did boast a very fine collection of guns and cannons in the Museum. But onward ho and up those nasty hills. The view at the top is worth it, I promise.
Mile 2: People *Gasp*
My attempt to avoid people on the Marina led me towards the Royal Palace, and people. You have people of all kinds, but primarily, you have excited tourists, confused tourists, and hungry tourists, and a few pigeons. Here, I played a mean game of street frogger. The path leading through the Royal Palace was a gradual incline, so no, you never really win here. Also, an aside: I hope the Royal Palace is just ceremonial, can’t imagine getting any privacy with so many people walking about your home. Struggle is real.
Must Pass by:
Royal Palace: Most of the public will be in the park by the National Theatre, which is situated right before the Royal Palace grounds. Then it’s another hill! A slow gradual incline on smoothed gravel takes you to the front of the Royal Palace. Take a quick picture, because, sorry Norway, this isn’t Buckingham or Versailles, and continue onwards through their gardens, which, again, is not Buckingham or Versailles.
Mile 3: Statues Everywhere!
From the Royal Palace, we enter a more residential and a more traditionally European cityscape. This area also has a population density much more in line with what one would expect from a Scandinavian country: very very light. The tops of trees indicated I was in Frogner Park, my original destination. The park housed a sculpture section designed by Vigeland. Who was he? Some sculptor. What was cool about it?
Must Pass by:
Vigeland Sculpture Park: Gustav Vigeland was commissioned to produce statues to decorate the park. According to the Norway book I skimmed, he chose to make each statue a unique person with a unique facial expression. From the small lake, you can have your own Rocky moment and run towards the monolith in the center of the Sculpture Park.
Taking two steps at a time and blasting “Last Breathe” by Future (I’m a millennial, I watched Creed), I reached the top. Yes, it may look like a giant phallic symbol from afar, but it’s really a bunch of men stacking on top of each other, each with a different expression.
Mile 4: Taking the Bus
Running south, my final destination was a bus station by the Skoyen train station. Downhills are great! You don’t use as much energy, you feel you’re going fast, and in a city whose population is 1/10th of that of NYC, you’re not going to run into people traffic. Where do I stop? I’m the idiot who ran about 5 miles across the city so I can take a bus to go to a business park outside of the city, just to take a picture of a building. But, it was a damn cool building:
Must Pass by:
Statoil HQ: Take bus 31 to Fornebu and get off at a (very) empty engineering campus for office buildings. Walk towards the water and you’ll see the Statoil Headquarters. And man is it purrrdddyyyy. Underneath the giant white blocks are LCD screens with flowers and blue sky.
Next to the building is a convenient store where you can buy ice cream. I stayed strong, for that hour or so, and just chugged water. After you’re done taking 50000+ pictures of the same building, take the bus back to Oslo Central Station, which is by the Opera House.
Mile 5: I want to Buy Kaviar
Norway serves kaviar in tubes! It’s a novelty just to squeeze the stuff out like toothpaste, and the bread is your toothbrush. Buying a giant tube, though, was not ideal because I had no idea what I could bring into the states. After going through several groceries stores, I found a store in the Barcode area, half a mile west of the Oslo central train station.
Must Pass by:
Barcode: Don’t read the signs on the buildings, because you’ll get boring accountant stuff like Deloitte, PWC. But, if you take a step back and look up carefully, you’ll notice that each building is unique in design but still adhered to the same modern style across the entire street. The buildings, from afar, look like a barcode, hence the name. I like how I can understand modern architecture!
I’d highly recommend this route, for the pure scenery. Your pace will be slow as hell because you’re stopping every 2 seconds to take pictures of what’s around you. However, you can still work up an appetite so you can continue on your whirlwind, post athletic competition, ice cream tour.
Honorable mention is the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art.
Loved the building, didn’t quite understand why a work of art called “Drain”, which is exactly what you think it is, can make it into the museum. I personally have two pieces of this so called “art” in my apartment, and, if you come and visit at the right time, they may both be clogged, lol. Anywho, it’d be a bad idea to try to run along the marina , where the museum situated, because there’s so many people there. Also, seagulls are evil and use unsuspecting humans as target practice, if you know what I mean 😉
There will be 4 parts to the Norway adventure! If you’re thinking “God kill me now”, well it’s your fault for clicking on whatever link brought you here. If you’re wondering ooohh what’s in parts 2-4? Part 2 covers the reason why we went to Norway. Part 3 covers our northern adventures with possibly the coolest tour guide ever. And Part 4 covers why, after all this running around, I still gained 2% of my body fat back. FYI, it was well worth it!