The Oslo Airport is amazingly attractive, with lots of intriguing restaurants and gorgeous lighting fixtures (important to R & G), but we whizzed through to get to the Flytoget airport shuttle. So easy! You register your credit card on their website from home, and then just swipe the card to get on the train. You then get an email with your receipt! The ride itself was fast and smooth and we were jettisoned into downtown Oslo through a sun-soaked rolling landscape dotted with white and red farms, interspersed with tall straight fir trees.
Oslo center was bustling when we arrived. Crowded cafes encircled the square in front of the station. Shoppers, travelers, and families meandered through. We easily reached our Comfort Hotel two blocks away and set out to explore. Up Karl Johann Gate and around the pedestrian streets we walked, looking for just the right coffee place.
We finally found a place with less charm than we had hoped for, but at Stockfleths we rewarded ourselves with lattes and pastries. The coffee was outstanding and we learned that Norwegians drink more coffee per capita than other nation. Restored, we strolled up past the park to the royal palace. We admired the fountains, the flowers, and all those beautiful blonds! Then we worked our way down to the port, where reclaimed land and restored warehouses unite to create an animated shopping and restaurant venue called Aker Brygge.
I had selected a place for dinner based on a description in Yelp. It took a bit of walking to finally reach Lokk, a tiny restaurant whose specialty is soup. We were not disappointed. We bought the special 3 course menu of the day: a rich tomato broth with “crispy chicken skin” and cottage cheese, hake with crab and cauliflower stuffed polenta, and poached pears with gelato. We drank a glass of prosecco and a bottle of Sancerre. We strolled back through the mild night air and went promptly to sleep!
Down to the port to catch the first ferry to Bygdøy! We sped through the silvery water and in no time arrived in Dronningen. From the port it was a short walk to the Viking Ship museum. It is housed in an old church and the displays were awesome. You could climb up little staircases to balconies to view the boats from above. Ray wondered how terrifying it must have been to see these sleek boats arrive in some far away land over a thousand years ago.
Another short walk brought us to the Folk Museum, a restored farm and village with animals and traditionally clad inhabitants. The traditional Norwegian architecture of carved dark wood and occasional colorful trim was stunning. We imagined hobbit like creatures dwelling in the long low buildings roofed with sod and flowers. Other buildings were raised to keep out the rats? The snow? To shelter the pigs?
Then back to town for lunch at Café Sara near the fortress. I had a delicious creamy little soup with shrimp, mussels and bits of salmon. Ray had his pickled herring, and then it was off to Viking Biking!
Our three-hour bike ride through Oslo was led by an exuberant Brit by the name of Paul, and our group included 16 fellow cyclists from across the globe. We rode through the fortress, up to the palace, by the many mansions and embassies, to Frogner Park where we paused to admire the gardens and sculpture at the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park.The afternoon was mild, and the air was redolent with the combined scent of rose petals and the first fallen leaves of autumn. We had plenty of daylight in early September, but the angle of the sun, the yellowing leaves and the milky skies were undeniably autumnal. It reminded me so much of the autumn I spent in Paris so many years ago.
Then we wound our way through winding residential lanes back down to the port. We admired the old and stately houses on the hill and the strikingly modern architecture in the port – much of it built on land reclaimed from the sea. The art museum is there, but we didn’t have time for a visit this time.
Paul recommended an evening visit to Grünerløkka, the trendy bohemian neighborhood in the northern part of the city. It was charming, but we should have researched a restaurant ahead of time. Later we learned that we should have chosen Markveien Mat & Vinhus As. We had acceptably good pizza, however, at Villa Paradiso. We strolled back through a gentle rain, stopping to pick up our now habitual dark chocolate covered marzipan bar, Gullbrød