In a three-part series, Robbie Collard recounts his time spent in Scandinavia, starting in Oslo, and has some ‘words to the wise’ for fellow travellers thinking about embarking on an adventure to the Nordic provinces of Northern Europe.
Norway’s Oslo, home to the Nobel Peace Prize, Henrik Ibsen, Edvard Munch, and assumingly (at an estimate) the birthplace to anyone who ever had money. How can I put this? Remember how you are totally slumming it? Oslo is Scandinavia’s rich aunt, who left the EU before you thought it was cool and who will probably tax you for stepping on her soil. Also, she really hates when you drink. Perhaps an accurate representation of Norwegian enterprise would have been when my boyfriend’s friend uttered to me the five soul-crushing words: ‘Lidl didn’t make it here’.
However, there are three things you can do when preparing a visit and asking daddy for help is not involved. You won’t be going to Oslo to party like it’s 1999, unless you ‘just couldn’t face the idea of going another winter without a skiing holiday.’ So if you intend on drinking, stock up in the airport. Oslo contains some of Europe’s most beautiful parks. Forget that you did this when you were 14 and spend an evening in the Royal Palace Gardens by the pond like I did, or head to the Vigelandsparken sculpture park. You’ll soon learn that your trip to Norway will be at its best when spent outside. The same goes for cigarettes – if you’re a smoker, buy enough to last for the entire visit. Aside from the price, rolling tobacco in Norway is meant for ‘working men.’ You will ruin your thoughtful conversations spent smoking without a filter, coughing up a lung as a result. Finally, make sure you reacquaint yourself with the idea of a picnic well before arrival, because this is all you will be having.
Oslo really isn’t the place to go and ‘hang out’ anyway. This is a city that perfectly incorporates Norwegian cutting edge architecture with the astounding vastness of what its countryside has to offer. Take a look at how the Royal Opera House juts out of the pavement against a backdrop of the city’s surrounding islands. For culture, go to the Edvard Munch Museum and have a gawp at the famous screaming painting amongst many others. Above all, I especially valued taking the metro system east out of the city towards the Nordmarka Wilderness area, specifically to a place called Frognesteren. This is where you see Norway come to life – unparalleled views stretch across the horizon as you delve further into the forest network. You will find yourself completely alone, take your pick of the lakes enveloped between the trees and take time to appreciate Norway’s overwhelming connection with nature. Oslo gives you the chance to see what it feels like not to spend your life shrouded in concrete.
Photos: Joshua Edward Noon