Friday, May 13, 2011

Team Oslo


Our last few days in Norway were spent in Oslo where Matthieu & Violaine (of team Cuba & partial team Japan) joined us from Paris. Before celebrating New Year's Eve we walked around the city and tried to check out the changing of the guard at the fort but for reasons we could not figure out it never happened. We continued our walk down Karl Johan, past the skating rink on the way to the King's Palace.
Caitlin and I prepare to knock on the King's door
The next day was stunningly bright, sunny,  and cold. We boarded a sailboat for a cruise around the harbor. The ship was decked out with reindeer pelt covered benches and hot glogg. We cruised past the very cool Opera House with its roof that you can walk on & "floating" iceberg sculpture.

Then on to Viking Ship & Kon Tiki museum. During the cruise we spotted a dolphin in the harbor. It soon was chasing and performing for the ship. Sadly one of the deck hands told us that every year dolphins get lost in the harbor & can't find their way out. He also told us that within the next few weeks most of the water there would be frozen over, the temperature of the water making it almost impossible for the dolphin to breath, he'd most likely die. Sad and way to bring down the ship Mr!

Trying to find someplace open for lunch that wasn't already packed was difficult at best. We finally had to succumb to having beers and snacks at a TGIFridays of all places. This is the curse of holiday travel sometime.

Keeping with the American theme we headed out that evening to The Nighthawk Diner, which is known to have a great cocktail and burger menu. The drinks did not disappoint and the burgers got good marks too. Filled with locals, this is quite a fun spot to go to if you ever find yourself in Oslo, holiday or not.

The next morning Caitlin headed back to London and the rest of us grabbed the subway, headed to the Munch museum- small but really great in showing his evolution of style. You should know if you go that "The Scream" is not housed here, it's in Oslo's National Museum, but there are some really amazing pieces and I'd dare say nowhere else in the world would you find such a collection of his work.

Now losing Matthieu & Violaine back to Paris, Dayne & I headed off by bus to the Kon Tiki museum. I didn't know much about Thor's sea excursions before visiting it but I was really impressed with the rickety rafts he built and sailed the seas with. The museum has the original and also a replica. I still can't understand how these people survived multiple ocean crossings- Gilligan & crew should have taken note!

We met Forest for a last aquavit at the famed Grand Cafe before all grabbing our bags and taking a bus out to the airport Radisson Blu since we had an unfathomably early flight out the next morning. Pre-dinner martinis and an ok dinner at the hotel wrapped up this awesome Nordic experience.
Gingerbread Man Christmas Tree at Airport

Things we learned that are exclusively Norwegian to us include:

- if there are lit candles outside a restaurant or bar it's open
- Norwegian hotels serve the best and most massive breakfasts we've encountered so far (Stockholm and most of Japan are close)
- we have never encountered so much free wifi in anyplace in the world! If you go, don't waste your money on a data plan, you won't need it if you pick your hotels right
- very little is open during the Christmas holiday (week between new years), it's a very family oriented time with even just a handful of restaurants and bars being open
- Norway has very strange liquor laws making it difficult at best to purchase beer, wine, or booze outside of an actual bar
- of the 15 brands of aquavit made in Norway I had 10: Line, Gammel Opland (fav), Gilde Maquavit, Trondheim, Bergen, Antarctic, Hammer, Loitens Line, Taffle & Oslo
- Norwegian aquavit is NEVER served chilled since it is aged in oak barrels
-skiing was invented in Norway


All Oslo photos here


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