City Guide to 24 Hours in Oslo Norway
16:30, August 4, 2017
We landed in Oslo, Norway safe and sound with a rush of air and the excitement of touching down on new soil. Somewhere in the airport our friends waited and we just had to find our way through customs to the Meeting Point. Coming out of the plane a draft of fresh air hit us, and we wound our way through the trappings of every airport: gates, corridors and escalators. Eventually we stopped and looked at each other bewildered. It seems that we were about to exit the airport without going through customs or immigration or passport control.
This was our first surprise about Norway: it was more laid back than any place I've previously been and we never did show our passports to anyone in the airport. I guess they just assumed we wouldn't have made it onto the plane in Copenhagen if we hadn't gone through control there.
Our AirBnB was in the hip, vintage part of town called Grünerløkka, located on the east side of the river Akerselva. All 7-Eleven stores in Oslo have tickets for sale to travel the #Ruter public transportation (which covers all buses, trams, etc) so we stopped in to buy a 24 hours pass for 90 NOK, or currently $11.--. Our train took us to our neighborhood with one switch and we stood in the mist and chill for a bit until our host could let us in. Natasha makes it look warmer than it actually was - the temperatures were approximately 15C when we arrived.
There is something special about arriving at a place of lodging after traveling thousands of miles and several time zones. It's almost as if arriving at a refuge. We settled in for the evening, Daniel walked out to get groceries, and we took to our phones to figure out our 24 hours in Oslo.
COFFEE: TIM WENDLELBOE
The first choice of the day. Tim Wendelboe won the 2004 World Barista Championship and now runs a micro-roastery, espresso bar, and coffee school from his location at Grüners gate 1, 0552 Oslo, Norway. Turns out it was my favorite spot of the day because it was the best coffee I had on the trip, and if memory serves me correctly the most excellent I've had in Europe. It was the perfect way to start the trip.
A confusion in my order garnered me a straight espresso and a cappuccino (I later had the coffee from a roast Daniel had bought) so I gave one away and sipped the other. The shop itself had limited seating, but it didn't seem to be a problem as people found places to sit in the window sill if need be. We enjoyed our time immensely.
My first recommendation: stop at Tim Wendelboe's. It will be satisfying and energizing.
HISTORY & ARCHITECTURE: AKERSHUSH FESTNING
A medieval castle built to protect Oslo, this fortress has seen battles as early as 1308 and stands grimly against the inner Oslofjord harbor. It was more majestic than beautiful, and came with a magnificent view of the harbor and the chance to explore dim courtyards and grassy corners.
The junior members of the group.
LUNCH: FINDING QUALITY FOOD ON THE CHEAP
The cost of food to eat out was more expensive than almost any other place I've visited. Coming in a later post you will see a bowl of soup that cost me $17, but for Oslo we managed to stay in the $11-$12 range by eating at Greek and Middle-Eastern cafes. At one place I ordered a lamb pita (not pictured) and at the second place a falafel pita. It's hard to say which was better because both were ravingly good. Ah, that falafel!
The view by Carmel Grill wasn't half bad.
This sprawling open-air museum has 155 traditional Norwegian homes, and a Stave church dating back to 1200. It is full of demonstrations about everything from popular folk music, lefse (Norwegian sweet flat bread) dance, pottery, weaving and how farm life worked over the past few centuries in Norway. We spent 130 NOK entrance fee per adult (kids six and under are free) which came to less than $18.
Note: in my opinion the Folk museum is a better value for the entrance fee than the Viking ship museum. The cost for the ship museum was around 116 NOK, for which price you got to walk around four ships and leave. We could mostly see one of the ships without paying, and figured the Folk Museum have more to see. It was a good call.
THE STAVE CHURCH
This was my favorite of the traditional buildings. It was made almost entirely of wood, with intricate carvings and an atmosphere of reverence. I couldn't help whispering inside - it was that kind of place.
Click on the photo below to see more snippets of traditional and modern Norwegian life.
SEREDIPITY: A ROADSIDE STOP
Across from the Folk Museum was a market of sorts; full of flowers, greens, fruits, and some amazing looking ice cream I didn't buy because it cost my right pinky toe. Ah, I do love these kinds of discoveries.
COFFEE: STOCKFLETHS LILLE GRENSEN
Now we have come our full 24 hour round: coffee, food, culture, history, architecture and my favorite, a chocolate croissant at Stockfleths.
The coffee at Stockfleth's is not as good as Tim Wendelboe, but I loved the chill atmosphere and seating. Definitely go for a relaxing hour or two when next you pop through Oslo.
Perhaps I'll see you there.