Last weekend I traveled to Norway’s capital, Oslo. It is Norway’s largest city, and I have to say, it was nice to be in a “city city” again. What do I mean by this? Right now I live in Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, and it is just…so…pretty. It’s extremely clean and the buildings all look so old and European and decorative. It’s quaint, and dare I say, cute. It’s not what comes to mind when I think City. Oslo was a bit dirtier, had grey buildings, and more of a subway system. *Sigh* It almost felt like home. Still, Oslo is by no means a Big City, at least compared to Chicago. According to Wikipedia, Chicagoland contains an estimated 9.5 million people, with about 2.7 million actually living in the city. The entirety of Norway has a population of about 5 million, roughly 600,000 of it being in Oslo….just to give some perspective.
I took the train to Oslo from Bergen early on Friday morning with a fellow intern at my work. The trip is about the same distance between Chicago and St. Louis and it was 7.5 hours of beautiful scenery: lakes, fjords, mountains, valleys. Basically, all of the nature to behold was seen on this journey. In comparison to the “gorgeous” nothing and cornfields that is southern Illinois, this long trip to Oslo was much more enjoyable.
It was interesting to find out that there exists a sort of rivalry between Bergen and Oslo. Whenever I tell people in Bergen that I went to Oslo, they immediately get a scowl and say, “We don’t like Oslo.” When we were in Oslo and said we were living in Bergen, it was sort of the same…almost. I’ve heard it said that when you’re from Bergen, you’re not from Norway, you’re from Bergen, just Bergen. So much attitude. It reminds me of south side vs. north side, Sox vs. Cubs rivalry, or West Coast Best Coast kind of stuff. Not sure why, but I guess I thought people in Norway were just peaceful and all friends. Hometown pride is a thing everywhere. Duly noted.
First stop off the train was the hostel where we were staying for the weekend. The people I hung out with during this trip were surprised to find out that I had never stayed in a hostel before. I didn’t think that we even had hostels in the United States, but the girl from Minnesota staying in the same room informed me that we did (P.S. it took me 5 weeks, but I finally met a fellow American! She’s from St. Cloud and I, of course, immediately made a How I Met Your Mother reference…I think she gets that a lot). I came to the conclusion that we have a lot more options for cheap hotels, so that’s that.
The weekend activities were arranged by an IAESTE member in Oslo and the first night’s itinerary was a barbecue in Sofienparken. We grilled an amazing salmon dinner and played a game of Kubb. Kubb is a little hard to explain…it’s a game from the Viking times where you throw pieces of wood at other pieces of wood and try to knock them down. You can’t hit the “King” in the middle until you’ve knocked over all of the other pieces of wood on the side opposite to where you’re standing. Maybe instead of a vicious throwdown that is described in the poem Beowulf, Grendel and the great hero just played a quality game of Kubb for the mead hall, Heorot…maybe not.
Holmenkollen – ski jump.
Frognerparken – the largest park in Oslo that has a record amount of naked people statues.
Oslo Ice Bar – self explanatory.
To end the day, an evening on an island in Oslofjorden, Hovedoya. Sometimes things seem like they’re not really happening. Like, how are people from China, Romania, the United States, Austria, Poland, Norway, Italy and Switzerland all hanging out on an island in a fjord in Oslo, having a barbecue and bonding over music and delicious food? So cool. I’ve learned so much…especially about what others think of the United States…for example, why we gotta be in everyone’s business? (I’m really bad at fielding political/foreign policy questions). Why do we need guns? (There’s a lot to say about this one, but not here). Also, a Norwegian was surprised when I didn’t say “like” every other word…’cause like, I’m, like an American girl, like, so I, like, must, like, talk like this, like like like.
Conclusion: I really liked Oslo and wish I had extra time to get more of a feel for the city.