One Last Trip to Oslo

Now that the sun has (sorta) returned to Norway, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few visitors! Thanks to great discounts on Norwegian Air, one of my friends from university, Alyssa, and her friend Kani decided to make a spontaneous weekend trip to Oslo. Because I’ve already blogged about some of these Oslo sights, I thought I’d keep this trip a bit on the simpler side and opted for a list format with this post.

Oslo Opera House

I absolutely adore the Oslo Opera House. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in Norway, and a part of that has to do with how affordable it is (even by non-Norwegian standards). Alyssa and I were lucky enough to get last minute tickets to the opening night of La traviata, one of Verdi’s operas. La traviata is based on a novel and play by Alexandre Dumas, La Dame aux camélias, which is based on Dumas’s life and affair with Marie Duplessis, a famous Parisian courtesan. Sadly for the two lovers, Marie dies from consumption at the young age of 23. If this story sounds familiar that’s unsurprising. The story has been retold in countless art pieces and movies, one famous example is the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge!. Unfortunately, we actually turned up a few minutes late due to a slow restaurant, but, lucky for us, we were still allowed to enter the opera once there was an opportune break in the singing.

Although the set was surprisingly bare, overall the opera and the singing was great. I especially enjoyed the singing done by the lead, the soprano Aurelia Florian.

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Mathallen Area

Following one Susan’s suggestions, I took a stroll by Oslos’ Mathallen, or literally translated, food hall. I only popped my head into the hall for a minute, but it had quite a nice selection of produce, fish, and the like. My main reason for walking around this area was to check out the local graffiti. To my delight, most of it was actually quite good, and there were a number of nice looking bars next to the nearby river, something that I wouldn’t mind checking out in the future.

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The Fram Museum

Because I didn’t really have a chance to walk around the Fram Museum when I visited in winter, I was determined to give it another shot on this trip. Alyssa, Kani, and I still didn’t have time to get through everything before the museum closed, but I learned a bit more than I did last time.

The Fram Museum is notable for housing the Polarship Fram, a boat was used by Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen on their North Pole expedition and Amundsen’s South Pole expedition (it is the boat that helped Amundsen be the first person to reach the South Pole). One of the big reasons why the Fram was revolutionary was that the ship was deliberately allowed to freeze in the Arctic Ocean. No ship had ever survived the ice pressure before, so Nansen’s desire to knowingly subject the ship to the ice was considered nothing short of insane. Lucky for Nansen and his crew, the ship’s special design allowed it to withstand the ice pressure. There were several design choices that allowed this to happen, but the one that is talked about most often is the rounded hull and smooth sides, which were built to mimic a round nut. The idea was for the ice to push the ship up onto the ice (similar to squeezing a nut between your fingers and having it slide along your fingers instead of being crushed) which would prevent the ice from crushing the ship.

Nansen also happened to be a very careful planner and prepared to spend 3-5 years on board the ship. Because of this, not only did the ship have plenty of food, it also had plenty to keep the crew occupied. There was a library of 600 books, paintings, card games, and even an organ on board. Overall the crew did quite well, remaining both healthy and well entertained.

The crew and its ship was only gone for three years, and upon its return Nansen was greeted as a national hero. Afterwards, Nansen was primarily known for his political career, becoming an ambassador to Great Britain in 1906 and later working in the League of Nations.

Sadly we weren’t able to finish exploring the entire museum, but again it’s something that I would pay another visit to. It was a really well laid out museum, and at times hilariously blunt and/or politically correct (our favorite translated sentence was “The friendliness and generosity of the Inuit was repaid by the white men’s goodwill and respect.”).

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Vigeland Park

Another one of my Oslo favorites is Vigeland Park. No visit would be complete without it, so I was happy to take Alyssa and Kani there. We were blessed with a gorgeously sunny day, so sunny in fact that we actually ran into a zumba dance class that was going on in the park.

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Vigeland Mausoleum

The three of us also went to the Vigeland Mausoleum thanks to a recommendation from Susan. While Gustav Vigeland is the mastermind behind Vigeland Park, Vigeland Mausoleum is actually done by his brother, Emanuel Vigeland. The mausoleum requires taking the subway to Slemdal, but it’s well worth the trip. The mausoleum is tucked away in a nice residential area, which also happens to have a nice view of Oslo.

The Vigeland Mausoleum is also known as the Vigeland Museum, and it was originally supposed to house Vigeland’s future sculptures and paintings. Vigeland later ended up changing his mind, and now the mausoleum is a huge dark room covered in frescoes. Many of the frescoes have a religious undertone, and more information on them can be found on the museum’s website. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside the mausoleum, but Google Images can still give you a good idea of what the interior looks like.

The museum itself resembles a church, not only in its construction, but also in its silence. We were strictly told not to talk before entering, and we soon found out why. One visitor accidentally knocked into one of the museum’s chairs and echo was unbelievable. It’s definitely not your classic museum, especially considering that Vigeland’s cremated remains are stationed above the door, but I would definitely recommend a visit if you have the time.

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Last Stops and the Trip Home

This was my last day in Munich and to be honest there wasn’t too much left to do on my bucket list. At Julie’s suggestion we hopped on the S-bahn and headed out towards Olympic Park and BMW Welt (BMW World). Neither Julie or I happen to be huge car fans so the majority of BMW Welt was totally lost on us. That being said, we did enjoy looking at some of the cars and trying to design our own Mini Cooper.

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Afterwards, we walked towards some of the housing in Olympic Park. Much of the old Olympic Village has been converted into student flats and Julie actually lived in one of these buildings when she was studying abroad in Munich. According to Julie, artists were invited to paint these student apartments so you get some pretty fun designs on the buildings. We even managed to find Julie’s old flat.

IMG_1300  IMG_1303  IMG_1306Afterwards, we continued our walk around Olympic Park and it’s actually quite charming. Julie told me that the reason why the park is so hilly is because after World War II the rubble was built up into piles and those piles now transformed into tree covered hills. Once I realized why Olympic Park was so hilly it was hard not to think about how devastating World War II was. Although I studied World War II in the course of my undergraduate studies, I never thoroughly studied the German experience of the War. It was incredible to be reminded of just how thoroughly bombed some of these cities were and also a bit strange to encounter how the War has been incorporated into living memory.

IMG_1309  IMG_1313  IMG_1315 IMG_1320  IMG_1323  IMG_1324Julie and I took our time walking through the park and we walked by the soccer stadium and the pool before getting tickets to the tower and getting a pretty great view of the city. We then made slow tracks back towards Julie’s apartment and even made a short stop at the Nymphenburg Palace to take a quick walk around the grounds.

Once I picked up my luggage Julie and I went back on the S-bahn. I was heading to the airport while Julie was going to the central station. At some point in this journey I realized that I had received a text from my airline, SAS. Since everything I get from SAS is in Norwegian I more or less skimmed the text before ignoring it. When I showed the text to Julie however she happened to notice that the message contained the word “kansellert” and asked me if my flight was cancelled. I hadn’t the faintest idea but figured that either way I would be able to figure things out at the airport.

Sure enough my flight had been cancelled. Because SAS is a Star Alliance member I was told to go bug people at the Lufthansa desk. I quickly gathered that I was not the only one with a cancelled flight. There were a ton of stranded Americans there whose United flight had also been cancelled. Keeping in mind my stranger danger lesson from before I decided to entertain myself on my phone instead of striking up a conversation with any of my fellow stressed out fliers. By the time I actually got to someone at the ticket counter it was clear that the people working the desks were also exhausted. I swear at one point I saw a ticket agent banging his desk phone against his head. All of these things meant that I had a less than stellar conversation with the Lufthansa agent which more or less went like this:

Agent: Ticket?
Me: No, sorry my flight was cancelled.
Agent: Yes, but I still need your ticket.
Me: But I don’t have a ticket
Agent: Yes, but you need to print one out.
Me: But how can I print one out if the flight is cancelled?
Agent: Well everyone else has a printed ticket.
Me:…Well I’m sorry but I don’t have one
Agent: Don’t you have something from United?
Me: No, I wasn’t flying United.
Agent: Where are you trying to go? Houston?
Me: No, Trondheim.
Agent: So Dallas?
Me: No, Trondheim…you know city in Norway? Kinda up North?
Agent: Not the United States?
Me: …No. Trondheim. T-R-O-N-D-H-E-I-M.
Agent: So you aren’t on United?
Me:………..NO
Agent: So why are you in this line? This is for United passengers
Me: Well that wasn’t stated anywhere. If anything you have Air Swiss listed above your head.
Agent: So no one told you to come to this line.
Me: No
Agent: Well there should have been someone
Me:…Well maybe you can fix that next time

As you can see it took some time to make a bit of headway. Once the guy had confirmed for the fifth time or so that I was NOT flying United and was NOT going to the United States he finally managed to start rebooking my flights. What he eventually organized wasn’t exactly ideal but there really weren’t any other reasonable alternatives. I will say that some of my frustration disappeared when I realized that Lufthansa was giving away free coffees and teas before the flight and when I got a free cup of wine during the flight. If Norway has taught me anything, it’s to take the free/cheap/reasonably priced alcohol when it comes.