Oslo Wrap Up

I adore Oslo. It’s one of my favorite European cities and one that I’ve never gotten tired of.

  1. DO NOT TAKE A TAXI. Taxis in Oslo charge a minimum 200 NOK (24.80 USD) fare. You should absolutely take advantage of the public transportation system, especially since it works pretty well. The apps to use are RuterBillett (to buy tickets) and RuterReise/Google Maps (to plan out a trip and navigate the system). Note: you don’t actually have to validate your transportation tickets (and you can freely walk through the barriers in the subway system), but they do randomly check to make sure that you have tickets. The fines are very steep if you’re caught without a ticket (~150 USD) so just keep that in mind if you decide not to buy one.
  2. In order to get to the city from the airport you’ll either take the flytoget (airport train) or the flybussen (airport bus). The train is much faster, but depending on where you’re staying the bus might drop you off closer to your accommodations.
  3. The city’s main street is Karl Johans Gate and quite a few major sites are near it as is a ton of shopping.
  4. The Oslo Opera House is quite possibly my favorite site in Oslo. It’s a stunning piece of architecture and you’re free to walk in it, on it, and around it. The view from the roof also isn’t half bad. I would highly recommend either doing a tour of the opera house or going to see a performance there. The opera is required to sell 100 tickets at 100 NOK (~16 USD) for every performance so it’s pretty easy to get affordable tickets and good seats.
  5. Absolutely go to Vigeland Park (which is in Frogner Park). The park is a ways away from the city center so I would recommend taking the tram or subway, but the sculptures are great and it’s nice to just walk around.
  6. Definitely pay a stop to Bygdøy peninsula. Depending on the time of year, you can reach it by either bus or by ferry. If the ferry is running I would recommend taking it, even if it’s just to get a view of the city from the water. Here’s what you can see there:
    • Viking Ship Museum – It has three different viking ship relics + a few other Viking things. It’s kinda cool to go and see but there isn’t actually much to do at the museum
    • Folkemusem – Great if you want an overview of Norwegian history and culture. It also has 24 acres of land with 160 different kinds of historic buildings. If you’re dying to see a stave church and won’t make it out of the city then definitely stop by.
    • Fram Museum – Unfortunately I haven’t spent enough time here. What I did see what great, especially if you’re interested in Arctic exploration and/or ships (plus all of the other major ship museums are literally next door).
  7. The Nobel Peace Center – Does a pretty good job of talking about the Nobel Peace Prize and the latest winners. I would recommend going if you want to learn more about the prize.
  8. Nasjonalmuseet (The National Museum) – A pretty good museum and the location of Munch’s famous The Scream. It’s small though so it’s pretty manageable to do in about an hour or two.
  9. City Hall – If you can manage to go to the room where they give out the Nobel Peace Prize you should since it’s stunning. I’m pretty sure that they organize tours.
  10. Ekeberg Park – Go if you want a good view of the city (but if it’s a cloudy or foggy day maybe give it a pass). It’s an interesting place since it also has a ton of famous artwork scattered throughout the park (Rodin, Salvador Dali, etc.). Walking down from the park to the city will also give you the same backdrop that is painted in The Scream.
  11. Holmenkollen – Go if you want to see the famous ski jump, walk around the forest, and get a good view of the city. I’ve heard that the museum is also pretty good and has a ski jump simulator.
  12. Vigeland Museum/Mausoleum – There are actually two Vigeland sculptors, and this is a “museum” done by the less famous brother. It’s a bit outside of the city center, but if you have the time to check it out it’s pretty neat.
  13. If you want to see some nice graffiti/street art go check out the area around Mathallen (food hall).
  14. If you are there in winter, you absolutely have to check out Korktrekkeren, a large sledding area that will take you about 15 minutes to go down. It’s fantastic. For the best sledding go early on a weekday.

Berlin via Oslo

Yes, yet another adventure, but this time it was for more official purposes. I was off to the German Fulbright Seminar. The Fulbright Program has an office in most European countries, but the biggest of them all is the German program (keep in mind that Senator Fulbright drafted the legislation for the Fulbright program in 1945–shortly after the end of World War II). This year’s German commission has approximately 60 researchers and 140 English Teaching Assistants (ETAs). Considering that in Norway we only have 3 ETAs, 3 Roving Scholars, and approximately 20 researchers, you really begin to see how much larger the German commission is when compared to other countries. Like the Norwegian Fulbright Commission, the German one has their own midyear seminar, although they have graciously opened it up to other Fulbrighters. So instead of having a more intimate seminar like we did in Norway, it is more of a unifying Fulbright conference. It was very kumbaya.

For now though, I’m not going to focus on the conference and will instead focus on how I got there. I bought my tickets very early on in the year so it was actually much cheaper for me to fly out of Oslo than to fly out of Trondheim. This meant that I had to take the train down to Oslo. Thankfully it was not all hustle and bustle to try and catch my eventual flight. I did have some free time in Oslo and was able to finally make my way out to Holmenkollen, the site of Oslo’s famous ski jump. To make things even better, it also happened to be Ski Festival in Oslo, which meant that I actually got to see people ski jumping.

IMG_9936  IMG_9940  IMG_9937IMG_9952  IMG_9948  IMG_9957IMG_9991  IMG_9960  IMG_0028Now I’ve always thought ski jumpers were a little bit crazy. Just think about it, who willingly throws themselves off of a manmade mountain on skis. Crazy people. But, like most humans, I find crazy people a little fascinating, and I can’t resist watching the ski jumpers for a least a few minutes during the winter Olympics. Little did I know how different it would be to watch ski jumpers live.

The cameras always manage to make the landing look like a fairly gentle incline. I’m here to tell you that the incline that they land on is a minimum of a black diamond ski slope, if not a double black diamond. And yes they are landing on it at a significant speed. There is absolutely no way that these people are sane. Of course this made everything that much more fascinating to watch.

One great thing about the Holmenkollen is the way that the stands are designed. You can sit at just about any part of the jump, and I even managed to climb up to the highest part of the stands, where the skiers stop gaining air and start making their descent. As someone who is scared of heights, I found this terrifying. But I did get some good pictures! All those years of taking sports pictures for my high school yearbook paid off.

IMG_0055  IMG_0085  IMG_0093IMG_0113  IMG_0114  IMG_0115It was also fun seeing what Norwegians are like as sports spectators. There weren’t too many Norwegians in the stands when I was there, but they were incredibly polite and they even cheered on and encouraged their rivals (though they obviously cheered loudest for their own athletes).

Once I was finished watching I decided to walk around the surrounding area. Unfortunately large parts of the forest were closed off to preserve the cross country courses, but what I did see was still lovely.

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