Winter in Oslo

It seems as though the theme of February is Norwegian travel. The day after I got back from Røros I was yet again off on another trip. For those of you who are wondering, I do in fact really enjoy Trondheim and my travels do not reflect a desire to escape from it. This time my trip was somewhat mandatory. I was off to Oslo for the winter Fulbright seminar and ski retreat.

The seminar itself was on Thursday, but I was able to fly in on Wednesday. Because I arrived in the afternoon, I had some time to walk around the city. Having really loved my visit to Vigeland Park in August, I thought I’d pay it another visit to see if I could catch some snow on the park’s statues.

Unfortunately it was too warm for snow, but not too warm for ice. The park’s paths were incredibly icy, and to make matters worse the ice was melting. Because ice has more or less disappeared in Trondheim, I have stopped wearing ice grips on my shoes and didn’t bring them with me to Oslo. So when I initially saw the icy roads going through Vigeland Park my face fell. Lucky for me, I have managed to develop enough skill when it comes to walking on ice that I managed to avoid falling.

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From there, I went back to the hotel to meet two other Fulbrighters, Alyssa and Meghan. The three of us set off on the 1 subway line for Frognerseteren. Our goal: sledding. Not just any sledding though, we were going out to Oslo’s most popular run, Korktrekkeren, or the Corkscrew. The run is 2000 meters (1.24 miles) long with an elevation drop of 255 meters (836 feet). The course starts at Frognerseteren and ends at Midtstuen, seven subway stops away (approximately a 13-20 min ride). The course itself is free, but the sleds are not. There are two kinds of sleds, wooden and metal, and Alyssa told us that we should rent the metal ones. Apparently when she and her friends had tried renting the wooden ones many of them were broken or falling apart.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures. Because we went late in the evening, my iPhone wasn’t able to do justice to either the course or the magnificent view of the Oslo skyline. Overall, the sledding was incredibly fun and the run took us about 15 minutes from top to bottom, not factoring in the subway ride. A few things to note are:

  1. The course is groomed every evening so it’s best to do the run in the morning. By the time we went, there were a number of snowy mounds that had formed, which depending on the size of the mound meant that you either caught some air on your sled or simply slammed into the mound.
  2. I wouldn’t recommend going on a weekend since I’ve been told that it’s absolutely packed.
  3. Lastly, there is only one restaurant at the subway stop, so if you intend on eating be prepared to either eat at the restaurant or to bring your own food.

Ekeberg Park and Other Small Adventures

Unfortunately, my next day in Oslo was gloomy and overcast. This normally wouldn’t have been a big deal, but it did prevent me from catching a nice view of the harbor when I went to Ekeberg Park. Ekeberg Park lies just beyond the Oslo Opera House up on a hill, and Susan told me that the view of the harbor is just gorgeous on a clear day.

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So while my view of the city was the gray mess above, the park was definitely still worth a visit. Ekeberg park is notable for the statues that it has scattered throughout the grounds. Many of these sculptures are done by renowned artists such as Salvador Dali, Renoir, and Rodin (more information on the park and statues here).

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Ekeberg Park also has an interesting World War II history. Because of its high position and sprawling views, German occupying forces often used it for ceremonial occasions. In 1940, the park even held a German cemetery. The war remains were later moved to Alfaset. According to the park’s website, the Germans also planted over 5000 mines in the park from 1940 to 1945. Apparently if you look closely at some of the tree trunks you can see markings indicating where some of the mine fields were.

After our jaunt through the park, Susan helped me look for a Norwegian sweater. Unfortunately, our efforts at the two biggest secondhand shops, UFF and Fretex, were in vain, but it was still good to be out and about town. Oslo is still a beautiful city even in winter.

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Afterwards we went to Hausmanns Gate, one of the more diverse areas of the city. Our destination: the ethnic supermarkets. While Trondheim has a handful of these markets, none of them has quite the diversity or the scale that I saw in Oslo. However, not even these markets had kimchi, something that I’ve kept an eye out for since I’ve started craving spicy food. I’ve always had easy access to spicy food, namely good Mexican food, so it’s been strange not having it as readily available in Norway.