COPENHAGEN TO OSLO
15.08.2012 - 18.08.2012 19 °C
Leaving Denmark we headed North along the West coast of Sweden, planning an overnight stop in Gothenburg (or ‘Goteborg’ pronounced yew-te-bor-ee in Swedish). On our way we looked through our Lonely Planet guide to get an idea of what there was to see and do in Gothenburg (we had only decided to stop there as it was a half way point between Copenhagen and Oslo) and upon finding that it was described as a hip, trendy, cosmopolitan city (nothing like us, lol) we made the call to miss the city entirely and head for some nature instead. We high tailed it to Aspen Camping, situated just outside the city on the edge of Aspen Lake.
Yes, they actually have Ikea in Sweden
And it gets better at sunset!
We spent a day relaxing in the sunshine and quiet of the lake before motoring on to first stop in Norway, Oslo. We set up camp just outside the city at Ekeberg Camping; a fantastic large site perched on one of the hills surrounding Oslo, giving you an amazing view down into the city.
Now I know we have mentioned that Scandinavia was expensive, but Norway is just rude. Being that we were on the top of a hill/mini mountain, we weren’t super keen on walking or riding the bikes the 6km down into the city, walking around all day, then trudging back up the steep mountainside to the campsite, so we checked the bus schedule and prices finding that a single bus ticket per person was approx. EUR5, or roughly AU$7 to travel 6kms! As we are broke and already dipping into the credit card slightly, we decided that public transport was an unnecessary expense, we are young and fit after all… So we jumped on our bikes and took off down the mountain.
As we got further and further down, we slowly realised the effort that would be required to get back up the steep roads, but as we were already on our way, we decided to let future Paulie and future Kitty worry about that. After getting lost a couple of times, we made it to the city centre to find a thriving and multicultural metropolis that would rival any of the major cities of the world. We had expected Oslo to be similar to Copenhagen with little traffic and a small spattering of locals mixed with a reasonable dose of tourists… this is not the case. As mentioned, this city is a major one, and around the centre it’s absolutely packed with locals, tourists and everything in between. We made our way straight to the tourist info centre as per usual, with the hope of finding some interesting free sights. Gladly Oslo is sensitive to the budget traveler (anyone not from Norway) and there is enough free stuff to fill a day.
We started by cruising through the Akershus Fortress, getting some fantastic views of the city and the surrounding islands, before continuing down to the Opera house, which is designed in a way that the outside of the building gets as much, if not more use as the inside (Note: Something we had noticed about Scandinavia, particularly Norway, was that the government allows much of the public land and buildings to be used free of charge by the citizens. They also have a ‘right to roam’ policy in Norway which means you are free to camp, fish and hunt where ever you like, with the exception of trout and salmon fishing, which both require a fishing license.).
Making use of the Opera House...
We then rode through to the City Hall which offers free guided tours of the building, and then on to the Royal Palace, where you can just laze about in the grounds, right next to royalty with no fences between you – I would love to see that at Buckingham Palace!
Large and very unimpressive - City Hall
Royal Palace - look no fences!
From the Palace we made our way though town to Frognerparken to check out Vigeland Park at its centre. Vigeland Park showcases works from Norway’s best-loved sculptor Gustav Vigeland, who, by the look of his work, loves the human figure. After soaking up some sun and art in the park, we decided that we were both spent, and should set off on our journey back up the mountain before we end up too wrecked to make it and needing to pay for an overpriced Oslo hotel.
Vigeland Park looking very 'phallic'
Good thing we left when we did… it took 2 hours to make it back to the campsite, 90% up-hill!
On our way out of Oslo the next day, we stopped in at the Fram Museum, which is dedicated to the early exploration of the North and South poles and houses the first ship ever designed to be crushed by the arctic ice pack on its way to becoming the first to sail the Northwest passage, a ship called the Fram. Not knowing a whole lot about the subject we were keen to see if we could learn a thing or two, and the museum did not disappoint. Welcoming you into the foyer is the impressive bulk of the ship that gives its name to the museum, guiding you to the start of the very well laid out information trail. Unlike many museums, the Fram museum actually has a sequence of events that is easy to follow, leading you from one important fact or discovery to the next, telling the tale of how exploration was done in the early 1900’s. It even leads you on board the Fram so you can see first hand what the living conditions would have been like for the multi-year explorations trapped in the artic circle. There is also a whole section dedicated to the first expeditions to the south pole, detailing both the attempt of the successful Norwegian party, along with the not so successful attempt of the British party who were heading for the pole at the same time, giving first hand accounts of the bravery shown by these men under the harshest conditions imaginable. All together, a quality museum that really captures the imagination and leaves you that little bit more knowledgeable.
I do not trust this skipper!
Kitty doing her best artic-exporler impersonation
But the time had come to be moving on again, and as it would turn out, we would come to remember our massive trek in Olso as good preparation for the coming destination – Stavanger, and the tourist-Mecca of Preikestolen.