Now that it’s August 2013, I mind as well write about our short trip to Norway…from July, 2012.
Swedes tend to take off time for their semester (vacation) in late July. That means when most people who work on Malmen, the airbase Matt works at, aren’t there, he really has no need to be there. If the planes ain’t flyin’, then they don’t need fixin’. Last year, the base shut down for one week and we decided we should take a trip with the free vacation days.
Our first idea was to go to Tallinn, Estonia, or to any one of the Baltic countries, since it’s pretty darn cheap to travel there from here. But since the trip was literally last-minute, we couldn’t find anyone to take the dogs for a few nights – that means they had to come with us. Road trip! Our second idea was to drive up to Ålesund, Norway because it looks like this:
But then there weren’t cheap hotels available that would take dogs, and it was a really long drive, and we promised to watch our neighbor’s cats and couldn’t be gone that long anyway. So we’re saving that for another Norway trip in the future, because there is no way I’m not seeing that with my own eyes before I leave Europe. This too.
So, we were just like…let’s do Oslo! Matt had some Best Western hotel points racked up from staying at the local one here in town when he first moved here, so we cashed those in to stay at the Best Western Karl Johan right in downtown Oslo. Since we had the dogs, they gave us a room without carpet, which happened to be located right in the front of the hotel with a view of Stortinget.
I’ll get to that in just a minute.
At this time, we had a rental car that didn’t have a built-in GPS. We’d been lucky up until that point and had fancy rental cars with GPS included, but not now, and we hadn’t yet taken the plunge to pay for all new European maps to upgrade our own GPS. For some idiotic reason, we thought we could just make do with some Google maps directions, a Swedish road atlas and my cell phone with GPS.
All was well until the Norwegian border (where I immediately spotted two moose!), because, uh, duh guys…your Swedish cell phone doesn’t work in Norway unless you want to pay bank to use it there. Of course, we only got totally lost once we got to metropolitan Oslo area…right when we needed GPS the most.
Long story short, we found our way to the front of the hotel without any accidents or (too many) laws broken. We checked in, found the parking garage we needed to use, then made our way up to our room with our two cooped up, crazy-ass hound dogs in tow. What a spectacle…
Our room was definitely one of those fancy hotel rooms you WANT to stay in when traveling in Europe. High ceilings, fancy molding, old wood floors, views of historic buildings, modern interior, etc.
However, there was no air conditioning and it was muggy hot. Piper was her usual livid pissed self when she’s in uncomfortable surroundings, and claimed the armchair in the corner of the room and proceeded to pout any and all time she spent in the hotel room.
Pete was so anxious he couldn’t stop moving, so we allowed him to lay on the bed for once just to calm down.
We had arrived in the early afternoon, and made a quick trip to the
System Bolaget liquor store for Norwegian beers (we like to try local stuff) and another place for some snacks. We each enjoyed a beer that afternoon, then decided to get out and explore ASAP.
I was like, “Let’s just set out on foot and walk to parks around the city!” What else are you going to do with two dogs, anyway? Not shop, not go out to eat, and certainly no museums, am I right? We set off towards the Royal Palace, a couple blocks away, not only because it’s a Royal Palace (!!!) but because it’s surrounded by a huge park we could walk the dogs around.
The goal was to walk all the way to Frogner Park (Frognerparken) where I wanted to see the Vigelund Sculpture Arrangement. On our way from the Royal Palace to Frogner Park we passed by a café that came highly recommended, Åpent Bakeri (a chain, so there’s a lot around the city), and we made a note to stop by once while we were in town.
About a block or so later, we passed a hole-in-the-wall sushi place that had a crazy affordable daily special (foreign concept in Linköping) which we took advantage of, and, yeah, it was super delicious. We were in heaven! Eating outside the little place on a (practically) miniature café table right on the street lined with gorgeous drool worthy posh buildings. From there all the way to Frogner Park is just block after block of incredible architecture (the Uranieborg neighborhood). I can’t imagine living in one of these buildings, but I would absolutely die to one day. SO BEAUTIFUL, OSLO.
My photos cannot do the area justice, mostly because I was walking along gaping at each building, each balcony, each detail…and not taking enough pictures.
We finally arrived at some side entrance to Frognerparken, and walked through until we found what we were looking for. Frogner Park and the Vigelund Sculptures are AMAZING! What a beautiful place! If you go to Oslo, just go enjoy this park and soak up all that it is and has to offer.
We moseyed back in the late evening through empty streets, and arrived at the hotel when it was dark. We watched a little bit of TV, split another beer, and people watched outside the window until it was time for bed.
Another day of exploring Oslo by foot (with dogs) and by bus, and boat (!) were coming up the next day. To be continued…