#WhenInNorway : One Week In Oslo
To say that my trip to Oslo was an incredible experience would be an understatement. An absolute understatement. Compact, walkable, and far more eco-conscious and thoughtfully designed than most other cities I’ve been to, Oslo was everything I could’ve imagined, and much much more. I planned and booked this trip – somewhat spontaneously – as a means to escape from what I had become accustomed to as my “real life,” but instead I came back to Los Angeles with an entirely new idea of what my “real life” could and should be. Truthfully, I’d been in a bit of a rut lately, and Oslo was there to shake me back to life, to put the pep in my step once again. Hah, but enough Eat, Pray, Love for now… here are just a few highlights from the trip!
The Royal Palace, Oslo
One of the first things I did during my first full day in Oslo was take a leisurely stroll down Karl Johans Gate (the main street in Oslo) to the Royal Palace. It’s crazy, but at a certain point down Karl Johans Gate, you can clearly see the beautiful yellow facade of the palace as you approach it, like a golden light at the end of a tunnel. Built during the first half of the 19th century by Danish-born architect Hans Ditlev Franciscus Linstow, the Royal Palace was intended to be the home of King Charles III John of Norway, who reigned as the king of both Norway and Sweden (unfortunately, it was actually completed after his death).
In fact, Karl Johans Gate is also named in his honor… Charles III John, Karl Johans… makes sense, no? Anyway, since the mid-1800s (approximately 1849) the Palace has been the official residence of the current Norwegian Royal Family – (since 1991) King Harald V and his wife, Queen Sonja – and is surrounded by a huge park, appropriately named “The Palace Park.” In front of the palace facade, you’ll also find a large square – “The Palace Square” – which boasts a large statue of King Charles John on his steed. Oh and fun fact – when the flag at the top of the Palace is up, it means the king is home! Hai hai, Royal Fam!
Oslo Opera House
Built in 2007 (but open to the public since 2008) by (the most incredible) architecture firm, Snøhetta, the Oslo Opera House is the home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and a true architectural masterpiece. Designed to look like a glacier emerging from the head of the Oslo Fjord, the Opera House is a fantastic example of how to seamlessly combine nature with manmade materials. The entire building is walkable, meaning you can start at the base plaza and climb the steady incline until you find yourself on the roof of the arts complex. Once there, you can take in breathtaking views of the Bjørvika neighborhood of central Oslo as well as the Fjord.
The exterior of the Opera House is apparently covered with Carrera marble, white granite, and a special type of glass, whereas the interior has a very warm oak paneling to balance the otherwise “cold” outer shell. Oh yeah and there’s also a permanent public sculpture by Monica Bonvinci called “She Lies” that floats on a concrete platform in the Fjord adjacent to the Opera House; it’s composed entirely of glass panels and moves or rotates based on the elements – i.e. the tide and wind. Again, a true architectural masterpiece.
Aker Brygge Wharf
Aker Brygge was, by far, one of my favorite places in Oslo to visit throughout the entire week. Once the site of a shipyard, Akers Mekaniske Verksted, Aker Brygge is now a totally vibrant commercial district by the Oslo Fjord and marina, boasting great restaurants, architecture, shops and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. So whether you want to take a scenic stroll by the water, taking in the distinct mix of architecture (think modern with old, venerable shipyard buildings), or check out the latest modern art exhibit at Astrup Fearnley on Tjuvholmen, or “Thief Island,” Aker Brygge is truly the place to be. Oh, and you can also check out the Nobel Peace Center! It’s at the “start” of the wharf.
The Astrup Fearnley Museum (Museet) of Modern Art
As I mentioned above, the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art can be found at one end of the Aker Brygge wharf, on a small island known as Tjuvholmen, or “Thief Island.” Don’t let the word “island” fool you, though – Tjuvholmen is literally connected to Aker Brygge by a tiny bridge that takes about 10 seconds to walk across. So, once you make the trek over (hehe) to the island, make sure to stop by the privately owned modern art museum to check out both their permanent collection (especially for the Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons pieces!) and their seasonal exhibition on display. Currently, for example, they have a solo exhibition on Norwegian visual artist and writer Mattias Faldbakken called “Effects of Good Government in the Pit.”
The Thief Hotel
Right next to Astrup Fearnley Museum, still on Thief Island, you will also find one of the most beautiful modern hotels in Oslo – The Thief Hotel. The hotel lobby itself actually houses some pieces from the modern art museum next door, like the Jeff Koons Titi bird and what looked like a Richard Prince cowboy painting (but don’t take my word on that as I’m not 100% positive). In addition to that, however, The Thief Hotel also has an incredible bar and restaurant upstairs, called Thief Foodbar. The ambiance is relaxed yet elegant and the cuisine, global yet still quintessentially Nordic. My friend Malene and I enjoyed a wonderful early dinner here after our visit to Astrup Fearnley. We shared the grilled tataki starter with some rustic bread and salted butter before enjoying a set of salads (I got the crispy chickpea one!) with multiple glasses of Prosecco. (Safe to say I wasn’t quite vegan on this trip!)
Well, there you have it! Five of my favorite places and experiences during my week-long trip to Oslo! Don’t worry, there will most certainly be more posts about Norway in the days or weeks to come, but I wanted to start this “series” with a pretty thorough overview. Hope you enjoyed it! Have you ever been to Oslo? What were your favorite spots?! Let your girl know in the comments!