I got a reply to an email that I sent to my friend Richard from work, where he said that I seemed to be having a whale of a time. I suppose he read about my experience of eating whale steak in Reine, Lofoten. In a way, it’s true – I’ve had a massive fun in Norway. There were no rollercoasters, no trendy nightclubs or popular theme parks that I visited but I’ve had a great time. I’ve only been away from Adelaide for about eleven days but it seems that I’ve been travelling for a long time. I’m far more relaxed and positive now that I have a chance to get away from the political humdrum at work.
Hugo and I left Kongsberg this morning – as mentioned previously, we had a lowkey lazy day yesterday. This morning I packed my bags, and then we left Kongsberg behind and headed to Oslo by train. I have been to Oslo a couple of times before so I didn’t take too many pictures this time. Seeing the number of roadworks and excavations around Oslo made my heart sank. There doesn’t seem like a coordinated effort to beautify the city, to make it more ‘showy’ and pleasant. Anybody who gets out of the Oslo Sentralstasjon will see a massive work right on the station’s doorstep. It’s certainly an unwelcoming sight especially for tourists who come to Oslo from overseas, if they take the Express Train from the airport to the Oslo S or if you happen to travel from elsewhere in the country and arrive in Oslo by train. I also saw a lot of dodgy characters around the train station. I was informed that the area was now a popular hangout for druggies (throughout the day), and prostitutes (in the evening). It’s not even better as you walk down Karl Johansgate – there’s another massive excavation in Stortings gate, near the Nationaltheatret. It all seems messy and uncoordinated.
We walked down Karl Johans gate and continued on towards Aker Brygge to find lunch. Because I thought it would be nice to have sushi, we went to a restaurant there called the Bryggen Sushi – well if you want some sushi and you are around Aker Brygge, DON’T go to Bryggen Sushi. The waitress was rude and cold – the food was so so. The restaurant shouldn’t be classified as Japanese restaurant at all, because they also served other typical Asian fares, such as fried noodles and curries. Save yourself the emotional escalation, and head over elsewhere.
From Aker Bryge, we walked back towards the Nationaltheatret to go to the underground train station, so we could go to Vigelandsparken, around Majorstua area. As I mentioned earlier, Vigelandsparken is a park filled with statues that were created by Gustav Vigeland. The park is a tourist magnet in Oslo – each statue is naked and portrays the emotions of day-to-day relationship. You can see husband-and-wife statue, some are showing companionship, some are showing strife and confrontation. You can see father-and-son statues, statues of children, elderlies, and so forth. Some argue that the statues are erotic, but if you look past the nakedness and see the expression and the intention of the statues, you see that some really carry a deep meaning. I will post some of the pictures that I took at Vigelandsparken later. One of the major drawcard in Vigelandsparken is a statue of an angry boy (Sinnataggen). Yes, the statue does convey anger and frustration very perfectly! It’s a very hot day here in Oslo, so after a lot of photo snapping, we made our way back to the city.
Before we headed to the airport so I could get ready for my morning flight tomorrow, we also saw the new Opera House in Oslo. The building is more lowkey compared to the Sydney Opera House but the interior is warm and very ‘scandinavian’ with its straight lines and wooden motifs. The outside however can use a lot of beautification – the tiles used for the exterior are very pale so they are REALLY bright in the midday sun. The Opera House is unfortunately located in an industrial area as well, so the view around the theatre isn’t that good – you can only see wharehouses, piles of cargos and wharfs. It will take a while before the area is beautified … Have a read of this article that appeared in the national newspaper in Norway, Aftenposten regarding the opening ceremony of the Opera House.
So, that is it – my Norwegian trip this time. I’ve had a whale of a time! From the majestic grandeur and the contrast that are the Lofoten Islands, to the atmosphere and charm of Bergen, and from the overlapping fjords to the rushing water of the Numedalslågen, Norway is magnificently wonderful. Oslo is unfortunately a disappointment this time around, but as I mentioned earlier, the city is keen to usher you out so that you can enjoy the beauty of the country elsewhere. I don’t know when I can return to Norway, but I am keen to explore my next port of call as well, the capital city of the Land of the Magyars, Budapest!
I’ll be flying out at 10.40am from Oslo – so rather than rushing from Kongsberg / Oslo to my flight, I’m staying at the airport hotel. I’ve also been helped tremendously by my friend, Hugo. He has been a great travel companion, a source of insights to the local tradition and knowledge, as well as a translator and a driver. Haha. He also forced me to venture deeper into fish cuisines so I even had my first taste of whale steak. I also managed to finish the sourcream porridge – rømmegrøtt! A friend is a treasure indeed. Tusen takk, Hugo! [Now you don’t need to cope with my silly one-liner song!]
So, from tomorrow onwards, I will be travelling solo! Watch out, world! 🙂