I only had a few hours in Oslo – exactly four. Was it a lot or little? I had an impression that it was way too little, but it is enough to see the most important points of the Norwegian capital.
Oslo Opera House
I started with Opera, that amazed me with its architecture, and more precisely with its accessibility. When I was walking on its marble “carpet” (promenade) on which people were walking, kids were running, some made a small picnic, I had an impression that the architects really wanted to make the opera a place accessible for everyone. And I think they really succeeded.
The building became close to my heart before I even walked down of it. It amazed me by it simplicity and its unusual details.
From the top you can admire the view on the port. Not all this view is fantastic, so I present you its better part. There are a lot of construction works all around and for sure within a few years this place will have a different feeling. And the proximity to the central train station is a big plus.
The placement of the Opera, at the junction of the sea and the land, was quite challenging for the architects. The foundations go as deep as 16m below the sea level and had to be reinforced by piles as long as 60m in order to reach the rocky subsoil. Hence, it is not a surprise that the investment reached 500M EUR.
I was walking down the Opera just before noon and to my surprise, it was exactly the moment when they opened the doors as the restaurant was opening for the lunch service. It was the perfect moment to go inside and to have a look at the foyer.
The wooden structure coordinate perfectly with the omnipresent white finishing, reinforced with minimalist usage of supporting columns. The appearance of the people walking on the exterior is a nice addition to it all.
From Opera I decided to go to Vigeland Park. The walk there would have taken me an hour, which I did not have, so I decided to go by tram. 15 minutes later I was getting out of the train together with quite a few people – elders, couples with kids, travelers with suitcases… The amount of tourist buses at the entrance to the park only reinforced my conviction that it is a must see place in Oslo.
I was afraid I will need to share the park with big crowds, but it wasn’t so bad. Of course most of the people were concentrated around the main alley where most of the 200 sculptures offered by Vigeland are presented. In different parts of the park they vary in sizes, in style, in artistic expression, but there is one element in common – a human being. While watching Vinegland’s sculptures I had the overwhelming impression that he wanted to show a person in relation with others, to concentrate on emotions and the nakedness was one of the ways to achieve it.
The most popular statue is the Angry Boy:
One of the main points is the Wheel of Life fountain. It represents 4 adults and a baby between them but to be honest it was difficult to see it through the streams of water.
The fountain is surrounded by 20 sculptures representing trees and children.
A lot of sculptures attract attention but I was the most impressed by the ones next to monolith. They are quite bulky ant it is impossible not to notice them. A lot of them show emotions in a very interesting and profound way – love, devotion, care, anxiety, anger…
Out of all sculptures, these ones are as well the most approachable ones and kids (but not only) climb on them, strike a pose for photos or just show off.
The monolith itself is like a sculptural Babel tower (in my interpretation) – bodies crumbling one on the other, some in pain, some just levitating and experiencing what happens to them.
It took 14 years to create it by Vigeland and 3 other sculptors.
Next to the monolith you can observe a surprising echo. And since it is difficult to describe, have a look at this video:
It’s worth looking as well for less obvious pieces of art, like this gate for example:
Unfortunately I had no time for the two museums that are in the park.
Walk in the city center
After the visit in the park, I got the the tram, line 12 once again, and I got out at the Slottsparken station. The main point of this park is the royal palace, which to be frank – did not impress me. I walked down the park to the National Theater and continued straight on down to the train central station.
On my way I saw University Square (on the opposite side of the National Theater), Stortinget (the Parliament), the cathedral and of course plenty of shops and cafes.
That’s how I did “Oslo in a nutshell” in 4 hours. There was no time to sit down for a coffee, the tempo was quite intense but totally feasible. Of course the Opera and the park took most of the 4h. But these two places are totally worth it.
Few words about the transport in Oslo
You don’t have tickets? No cash? That’s not an issue as long as you have an Internet connection in your phone. In the RuterBillett application you can buy one-trip or periodical tickets. The app is easy to use, and in case of any doubt, it will indicate you which ticket to buy (as long as you will set up the starting and the final destination). A one-trip ticket costs 33 krone.
Transport from/to the airport
Two independent companies go to the airport – NSB and Flytoget. It’s worth taking note of, as you cannot return the ticket nor pay the difference for the more expensive one.
What are the differences?
– NSB are local railways and the ticket will cost 93 krone. Flytoget – 180 krone each way.
– NSB takes 24min to reach the airport, Flytoget 19min… hence, it’s difficult to explain this double price.
– NSB leaves every half an hour (at least this was the case on Sunday), Flytoget – every 10min. This might be important if you are in a big hurry.
– Trains marked F1 and F2 are Flytoget. Trains marked with an R (np. R11) belong to NSB.
35 minutes after I left the Oslo center, I was already at the airport and after the security check (I was traveling only with a hand luggage). All went extremely smoothly (I hope it is the case every day but be there early enough just in case). The security check went faster than going through the duty free zone (even without shopping ;> ).