It has been a long time since I last practiced written English here. So I’m switching from French to English to tell about my last trip to Oslo.
The Norwegian capital is a short two hours flight from Paris. The airport is located in a valley that was hidden under a thick blanket of fog. The trains to the city are fast, even the slower ones, and half an hour is all it takes to reach the sunbathed fjord of Oslo.
The first afternoon of our stay was really sunny. The light was quite unusual as it felt like an ending afternoon at 2pm. The sun stayed always low on the horizon but the days weren’t much shorter than in Paris despite the 11° difference in latitude. Perfect weather for a walk on the seafront.
In the back of the harbour stands the 1950s city hall, a huge red brick building with its very recognizable two towers.
Oslo seafront undergoes massive reconstruction to be more appealing to both residents and visitors. One part around the Fearnley-Astrup museum is finished in a very modern style, with high standard condos, offices, cafés and restaurants. It faces the old citadel, the only really old sight in Oslo. The citadel is surrounded by docks for cruise ships and long distance ferries to Denmark.
In front of the Fearnley-Astrup museum, which is a contemporary art museum, stands the same sculpture as at the Louisiana in Denmark (last picture of this 2010 article).
This modern neighborhood is not very lively, too clean and new, but with very interesting architecture.
The industrial harbour facing the neighborhood awaits to be transformed too.
Around the citadel, it has another atmosphere. Everything is not as clean where the cruise ship is anchored. Crowds of cyclists are going back on the ship. A bit further, people are fishing and the smells get closer to those of what you might expect from a harbour.
The entrance of Oslo harbour is marked by a very small lighthouse.
East of the citadel, another part of the seafront has been totally transformed by the construction of the new opera. Like Sydney or Copenhagen, Oslo fancies its opera surrounded by water and wishes it will become a distinctive landmark.
The opera roof is walkable to the top. It offers a view toward the city center, beyond which the ski jump tower of Holmenkollen is visible.
Between the opera and the central train station, a new neighborhood has emerged. It seems to be mostly offices and hotels.
This dream weather couldn’t last and we spent the following days mainly in museums, as far as their short opening times permitted it. By far the most interesting is the Fram museum. The museum focuses on the polar expeditions led by Norway at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
Next to the museum, a monument pictures Roald Amundsen and his crew who were the first to reach the south pole on the 14th of December 1911.
Inside the museum are 2 ships: the Gjøa which is the first ship to have sailed the northwest passage and the Fram which was built to support sea ice pressure and was freezed in an attempt to float through the north pole.
Then we walked back towards the center crossing the Frogner park. The park is mostly known for its hundreds of Gustav Vigeland sculptures of naked bodies.
In the center of the park stands a column made of 121 human bodies sculpted in a single 17m high stone and thus called the monolith.
The other sculptures are no less strange.
The Frogner park is less than half an hour walk from the center, so we went on hoping to cross the royal palace gardens. But those are only open to public from june to august. Anyway the palace itself is not outstanding.
Not far from there, the university as the same classical architecture.
On the following day, we visited the Munch museum which had an interesting exhibit showing the parallel works of Edvard Munch and Gustav Vigeland. And then we went to the National Gallery to see more of Munch work, including its most famous painting: the scream.
The weather went a bit better on the last day of our stay. We took the subway to Holmenkollen which unfortunately stayed hidden in a heavy fog. The subway is actually underground only in the center and then rides slowly uphill in the residential neighborhoods and a bit of forest.
The 360° view over the city and the fjord is supposed to be amazing.
The ski museum was very interesting, despite what our guidebook said about it.
When we came back to the center, the fog was up and Holmenkollen was perfectly visible from the citadel.
But just enough time remained for a short walk before heading to the airport. From the citadel, the new neighborhood we walked through the first day on the other side of the harbour has a nice look under the ever low October sun. The building shaped as a sail is the Fearnley-Astrup museum.
We had a last look to the Opera, by daylight this time, before catching a train to the airport.