When you think Oslo you no doubt think snow, slopes and skiing. And you think bloody expensive.
Yes, it recently knocked Tokyo off the top as the priciest city in the world, but come on; it’s not that bad compared to London, and this is your chance for a city break in the heart of Scandinavia. Think of the positives of those £7 beers – no annoying stag and hen parties to put up with.
Hit the slopes
The slopes are literally just a 20-minute ride on the underground (T-bane) away from the city to Tryvann Winter Park (www.tryvann.no). They held the Winter Olympics here in 1952, and the ski jump is still up here to check out, although you can’t use it. There is a great view of those famous fjords, too.
Not just snow
There’s plenty to do in Oslo itself, be it summer or winter. The city centre is right on the fjord and easy to get around on foot or bike. You can get virtually to the front door of King Harald and Queen Sonja’s place, and its a nice trip to ogle the beautiful villas on Oslo’s more affluent streets. Alternatively, take a stroll fjordside, where the shops and restaurants are ‘upmarket’ – which, a little bit more so than anywhere else, still translates as expensive.
Well, go forest, actually. In summer, the ski slopes are the Nordmaka forest, which are ideal for mountain-biking or nordic walking (cross-country skiing without skis – it does work). Don’t let all the mums with prams lull you into a false sense of security – there are snakes, moose, wolves and God knows what else here.
Eat a whale
Yes, eat a whale. I did. Well, a cheeky little bit of fillet anyway. I know, I know, but as the saying goes: When in Oslo …” Yes, it’s probably bad, but it tasted just like steak and they promised me they were sustainably caught. It is fair to say that the Norwegian attitude to animals is a teeny bit different. Aside from whale, there’s plenty of fine dining in Oslo. Try Sult (www.sult.no) in the über-cool Grunerlokka district full of guys (and girls) with über-mullets, or take the ferry out onto the fjord to their sister restaurant Lille Herbern. Open only in summer, it’s a wee boat ride out to a little island for a feed of prawns, mussels and bread. Simple, but very, very effective.
No, not at what you’re paying for everything. It’s not that expensive, although it probably pays to avoid hitting the turps. I mean The Scream, Edvard Munch’s famous painting. He was looking over one of the fjords here when he “sensed an infinite scream coming through nature”. Whereas I thought: “What a nice view”. Anyway, a copy was stolen from the Munch Museum (www.munch.museum.no) in Oslo and hasn’t been seen since, but don’t worry, Edward fortuituously did a few copies.
Art in the park, on the street
There’s art everywhere in Oslo. You’ll find modern art on the city’s streets and in the city park. Frognerparken is a sprawling sculpture by artist Gustav Vigeland. He worked on it from 1907 to 1942, but when you see it, you’ll know why. There are acres of stone carvings explaining the circle of life, culminating in a 14m-tall monolith of intertwined human bodies, made from the one stone.
Bonus points for: Perfect city break: heaps to do
Loses marks for: The costly Krone: occupational hazard
Check out: www.visitoslo.com
– PATRICK GOWER