There is nothing quite like seeing your first flurry of snow for the year. Intricately designed snowflakes, each one unique, falling gracefully down from the sky covering everything they touch with a soft dusting of icing sugar.
As the plane descended below the clouds, we caught our first glimpse of the thick blanket of snow adorning Oslo and its surroundings. The feeling of awe and wonder at the sight before us would not be the last for this winter escape.
Landing at Oslo airport in the early hours of the morning meant that we could enjoy a full day in the city, before catching the overnight train to Bergen at 23:30. We set out for the city via the express Flytoget train service, taking us directly to Oslo S.
The central train station has plenty of luggage storage so we were able to lock away our cases allowing us a suitcase free day in the city. We started our day at the magnificent architectural work that is the Oslo Opera House.
Designed by architectural studio Snøhetta, Oslo Opera House consists of angled surfaces of marble and granite, with extensive glass panes reflecting the surrounding waters of the fjord. This impressive structure was built with its sloping roof angled towards ground level, allowing visitors to climb to the top for panoramic views of Oslo, which is what we did.
Despite the cloud covered grey skies, the roof of the Opera House provided great views and was well worth the short ascend. Looking out across the water we saw people jump into the freezing waters of the fjord, many of whom were simply wearing their woollen socks; an activity we chose not to partake in!
From the Opera House we headed through the parks towards the central shopping region of the city to enjoy Scandinavian design and interior shops, and to stop for a spot of lunch. We enjoyed detouring off the main streets to find quiet snow-covered courtyards, before finding a bar and restaurant for lunch and to warm up.
Upon further exploration of the city center, we enjoyed sights such as Oslo Cathedral before heading toward the Grünerløkka district, Oslo’s design capital, in search of coffee and beautiful buildings.
Known as being one of the hippest areas of Oslo, Grünerløkka sits alongside the Akerselva river, where you can find parkland, walking trails and remnants of Oslo’s industrial history, such as the old sawmills, textile factories, and mechanical workshops. Many of these industrial buildings are today home to design and film studios, art schools and stylish concert venues. In this region, you can find a mix of colourful buildings, expanses of street art and graffiti, mellow cafes, vintage shops, and bars. It’s a popular place to frequent a second-hand store or independent shop.
We were told that anyone who loves coffee and visits Oslo has to visit Tim Wendelboe, the famous wood and bare-brick espresso bar with on-site micro-roastery, that is ever so small but sweet. From there we took a stroll in the parks and admired the red brick buildings that lean towards Oslo’s past, before talking a walk back to downtown Oslo as the sun began to set.
Being wintertime, the sun started to descend beyond the horizon marginally before 4pm, when the city becomes lit up by dazzling lights. We found the perfect street of bars and restaurants to enjoy the evening; Torggata. Torggata is a street in central Oslo known for its many restaurants and bars. The street is a natural link between the trendy Grünerløkka and the vibrant Youngstorget, where we enjoyed a hot drink and many games of Othello, before finding a place to eat along the same street.
The combination of restaurants and bars along Torggata made it the perfect place to hang out whilst waiting for the overnight train. With many of the bars and cafes holding an impressive collection of board games we played some favourites such as Ticket to Ride under the glowing festoons, sharing a real feeling of ‘koselig’ (the Norwegian ‘hygge’) into the winter’s night.
From Oslo, we caught the overnight NSB train to Bergen, where we had many more adventures. We booked a cabin on the train, which was well worth the additional cost to try and get some shut-eye on the 7-hour journey. I’ll share more about the train in a future post as we took our return train journey during the day, enjoying the Narnia-esque winter wonderland that is Norway.
We really enjoyed our first day in Norway and were glad to return later that week for our last night’s stay at the luxury Thief Hotel (post coming soon!)
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