European travels, part 2: Oslo

Part 2 in my “European Travels” series is the most expensive city I’ve ever been to: Oslo, the capital of Norway.

I travelled to Oslo in April 2012, as part of a spontaneous “let’s do something fun” trip with my best friend, which took me from Manchester to Berlin to Oslo and back to Manchester within less than a week. The first thing I noticed on my way to Oslo was the ubiquitous wifi. Have you ever made a FaceTime call on a plane, showing your friend who’s sat on his desk in Berlin a view of the landscape from 10,000 ft altitude? It’s possible with Norwegian Air – they offer free wifi on their flights, which is not particularly useful on short flights but definitely fun to play around with. Next stop was the shuttle train from the airport to Oslo city centre with more free wifi, and our hotel with, yes, more free wifi. We stayed at the Comfort Hotel XPress which was cheap and cheerful, and by cheap I mean “real cheap”, not just  “cheap for Oslo cheap”.

Oslo is a lovely little place and absolutely perfect for a short city trip. We went to quite a few places during our stay: The Viking Museum, which I really enjoyed, the Jewish Museum, the modern art gallery, and my favourite, the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Since there is so much water around Oslo, water transport is simply part of public transport, so we took a boat across the fjord to Bygdoy, a peninsula in the west of the city which houses several museums. Another nice part of Oslo is Grunerlokka, a trendy quarter with plenty of restaurants and bars, alongside some reasonably priced cheap eats.

I even managed to find some vegetarian food, which, given that it’s all about fish and seafood in Norway, was fairly difficult. HappyCow pointed me to “The Fragrance of the Heart” just behind the town hall, a nice little cafe that serves affordable vegetarian food. I can very much recommend the omelette and their quiche in combination with several pots of hot coffee!

If you’re visiting Oslo be prepared: It’s expensive. Not just a bit pricey, like, say, Paris or London, but everything is practically twice the price of what you would pay elsewhere. So if you’re not on a Norwegian income, eating out or having drinks hurts a little – after the first day we just stopped converting prices from Norwegian crowns into Euros, which made us a lot poorer, but also a lot happier.