We may have splashed out on a fancy hotel, The Thief, for our short break in Oslo but we saved money elsewhere by choosing a reasonably priced Ryanair flight and only taking hand luggage. Yes, the airport we flew to, Olso Rygge, is a little way out from the city centre, but it was a breeze to hop off the plane straight onto the coach which was waiting for us. About an hour later we were in the city, ready to explore.
Keen to discover as much of the city as we could in three days, I contacted VisitOSLO before we left and they offered us a complimentary 72 hour Oslo Pass which would give us free access to many museums and free transport. This would normally have cost us 535 NOK each (about £50). We often deliberate about whether such city passes are worth buying and, in most cases, we have found they have had a very positive impact on our holiday, mainly because, once purchased, the city’s doors are open to you. Plus, if you are in a museum and you’re not crazy about it, you can leave rather than battling on just to get your money’s worth out of it.
As we didn’t use the pass for the first afternoon, preferring to get our bearings on foot and soak up the atmosphere, we would probably have purchased a 48 hour pass (£40) to cover us for the two full days we had in the city if we had been buying it ourselves. Either way, it proved to be of great benefit to us. The attractions we visited would have cost 570 NOK each, and that’s without the ferry, tram and metro savings we made.
We could have had the pass in paper form but opted to try out the app instead which completely flummoxed my technophobe husband, as we had to wave the QR code on our phone under special machines in museums. We had only installed the app on one phone, mine, so all three codes were on one device. This was feasible but slightly complicated as it required much swiping back and forth for each code and necessitated ‘handing the phone to a teenager’ to work it. If all members of the party have a smartphone and know what to do with it, I would suggest you would be better installing the Oslo Pass app on each phone or, if you are idiots like us, maybe the paper version is preferable.
We walked our socks off that first afternoon in weather which was surprisingly warm and muggy. I had come prepared for it being a bit chilly but we were melting in our sturdy shoes and jeans. Oslo was basking in the overcast heat, everyone was sitting outside at restaurants and bars, packing the waterfront at Aker Brygge, watching the boats coming in and out of the harbour. We walked as far as the Opera House, which dazzled us from its position in the bay, like a contemporary, angular wedding cake, with tiny figures appearing to slide down its roof. It’s a magnificent building and just as beautiful inside.
|Opera House, Oslo|
There is a significant amount of new building going on in the city, particularly along the waterfront. My eye was drawn to a series of office blocks, each one trying to outdo the other in wackiness. Named ‘The Barcode Project’ there has been much public debate about the size and shape of the buildings. I think, once that whole area is complete, they will be a stunning addition to this forward-thinking capital city.
|The Barcode Project|
We ended our first day in Oslo at one of the main restaurants in the harbour: Onda. There were two parts to the restaurant – Onda Sea or Onda Grill. We opted for Onda Grill as it had a mixture of both meat and fish dishes. We had an enormous four-course sharing menu with fabulous seafood, shellfish and grilled meats. We had steeled ourselves for expensive food and drink prices in Oslo and, blimey, yes they made your eyes water, but we were sitting on the dock of the bay, with the sun gradually setting, eating delicious food so perhaps it was worth it….
|Onda Sea or Onda Grill?|
Disclosure: VisitOSLO gave us the 72 Oslo Pass to try out as an app for our phones. All opinions are my own.