This trip was booked before I left Hong Kong for Sheffield, and now it has been more than a month ago I was back to UK from messing around in Europe for 25 days (thanks to a very long Easter break). I keep a travel journal wherever I go and today I decided it would be a nice idea (because the weather is nice) to update my blog and write something about this trip so I picked up my Oslo diary and read it all over again. I know it is very long ago looking at the calendar, but all those amazing scenes I have seen, interesting people I have met and new knowledge I have gained… like everything just happened yesterday.
And since the trip was indeed so long ago I have decided to come up with a list of 8 things I love the most about Oslo, instead of recalling what I have done each day, to make this entry more readable – because Oslo is cool, and I want my entry for Oslo to be cool as well.
8. First snowing experience
I have seen snow before, but not snowing. To be honest, it was not cool at all. It was f**king freezing and cold and windy and it was absolutely one of the worst weather I have ever seen in my life. I was excited when it started to snow, but then it became hard to even walk when the wind and snow hit my face. We were locating ourselves on a paper map a bus stop – irrelevant, just a fun fact. Anyways, because girls are irrational animals, anything that is a first-time is worth to be recorded. So.
7. Free wifi almost everywhere
People will disagree with me – this item should be at a higher ranking (if not top of the list) ! Well, it is awesome for kids (like me) in general, but it’s time to put down your phone and look up and see what is really happening in the city when travelling – at least I do. But yes, Oslo is very well covered with internet connection, you can be online easily in almost all indoor facilities (public and private).
6. Visit Oslo Museum Pass
I am a quiet nerd I really enjoy museums. I used to think this is something everyone will do when travelling, turns out it is something I must do when I travel. To me, travelling without learning is just a waste of time, effort and money. Museums are where I learn the most things in the shortest period of time, so why not ? Therefore the Visit Oslo Pass is really a plus. It is of great value because you get to visit all museums you will want to visit within that certain period of validity, and you save on public transport because you can hop on any trams/buses/metro trains with your pass.
5. Nordic Art and Colours in a Modern Setting
It was absolutely fascinating to first see all the Nordic colours of the Oslo city in artworks or architectures because they are so different from anything else I have seen before. This of course makes sense because Oslo was the first ever Scandinavian city I visited, but the colours were surprisingly familiar and cozy to me I feel really comfortable and calm just looking at the colours. There are modern sky crappers (sort of) in Oslo of course, but everything goes well and you find visual calmness escaping the fast pace of a modern international city.
And by “Nordic Colours”, I mean colours with a very strong earthy tone, like claret red, woody brown, mustard yellow and dark turquoise. You will know it when you see it. It’s all over Norway, not only in Oslo.
This is not exclusive in Oslo because I believe it is a general character of the nation. But it was first through No 6 I discovered how self-disciplined Norwegian people are. Remember you get to hop on any public transport with the Museum Pass ? There were literally no actual gates at metro stations and no one will ever check your ticket on buses or trams. There wasn’t a bar code or QR code or magnetic strip on the pass, so you don’t have to validate or register your pass at the machines (you have to do so though if you buy one way tickets). Somehow everyone still buys tickets and validate their tickets on public transport.
Another experience, though not exactly in Oslo, was that we got a large pizza with the price of a medium. When we asked the waitress why, she shrugged and replied “Well, because I made a mistake.” Usually in Hong Kong, staffs at restaurants will ask the customers if they are satisfied with substitutions (which are essentially results of mistakes) and if they do, they pay a new (often of larger amount) price. Most Hong Kong people, for the sake of simplicity, will end up paying for the waiters’ mistakes. Here in Norway I feel everything makes more sense…
3. Appreciation of and connection with nature
Again, not only in Oslo. Norwegian houses are very colourful because the paint protects the wooden house from moist from snow and danger of attacks from wild animals. In the Polar Museum in Tromso you will find a polar bear named as “Citizen of the Year”. In 2008 Sir Nils Olav, a king penguin (A PENGUIN. My blog is called Keito Asato PENGUINO), was awarded knighthood of the Norwegian Army. Babies learn to ski when they are only 9 months old. People are extremely environmentally friendly. These examples are only tips of the iceberg. Somehow governments and peoples forget where the drive of their economic and cultural development comes from, but here in Norway I got to see and experience how people are really “down to earth” and live a life so connected to the nature.
2. People who look like they are just chilling
I hopped on the bus, was trying to confirm with the driver if it is going to the right direction. 3 seconds after my question, he asked for my map and took his glasses from his pocket without saying a word. Another 3 seconds later, he confirmed that the bus was going to the place I wanted to go. I literally thought I wasn’t supposed to talk to the driver, or that he didn’t like tourists. Turned out he was chilling. Same thing happened with a younger bus driver.
Also in Oslo people only work from 8 to 4, whereas in Hong Kong it is almost impossible to leave your workplace on time, let alone as early as 4pm (yes, in Hong Kong we start at 9 or 10, but even if we start at 8 it is impossible to leave at 4, aka before your boss). Also I have seen people’s extensive use of stunt scooters even though the city is really walkable …
1. Salmon and Brunost !!
FOOD ! You know I always want food. Norwegians brought salmon to Japan and made salmon sushi and sashimi an internationally recognized signature dish. Salmon here is cheap (to me, the adjectives “cheap” and “expensive” don’t describe the monetary price, they illustrate value) because it is so available it is always fresh. I have had a pack of salmon sashimi of my arm’s length for less than 130 NOK. It is crazy.
Brunost is basically Norwegian Brown Cheese. Like eel, Natto (Japanese soybean), Brussels sprouts, olives and black liquorice, you either love it or hate it. I usually love them and so I also love brunost. All Norwegian homes have a variety of them and a special cheese slicer and it was supposed to be eaten with bread. I also love it on its own. It has one of the strangest yet oddly satisfying taste I have ever had (not only among cheese) and it really is hard to describe. I will be back in Oslo in June because I am stocking up a bunch of them for the summer, so you see how much in love I am with it…
And I am really hungry now … So here you go – 8 things I love the most about Oslo. The list ends here but it doesn’t mean there are nothing else I like about Oslo, of course not. I assure anyone who is reading this post Oslo is fantastic, but as usual, don’t take my words for it.
0. Bonus Track – Meeting fun and amazing new people
This is a bonus track because there really is no guarantee who you will meet in a journey. Also it is not only in Oslo I made new friends. Somehow on this journey I made a few of whom we are still keeping in touch. On the bus a lady from Vilnius recognized the tote bag I was using, which I got it from a penfriend who studies at Vilnius University. She stroke up a short conversation because if you haven’t noticed yet, I am typically Asian and not many young Asian students are there in Lithuania, so she wondered why I was using the bag.
The other day on top of the Holmenkollen Ski Museum I met a couple from France and took a Polaroid photo for them. (This reminded me of the Ukrainian mother and son I met at Leeds because I also took a photo of them and started talking.) The photo was only intended to be a gift of memories but at the end the wife kindly offered me her name card after we spoke in French for a couple minutes. (The husband doesn’t speak English.) While we were leaving, we met a human rights lawyer from Peru who was in Oslo for a job interview. She had a train to catch so she missed the spectacular view on top so she asked if we had fun. Then on the tram ride she shared with us her job in the United Nations and bam ! I made a really important contact. Haha.
Last but not least, nothing is better than having a new friend to go out, have fun and create memories with. Though we have only spent a few hours together, the night was amazing because good food, good movie and good music. Yesh, to a young, exotic and free-spirited Asian female traveller, fun is always welcome. HAHAHA.