Trip Start Jun 22, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Norway  , Oslo,
Saturday, June 25, 2011

When visiting a new city it is imperative that you get some insider knowledge, a few pointers on what to do and where to go. It can make the difference. Thankfully we had Chris. Chris made the difference. Chris is Norwegian Yoda; and you can say what you like about Yoda, he knows his stuff.

A mutual friend put us in touch with Yoda before we landed in Oslo. Within minutes of telling him when we would be in town he had fired off a military style schedule, instructing us where to be and when… Saturday lunch – go here; Saturday dinner – go there; Saturday party – this is ya place; Sunday – bosh, bosh, bosh… Monday…

We veered off script once and regretted it; entirely our fault; Chris never put a foot wrong. Even on Monday when everyone (except Chris) had unanimously agreed that it wasn't worth going out because it was so quiet in town, he came up trumps. Our schedule told us to go to Nodee and then on to Nobilis. So we did. We ended up eating delicious Asian food in a lively restaurant, followed by fantastic cocktails in a superb bar. It turned out that Chris owns the bar; a fact that, for some reason, came as no surprise.

Even without a local guide the visiting tourist could not fail to find, and be impressed by, Aker Brygge, which is a significant area down by the waterfront that has been redeveloped into luxury apartments, offices, shops, and restaurants. Whilst the old part of town is far from shoddy it is clear to see where the oil money has already started to turn Oslo into the modern city it is destined to become.

Walking down the front at Aker Brygge in the Scandinavian summer sunshine is surely one of the more pleasant ways to spend a lazy afternoon – stopping off as you do so for an ice cream, for lunch or just to grab a drink and 'watch the girls, while the girls watch the boys who watch the girls go by…’

There was, however, nothing lazy about our first evening in Oslo. We were given a baptism of fire by some local friends who whisked us off to a fashion show featuring, I think the phrase is, ‘a bevy of beauties’. Such was the quality of the gathering that my vote went to a girl who, it transpired, wasn’t even in the contest. After two highly entertaining hours, and despite never wanting to leave what seemed to be The Promised Land, I was told that we were going somewhere else. Somewhere better. This seemed… unlikely.

We were ushered like rock stars passed the waiting masses and down into ‘Rasputin’, which, to my absolute amazement, did indeed manage to outshine the previous venue. If the fashion show had been the rainbow, Rasputin was the pot of gold. I hoped it would never close. In my mind it never will. If Carlsberg did nightclubs…

The following day began with a 7am fire alarm and ended with a dip in the ocean at 10pm at night; harrowing experiences both.

In summer Scandinavia stays light late. This means that when someone invites you out on their boat, after dinner, you are inclined to say yes. The evening had started in splendid fashion, with a visit to Le Bouchon – note it down – for the best mussels and chips in town. I then received the call confirming that we were going out to sea for sunset. ‘Bring a towel’ was my only warning. ‘Hang up the phone’ is what I should have done.

The sun was shining. The sky was blue. Of course it was 10 o’clock at night and I was in Norway so I was expecting the water to be cold; but not that cold. As soon as I had jumped in I was trying to clamber out, trying to claw my way back onto the safety of the boat. It was an almighty struggle to escape the freezing waters, and whilst I admit it wasn’t pretty to watch, escape I did, with only mild bruising and slight hypothermia as reward for my efforts.

Other than the restaurants and bars and the waterfront area there are other, genuinely impressive sites to see as you walk around downtown Oslo, not least the Royal Palace, which sits quietly in the city centre, and the modern, designer Opera House that, despite resembling a ski slope, adds, rather than detracts, from the landscape.

But it is the promise of things to come that makes Oslo so exciting. Look beyond the Opera House and the skyline is filled with cranes, fuelled by the wealth that Norway’s oil brings, building the future.

Two weeks after I had left the shores of Norway disaster struck as a lunatic decided to take the law into his own hands and ended up killing 77 people.

Oslo is a small place, and this atrocity will have hit the people hard. But in my short time there I saw enough to know that the Norwegian people are a people of substance that will not allow any such savagery to derail the momentum that they are gathering towards the bright future that most certainly awaits them. 


Hotels… Grims Grenka; Gabels Hus Hotel; Grand Hotel
 
Restaurants/cafes... Bolgen & Moi; Le Bouchon; Nodee

Bars/clubs...
Nobilis; Bar Vulcan; Rasputin (club)
 
Sight-seeing…
Aker Brygge; The Opera House; The Royal Palace
 
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