I heard the door lock snap-open. Then I heard their voices, and my aunt’s heavy-smoker cough: they made it to Oslo! As soon as I hugged them, I forgot the stress I put myself through before their arrival.
I forgot how I cried because the salmon was too salty, how I suddenly decided to dust and organize my cupboards and how much time I spent choosing my outfit. From this point on I would allow myself to loosen up a (tiny) bit and enjoy their company for a week.
And the week went by quicker than you can say “Fårikål”. Time flies when you’re having fun and even more so when you have a tight schedule. Good thing the plan I made was fun, otherwise there wouldn’t have been room for it. I was so happy to show them the city and teach them what I’ve learned about Norwegians and their “ways” but the ride was far from smooth in some occasions. Not everything went quite the way I had decided…
Tip 1: It’s ok to make a plan, as long as you’re ready to toss it in the bin. What we actually did was far from the original plan (and way better.) We did cover the “Must-does” but not in the order I intended or in the conditions I had prepared for. Some visits took less time, some they did on their own while I stayed at home (preparing the Norwegian Feast for the evening). If you can, ask your visitors what they want to do, pin your must-does and discuss them when they arrive. Remember the weather might veto whatever you and your guests decide, so keep calm, be flexible and think fast.
Tip 2: Get the “Ruter” apps: https://ruter.no/en/services/mobile/
- RuterReise: check out schedules for bus, tram, subway and boats in real time. It combines schedules and maps so that you know when and where to make a connection.
- RuterBillett: to buy tickets: the first thing you’ll want to do is buy transportation tickets but you need to take public transportation to get to the nearest store….I bought 2 tickets with the Ruter app on my iPhone (total was 45 Kr, with one senior discount) and we were set for a Zen ride on the tram!
If your guests stay for 5-7 days, I recommend the 7 day ticket. You get best value for money and it includes taking the boat to the islands, which many people pay an extra ticket for (i.e. “Hop on Hop off”).
Tip 3: Plan the menus ahead! We improvised a couple of times but in the end sticking to a Food Plan saved me thinking-time, stress, money and trips to the supermarket.
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED
On the first day we took an express walk through the city, starting at the Royal Palace. From there we went to the National Theater (Nationalteatret) and then to Aker Brygge, up until the museum of modern art: Astrup Fearnly. We then took the main street (Karl Johan) down to the Central Station (Oslo S) and visited the Opera.
On day 2 we took a public boat to visit the main islands of the Oslo Fjord. There are several boats to choose from but not all stop at every island. We decided to take bus 93 which stops at each island and got off at Lyndøya, one stop before the last. It’s the second biggest but not the best choice if you ask me, because it is mostly residential. Next time I would choose Hovedøya (the biggest) or Gressholmen (known to have a big rabbit population).
We picnicked almost every day, and the main course was always sausages. After visiting the islands, we ended the day with the Yearly River Walk down Akerselva.
The following days I had to make a few changes to the plan, still aiming to cover the must-does. We really needed a break from the river walk, an unforgettable two and a half hours of meandering, candlelit track!
On the weekend we visited the Ski jump, had a glimpse at the runners of the Oslo Marathon and contemplated the statues from the bridge to the Monolit at Vigelandspark.
The day before last we waved at the King’s cows from the bus that took us to Bygdøy. Beautiful weather and silence were waiting for us. There was no one around apart from a couple of retirees and maternity-leave moms. We fit perfectly into both groups.
The night before my relatives left was full with nostalgia and spitting laughter. We remembered the best moments of their trip around one last hefty dinner. They were so impressed with how peaceful and clean the city is. Being close to nature and breathing the air of the sea helped them reload. They thought Oslo was a “ventilated” city, where one can walk around feeling refreshed and serene. They left longing for more, and I think they will come back. I suggested to rent a cabin next time and they agreed immediately. I did not tell them that there will be no water, no electricity and toilets outside. It will be my little welcome-back surprise 😉