Day Twenty Five

It’s off to explore Oslo today.  Luckily there’s a bike path that takes us straight into the city, along one marina after the other, bar a small detour at the end due to roadworks. It’s clear that team Oslo love a good boat!  It’s the first time we’ve had the bikes out and it’s a glorious, blue sky day.

We  arrive at the top of Karl Johans Gate, the main boulevard, just below the royal palace gardens and work our way down the undulating walkway. From the top, it looks a bit like a ski run.

Karl Johans Gate, named for the King of Norway and Sweden (1818 – 44), is clearly the place to be – in a city of only 648,000, over 100,000 walk its path daily.  Most, like us, are tourists but there are also locals, students and a surprisingly large number of beggars.  The latter present in all forms, the men either sitting with a begging bowl, or playing an instrument; the women walking in groups thrusting a publication in front of people asking for money.  I’m not sure what it’s about, they give me a wide berth. Perhaps I’ve perfected my “don’t fuck with me” look.

As befits a main boulevard, there are many street performers.  Very popular are those painted in gold or silver, pretending to be statues, posing with tourists.  In a side park a bubble artist has kids enthralled whilst clowns make balloon animals for the little ones.

The architecture is quite varied, many periods are represented and it’s all quite beautiful.  My favourites are the older, more ornate buildings which, despite their ornate appearance, still maintain a Scandinavian simplicity.  Restaurants and cafes spill out into the street and it’s clear that everyone is taking advantage of the good weather.

We stop for lunch at an Italian restaurant at the end of the boulevard where the pasta  proves excellent, as does the wine.  The pricing is a bit odd, I can’t quite work out the logic.  My glass of wine for example, cost the same as my meal.  Luckily for us the use of English is widespread and the menu is in both languages.  Although with an Italian menu, we would probably manage with the Italian names.

Lunch sorted we head down the harbour to view the opera house, a modern architectural masterpiece in glass, blond wood and white stone, set on the water.  It’s very dramatic, as befits a performance space. The exterior can be scaled by a series of  escalating inclines leading you to the roof and a great view over the city. The interior forms curves in blond wood, a softness that contrasts the stark white and glass.  Quite a lovely building.  I also make friends with a little pom-pom who’s out for a bike ride in her own special basket festooned with flowers.  Little pet.

We attempt a visit to the main church, but it’s closed for a few hours yet, and instead meander back up the boulevard to the palace gardens snapping pics here and there, especially of the flower markets in full bloom.

The Palace Slottet was built by King Karl Johans in the 1800s.  Painted in pale yellow it forms an imposing focal point at the top of the boulevard.  Whilst a series of liveried guards march the entrances, the surrounding Slottsparken royal gardens are open to the public at all times.

Slottsparken is gloriously grassed and lushly green with well established trees. It features a Queen’s garden with a calm pond and handsome ducks.  Historical pictures of the royal family are dotted throughout the garden featuring winter, when the garden is unrecognisable under a blanket of snow.

We join the picnic crew and rest for a while before making our way back to the marina on our bikes.  The frikadellar were such a hit last time that we’re making them again, this time accompanied by pickled red cabbage with bacon and apple, and new potatoes with dill. I think we’re getting the hang of living Scandinavian style!

It’s still a gloriously bright day late into the evening, time enough for cocktails, and lounging about in the sun.  It’s still full daylight at 9, 10, 11.  By 12 it’s barely twilight and it stays this way until 2 am when I finally crash.  Love all this daylight at night, but could do with a little more darkness in the morning!