Language(s): Norwegian and English
Currency: Norwegian Krone (0.12 NKR = 1 USD)
Must-see: The Royal Palace, the architecture
Well, here we are in Norway, our first stop on a 10-country tour of Europe. First impressions of the country: clean and highly-organized, just as you might expect.
We flew in on Icelandair, an altogether delightful experience. 10/10 would recommend. For $275, we got a one-way ticket from Chicago to Oslo, a free bottle of fresh Icelandic water and an accommodating flight crew. Our flights were precisely on time, too, a rarity in these days of high-volume air travel. While passengers flying on another airline at a gate next to ours waited for pilots to show, our crew moved their line out of the way and boarded us. The other bonus of Icelandair is that they offer up to a 7-day stopover in Iceland at no extra fee. I’ve been to Iceland (more on this later), and I command you all to stop there at least once. It’s dramatic. It’s unique. It’s as close as most of us will ever come to visiting another planet, fo’ free.
Getting from the airport to the city center (and really anywhere within Oslo) is a breeze. Just look for signs pointing you to the NSB train platforms and ask one of the staff members in red which train will take you to Nationaltheatret, a stop close to the Royal Palace. This state-owned train system is quick and easily manageable for those of you not fluent in Norwegian (lol). You can purchase single-ride tickets within the city (52 krone) at the red ticket machines found at every stop. There is another option called Flytoget, but it is privately-owned and much more expensive, so don’t fall for that trap.
To overcome the jet lag (there’s a 7 hour difference between Oslo and Chicago, by the way), we strolled the streets of Oslo, stopping in cafes and meandering along the seaside. At the end of the main street, is the Royal Palace, which warrants a quick stop as well. We only had a half day in Oslo (plenty in my opinion), but if you have more time there are a ton of museums to check out.
Fortunately, we were visiting friends, so when it came to meals, we were able to eat at home. Prices in Norway are crazy expensive and eating out would have smashed my piggy bank to pieces. If you’re staying in Oslo, I suggest an AirBnB or a hostel with a kitchen. Check out the grocery stores for fresh fish and veggies with creme fraiche. IT’S BOMB. I also recommend trying brunost, a brown cheese made from goat’s milk. It’s slightly sweet and great with bread for a midday snack (I’m eating it as I write this).
For an intro to Norway, Oslo did a good job. It is easy to manage, which is a kindness to the jet lagged brain. Would I vacation here? Nope. However, it’s Norwegian charm and access to amenities (and English) makes it in an excellent start to a European adventure.