Oslo was just a short flight away from Amsterdam, but that bit of extra North made a big difference.
First, there was delicious salmon everywhere we looked — which worked out well for us, since Oslo is the one of the most expensive cities in the world. A Big Mac will set you back almost $6 (second after only Switzerland). We ate salmon for almost every meal.
Moreover, the six hours of daylight was in stark contrast from the fifteen hours we had been enjoying just a month ago in Patagonia. At “high” noon in Oslo, the sun just barely broke above the tops of the buildings near our apartment.
Our main reason for traveling to Oslo was to visit Hedvig, Sarah’s very good friend from Berkeley. In the six years since they’d seen each-other, Hedvig has been living in Oslo with her partner and raising a beautiful daughter. It was such a delight to catch up after all these years!
Hedvig and Shotaro cooked delicious meals for us and invited us to a Santa Lucia celebration at their daughter’s daycare. The celebration is meant to help everyone get through the long winter days with enough light. It was so cute to see all the little Norwegians singing and carrying (LED) candles. And we learned that the children take their nap outside all year long (in thick sleeping bags during the winter)!
Besides spending as much time with Hedvig and family as we could, we made the most of the daylight to explore Oslo, including:
Vigeland Park, which was filled with a stunning variety of expressive naked statues.
We were also invited to a coffee shop / co-working space that felt just like San Francisco. Jason had an interesting chat about Norwegian startups with Hedvig’s brother-in-law.
We also visited the Bygdøy peninsula where we saw 1000-year-old Viking ships and artifacts. This ship was found buried in Oseberg, Norway, along with two female skeletons and lots of artifacts, like intricately carved wooden furniture and decorative tapestries.
On our last day, we stopped at a trendy food hall, where we enjoyed what we hope will be the most expensive beer of the trip. We were shocked to find a Surly (a Minnesota brewing company, which rarely exports kegs out of the state) on tap! The 1349 Black Ale is a collaboration between Minnesotan and Norwegian brewers and is named after a Norwegian death metal band (which itself is named after the year that the black plague hit Norway and killed a third of the population).
After working up some liquid courage, we cozied up in a large outdoor teepee and ordered a plate of Lutefisk to share. This Christmas delicacy consists of fish cured in lye until it has roughly the texture and wobble of jello, then baked and topped with bacon and potatoes.
We can’t say we had high hopes for the dish, so we were both pleasantly surprised, and nearly finished the heaping portion between the two of us before hopping on our bus to the airport to visit beautiful Barcelona!