A Peace of Olso, Norway

As unfamiliar visitors making our first trip to Oslo, Norway, we didn’t know what we were in for.

Chase us around Oslo as we visit the Nobel Peace Center, get schooled in Olympic ski jumping, have cocktails in a bar completely made of ice (including the glasses), explore Viking burial ships, have a scream with Edvard Munch and eat, ahem, rotted fish… CONTINUE READING >>

A big thank you to Visit Norway and Visit Oslo for providing this peaceful adventure – and to Eurail for the 15-day rail pass that inspired us to undertake it! As always, all opinions are our own.

Give Peace a Chance

Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway

As unfamiliar visitors making our first trip to Oslo, Norway, we were certain of only one thing, we wanted to see the Nobel Peace Center.

Our prize awaited us at the harbor, where the Center serves as a focal point for the bustling waterfront.

The Noble Peace Center in Oslo, Norway

The main entrance opens into a space that is used for timely, temporary exhibitions, which during our visit was featuring a program called BeDemocracy.

The exhibit examines the role social media plays in spreading and maintaining democracy around the world.

Be Democracy exibit at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway

Be Democracy exibit at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway

There are several interactive displays showing the spread of internet activity around the world, and a giant video board in the center of the room showing tweets in real time.

Of course we couldn’t resist sending one and watching it come up.

The Noble Field at the Noble Peace Center in Oslo, Norway

Climbing up to the second floor, we were awarded with the main attraction, a high-tech display of video screens featuring photos of every Nobel Peace Prize laureate and descriptions of their accomplishments.

The darkened room was captivating, as each presentation lit up and came to life when we approached, automatically scrolling through biographies, notable achievements, and other information about the honorees.

Celebrating Martin Luther King's Nobel prize at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway

Another interesting presentation delivers new information every year on the fiftieth anniversary of each recipient’s award.

All of these details are kept strictly secret until the required passage of five decades, so this is the first opportunity to see who else was nominated or may have come close to winning.

Newspapers all over the world announced Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize Honor. Seen at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway

The most recent files released revealed the specifics behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. winning the prize in 1964, and we were fascinated by the process.

He was chosen from among forty-three candidates and became the youngest person ever to receive the award.

See more of our travels in Dr. King’s footsteps

Leaping into the abyss

The tram that goes to the Holmenkollbakken Nordic Ski Jump in Oslo, Norway

With our primary goal achieved, we set out to find the rest of what Oslo had to offer.

All we had to do was look up. Being winter Olympics fans, when we think Norway, we think Nordic, and as far as we know the word Nordic is always followed by the word combined.

So we boarded the tram, and off we went to the site of the 1952 Winter Olympic Games, Holmenkollen and the Holmenkollbakken ski jumping hill.

The city has grown so that now it surrounds the hill, making for a bit of an oddity in the suburban setting.

But this also makes it easy to get to; there is a metro stop just a few minutes’ hike away, just about the same distance as the skiers go when flying off of the hill.

The sport of leaping off of a huge ramp while on skis was invented in Norway about a hundred and fifty years ago, and the Norwegians have dominated the event ever since.

So underneath the huge ramp is a fitting site for a ski museum, with a fascinating collection of old ski equipment, some of which looked mighty familiar from back in the days of David’s first set of skis.

The skiing museum at Holmenkollen Nordic ski jump in Oslo, Norway

David sees his olympic dreams come true at the Holmenkollen Nordic ski jump in Oslo, Norway! GypsyNester.com
David couldn’t resist bringing home the gold for the home team!

While we have been known to strap boards to our feet and slide down a snowy slope, never in a million years would we dream of launching ourselves off of a hill like this.

We go in more for the peace and quiet of a gentle slope.

Still, somewhere in the back of our minds we always wondered what it would be like to try, and here was our chance to find out.

The ski simulator at the Holmenkollbakken Nordic Ski Jump in Oslo, Norway

The complex includes a simulator that recreates the sensation of flying down the ski jump, no skis, or skills, required.

We actually got to experience the victorious thrill of jumping (without the inevitable agony of defeat that would have occurred in real life) while sitting down.

That position turned out to be ideal because the thing rocks, rolls, tilts, and bumps enough that we felt every bit like we were flying through the air… right down to the piped in wind in our faces.

The Nordic Ski Jump in Oslo, Norway! View from the top

Now that we were seasoned jumpers, we felt ready to go to the top and stare down the beast.

But the view down the slope left no doubt in our minds that the simulation was the closest we would ever get to taking such a leap.

WATCH: Your GypsyNesters get schooled on how scary ski jumping is!

From our perch, we could see skiers practicing the other part of the Nordic Combined, cross country skiing. But their skis had wheels. The falling snow must have inspired them, but the lack of accumulation wasn’t about to stop them.

As for us, we just enjoyed the view of the city, especially since we knew that we would be taking the elevator down.

The National Theater of Oslo, Norway
We loved the National Theater building!

Just put us on ice!

David has a scream at the Magic Ice Bar in Oslo, Norway! GypsyNester.com

In keeping with the frozen frolics theme we stopped in at the Magic Ice Bar which, as the name implies, is a bar made of ice… entirely of ice.

The bar, walls, floors, tables, chairs, artwork, even the glasses that the drinks are served in are all ice.

Magic Ice Bar in Oslo, Norway


 

<–10 Second video: Click the pic – and Veronica comes to life!

Needless to say, it is cold inside, so before we entered we were issued parkas. The coats not only helped keep the cold at bay, but added to the Nordic explorer look that we were embracing at this point.

 

 

Our stay was brief (did we mention it was cold?) but we felt like we got a little dose of what the famous ice hotel must be like, moving a stay there up a notch on our list.

The GypsyNesters at Magic Ice Bar in Oslo, Norway

Storming the castle, well storming a meal

The view form Festning Resurart in Oslo, Norway

Salmon appetizer at Festningen Restaurant in Oslo Norway

We decided to walk to dinner to warm up because the nearly freezing temperature outside felt warm compared to the ice bar.

After a bit of scouting through ancient cobblestoned streets, we found the Festningen Restaurant tucked away beside the walls of the Akershus Castle.

Festningen Restaurant in Oslo Norway

Festningen means fortress, but in this case it also meant great food in a historic, and now peaceful, setting.

Stortinget, the Parliament Building in Oslo, Norway
On the way back to our hotel, we passed the Stortinget, the Parliament Building

Fast-fjord-ward and some amazing Viking finds

The Thon Hotel has it all! They even provided us with umbrellas on this rainy day!
The day was rainy, but our hotel, Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz, provided us with cover!

On the water in Oslo, Norway

The next morning found us back at the harbor to jump on the ferry to Nesoddtangen.

This gave us our first look at one of Norway’s famous fjords, the Oslofjorden, as well as some great views of the city from the water.

No wonder the Vikings liked it here.

On the water in Oslo, Norway

The Viking Museum in Oslo, Norway

Speaking of Vikings, the Viking Ship Museum beckoned from just across the bay.

It was specially built to house three ships, the Oseberg, Gokstad, and Tune, which were put on display after being discovered in the late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds.

The vessels were remarkably intact, since they had been intentionally buried centuries ago.

The Viking Museum in Oslo, Norway

Important Vikings were entombed in these ships, which were filled with items to help them make the journey to the next world and have a well-deserved rest in peace.

The custom gives us an unparalleled look into Nordic life from over one thousand years ago. Carts, sleds, weapons, furniture, clothes, and many more items, including human remains, were found and are now on display.

The Viking Museum in Oslo, Norway

Walking in, the Oseberg dominated the main hall. It is the best preserved of the three, in fact it is widely considered one of the finest finds to have survived the Viking Age.

It was also the first to be moved into the museum in 1926. New wings were added as the other ships were brought in, until the project was completed in 1957.

Follow us into the Viking Ship Museum…

We loved the whimsical art we saw around town in Oslo, Norway
Whimsical art is found all about town!

We don’t know art, but we know we like Munch

Paints, dyes, and palettes are also on display at the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway
Munch’s paints, dyes, and palettes are also on display

Just a few years later, in 1963, another museum opened across town. This one was dedicated to Norway’s most renowned artist, Edvard Munch.

The Munch Museum collection began with a large portion of his work that he bequeathed to the museum.

This has been expanded upon until the gallery now has over half of his paintings, including his best known piece, The Scream, and copies of all of his prints.

Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway

After spending a couple of hours with his work, we both agreed that Edvard is our new favorite artist.

We could see his influence in a wide variety of mediums — obviously other artists that followed him — but also in pop culture; cartoons, advertisements, television shows, and movies like Edward Scissorhands and the Scream series of horror films.

The Edvard Munch musuem in Oslo, Norway

Munch was known for creating several renditions of many of his works, for instance The Scream has four versions. In order to do a comparison, we headed over to the National Gallery for a look at another one, the first one he painted.

Edvard Munch's Scream in the Nasjonalgalliet in Oslo, Norway

The Nasjonalgalleriet is part of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, and has a remarkable collection, much of it by Norwegian artists, but it also includes selections from Renoir, Monet, Cézanne, and Picasso.

No offense guys, but we are here to see the Munch, specifically his original Scream from 1893.

This first effort is a bit brighter colored and more vibrant than the later 1910 version that we saw at the Munch Museum and, being the distinguished art critics that we are, we deemed it the better of the two.

No doubt both museums, and the art world as a whole, will be incredibly interested and influenced by our spur-of-the-moment decision.

Perhaps a nomination in a new Nobel category of art critic awaits.

Fun with locals; the best way to learn about local food

Havsmak restaurant in Oslo, Norway

Maybe it was time to move on to a subject we know a little more about, eating.

For a taste of the sea we chose the uber-sleek Havsmak, which means, well, taste of the sea.

As we settled in, a boisterous group of guys next to us struck up a conversation.

Before long they were challenging us to see just how adventurous we might be when it came to trying new things.

Rakfisk, a Christmas treat in Norway, at Havsmak in Oslo

Little did they know, we’ll try just about anything… bring it on!

After generously buying us a round of the obligatory Aquavit, they tested us with some rakfisk, which translates as “rotted fish,” more specifically trout which has been salted and fermented for weeks or even months.

This is eaten on potato bread with onion, beets, and sour cream.

When we gave it a try and didn’t freak out, our new friends were forced to up the ante.

Cod in caustic soda in Oslo, Norway

So they brought on a bizarre form of reconstituted cod, lutefisk.

The description, which granted may have been less than clear due to language barriers, involved dried cod that has been rehydrated using what our new amigos referred to as caustic soda.

By all means, let’s give it a go!

When consumed with all of the accoutrements it went down right nicely, but the texture left a lot to be desired. It had a jelly-like consistency reminiscent of the cod tongues we had in Newfoundland.

brosme, a fish much like cod, that is prepared with foam of potato, deep fried rosemary, and almonds at Havsmak in Oslo, Norway

Having met the challenge, and passing muster, we figured it was time to get back to our real meal — if only to make our server feel better, he’d lost all control of the situation (actually he rolled with the flow quite nicely and jumped in on the fun).

Hake, along with a lentil ragu with mushrooms and a quail egg at Havsmak in Oslo, Norway

We were set free to enjoy the rest of our meal of brosme, a fish much like cod, prepared with foam of potato, deep fried rosemary, and almonds and hake, a member of the cod family, along with a lentil ragu with mushrooms and a quail egg.

Both, happily, were properly cooked as opposed to fermented or reconstituted.

And, yes, we shared with our new friends. Just another way to keep the peace in Oslo.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Delve Deeper:
See more about the Viking Ship Museum

Make sure you pick up an Oslo Pass card, which is good for all public transportation and entry into dozens of museums and attractions.

We continued our journey through Norway to the Arctic Circle by train – check out where else we went!

A big thank you to Visit Norway and Visit Oslo for providing this peaceful adventure – and to Eurail forvthe 15-day rail pass that inspired us to undertake it! As always, all opinions are our own.

YOUR TURN: Are you glad we gave peace a chance?

30 thoughts on “A Peace of Olso, Norway”

  1. I had no idea that one can visit the Nobel Peace Center — that would be a must-do for me. Actually, everything you’ve shared about Oslo looks and sounds good to me. The ski jump simulator sounds quite exciting — great experience.

  2. With Oslo being so nice, it’s hard to imagine why the Vikings felt it necessary to go “raping and pillaging” all over the known world—maybe not, I guess they were humans after all. I wonder if the Nobel Committee has had any second thoughts about that Nobel Peace Prize for President Obama—right before he launched the drone war. Fermented fish? Nah. Oh dear. I must have gotten up on the wrong side of bed today. This is probably the crankiest comment I’ve ever written. I’m sure Norway is very nice and I still hope to visit some day, but after this comment, I won’t be checking my in box for an invitation from the Norway DMO. 😉

  3. The ski jump simulator looks FUN! But you are very brave for trying lutefisk 😛 Both my grandmothers were Norwegian and enjoyed it but me, not so much. But you have convinced me I should go visit the “motherland”. Oslo looks like a cool place!

  4. Looks like you had a fab time. If you want to see real moose, go to Atlantic Canada. I even hit one once and lived to tell about it. Actually, I was caught in a traffic jam in some weird little New Brunswick town, and the moose decided to walk across the road in front of my car just as I started moving. Gave me a start!

  5. We went to exactly the same things: Nobel Peace Center, Ski Jump, Vikings Museum, and Ice Bar! We should travel together!

  6. Where do I start? You have shared with us some amazing things. The ski jump? well I love to ski, but no. Scream – always been a fave. Nobel Peace – humbling. Vikings, yes. Food, yes, yes. I think we need to go to Norway soon. Great post and thanks

  7. What a fantastic tour of Oslo – you definitely make me want to visit Norway – even in the winter, which I am now allergic to 🙂

    I have seen a live moose – near Banff Alberta – true story!

  8. Uffda! You got a nice look at Oslo, where I was a high school exchange student waaaaay back in 1970. There was a fab restaurant up at Holmenkollen back then; I still remember their open face sandwiches. A beautiful city with so much green space. Would love to return. Ver så god!

  9. Wonderful, comprehensive post. I was fascinated with presentation that delivers new information every year on the fiftieth anniversary of each recipient’s Nobel Peace award. Also loved reading about the simulation and the Munch’s scream has always been a favorite of mine.

  10. Glad you liked it up here. I see you got a snap with Gunnar Sønsteby (the boy on the bike). Just in case you didn’t know he was a famous member of the resistance during WWII. On 9 April 1940, as a boy, he stood at the spot where the statue is today, watching the Germans occupying forces march up main street. He died a few years ago, well over 90.

  11. Oslo looks a lot more interesting than I thought it was. I understand why you don’t believe in moose. They are elusive creatures – I’ve caught glimpses of them but I would love to see one up close in the wild – well not too close.

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