Let’s start this whole thing off on an unusual note. While I get the chance to go on holiday more often lately than I once did, this year has seen several pretty special trips, the most notable being the most recent: heading to Norway for a tour of fjords and viking history.
An early start, a taxi blunder and the interminable queues of Dublin Airport. I go on holiday to de-stress, and this is not starting well. Luckily, once we’re through security (and, thanks to BMI’s helpful checkin staff, have divested ourselves of some of our luggage worries), everything else moves smoothly. Up in the air on time, and on our way to Heathrow.
It’s a similar story on the other end – we grab food and reading material as we pass from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3, enjoying a more pleasant airport experience. Soon, and once more on time, we’re in the air – the aviation gods are smiling on us this morning.
A strange cloud-top rainbow enlivens the early part of the flight, and by the time we’ve crossed the North Sea and hit Norway’s coastline, the sun is out and we have a clear view of the vista beneath us. It’s a scene of craggy island and narrow inlets, with houses clinging to the rocks and the land giving way to trees wherever human habitation runs out.
Closer to Oslo though, things become a little more familiar, with neat fields spread out across gentler terrain. Still, trees continue to dominate. Norway has a massive lumber and paper industry, and it’s not hard to see why.
Oslo Airport manages to beat out the more familiar travel hubs by a comfortable distance. Bright and airy, with glass and Norwegian wood predominating in its construction. The cost of the train ticket to Oslo is not as unpleasant a surprise as we’d feared, and soon we’re hurtling smoothly through drumlin country – this is familiar terrain, and the sunshine gives the lie to the fact that we’re at the end of the summer tourist season here.
That seasonality though, means that once we’ve checked in and dropped our bags at our hostel, we’re on the move once more. The Munch Museum will be closed when we return to Oslo, so we make our way there. Luckily, Oslo itself is a small city and easily walkable, and on our way we get to check out a little of the city itself, which seems at first glance to be a surprising mix of Scandinavian practicality and Muslim immigrants.
A piece of advice for the Munch Museum – on entering the exhibit space, you’ll have a choice to turn left or turn right. Turn right. It’ll mean you’ll have to backtrack later, but doing so means that you get to see Munch’s lesser-known works and his sketches and etchings before you get to the “Frieze of Life” – containing his best-known pieces, like the Madonna and the Scream, now much more securely contained than before.
The museum sits on the edge of a park, and we stroll through that park, enjoying the sunshine, to Thorvald Meyers gate, where we’ve been informed there’s food and drink to be had. No word of a lie there – this seems to be a place of resting and relaxing for Oslo’s natives, a fair few of whom are here, making the most of the sun ahead of the onrushing winter. We settle ourselves at Mucho Mas, deciding to opt for Mexican over local food, which there’ll be plenty of opportunity to sample over the rest of the week.
Afterwards, it’s just a short stroll back through the centre of town, insofar as the spread-out Oslo can be said to have a centre, and our lodgings. Despite it being a Saturday night, the city seems content to shut up shop while it’s still light, and since we’re getting up early the next morning, we’re happy enough to play along.