Settling into Oslo

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It’s very pleasant having a rest morning/day.

Plenty of time to catch up with things, rest, chatting and setting up IT.

From our balcony. A nice view looking south. Parkland for the kids to play.
Sorting out receipts from yesterdays shopping trip

Around midday we ventured out, keen to understand the train station. This was going to be important if we were in a rush on our return from Svalbard in a couple of weeks. If the airport terminal and customs are delayed as much as they were when we arrived yesterday, we could well be in trouble for catching our train to Bergen.

Divers on the wires of the bridge
The Akerelva River and the city

Weather forecast for the afternoon included a 40% chance of rain, so I didn’t take anything more than my cap and a windcheater to keep warm and dry. By sharing other peoples umbrella’s this worked quite well – the other people were from my group, not random strangers. Although Laura did share her umbrella with me. More about Laura later.

We found the canal near our unit to be a nice place to walk along and stay oriented in the city. The amble to the train station takes about ten minutes.

The ever helpful NSB train station guide told us that the train from the airport normally arrives at platform 11 and the train to Bergen normally leaves from platform 3. He also reassured us that I didn’t need the paper tickets I’ve beside the printer at home, as has Barry, and that the electronic versions on the iphone will work just fine. This is helpful research and clears away a few questions that we no longer need to worry about.

Visiting the tourist bureau gave us time to think about what to do over the next days, and as it happened, a free walking tour was leaving from just outside the train station in a few minutes.  So off we went, with some of us spending 20NOK for a toilet stop, each. About A$4!!! In a country with close to free water, we’re wondering about the price. Turns out they have a 25% GST too.

Jenny was on the lookout for odd characters.

Anyway, we met Laura from Free Tours Oslo. She wrangled about 20 of us over the next 90 plus minutes and took as wandering through the east side of Oslo, apparently quite the home of the hipster scene.

Walking tour
Day tour guide Laura
Hipsters central

A bit of rain came and went and some of her stories entertained us, some were sobering. It surprised me a little that she talked about Anders Br**vik, the man who blew up a van bomb in central Oslo, near our tour route, and then went to an island off the coast and shot 69 young people on a youth camp. I’d forgotten about this and not linked it to Oslo. For all the wrong reasons, it was the centre of world attention.   His first attack targeted the area in the photo below, the centre of the political groups who he saw as aiding the demise of Norway as he knew it.

Central Oslo political square

Onto much happier things and colourful places, Laura left us on our own and we thanked her with an obligatory tip.

She’d mentioned some old houses where they were ‘stuck’ together and low and behold, I think we found them – and alongside a lovely traditional allotment where many locals tended their own patch of dirt. We were surprised at how well things had grown in the short time since the snow has gone.

Allotment Garden
Allotment Garden

Thanks to the great off line mapping app I use – Pocket Earth, I traced our route through Oslo.

It also showed us the way home and as we’d not taken much water – and noticed there wasn’t any public water fountains around the place – and hadn’t eaten for quite some time after second breakfast, the challenge was to find a place to sit, relax, enjoy a meal and a quiet ale. A friendly local recommended a place nearby and sure enough, it was grand. The salmon and beer were just fine thank you. The weather got a bit cooler, Jenny needed a blanket.

Asylet Beer Garden – built around 1730 – some time merchants yard, hospital and asylum for children.