Do you ever just go away for a taster weekend trip?
Occasionally, I’ve been disappointed in a destination and wished I spent a shorter amount of time. So, depending on the destination I do a taster trip. I find a cheap ticket and look for a bargain when booking a hotel. On the latter, I often leave it to the last minute to book eg two days or even a night before. There were two reasons I wanted to visit Norway: to see the Northern Lights and visit Henrick Ibsen’s apartment. I am a massive fan of Ibsen having been introduced to his work in my early 20s. So I decided to go to Oslo for 24 hours to check out the vibe, Ibsen’s study, and discover if you really do need a second mortgage to eat there…
Oslo sets the standard – from disembarking from the plane, clearing border control, and catching the airport express to central Oslo took less than an hour. It is so slick. Everyone speaks perfect English which made me feel a bit shameful given I only knew three words!
The train from Oslo airport to Central station is super easy to find -you just follow the orange line and hey presto.
As I was only in Oslo for one night, I wanted something central and easy to find. What could be easier than a hotel right by the train station. I was slightly worried about the noise, but I needn’t have been. The hotel was very busy as it was being used for a conference. Normally, I eschew self check in but this hotel allowed you to self check in and activate your own room key. That felt very cool!
I went for a standard double which felt roomy. It had a Nespresso machine, and the bathroom was glorious. I say judge a hotel room by the quality of the bathroom. This one had Ritual products and a powerful shower.
Everything in Norway is recycled and it doesn’t feel like a gimmick or a business opportunity. It feels like respecting nature. Even at breakfast, which I will come onto later they encourage you not to waste food and deliberately do not provide big plates.
Ffjord & National Museum &
I wouldn’t take much notice of what google or local maps tell you the time it takes to walk between the main train station and the harbour front. It said I should get a taxi or public transport. Don’t bother with that, it took me 20 minutes and that was at a meander, let me stop and look at this shop front, pace. The Ffjord does daily cruises but I didn’t want to be stuck on a boat for 4 hours when I was only in town for 24 hours so I skipped that.
Apparently, £900 million was spent refurbishing the museum. I decided not to visit that either but the shop was great. I bought a coffee cup that was on sale and I love it.
The harbour front, like lots of disused wharves, if you’re a Londoner then think of the Shad Thames, or further North there are the Liverpool docks has been redeveloped. It’s now a mixture of shops high end and then H&M as well as a whole array of restaurants. I didn’t stop as the reason I came to Oslo was still waiting on me to pay a visit.
Ibsen Apartment & Theatre
Even I’ll admit this felt like a bit of a hike from the centre of town. In reality, it is probably a 35 minutes walk but there is a little bit of a hill to climb. As I caught my breath then entered, I was right on time for the next tour of the theatre and the Ibsen’s actual apartment. You have to be booked on a tour to enter the apartment. It was wonderful, our guide Ingrid conducted the tour in both Norwegian and English. The apartment is wonderful and has many of Ibsen’s original furniture as well as the chair in which his beloved wife died. His study was perfect and I especially loved hearing about his daily writing routine; a bath at lunchtime, then walk into town for a beer and spritz, writing until 5, and then a bath to close proceedings.
The price of clothing and food
Now I’d been warned that you might need to take out a second mortgage to enjoy a weekend in Norway. Fantastically expensive was the phrase that lived rent free in my head. Yes, clothing is more expensive but, there’s tax free shopping for tourists and I was glad about it. I bought a down filled jacket and a jumper with extra warm lining plus a rucksack.
What I saved on clothing, the food took back. I will never complain about the cost of food in England again. I bought 7 items in a supermarket and it came to £30. I kept thinking but this is crazy. Also, my timing failed me because you can’t buy alcohol after 6pm in Norweigan supermarkets so….
How do people stomach the price? They load up at breakfast. When I tell you Clarion Hotel The Hub had the best breakfast buffet I have ever seen, trust me. It was incredible; meats, fish, hot station, gluten free station, cod liver oil station, fruit, and different types of yogurt. You only get two hours which was fine for a 20th century veteran of the Pizza Hut all you can eat buffet. I ate so much I didn’t eat for the rest of the day even after arriving back home in London. I still think about how good that breakfast was and what I am doing wrong here. I should be eating like a Viking.
Oslo was fantastic. I highly recommend it. You only really need two full days there and then head on up to Bergen and then Tromso. I hear the train ride to Bergen is extraordinary and I intend to do that in 2024!
Flight- British Airways from LHR
Airport train [Flytoget] – £16.93 (each way)
Hotel – Clarion the Hub [Biskop Gunnerus gate 3, 0155 Oslo, Norway]