Of course we've all been to countries with friendly and helpful locals, but the Norwegian people we encountered on our short weekend away were some of the loveliest, funniest, warmest (lols, ironic) people I've ever come across.
From my PT's 7:30am pint (yep, she's a great influence) all the way to stepping off the train at Liverpool Street on Sunday, the laughter was constant, which in turn attracted laughter from those around us, wherever we went. We clearly gave Palladium-level comedic performances...
Our AirBnb was in the perfect location, about 7 minutes walk from Majorstuen train station, which was two stops from the town centre. The home itself was quaint and cosy, with a cottage vibe and exactly what you'd want a winter break home-stay to be. The host lived in the house above, and was so accommodating and really down to earth. She chatted with us about her plans for the night, gave us recommendations for our own evening, and offered her daughter's services to drive us into town.
When her daughter came to collect us, we again sat in their home and chatted for ages. She enlightened us on the student traditions in Norway and her aspirations for her next year at university. As she drove us into town, she pointed out landmarks and enlightened us with relevant stories from her own life.
She dropped us off near the Oslo Opera House, which we proceeded to scuttle up in the dark. There was literally no one else around, so we marveled at Oslo by night without any annoying tourists about - a category we definitely don't fall under, obvs - until our bellies reminded us that crisps and rum had not been a satisfactory dinner.
Wetherspoons (kind of)
After walking about for ages, assessing menus and dipping into (suspiciously quiet) venues, we ended up in what can only be described as a Norwegian Wetherspoons. You can take the ladies out of London, eh. To their merit, there was a live band and their cocktails were pretty superior to our Blue Lagoon pitchers, tbh.
Seeing as Oslo is a port city, myself and another member of our group decided to sample the mussels. BEST. DECISION. EVER. These mussels were the best I'd ever tasted. Like, ever. The flavour in the sauce, the small cubes of chorizo, the size of the mussels themselves... perfection. If I ever return to Oslo, this is where I am heading first.
Once the food had been cleared away, our singing and love of accessories caught the attention of two Norwegian girls who proceeded to ask if they could join us. What proceeded was a lot of laughter, singing, jubilation and the seed was planted. Karaoke? Okay!
The girls were a great comedy duo, with one quipping "Okay, let me translate," after everything her friend said, even if it was in English, but alas their sense of direction and knowledge of open bars on a Friday night didn't match up. We went separate ways after a great evening.
We were up and out fairly early the next day, much to my pleasure as a sightseeing fiend and someone who likes to make the most out of what each country has to offer.
Our sightseeing guide was a uni friend of one of our group who has lived in Norway for the last decade, or so.
First of all, she took us on the most picturesque tube ride I've ever been on. Central line this was not. What started underground in a snow-less city ended up in a winter wonderland of snow, mountains and incredible views. We walked up to the most Scandi looking cafe-restaurant, Fognerseteren restaurant og kafe, and enjoyed hot chocolate, cookies and cake while we soaked up the Bavarian vibe. With moose antlers in place of chandeliers, it was all very 'big summer blow out' from Frozen.
After we filled our boots with treats and snow, we headed back down into Oslo's town centre and walked along the dock. The sun set pretty early, so we enjoyed a beautiful pink sky over the waters at about 3:30pm. Much to my sadness, the Christmas vibe wasn't in full force yet as it was only early November, though we did admire a small bauble Christmas tree. I learnt that Norway donate the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree to us Londoners each year.
On our way back to our AirBnb, we stopped by Vigeland Park where we proceeded to act out the poses of each and every weird and wonderful statue. It was bloody hilarious; you'd never have guessed the average age of the group was 31 years old. My favourite was the observation from one of the group: "but why are they naked? It's so cold here."
Our attempt at bar hopping, take two
The city is covered with clocks nearly everywhere you turn, so we had no excuses to be late to our reservation at a local Norwegian restaurant recommended by our AirBnb host. Again, great food and drink ensued, and the waitress was so helpful with recommendations that we left her a tip; something we learnt wasn't a regular occurrence in Norway. We headed out into the town centre (where there was a lot more of a buzz compared to the previous night) to see where the night would take us.
Unfortunately, we enjoyed the restaurant a little too much and missed the last entry into the Ice Bar, so instead we headed to a little Norwegian beer house just down the road from it. We learned that the bar only served produce from Norway and, while there was gin, tonic and beer aplenty, soft drinks, like Coke, and spirits, like vodka, weren't on the menu. Personally, I absolutely loved the premise behind the bar and I'm glad we visited.
We moved on to another bar and were again surprised, but delighted, by the friendliness of the locals. Two guys joined us for the most part of the evening and, like the girls from the night before, tried to take us to some other bars that had since been closed. We ended up back in the same place making even more friends, including some students who proceeded to teach us some sort of drinking ritual! Now, I know drunk bathroom friends is a thing in the UK, but this lot took it to a whole new level. We chatted like old friends and I do think it's a shame that we're not all like this back at home. I mean, I'm happy to try, but I'm not sure I'm ready for the looks I'll get just yet...
After a great night, we headed home for a particularly short sleep before catching the train back to the airport. Cue sullen faces and the "don't even dare speak to me" eyes on the tube...