On Norway and Fjords

We knew we were going to fall in love with Norway. How could we not?

We like to play the game called ‘Could We Live Here?’ and we agree that Oslo is right up there on the livability rankings, thanks to its compact city centre, its seaside location, the architecture and the sheer abundance of seafood. It reminds us of Portland, Maine, where we lived for many years. It’s like the version of Portland that city planners draw when they reimagine the city a decade from now.

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Hello, Portland of the future. Welcome.

We’ll soon get around to showing you all the amazing food we ate, the spa where we spent an afternoon, and he thousand-year-old Viking ships that captured our imaginations. But first things first. Norway is meant to be experienced outside.

It’s a place where the outdoors are celebrated and reveled in, particularly during long summer days.

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We took advantage of the cloudless sky one morning and did a short hike around Sognsvann Lake. The city of Oslo is essentially cut out of dense forest that hugs in from all sides. As the metro stops plod by, the train quickly exits the underground tunnels and journeys into the woods. The last stop on the line, while probably only a few miles out of town, feels like a different world.Families and groups of friends, runners, campers and plenty of dogs all join in, circling the lake via several different trails. A few brave swimmers take to the water.

We kept close to the shore, taking our time and remembering to look at the birds. We decided that if we lived here in Oslo, this would be Basil’s favorite spot. We would come every warm weekend, ostensibly to get exercise, but mostly just to relax on a beach blanket and watch the sun never go down.

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In the heart of the city, a complex series of ferries shuttle locals and tourists around to various islands and inlets. We jumped on one such ferry for a quick ten minute ride to the Viking Ship Museum. We waved at the local boaters who use the waterways as their neighborhood streets, hauling groceries back home from city center. The marinas that line the harbor were filled with all kinds of boats, but particularly sailboats, as far as the eye can see.

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We wonder to ourselves, in this idyllic summer destination, what is winter like?

(And then we quickly shoved that thought out of our heads. Part of the joy of visiting a city so attuned to summer is never having to see its dark side, its winter face.)

One of the best places to experience the joys of the outdoors is at the local opera house. It’s obviously a stunning architectural achievement, but it’s also a place for people to gather and relax outside. The entire facade is a massive ramp, one that you can scoot up and down for literally hours. People pose together to capture the strangest photography angles they can manage with a selfie stick.

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Late August in Scandinavia is magical. The weather here turns early, and while the days are sunny and mild, there is a little bite to the air. That bite reminds me that autumn is just around the corner, which is always a welcome change.  We spend the days putting on our jackets as we we walk into the shade and quickly shedding them when the sun reappears from behind a cloud.

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In the evenings, the sun in Oslo sets late. One night we dined on the waterfront, wearing our sunglasses for part of the meal as the sun set in our eyes. Another night we meandered around the harbor watching hoards of people eating at TGI Fridays (why people? why?) and discussing which apartment overlooking the bay would be most lovely to live in.

We decided that our monthly allowance for shellfish consumption would need to be at least $300.

Oslo is a place where you do that. Where you start picturing yourself living there, taking the pup to that park on the corner and living in that house with the black roof tiles, and owning that boat over there named ‘Urban Jungle.’ It feels like home, and it reminds us of home. And now it has a permanent place on the ‘Could We Live Here?’ list.

Have you ever been to Oslo? Did you find it as magical as we did?

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Oslo, Norway

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  • September 4, 2015

    Haha $300 for shellfish sounds entirely reasonable to me! Why people would go to TGIFs when there are so many better, fresher, and authentic options is mind boggling to me. I enjoying playing the “Could we live here” game too – with such a picturesque setting and walkable city, it’s no wonder why you’re open to Oslo. How about the cost of living though? Did you find it incredibly high?
    Danielle @ The-Lifestyle-Project recently posted…An Update on Our Rescue Dog: 3 Months After AdoptionMy Profile

    • September 4, 2015

      Yes, costs here are very very high! We were a little bit blown away by the cost (which is kinda why we just went for a weekend!). Lunch at an indoor market (sandwiches, 2 drinks) was nearly £30! And our best guess to the TGI takeover? Maybe it’s so foreign and new here that it’s cool. Bloomin’ onions for days 🙂

  • September 5, 2015

    Outrageously expensive (#9 for a sausage; $21 for a magazine), but undeniably beautiful. Oslo is a gorgeous and, like you said, very liveable city. One of my favorites!
    Stephen Garone recently posted…Top 5 Buildings in Vienna, AustriaMy Profile

    • September 6, 2015
      Julie

      Definitely – the costs were very, very high. We did only go for a weekend (partially for that very reason). We’ve lived in two of the most expensive cities in the world and still, Oslo gets the prize for most expensive.

  • September 7, 2015

    Well I said I could live there too while visiting during summer time, but then I heard about the few hours day time in winter and I changed my mind completely 😉 We spoke with an English man who has a bar there. He moved to Oslo 30 years ago, but he told us he still had a rough time during the winter months.
    Maaike – Travellous World recently posted…Afternoon Tea – Dutch StyleMy Profile

    • September 7, 2015
      Julie

      The beauty of the Nordic region in the summer is dwarfed by the prolonged darkness in the winter. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have only a few hours at most of sunlight in the dead of winter. The UK is hard enough in the winter in terms of daylight, can’t imagine dealing with even less light per day.

  • September 7, 2015

    I’d love to visit Norway (or any of Scandinavia for that matter), but the high price tag has kept us away. I’m pretty sure that would be a huge con against Oslo for us when paying the “Could we live here?” game (which is also one of our favorites!).

    Also, I think you made the right choice visiting in the summer. Whenever I need to return to Canada, I always try to time my visits so the coincide with (all too brief) Canadian summer.
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…When 2 Become 1: Lessons Learned Traveling Solo in CaliforniaMy Profile

    • September 8, 2015
      Julie

      Oslo would be a lot different in the winter. Most of the Nordic region is expensive, but Oslo is definitely the most expensive, followed by Stockholm. Finland is on the Euro, so it is slightly cheaper now due to the falling value of the Euro. We could live in Oslo, just might need to add another zero onto our income!

  • September 14, 2015

    Love to play that game everywhere I go. Daydreaming a fantasy life in the places I visit is half the fun of travel! Norway is my sister’s dream destination. Hoping to make the journey there with her one day 🙂
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    • September 14, 2015

      Nothing wrong with a little daydreaming! Oslo would be amazing, though we have yet to spend any time there in the winter, which might alter our view slightly! Oslo is a great city and hopefully we can get back to Norway to head further north for some more fjords.