Saturday, June 10, 2023


Thomas got himself a Norwegian (the airline) credit card a few years back, mainly because it gives you 1% cash back and free air miles. After a number of years of shopping, he finally amassed enough air miles to take both himself and me away for a weekend to Oslo. We've never left the kids home alone before, so it was quite a nail-biter. Three kids with an empty, a cat, two tiny kittens and us a whole flight away, but hey ho, you have to cut the strings at some point and it isn't exactly like we have anyone nearby who can babysit, so we bit the bullet and went for it! And what a weekend it was! 

The first thing that struck me about Oslo was its sound. The city seems to have fully embraced the electric vehicle revolution, making its streets oddly quiet for a bustling metropolis. More than half the cars and all the public transport and taxis in the capital were electric. The absence of noisy combustion engines gives Oslo an air of serene futurism – like stepping into a tranquil, otherworldly dream where cities whisper rather than shout. All around us seemed to be nothing more than an eerie whoosh. I had to learn to cross the road all over again, no longer able to gauge the speed of an approaching car by its engine noise.

But, the surprises didn't stop there. As a proud Scot, I have a penchant for potato scones. I really miss them since moving here, though occasionally make my own, but they are always on the menu whenever I am over visiting Derek and his family. So imagine my joy when I spotted what I thought were these delightful treats in a local supermarket. I immediately took a pack home and opened it. There were no cooking instructions and I could see they had some sort of filling, so I bit in expecting maybe cream cheese or similar only to find they had strangely been filled with sweet buttercream! A surprising twist, though, and I kind of think it grew on me after the initial shock! Potato scones meet cake... why not? And for a country that is known to be expensive, I was more than surprised at how cheap and omnipresent their sushi was. I guess they have a thriving fishing industry over there!

The language was fun too. The news was on on the train into town from the airport with subtitles and I could understand every single word. It just looked likely badly spelled Danish to me, though I suspect they think of it more as Danish being badly spelled Norwegian! I could easily read a novel in it anyway, so that's a nice bonus, suddenly realising I passively know one more language than I thought I did!

Oslo has also mastered how to get tourists onto its public transport network. The downloadable app is easy, can be used for buses and trams alike with every ticket valid an hour and every new ticket you buy being discounted more each time. It's a far cry from trying to use the bus or tram in Odense as a foreigner when you are left scratching your head as to how to navigate the system and you can't even ask the tram driver who is barricaded into a glass box!

Oslo is the furthest north I have ever been and its bright nights are even brighter than here or my native Glasgow, with the sun refusing to set entirely, bathing the city in an ethereal twilight long after 10 PM. It was as if the city existed in a state of eternal sunset, a spectacle that left me appreciative of our wonderful world. 

One of my biggest surprises hit me on touchdown in Oslo. Despite the current heatwave, huge piles of snow greeted me on the runway at Oslo airport. Yes, you read that right – mountains of snow in a heatwave! I can only imagine Oslo must be truly baltic in the winter months as there was more snow on that runway than I have seen all the years I have lived in Denmark!

Above the cityscape I glimpsed another hint at their true climate, I could clearly see a ski jump – a surreal contrast against the summer skies, a testament to Oslo's love for winter sports. It made me think of mum, a woman who never saw or tried on skis in her life, yet managed to beat the kids at Wii ski jumping every time we visited after we moved to Denmark. The kids had so much fun ski jumping with their granny, I'd have loved to have sent her a photo of a real ski jump!


No comments: