I hadn’t planned on a full day, but Saturday just rolled from one activity to another.
I rose early, at my usual time, then prepared to meet Unni (Henrik’s mom) for breakfast. After a brisk walk in the cool morning I met Unni at Java, a cute coffee shop near St. Hanshaugen park. It is a pretty little corner, and the decor inside was cool and welcoming. Even the baristas were trendy, and friendlier than many I had met in Norway.
We settled down for a breakfast outside to enjoy the shy sun that occasionally popped its head between the clouds. I had a cappuccino, Unni had a chai latte (highly recommended) and we ate croissants with rhubarb jam.
“A typical French breakfast, in Norway!” Unni exclaimed.
After breakfast was polished we set off to Holmenkollen, the local winter sports ground where the ski jump extended high into the sky. It was a leisurely drive to Holmenkollen, but upon our arrival it started raining. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Unni and I walked up to the ski jump, and she told me Eddie the Eagle had jumped here before. The manmade slope was massive, extending high into the sky. It was also a stroke of architectural innovation, as the columns supporting the slopes are set up in such a way that it looks like it floats at night.
We climbed a little higher to admire the view of Oslo, but the clouds had settled in low over the city, robbing us of our view of the fjord.
And we were off to another spot, a local restaurant that is very popular among both locals and tourists alike. It was a large cabin like structure, sitting tall and resolute on the slope between the trees. We filtered inside, to be greeted by a roaring fireplace and the smell of old wood. This building is 130 years old!
I stroked the walls as I walked past, my fingers soaking up the history. The building was sturdy, made of thick columns of and equally thick beams and planks. Even the tables stood strong. It is the kind of place I could imagine a viking feast take place.
I ended up feasting on a delicious cup of hot cocoa (not hot chocolate). Unni and I settled upstairs overlooking the main dining hall, chatting about life, politics and love. It was the perfect kind of weather to stay inside, huddling away from the bitter cold and the rain. It felt so stereotypically Scandinavian. Then it was time to brave the rain and turn home.
Free Tour in Oslo
Late afternoon the sun broke through the sky and I decided to embark on a Free Tour of Oslo city centre. It was a fun group, and I quickly met people from Australia, UK, Colombia and many more places. Quite a bit of the tour took me to places I had visited before, but being guided along with quirky bits of new information made it worthwhile. We visited the docks, the old city halls, the fort and a few other locales.
The weather held out well, making the hour and a half walk very enjoyable. Sandra, our tour guide, was funny and engaging and I enjoyed her stories about Oslo’s history. I wish I had stumbled onto the free tour earlier, it was a great opportunity to engage and meet new eager faced travellers.
I had planned for days to watch the Germany-Italy game at the Kontraskjæret, and nothing would put me off it. Not even buckets of rain. As Klara and I grabbed our bikes to cycle to the venue, it started raining. And not the usual polite rain I had experienced in Oslo, it came down in buckets. Getting to the Kontraskjæret was a tough feat of navigation and will power to continue throughout this downpour.
As we arrived there, we filed in line. Many people were darting through to stand under trees or to buy poncho’s, a business that quickly went out of stock. I had planned to meet up with Henrik and friends from the afternoon’s tour but everything seemed impossible in this weather. Eventually we found Henrik, and joined him on the red bleachers near the big screen.
I couldn’t believe that last week Saturday I was getting sunburnt and this week Saturday I would sitting on a cold wet seat, completely drenched save for the areas my astute raincoat covered. My ass was wet from the seat, but I soon forget about my misery and watched the football game commence, with a beer in hand.
The Norwegians love football. For many of them their entire day is structured around it. I have not seen so much passions in Norwegians until it came to watching football at the Kontraskjæret – a large open plan venue with screens and overpriced beer. They braved the weather to come and support their favourite teams, to rejoice, yell, curse and clap. The atmosphere was contagious. Our group soon grew as more joined, including those from the tour. We easily became the rowdiest crowd in the audience.
Germany won (yay) and we set off for post match celebrations at the Whiskey Bar. The place was crowded, but we wriggled our way into the corner to share a table with some other eager football fans. The atmosphere was electric: everyone was drinking, laughing, dancing and screaming cheers in different languages. The Norwegian word is ‘skol’, and in the past a cheers involved spilling your drink into your comrade’s cup to indicate that you have not poisoned it.
After several hours of being merry and drinking beer, we had to set off home. The busses and bicycles are out of use from 12 am onward, and apparently Uber is not really a thing in Norway. We hopped into a cab and kicked off home.