Earlier this month, Emirates started its daily direct flights to the Norwegian capital, Oslo — which, to me, is one of the world’s most serene and naturally exquisite cities.
The gorgeous blue of the sea and canals contrasts beautifully with the lushness of the city and the surrounding hills. This natural beauty enhances the charm of the city’s quaint wooden buildings with balconies and flowers pots. Any visitor to the city would agree that while the weather is cold in Oslo, the people are warm and friendly.
Here’s what you should not miss during your stay in the city where the Noble Prize for Peace is awarded every year.
Nobel Peace Center
Located in the heart of the city, the Nobel Peace Center is a museum that tells the story about the Nobel peace laureates and their groundbreaking work.
Besides enjoying the events, visitors can also walk around the building, which overlooks the sea, to enjoy the modern architecture and the atmosphere. Covered with marble and white granite, the structure has angled exterior surfaces that make it look like it’s rising from the sea. Facing the Opera House is a glass monument, which is designed in a way that reflects the sun’s rays with its movement.
Nearly half an hour by boat from Oslo, the town helps you relax away from the chaos of city life. The trip on the speedboat was one of the most fascinating I have ever experienced. Each boat carries up to 10 passengers, and everyone is asked to put on a special suit and glasses for the ride. Once we were out in the North Sea, I enjoyed the scenery in the distance — wooden houses of different sizes and colors, vegetation, small sailing boats docked in their designated areas. And, unlike me, if you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the seals and eagles too.
Initially, I had taken one of the inner seats but the breathtaking views drew me to the edge of the fast-moving boat, and soon I was taking pictures.
Upon arrival in Drobak, we headed to the Tourist Information Office where I was astonished to see thousands of Christmas cards hung on a wall. We also saw Santa sitting behind a desk. I was told that nearly 20,000 children — most of them know the place, it seems — from around the world send cards to Santa asking for gifts ranging from dolls to pets, and Santa replies to nearly 3,000 of them. The office is located in the southern part of Drobak Harbor and is run by the Municipality of Frogn.
Christmas is not yet over in Drobak. Near the tourist attraction is another shop run by a family that offers handmade Christmas decorations. From small toys and big dolls to witches and colored balls, the shop offered everything I could associate with the festival.
There are also small old restaurants, street cafés and a church you could visit. I returned to Oslo by bus.
It is one of the upscale neighborhoods of Oslo and a popular starting point for hiking and skiing. Visitors can enjoy one of the best views of Oslo from here.
Travelers who follow world politics can visit the two-storey house where the secret Palestinian-Israeli talks were held in the early Nineties. Near the house is the Frognerseteren restaurant, where I had one of the best salmons in Norway.
A few kilometers away is the 60-metre-high Holmenkollen Ski Jump. Visitors are allowed to go to the top by an elevator to take in the spectacular view.
The Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park
The park has 212 bronze and granite sculptures on display, all of which is the work of Gustav Vigeland, whose own statue stands at the entrance. The life-size statues represent the cycle of life. The carving in stone and casting in bronze were done by a number of talented craftsmen.
Astrup Fearnley Museum
The wooden structure of the museum was designed by the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano. It faces the Oslo fjord at the end of the Aker-Brygee-Tjuvholmen pedestrian area.
I was staying at a nearby hotel, The Thief. Many years ago, thieves were punished in this part of the city. Today, it’s a popular dining spot.
Healthy Way of Living
Norway enjoys an abundant supply of seafood and seasonal agricultural products. Many places, including the hotel I stayed at, offer organic food items such as eggs and vegetables every morning. August and September is the apple season so I ordered fresh apple juice wherever I went.
I fell in love with the city and would not mind another visit.