A good day starts with a good breakfast and the one at the hotel offers plenty. We have a slow start to the morning, trying to get out of jet lag and into sightseeing mode. Ribeke, one of Kirk’s internet friends from Norway (Thanks Ribeke!), suggested a route for today’s walking tour to get to see the most popular sights in Oslo.
As we leave the hotel and cross through the Oslo Sentralstasjon, we’re already approaching our first sight: the Oslo Opera House (Operahuset). Situated at the head of the Oslofjord, the structure contains 1,100 rooms in over 38K sq ft. The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with marble and white granite (and ice!) to make it appear to rise from the water. Walk up to the top of the building for great views over the water and harbor area. It is the largest cultural building erected in Norway in over 700 years. Also not to be missed – as you walk around the Opera’s “backside” you get a glimpse into the workshops, including stage building, costume design and wig makers!
It is cold out today and as the wind gusts try to chill us through our winter jackets we spot the floating Oslo Fjord Sauna in the harbor … sounds inviting right about now! But we have more sights to see, so we just walk on along the waterfront and the Cruise Revierkai.
Next stop is the Armed Forces Museum, where we cross through on our way to the Akershus Fortress. Akershus slott is a medieval castle that was build to protect and provide royal residence for Oslo. The castle has been used as a military base and prison. It was built in the 1290s and has been in use since.
Our walking tour continues towards City Hall, which was constructed between 1931 and 1950, with an interruption during WW2. Apparently it won the “Structure of the Century” award–we however got a cold war vibe to its imposing design. On a positive note – it houses the Nobel Peace Price Ceremony every December.
Speaking of … the Nobel Peace Center building is just a across the street from city hall, towards Aker Brygge. After a quick photo op, we walk a little further down Aker Brygge to stop for some hot chocolate and a snack.
It is getting late in the afternoon, and soon we are back on our way, leaving the Aker Brygge neighborhood behind and head up Huitfeldts gate, a street that makes me think we’re in Vienna. Looks just the same! This road leads us straight towards Slottsparken (Palace Park), in the center of Oslo and surrounding the Royal Palace (slottet). The palace was built in the first half of the 19th century as the Norwegian residence if the French-born King Charles III of Norway, who reigned as king of Norway and Sweden. The palace is the official residence of the current Norwegian monarch (King Harald V and his wife Sonja) while the Crown Prince (Price Haakon, wife Mette-Marit) resides at Skaugum, west of Oslo.
It is already getting dark as we stroll down Karl Johans gate, past the Nationaltheatret, the Parliament building and the Oslo Cathedral, before getting back to our hotel. After a quick break in our room, we head back out to grab dinner at Stock Spiseri & Drikkeri for some great food to wrap up our first day in Oslo.