Mark and Irena arrive at the apartment we’ve rented in Frogner, a rather stylish part of Oslo. We are excited to have company for the next 10 days and explore a bit more of Norway.
After a celebratory Champagne we head out to dinner at a local French restaurant.
The following day starts with more celebrations at breakfast – it’s Irena’s Birthday.
We then spend it sight-seeing around Oslo on foot. Not far from our apartment is Frognerparken, which showcases the work by Norwegian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland.
There are 212 granite and bronze works of Vigeland in this unique and impressive open-air display.
On the other side of town, the centerpiece of the waterfront redevelopment is Oslo’s new Opera House, a striking building designed to resemble a glacier.
Floating offshore of the Opera House is a steel and glass sculpture by Monica Bonvicini – She Lies. The sculpture spins and twists with the tides, providing an ever-changing perspective.
We head into the Grünerløkken district, once a working class area its streets are now lined with trendy boutiques, restaurants, bars and quirky coffee shops. Frequented by the gentrified hipsters with top-knots!
Leaving Oslo behind we cram the four of us into the Megane coupe. It’s a tight squeeze with luggage and supplies included. The strategy is the more we drink and eat, the more room we will have!
Our first stop is Gol, a non-descript town which I only mention because of the very hospitable owner of Desertland, the only cafe in town, which we stop at.
The property has been in the family for generations and they have preserved a 300 year old cottage which he proudly show us.
Our journey continues north, our plan is to stay in Aurlund which is about 300km from Oslo. By Australian standards that would be an easy 3 hour drive; in Norway it’s about 5 hours.
The country is amongst the lowest ranked in road fatalities. Speed limits are strictly enforced, most highways are a maximum of 80km/hr and everyone seems to politely follow the rules.
Besides spectacular scenery, Norway is famous for its Stave Churches. There are only about 30 surviving Stave Churches in Europe, 28 of them are in Norway.
One of the best preserved is the Borgund Stave Church, constructed between 1180 – 1250 and is en route. Mark can hardly contain his excitement over the prospect of visiting a Stave Church – who would have thought!!
Our first majestic view of the Aurlundsfjord is at the Stegastein viewpoint; one of a growing number of architecturally designed platforms, which are just as interesting as the view.
A solid 31 meter walkway protrudes into the air, 640 meters above Aurland, with a panoramic view along the fjord.
Our destination for the night is just below us in Aurland, we luck-out and find a cute cabin on the waterfront looking straight down the Fjord. The views compensated for the disappointing dinner at the only restaurant choice in town.
The following day is action packed with a ride on the the Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana), one of the world’s steepest rail lines. The 20-kilometer ride climbs through the mountains providing a view down deep ravines and past cascading waterfalls.
However, the best way to really appreciate the fjords is on the water. We suit-up and take a 2 hour journey with Fjordsafari from Aurlandsfjord into Nærøyfjord.
The landscape is dotted with isolated villages squeezed in between the dramatic mountains.
Our next stop is Hardangerfjord. We thought we’d stay in Voss which has a reputation for being the adventure capital of Norway, but we found it an over developed charmless town and decided to move on.
We ended up in the small town of Eidfjord and accommodation at the comfortable Eidfjord Cabins by the river Eio.
Over the next two days, we managed to dodge the rain and take a few walks, visiting some of the spectacular waterfalls and the not-so-spectacular Nature Centre.
It features tanks of carp, stuffed animals and a poorly produced, very outdated Panoramic film flying over the Hardangerfjord. My advice – don’t waste your money!
There is heavy rain on our last night in Eidfjord which resulted in flooding, rock slides and roads and rail lines being closed. It was a long and slow drive back to Oslo.
The wet weather was looking likely to continue, not very conducive to being outdoors and lets face it, Norway is an outdoors kind of place, we might as well go back and see a bit more of Oslo.
Instead of going back to our charming apartment in Frogner, we decided to stay over in Grünerløkken, to explore a different part of town.
We found a place on AirBnB, which turned out to not be one of our better choices! Our host was lovely, but the apartment was somewhat misrepresented in the photo’s; furniture had changed, the paint work was peeling, it was overly cluttered, grimy.
What topped it off was the noise. Our upstairs neighbours decided to have band practice from midnight to 6am. Not the fault of our host, but I suspect something that occurs frequently and she could at least warn you about.
Anyway, Mark and Irena went off and visited the Viking museum and a few others. Don and I had a leisurely day around town, we’d seen our Viking museum in Denmark and one is enough for us.
For our grand finale dinner we frocked-up (as best you can when traveling) and dined at Markveien Mat & Vinhus, which featured modern norwegian cuisine. The meal was superb, we enjoyed delicious arctic trout, scallops, rabbit and lamb and shared an amazing melt in your mouth chocolate dessert.
Don and I are expected back in Rødby for a Jensen family reunion, so early morning we bid farewell to Mark & Irena who are continuing their travels across to Poland.
Norway is a dramatically spectacular country and we’ve had a wonderful time exploring it with these two – thanks for squeezing into the car, nursing bags on your lap, laughing at Don’s bad jokes and hanging out with us!