Postcard 1 from Norway – Oslo – The Unsupervised Scandy Tour

The original plan was to fly in to Bergen, wander the streets and take a cable car up the mountain but I was beaten to the peak by the pilgrim a couple of days ago. It looked very bleak with heavy cloud, much snow and high winds. She’s up country now on a boat heading towards Trondheim and I’ve reversed my plans to let the storm clouds pass in Bergen and enjoy the sunshine in Oslo.

My plan was to exercise my Interrail Pass west-to-east traveling to Voss to overnight on the mountain then making my way to Flåm and the scenic railway; however, feedback from Cecilia and a group of Interrailers that have arrived in the hotel this evening from Voss has begun to make me reassess and look favourably on traveling south to Gothenburg where spring is further on and the two or three weeks of neither winter nor spring that the west is currently undergoing can be avoided. In the meantime I really like Oslo so another deal is required for tomorrow night and surprisingly, the Radisson seems to be front runner.

In the meantime I’ve hired a bike!

Negotiating the city is relatively easy and the vehicle drivers seem tolerant but avoiding the slot where the tramlines sit in the road is an imperative to life itself. In fact, a local Norwegian official named Albert (I kid you not) gave me strict instructions to cross them at right angles even if it meant dismounting first. He also suggested the real danger was not the cars and vans but to look out for the bendy-busses which can be particularly hazardous to bikes. I took both of these bits of advice on board and had a great day.

The weather thus far has been a little hazy and warm but this evening the sun pulled out all the stops and I’m happily sitting on the harbourside of the fjord eating a very pleasant vegan-burger with a kimchi Korean side (I’m not vegan but I have lactose issues so if I’m not familiar with the food then going vegan is a very safe option). I’m staring across the lake when something catches my eye. There are some wooden buildings on floating pontoons just to my left with either smoke or steam or perhaps both coming out of narrow chimneys.

The thing that is catching my eye is what I initially think is a naked person then it becomes clear that there are several people but they aren’t completely naked, they have swimming costumes on and the exposed part of their skin is glowing from the intense heat in the shed.

So, the penny drops, the garden sheds on floats are saunas and the scantily clad people are punters running out on to a veranda and jumping in the very chilly water of the fjord. As I gaze around the harbour whilst chomping my way through the very tasty vegan food I spot more of these sheds and some of them have their exits on the roof from where more people are jumping or diving into the water. “Bugger that”, says a voice at my side and I turn to find two of the interrailers that I’d spoken to earlier and clearly enjoying the sun but also just as clearly, not enough to jump in the fjord.

I unlock another city bike to make the return journey to the hotel and pass by the Central Railway Station where there’re huge waves of laughter from the vicinity of a wonderful life size bronze sculpture of a tiger and there’s a bunch of teenage girls laughing helplessly at two of their friends who are sitting on its tail. It’s only when they stagger away, drunk on laughter not alcohol, and I pass it that I discover what had caused the mirth. Apparently, just touching certain parts of its anatomy brings you good luck. Methinks they’re in for a lottery win 😀 – see the snaps.

Things hot up tomorrow when I utilise my local pass for the city transport including busses, trams and ferries. I’ll let you know.

Enjoy the snaps. G x

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