When researching Oslo before I left for Norway I was told it was expensive and cold. I can now confirm that it is expensive and cold. But this didn’t make me think any less of the city. It’s a fairly simple city where as a tourist you can walk everywhere within around 25 minutes and it has a wonderful atmosphere. A city where people are happy. A quiet city where car drivers pay to fund a thriving public transport network.
We were lucky enough to stay with Norwegian film director Mona Hoel. The first thing she recommended was the apent bakery in the west of the city.(http://www.apentbakeri.no/)
The cafe culture is not up to its Swedish neighbor but this independent bakery did a pretty good job. Oslo is crammed with chained coffee shops mostly ‘expresso house’, a company I really don’t care much for.
Their most interesting pastry is a skoleboller. A bread filled with custard and topped with coconut. Its tradition started as something children would take to school. That’s where it got its name.
The food in Oslo was generally all very good. However, it is expensive and really not traditional at all. It is dominated by international cuisine in a way i’ve only ever seen in London. The mega trendy Aker Brygge defines this. An area of offices, flats and restaurants which could be anywhere in the world and shows the wealthy side of modern Norway. I didn’t stay long but did enjoy the misty morning views of the harbor. In these kinds of areas in Oslo I think its worth mentioning that it costs around £9 for a 3/4 pint of beer or £60 for a bottle of house wine. However, street food in this area was fantastic. ‘Polse’ or hotdogs are a big deal in Norway. I had a fantastic reindeer hotdog with herby mash, some pickles and crispy kale right on the harbor outside the nobel peace museum. It was delicious. Cost me £10 but in its context seemed worth it!
We escaped and headed to Grünerløkka, a much more humble but trendy district where we were promised cheap beer and a great night drinking with Norwegians. Its true, Norwegians love to drink. We went to Ryes bar (https://www.facebook.com/RyesOslo) on Olaf Ryes Plass. At only £12 for 3 x 400ml of beer it was cheap and being surrounded by generous Norwegians meant I had no trouble getting drunk in one of the most expensive cities on Earth.
“Skol” meaning ‘drink’ or ‘cheers’ is said with every drink and by 2am I felt I knew the word pretty well.
Scandanavia you have my heart.