In today’s society we are constantly overwhelmed and overworked. All this builds upon an additional lack of opportunities to rest and reconnect with nature. Even when urban development is a good thing, it has made many of our cities concrete jungles, crammed with people, where every day it is more difficult to find a free space from all the noise. Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Oslo, one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever been to. The reputation of this place precedes it well, the passion of the Norwegians for nature, the outdoors and sports is well known. Norway is a vast country, with very unique features and it is located at the far Northern end of Europe even above Moscow.
It is a very large territory and yet very unpopulated. But Norway has the distinction of being one of the countries with highest living standards in the world. Although this is a good thing, it is also reflected well in the costs of living which might cause any would be visitor to think twice before embarking on a trip to Norway. Still there are many attractive qualities: the scene of nature is serene with still, small towns and legendary standards of living. Still cost is a factor. Here anything can cost double or triple that elsewhere in Europe. A second impediment may be the weather. Norway has one of the coldest and longest winters in the world. The summer is mild, but short, with days of endless light. The climate concern is easily solved by wisely choosing the time of year you want to visit the country. This is not to say that one should avoid winter at all costs. Norway is fascinating when covered with snow and it is one of the best places in the world for winter sports. But if one wants to hike comfortably without having to carry a lot of clothes perhaps from May to September are the best months to travel here.
In terms of cost, they cannot lower prices, but one can adapt to the reality in various ways. One suggestion is always to stay at a hotel that offers breakfast. Usually one will find a sumptuous banquet of natural and healthy foods prepared in the morning. Things like the best salmon and organic food choices are standard fare for breakfast in many hotels and elsewhere they would otherwise cost a fortune. And for the rest of the day? Why not emulate the Norwegians, the best solution is to go grocery shopping and prepare lunch or dinner to go. Enjoying some prepared food with a seat on the edge of one of the pristine fjords can be a more thrilling view and ambience than many plush five star restaurants all over the world.
Since arriving in Oslo I encountered a wonderful city with excellent transportation. From the airport into town it takes about an hour, crossing a unique landscape of mountains, lakes and cattle farms. Everything here seems so perfect! Everything is so neat and tidy. In my case I decided to book the Radisson hotel. Oddly enough I was able to find a great price. Anyway, although it is a very nice hotel, do not raise your expectations too much. It was clean, with all standard facilities, but perhaps not the luxuries of other countries. The Norwegians are very practical and simple, this shows as well even in the simplicity of the royal palace. The Norwegians who enjoy the finer things in life know that the best luxuries are found in their own expanse of nature.
Oslo is a modern city with many beautiful neighborhoods and parks. Everything is in proximity and you can walk almost anywhere. The city is characterized by a unique tranquility. People enjoy relaxing corners of the restaurants by candlelight. The view of the fjords is unparalleled. I can say that Oslo is a city that conveys a sense of peace and serenity. This is perhaps why it is the capital city of peace. The Nobel Prizes including the one for peace are given here every year. The Nobel museum is one of the many museums worth visiting. Many of the museums are free on certain days of the week. Here also is the famous Scream painting of Munch and many other of his famous works. The best way to experience Oslo is certainly by foot.
If you do not want to go far jump into one of the many parks, such as the beautiful sculpture park, where an impressive collection of works of outdoor art pay tribute to different facets of life. Or the Botanical Garden, which is a natural paradise just minutes away. Also it can be a delight to enjoy the gardens of the palace and see how many locals carry their lunch baskets. But obviously you have to go a little out of town too. In my case one of the most wonderful experiences was walking around the Oslo Fjord. Only ten minutes walking and you are in the middle of the mountains, breathing pure air and a landscape that is a delight to the eyes. After three hours of walking I took a boat and explored the islands around the city, where I saw a host of colorful houses lined up around the beaches. I have never see so much beauty in one place. Returning to Oslo I visited the castle and the fort, a magical place to recall that this is a small town but it has been occupied always since the year one thousand.
Finally you cannot leave this city without first exploring its beautiful streets and avenues, enjoying the shopping district and having a coffee in one of the many bars there close to the parliament or the National Theatre. It was nearly eleven o’clock at night, but at that time the sun was still shining and then I went to the palace of the Opera, a modern building on the shore of the fjord. From there I could see one of the most breathtaking displays I’ve seen in my life: the famous midnight sun, at that moment I felt an overwhelming peace and gratefulness for such a life, for the opportunity to explore this beautiful city.