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Oslo

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Much like you, I vaguely remember studying the vikings at school: big, hairy (probably rugby-playing) lumps crashing across the North Sea in their horned helmets and longboats.

Something crossed my mind as I polished off a bottle of beer by Oslo’s pleasantly redeveloped waterfront: perhaps they were not invading after all, but rather running away from Norway. Maybe they were running away from a land where, somehow, Kronenberg 1664 is £12 a bottle. A country where a smug-looking man called Jan, whose larger-than-life image is plastered across bus stops and train stations throughout the city, sells distinctly average hot dogs for a fiver in every conceivable retail outlet. To be fair to Jan, I would find it very hard not to look smug if I simultaneously shifted tinned sausages for £5 in WH Smith, Boots, Sports Direct and Toni & Guy.

To clarify, I am fully aware that Jan’s face is probably not slapped across Norway’s majestic fjords, or beamed into the sky to do battle with the Northern Lights. There is clearly so much more to Norway than this entry would suggest. There, I said it, now back to business.

I made this trip with my girlfriend, Ava. On arrival, Ava mentioned to me that Norway seemed very Nordic. I nodded. It’s all wonderfully inoffensive. Tourists sip coffee and potter about sleek designer stores. One or two may even buy something in a moment of complete madness.

Museums cost less than pints in Oslo. One houses immaculately restored 9th century viking longboats; it also contains a fair amount of plates, spoons and cups. If we can be sure of anything in this world, it is that tableware and cutlery occupy upwards of 80% of all museum exhibition space. The next time you lose a fork or break a mug, don’t worry, as it’s certainly not the last that humankind will see of it. Someone, somewhere, in 400 years’ time will find it, fix it and display it in a museum.

Another museum is home to Roald Amundsen’s trusty ship, Fram, which helped take Amundsen and his team to the South Pole ahead of Shackleton and Scott. Outside this second museum, I stood shoulder to shoulder with Amundsen and his team. Two explorers, of sorts. He had his fox fur boots on whereas I had gone for suede shoes and chinos (I’m sure he would have appreciated that this is a fairly solid combination). He had his Fram parked up in the museum around the corner and I’d arrived on a Ryanair flight from London Stansted.

As I walked away from the statue of Norway’s greatest son, I wondered whether he would see many parallels with today’s preferred mode of long distance travel? Had a member of his crew offered him a toasted sandwich and a small tin of pringles in exchange for £10? How many scratchcards had been aggressively waved in his face on the way to the South Pole?

Until next time then x

Posted by Peter.Moules 14:38 Archived in Norway Tagged oslo

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