We were very slow getting out this morning actually, such that we missed the free hotel breakfast. Oops. Thankfully staying in a hotel adjoining the train station has its perks and we were able to get pastries very easily. Our first stop of the day was to explore Akershus Castle and Fortress. It was a nice walk from the hotel, and we were grateful for Google Maps because it seems hard to find the entrance otherwise.
I was super delighted to find a free audio guide offered for the castle. I was also glad I had brought my own earbuds to plug in. Eric did not have his with him and holding up the tiny electronic box and trying to listen was very annoying. Plugging in headphones was much better and I was able to walk through the rooms of the castle with informational commentary. It was great. Also there was basically nobody else in there, I wondered why the tour groups don’t go through? It made for a much more peaceful experience, though. After the audio tour we caught another changing of the guards as we exited the castle gates and poked around the gardens and grounds a little before moving on.
Our next stop was a boardwalk area called Aker Brygge. This was recommended by Eric’s neighbor from New Jersey. We enjoyed a stroll down the water and saw many shops and restaurants on the way. All the way at the end is a contemporary art museum we decided to skip and a cool glass elevator that was only open on weekends so we couldn’t go up for the view. We decided on Jamie Oliver’s restaurant on the boardwalk for lunch. Had some good drinks and pizzas, and then spent some more time lounging by the water in the sun. We grabbed some ice cream from a stand and worked our way back toward the Opera House to explore that.
The Opera House is designed in such a way that you can walk up a steep ramp from the front street level to the roof and enjoy a view over Oslo and the harbor. It was very beautiful and we spent a while up top enjoying the view. We also popped into the lobby to look around. It reminded us a little of the Sydney Opera House, but it had its own cool, modern feel to it also. The Opera House is located just right across from Central Station so we decided to hop over there and grab the T out to Holmenkollen to visit the large ski slope and ski museum out there.
It was about a 30 min train ride followed by an extremely steep uphill walk to find the site. Once we arrived, though, it was FwOP and pretty cool. The changes in the ski jump here over 130+ years was cool to see, and Eric just really enjoyed all the stuff in the ski museum including a small exhibit on snowboarding. I did enjoy seeing the old skis and learning about the history of bindings and the way the technique of ski jumping has evolved. I was just getting pretty tired by this point in the day again. We also rode a lift up to the top of the ski jump which was cool to look down and we could also see downtown Oslo from there.
As we left the museum we realized one of the restaurants that Eric’s neighbor had recommended was actually just at the end of the same metro line we were already on. Being more than halfway there already we decided to take the metro out to the end of the line and check it out for dinner. Thankfully we had pretty good instructions from Eric’s neighbor because otherwise once we got there we would have been even more lost than we already were.
There were some signs for the restaurant from the metro stop and our instructions said to just walk down hill. So we did and sure enough we popped out by a beautiful restaurant building with a spectacular view overlooking Oslo and the water. There also happened to be a special car gathering going on so those were cool to look at. The next instructions we had were to go inside, through the sit down restaurant, and find a self service cafeteria in the back right. It was a bit confusing but we did find the right location. It was like a cross between a convenience store, old timey market/bakery, and a cafeteria. There was a counter where hot food would be so we stood around looking confused until a very busy worker behind the counter (handling the sit down portion of the restaurant I think) came over and started talking in Norwegian. We told her in English we wanted to order hot food and which dishes we wanted. She handed us a little buzzer and gave us a lot of instructions in Norwegian. I caught something that sounded like “blinken” and I assumed the buzzer would blink when our food was ready. When we stared at her blankly trying to process all this, she said in English we should go pay. Okay! So we also picked up some self serve desserts and drinks and paid for everything at the cashier. Our instructions said we could take our food outside to enjoy the view, which we did.
Shortly after we sat down the buzzer started beeping so we went in and found our plates sitting on a counter. We grabbed them and left the buzzer. The food was quite good, actually. We tried the fish patties and an elk skewer; plus the view couldn’t be better. So even if we may have annoyed the staff with our incompetence we had a lot of fun. And we felt somewhat adventurous being so far out of the city at the end of the metro line and finding this random restaurant. I wondered how many tourists go there on their own? We did not see any tourists, only locals who were coming for coffee and desserts it seemed. I had not read about this place in my research on Oslo, and if tourists did happen to stumble into it, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to figure out without the guidance we already had. I guess we may have just stood at the door waiting for a seat in the full service area then, but that would not have been nearly as fun.
The worst part was climbing back up the somewhat steep trail to the metro afterwards. There were a bunch of little slugs all over it, just like the ones we see in California except black instead of yellow. They were cute. They made the climb less annoying. A train came very quickly and we started the 35ish minute ride back to central station and to our hotel. On the walk to our room we stopped and bought a couple Norwegian candy bars to try. One was basically a KitKat and the other was a marshmallow banana bar that was pretty unique. They made for a fun bedtime snack.