City Spotlight: Oslo

5 Sep

Over the last couple of years I’ve been ticking off the capital cities of Scandinavia.  Stockholm, Copenhagen and Amsterdam under my belt, I decided it was time to visit Oslo. You might find it funny to hear that at customs I left my sun tan lotion behind as I couldn’t fit it in the plastic bag… and consequently went on to get sunburn. In Norway. Only I could get bloody Norwegian sunburn… then again, it did mean the weather was BEAUTIFUL for my trip and as a result I got to do a hell of a lot of walking around a lovely city. The blog post below features some highlights.

EAT: Obviously I had to give the burger scene in Oslo a bit of a once-over. The options are reasonably limited when it comes to good burgers, but there were a couple which I kept coming across: Illegal Burger (closed the weekend I went) and Døgnvill Burger. So, Døgnvill it was.

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After strolling down the Akerselva river for an hour or two, I was intending on veering off-course and heading to Døgnvill. Turns out, I accidentally stumbled across it anyway – it’s on the outskirts of a lovely restaurant/shopping square in Vulkan, the equivalent of Shoreditch in Oslo (used to be rough, is at the end of ‘up and coming’.. basically, it came).

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The menu is impressive – lots of options for beef, chicken and veggie burger fans, as well as your standard sides and lots of drink options (it doubles up as a bar). Oslo is inanely expensive, the guidebooks don’t lie. I ended up paying £38 for the following: Birdie Num Num (chicken breast on bread with sun-ripened beefsteak tomato, red onions, rocket, Aioli and Salsa Verde) sweet potato fries with aioli and a cider.

The burger was REALLY good. I really hate it when a ‘burger’ place focuses on the beef and just does a bog stand ‘chicken cooked in some kind of herb + mayo’ job – if you’re not going to bother with it, don’t put it on the menu. At Døgnvill, they’ve bothered. The bun holds its own well, despite there being a lot of lovely sauce to make sure the burger isn’t dry. The salsa verde is essentially garlic and parsely, a lovely green sauce which completely coated the chicken (they didn’t just bung a spoonful in the bun). Chicken was perfectly cooked too. Very impressed. The aioli was also cooked fresh – it has the film on top of it that appears when it hasn’t just been spooned out of a jar. The fries were clearly not made on the premises, but they rarely are.

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All in all, a strong burger. True, I didn’t get to try its main competition (Illegal Burger) but based on the menu along, Døgnvill has far more variety. Plus the restaurant is in a far nicer location. I did try one other burger while I was out there, a spur-of-the-moment choice which was terrible. Look at the photo below: it was dry, the bun was too big and nothing worked together well. Do not order burgers from the outside BBQ Burger Bar near Youngs Gate.

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EAT: Grunerløkka is the bottom part of the trendy part of Oslo – it’s out to the East and there’s a place called Olaf Ryss Plas there, very much like Hoxton Square, which has lots of bars and restaurants surrounding it. One of these restaurants is a fantastic Italian called Villa Paradiso. Oh my days, the pizza was amazing.

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That baby was topped with Tomato , fresh mozzarella , pancetta , gorgonzola , rocket salsa and pine nuts. SO MUCH PANCETTA. It was glorious – baked in a fire oven, not burned, tasted amazing. The service was good too – the waitresses were lovely and the place was absolutely buzzing… obviously it’s not a secret how good the food is here! Anyway, I’ll keep this ‘EAT’ short and sweet; if you like pizza, you’ll love Villa Paradiso.

SEE: So, both of the places I ate at were in the trendy bit of Oslo. I got to that trendy bit of Oslo by walking down the beautiful Akerselva river. It’s a wonderful way to see cities, I think, following the river through the city, especially when thw weather is good.

But the river in Oslo is something special. There’s a footpath which you can follow for miles and I started at Myrolokka which is just before the first waterfalls appears. Seriously – this river has numerous WATERFALLS.

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Me, lovin’ it.

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I recently went on holiday with my friend and she pointed out that most places I visit I end up obsessing over the water. Lakes, ponds, water features, fountains, waterfalls… I’d never noticed it before, but she’s totally right. Hence all the photos of the river…

The river also happens to take you through the cool bit of Oslo and there’s lots of artwork lining both the river and streets (see below). If you follow the river to the end, you’ll end up by the rather lovely Oslo Opera House. I was lucky with the weather, but if it’s not raining, definitely do this!

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SEE: When I was in Stockholm I went to the Nobel Museum, where I found out the Nobel Peace Prize is actually awarded in Oslo. So, I headed on down to the Nobel Peace Centre, where they’re currently showing an exhibition about the 2014 winners: Malala and Kailash.

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I’m completely in awe of people who risk their lives to help others. Malala, if you don’t already know, fought for the right of girls to be educated, and so the Taliban shot her. Thankfully she survived and she, in my eyes, is an absolute inspiration. Kailash works primarily in India, saving children from child labour and also believes that education is the way to get people out of poverty. It’s obvious really: parents have no money, send kid to work, kid doesn’t get an education, grows up unable to get a good job, sends their own kids to work, the cycle continues.

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Aside from this exhibition you can also learn more about the previous winners of the Nobel Peace Prize and housed upstairs is one of the best museum exhibitions I’ve seen: screens show every winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and when they sense you passing, a bio appears. There’s beautiful music and the lighting is wonderful, I could have stayed in there for hours.

The people who win the Nobel Peace prize are sometimes controversial (Obama, the EU) but the museum gives you a hell of a lot to think about. Go, learn and get inspired.

SEE: One of the main things I wanted to see in Oslo was the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Vigeland is an artist and the park features his work – from statues to fountains to towering columns. His focus is the human form, in it’s true, and sliiiightly exaggerated, form. When you walk in, you’re greeted with a row of statues positioned along a bridge – some alone, others with children. My faves are below (I’m a big fan of the final guy’s method of parenting… he’s literally shaking and kicking the kids off of him).

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Then, you get to the fountain and the gardens that lead up the towering column – the detail is absolutely incredible. Sculpted out of granite, you’re actually allowed to just climb all over the sculptures if you want, but despite being stone they’re incredibly expressive.

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I loved the park; the artwork is amazing and it’s a stunning park to walk through. It’s only about 45 minute walk from the centre of the city, and the walk with lined with cafes and architecture the entire way. Well worth a visit.

LISTEN: When the Jurassic 5 tour comes to London, I’ll be in Africa. I was gutted that I wasn’t going to be able to see them as I love Jurassic 5. So when I rocked up in Oslo and saw a poster saying that the next night they were playing, I immediately bought tickets.

The gig was phenomenal. The energy of the guys on stage was perfect and they were totally on pint with vocals and engaging the crowd. They did the big hitting songs everyone wanted (Concrete Schoolyard and Jayou, among others). Chali 2na is the baritone, but he absolutely stole the show. Totally got the audience going and he is just incredibly on stage. As you can tell, I’m crushing hard on the guy. Helps that he’s 6ft 5.

Anyway. If you’re in London, go and see them. You won’t regret it. Watch below.

LOVE: I love travelling alone – I went to Oslo on my own, as if you hadn’t guessed from all the selfies. True, it’s mainly because my friends don’t want to go away with me because they have partners, so I’m a last ditch choice these days when it comes to travelling companions (yes, I need more single friends). But in all of the Scandinavian countries people are just so relaxed and lovely it doesn’t really matter.

I was speaking with someone at work yesterday and she couldn’t believe that I go travelling alone. She called me an inspiration. Now, I don’t believe that to be true at all, if anything I was amazed she’d never done it. But she said she couldn’t because she doesn’t like to be alone. I’d never looked at it that way – when I’m in a new place I’m usually so busy, exploring, learning etc, that I don’t give a second thought to the fact that I’m alone. I chat with people in bars, ask questions of people… I suppose we’re used to be constantly connected these days. It’s quite sad to think that some people out there will never know the joy of exploring a place by themselves.

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Have you ever travelled alone? If not, what stopped you? Genuinely interested to hear if anyone cares to chat!

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