We thought the breakfast at the last hotel would be a hard act to follow, and were very surprised when the Oslo breakfast was every bit as good if not better. The presentation wasn’t quite as classy, but the selection was huge and the food delicious. It’s not every day you get an entire fresh salmon on a hotel breakfast buffet. We’re not sure whether amazing breakfasts are normal in Norway, or we’ve just been spoilt, but either way it’s a great way to fill up in a country where food is expensive.
We had been really keen to go sledding in Norway – either in Bergen or Oslo. There wasn’t enough snow in Bergen and we knew it was early in the season for the Oslo track, but it had opened two days prior to our arrival. The Oslo sled track is called “Korketrekkeren” and goes down the old luge track from the Oslo Olympics. It starts at the end of one of the metro lines and finishes five stations earlier on the same metro line. So the lift back to the top is a 16 minute ride on the lovely warm metro train.
This must be the only place we have turned up to board a metro in full ski gear (minus the boots). Almost everyone else on the platform was dressed the same, and many had skis as well. We rented our sleds at the start of the track and were on our way. The sleds were the traditional shape, with no steering and no brakes. The idea was to lean to turn, but you had to lean the opposite way to where you wanted to go. It took a bit of getting used to, it goes against instinct to lean towards the very place you don’t want to go, i.e. over a bank or into a cliff! To be honest we were pretty lousy at controlling the sleds, and most of our steering and braking was done by our feet. It was a huge amount of fun, and a bit of a wild ride on a very bumpy track. Fortunately, there was no ice and the track wasn’t busy, otherwise I think it would have been terrifying.
Half way down were four ski jumps of various sizes – mini, small, medium and huge. It was fun pausing to watch the jumpers, you’d have to be pretty nuts to take up that sport. There were also a few stop offs to play in the snow and explore the forest. It was a magical landscape that felt like it was straight out of a Christmas card.
After a few runs we boarded the metro back to Oslo and grabbed some snacks in our room. We were meeting Anna’s friend Warin mid-afternoon, so we were soon on the go again. Anna first met Warin at the jamboree in Norway after she offered to let them stay in her tent. She saw her again in NZ last year and went on a road trip with her for a few days. For the next few hours Warin was our personal tour guide around Oslo. It was so lovely to have a local to show us around and share random trivia about her country. Warin works as an Early Childhood teacher and it was so interesting to hear some of her stories. The 1 and 2 year olds are slept outside in their buggies, but the limit is minus 10 degrees. They start them skiing at 2 years old! The 3 and 4 year olds can tolerate more cold – they are allowed outside to minus 15 degrees.
We did the main Christmas markets, and sampled some of the products including reindeer and whale jerky. We saw the site of the 2011 bombing as we headed towards another Christmas market. That one was inside a series of lavuus (like tepees) and was so cosy as it had a fire inside. Most of the Christmas markets are completely outside, so it was a real treat to find a warm cosy one. After some souvenir shopping, we explored the Akershus Fortress, it had such a neat atmosphere in the dark. It started snowing while we were at the fortress, our first precipitation since our drenching in LA. Snow is so much more pleasant than rain though and it’s so dry you just don’t get wet at all.
For dinner we returned to our favourite Christmas market to enjoy a moose pita in front of the cosy fire, a perfect way to finish another wonderful day.