Hope you guys are doing well. I know this blog is predominantly supposed to be about my time at sea, and the next part of that story will be coming soon, however I’ve been a little delayed in writing it because of a last minute trip abroad I took over the weekend. I thought I’d share a little bit about my trip with you, so while this post isn’t directly related to my life at sea, it still falls under my travels!
Last Monday my best friend Ellis called me saying she had found some cheap flights to Oslo over the long weekend, and did I want to go? (By the way, she also has a blog on WordPress called Frills and Flaws – if you’re interested in travel and vegan lifestyles, I’d definitely check it out.) Of course I said yes, and we quickly booked our flights to ‘Oslo Torp’ airport, going out on Friday and coming back on the Monday. Now, we probably should have done a little research into Torp’s location before we bought the tickets, but we were so eager to get a good deal we failed to realise that Torp isn’t actually in Oslo at all, it’s in Sandefjord, a town in Vestfold county about ninety minutes drive from Oslo. Now we had the decision of whether to stay in Sandefjord, close the airport, or to go into Oslo. We came to the conclusion that it would be much cheaper to stay in Sandefjord and take the train into Oslo for a day trip, so we booked a nice looking Airbnb that boasted it wasn’t too far from the airport.
Having traveled to Norway in the past, I was prepared for the steep prices, and had warned Ellis that the cost of things would be much higher than she was used to, although I don’t think she estimated just how expensive things would be in the country. The first shock came in the taxi from the airport to our accommodation, a cool 380 NOK – about £38 – for a twenty minute drive, and around what we had each paid for our return flights. When we arrived at the Airbnb we asked our host if there was anything within walking distance, to which she replied there wasn’t, but offered us bikes to use. With me having not ridden a bike in a long while, Ellis offered to ride to the supermarket while I scouted out the nearby area on foot. I located a small beach area nearby and after Ellis had returned and we’d eaten, we made our way down just in time to catch a beautiful sunset from the pier. We had planned to go into Oslo the next day, and spend the Sunday around Sandefjord but Ragne, our host, told us there wouldn’t be much to see in the town on a Sunday, whereas Oslo’s museums, galleries, cafes and restaurants would still be thriving.
While we had been told the town wasn’t within walking distance, Saturday was a lovely sunny day and we decided we would attempt it anyway. The walk was supposed to take just over an hour, but on the way down we stopped off at the Gokstad Mound memorial. This is the site where the Viking ship ‘Gokstad’ was discovered in a burial mound in 1880. Having done a little research on Sandefjord, we knew it had a rich Viking history, so we were really interested in this memorial. The skeleton of the Viking chieftain was also discovered buried in the mound, and people long believed him to be Olaf Geirstad-Alf, a legendary Viking perry king, although his identity has never been proven. The vessel itself was moved to the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, but the local people of Sandefjord funded the memorial at the mound, which resembles the ship and has the same proportions. Gokstad Mound is also now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We had also learnt that Sandefjord has a rich history of whaling, so our plan was to visit the Whaling Museum in the town centre. While whaling is something I find absolutely abhorrent, it was the backbone that this town was built on, so we were interested to learn more about it. When we arrived at the museum, though, we found it was closed and looked to be under some sort of construction, so we instead took a walk down towards the harbour where we passed the Whaling Monument. It’s clear that the town is still very proud of its whaling industry.
We stopped in the local shopping centre for lunch, and while I didn’t struggle finding anything to eat, it was a little more difficult for Ellis, being vegan. We eventually found a baguette shop which was able to whip something up for her. On our walk around the town we happened upon some really beautiful art murals painted on the sides of buildings.
So on Sunday we were up early to catch the train to Oslo. On the advice of Ragne we decided to get the train into Nationaltheatret rather than Oslo’s central station, as we would be closer to some of the places we wanted to visit. Just a short walk from the Nationaltheatret station we came across the Royal Palace, situated in the luscious green Palace Park. The area was considerably quieter than I thought it would be, being used to seeing palaces in capitals, such as Buckingham, swarmed with tourists. We also walked by the National Theatre, and saw lots of beautiful statues along the way.
Having struggled to find a place to eat the previous day, Ellis had located a vegan restaurant which looked really good. We tracked down Nordvegan not far from the theatre district. Not being vegan myself didn’t stop me from tucking into the food, and between the two of us we ate a lot, the highlights for me being the Summer Rolls, stuffed with tofu and glass noodles, and their Snickers Pie. With our bellies full we were ready to see some more of the sights.
We headed first to The National Gallery, which holds Norway’s biggest collection of public art. This collection includes some key pieces by Edvard Munch, including The Scream, The Dance of Life, Madonna, and The Sick Child, all of which were spectacular to see up close. After this we headed towards the Nobel Peace Centre. The centre was holding a couple of exhibitions. The first was ‘Generation Wealth’, a collection of photos by film-maker Lauren Greenfield. I found this exhibition really interesting, its focus being to show how the strive for wealth and status has become all-consuming in our society today. The exhibition was also showing clips from Greenfield’s 2012 documentary ‘The Queen of Versailles’ which is a great watch. We also saw this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition, ‘Ban the Bomb’, its message being to eradicate all nuclear weapons. The final thing we saw at the centre was a dedication to all of the prize’s previous laureates, and a short video explaining how the prize was founded, and how it has changed since its inception. Overall, I found the Nobel Peace Centre incredibly interesting and informative, and a must see if you’re heading to Oslo.
After this we took a walk down to the harbour where we sat enjoying the sunshine for a while before heading back to the train station.
On Monday we spent most of the morning packing up ready for our flight back home later that day, with a final walk down to the pier to enjoy the views before we had to leave.
Overall I really enjoyed our trip, as mishmashed as it was. We didn’t go in with a strategic plan and were happy to take things as they came, rather than rush around sticking to a mapped-out itinerary, and this worked well for us. I would love to go back and spend more time in Oslo, as I’m sure there is plenty more to see, but I’m glad we happened upon the quaint Vestfold town of Sandefjord.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! Keep a look out for the next part of my cruising story which will be coming soon!
P.S. For a closer look at my photos checkout my Instagram @somewhere.beyondthesea