We plan our Group Tours to arrive at the first stay over, a day or two prior to the commencement of the ‘real’ tour. This enables our group members to get used to the new time zone, catch up on sleep, and get accustomed to the region. Today and tomorrow are ‘free time’ days.
Nine of us ventured to the local metro station, after breakfast, and after what seemed like 30 minutes, someone had worked out what the machine was asking us to do and what it would give us on hitting a bunch of buttons. Anyway, we couldn’t purchase the ‘Oslo Pass’ which gets us onto transport and into many museums and discounts along the way, but we were able to purchase an all day travel pass.
Making out where things are in a town with unusual spelling for street names can be very tricky. I tend to stand back and let the others do their best – it’s amazing to watch people get confused and not really know what they want to achieve in a day, if anything at all. We broke into two groups and that made for a little smoother mobility around the sights of this interesting, quiet city. We noticed that the normal busyness of a large city was not evident; the town seems to run like clockwork and everyone gets along very happily. (In two hours, we are experts at judging a whole city.)
Eventually, we found the point where a ferry departed from to do a circle trip of 4 or 5 pickup/drop off points around the islands just close to Oslo. It turned out that this venture is chosen by teachers to take their little “activity packages” too and we all know what happens when little kids get together; lots of happy noises, but it was great to experience. I enjoy hearing kids speak a different language to english; they are so cute. The temperature was around 24 C and comfortable. When the sun shines a ferry trip is always more enjoyable.
From the ferry, we caught a bus into the city proper and had lunch in an outdoor cafe. Yes, it is true that Norway has the highest cost of living anywhere. Our lunch was 2 iced coffees, a baked potato and 1 quesedilla – 367 kroner or, $A67. An iced coffee is a normal coffee with cubes of ice in it (now thats a different take on the meaning of iced coffee). I told the waitress ‘our’ iced coffee recipe and her tongue started to lick her lips.
The metro was not far from the restaurant and from there, we took a train up the Frognerseteren mountain behind Oslo where the snowfields are. The views from the train were magnificent. I thought I would get some photos on the way back but after a delicious afternoon tea looking over the city of Oslo from a magnificent old building eating area, we walked down a trail used by cross-country skiers through some fabulous forest vegetation. So those ‘other’ magnificent views didn’t get into the cameras – sorry. We passed the famous Holmenkoilen ski jump. The downhill ‘dry ski run’ was very relaxing and re-energising even tho we walked for 45 minutes. It was good to sit down and freshen up those tired feet.
On our return to the city, we took a wander to the Palace before getting back to our hotel around 7:00pm.
The last couple to join our group arrived today. Bob and Lyndell had flown from Sydney to Singapore, then Dubai and on to Stockholm. They took a train from Stockholm to Oslo to experience the countryside at 160kph. Sweden has a flat landscape and Norway a very mountainous landscape and this was evident as they crossed the border.