The Scandinavian Splendor

I started my second backpacking trip in Oslo, Norway. From my past experiences in Scandinavia, I had very high expectations for this stop, and they definitely were met. Oslo is vibrant, serene and admirable. Even in the cloudy days, its colors shine through and create a welcoming atmosphere that everyone can enjoy.

My first day was spent catching up on sleep and getting back into the backpacking groove. I explored the neighborhoods and shops around my hostel, in the Sinsen area. The houses are quaint and traditional, and are painted brightly, of course. My hostel was situated about 3 miles north of the city, so making the trek into the city center took about an hour by foot. Oslo is incredibly safe; I wandered alone without any worry and walked right alongside the highway on my way to the center.

Once I made it into the city, I went on a free walking tour. Oslo has a long history including Vikings, turmoil with the other Scandinavian nations, many different leaders, and its role in the World Wars. Norway’s Constitution Day is May 17, and you can definitely tell how proud the Norwegians are to be citizens of their country. Flags are in every store front and in bouquets, and some people were wearing their traditional garments. Several marching bands were even practicing for next week’s parades on the streets, creating an exciting environment echoing through the passageways.

Oslo has stunning architecture that is modern and aesthetically interesting. Buildings have lots of windows and symmetry, and also have influences from many other places. Many of the historical sites have been preserved over time, adding a neat flair when mixed in with contemporary styles. The Opera House was one of my favorite sights. The building is slanted so that people can walk up onto the roof to get a panoramic view of the city and its harbor.

Another place I was grateful to have seen was the memorial for the July 22, 2011 attacks. The attacks against the government and the civilians were carried out by Anders Behring Breivik, who was upset with the political climate of Norway. The memorial is in the building that was bombed by Breivik and had witness stories, a timeline of the day’s events, and remnants of the truck that he had placed the bomb in. It was a very surreal thing to stand in the building where the first part of the attack took place, and notice that the walls still had paint chipped and parts of the structure exposed. If you’re interested in learning more about the attacks, there is a movie on Netflix titled “22 July” that puts it into perspective and was pretty accurate based on the museum’s information.

Oslo has so many exciting things to see and do. Electric scooters are available for you to rent by the minute and so many people, including me, take advantage of them. They go really fast and some people aren’t great at controlling them, so it becomes sort of a game avoiding the packs of scooters. Nordic culture also has fun ties to its Viking history; there are floating saunas in the harbor where you can be warm for awhile and then plunge into the cold water below. I watched some people do dives and flips into the water without any hesitation. I tried as many traditional dishes as I could, like some meatballs and the typical fish and chips meal. My hostel had a reindeer meal, but unfortunately, they ran out before I could try it.

In my political sciences classes at university, I had to study the Scandinavian nations and why their societies are considered to be some of the best in the world. From just a walk through the city, it’s easy to see that people seem happier; they are smiling, active, kind and efficient. Oslo was nothing short of amazing, and this was a perfect place to start my solo trip. Even after walking over 25 miles in 3 days, I loved every second. I am now heading to Helsinki, Finland for the next few days!

Thanks again for following along with my travels!

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