Today we bade farewell to Sweden and ventured into Norway. It was a bright sunny morning in Stromstad, and the coastline looked beautiful. I went off for my morning shower with optimism, but by the time I had negotiated the card entry for the shower block, the three minute timed shower, operated by said card, and the lights going out three times in the process, my frustration was growing. Perplexed why such an upmarket campsite in many respects, certainly the first to offer a high speed dishwasher in the washing up area, should reduce it’s visitors to jumping through hoops to have a shower was beyond me. Rant over, we settled down to breakfast in the sunshine. The site was much quieter this morning than last night, when it had seemed like party central.
A large group of teenagers had been swimming off the pontoon and playing exceedingly loud rap music as they swam. A Swedish youth brass band and majorette group were staying in a couple of the on-site chalets, and treated the entire campsite to an impromptu concert, followed by the arrival of two groups of local Swedes and a caravan. Unlike the newer caravans, which seem to manoeuvre onto their pitch under remote controlled motors, this was an old variety, which needed man-power to push the caravan into position. It provided us with great entertainment, as they pushed and pulled the caravan, at one point crashing into their own car, before they eventually were happy with their final position. If we had wanted an early night, we would have been sorely disappointed. The noise went on until gone midnight.
After breakfast, we quickly packed, and headed northwards. In no time at all we had entered Norway, and less than an hour later we were on the outskirts of Oslo. Having decided against the city campsite, with reviews warning of unsavoury characters lurking around the site, we opted for a cheap hotel in the suburbs, with parking for the lad. After checking in, we headed off on the metro into the city.
First we stopped off for a bite to eat and a coffee in the very pleasant Cathedral Cafe. The sun was shining, so we sat outdoors, and picked a prime spot to people watch as we ate our lunch. Next on the agenda was the National Gallery, housing the country’s finest works of art. I was slightly amused when the man at the desk offered Howard senior citizen discount, until I discovered that he assumed that I was eligible too. Bloody cheek! I’ve got another five months to go! It must be the new hair colour, I concluded.
The National Gallery certainly lived up to it’s expectations. The main attractions is Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’, but in addition, houses many art works by famous painters such as Renoir, Cezanne, Monet, Manet and Picasso to name but a few. It was a feast for the eyes, and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
Culture done, we wandered down past the Palace, Parliament Buildings and City Hall to the waterfront. We sat in the sunshine and enjoyed an early evening drink, before deciding what to do next. Howard looked up boat trips online, but they all seemed to be fully booked, so we opted to walk to the Sculpture Park. But on our way, we passed by the dock where the boat trips were departing from. On a whim, Howard went to the kiosk to ask the lady if there was any availability. To our luck, there were two places left on the evening Jazz Cruise around the Oslo Fjords, and we scooped them up.
What a hoot! We sat with an American couple from Rhode Island, who thankfully loathed Trump, and a lovely couple from Worcester Park, Surrey, who lived in the same road as our friends used to live – such a small world!
We had a lovely evening, cruising around the fjords, drinking some rather nice Chablis (which turned out to cost £70 a bottle!!) and eating a shrimp supper (well that was just Howard – I don’t eat shrimps, so opted for the healthy option – a waffle!). We had some very lively chat with our American buddies, and the jazz band played all night long – it was great fun. So an unexpected end to our day, but a very pleasurable one.
We have both thoroughly enjoyed our brief visit to Oslo. It is a lively city, with some great museums, and a strong maritime connection. The surrounding fjords are beautiful, and a very good introduction of what Norway has to offer. I suspect we will be in Norway for several weeks as we travel northwards, but first impressions are definitely favourable. Bring it on!