As stunning as Oslo is, Sara and I knew from the beginning that we also wanted to take a few days and explore Copenhagen. We were unsure if we would run out of things to do in Norway’s capital (spoiler alert: we didn’t and I’m already itching to go back) and, seeing as we both wanted to explore the happiest city in the world, decided to go ahead and book it. We secured an overnight ferry between the two cities, which was amazing compared to the ferry I took from Holyhead to Dublin a year ago. I want to say a room with bunk twins was around $200 round-trip, though we booked during the week so that could go up if you’re looking to travel on the weekends.
Since we needed to check out of Anker by 10am but couldn’t board the ferry until 3pm we left our bags in Anker’s super secure luggage room* and headed up to Frognerparken to have a look around. Frognerparken is a beautiful open park, about 20 minutes’ walk from the Royal Palace and home to the famous Vigeland installation. If you’ve never heard of Vigeland, the man who designed the Nobel Peace Prize & crafted scores of literally larger-than-life statues, he’s worth a quick Googling. On another note, imagine saying that to someone 20 years ago…googling…what a strange look you’d get! But I digress. The park was lovely, and served as yet another reminder that European and American mindsets on the naked body are polar opposites. I’ll post some photos below that are fairly censored, mostly because kids were climbing all over the statues and I don’t want to invade their privacy by posting close-ups of their faces, but it is truly shocking how skewed the American standards of “decency” are. That’s another subject for another time, I suppose.
Walking along to the park entrance, it’s difficult to tell the Vigeland installation awaits you. We came by way of Majorstuen, so the park was on our right and apartment buildings, shops, and eateries lined the road on our left. After turning into a nondescript paved area with a tiny “cafe” sign and map of the park, we wandered through the trees and out onto a walkway. Every statue along the walkway was unique, though many depicted parents with children or youngsters playing together. There was a slightly concerning-and amusing-one of a man holding about 4 or 5 babies on his arms, hands, and legs, but I didn’t manage to take a photo of that. At the end of the main walkway was an open plaza of sorts, surrounded with bench-level walls and home to rows of statues supporting basins. All around the plaza was green space, with sculptures visible in the distance. Groups of school children kicked a soccer ball around with their chaperones, blurs of neon green and puffy coats toddling on legs barely long enough to keep up with their desired speed.
When we finally made our way to the main sculpture, a towering column of men and women contorted into various positions, we were unsurprised to see we weren’t the only ones there. What was surprising, however, was that the majority of the other park-goers by the main attraction were more schoolchildren. Largely free to do whatever they liked-chaperones would stop them from climbing too high or roaming off the platform upon which the column rests-these kids were genuinely able to play. They climbed statues, played tag around the base of the main sculpture, formed miniature games of hide-and-seek, and imagined themselves pirates on the seven seas-all in the midst of naked statues. The adults didn’t care that breasts were visible on all the women, or that buttocks the size of my torso were on display for the kids to see. And the kids completely disregarded it, as well. To them, the statue park was an enormous stone playground. It was phenomenal to watch, yet another bit of inspiration I took away from Oslo.
We were able to spend a bit of time in the Oslo Museum, also located in Frognerparken in the old Frogner Manor building. It’s quite the interesting museum, touches on a bit of all the city’s history from its beginning, to its time as Christiania, all the way through the world wars and the 1900s. If we hadn’t had to dash back to our hostel, retrieve our luggage and catch a ferry we certainly would’ve taken a bit more time to wander around and decipher some of the plaques. As it was, we created our own abbreviated tour of the museum and spent a few moments basking in the Norwegian sun, enjoying the bright blue skies and spun-sugar clouds.
After spending a few too many minutes enjoying the gorgeous weather-a sunny Norwegian day is wonderful, as there is usually just enough of a breeze to keep the sun from becoming overwhelming-we raced back to the hostel and hopped aboard the tram toward the water, luggage in tow. I’m not so sure we hopped onto the tram as stumbled, each heaving the equivalent of a small child behind us, but we made it either way. This was my first experience with DFDS Seaways, and it was fantastic. Initial boarding was a bit hectic, but that can hardly be avoided. There were multiple restaurants to choose from, a few lounges & bars, a casino, and live music throughout the night; as I told Sara it felt more like a miniature cruise than a ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen. The staff were friendly, the ship was fairly easy to navigate, our room (which was the least expensive option available) was pristine, with an en-suite bathroom including a shower…I highly recommend traveling with DFDS if you’re ever abroad and needing ferry services. I might even try their Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry next year!
After dinner and a bit of exploring around the duty-free shop (yes, they have one of those too) Sara and I found ourselves listening to the band performing on the sky-level deck. Views of the channel disappearing behind the boat complemented the lively music perfectly and, as the sun set and darkness overtook the lounge, the mood continued to swell. Alcohol, singing, and an open dance floor can do wonders for most anybody and we were able to watch dozens of couples, friends, and even a few solitary people sashay around the dance floor. An older Asian couple definitely stole the show; throughout the night they waltzed and swung to “Blurred Lines,” “Lips Are Moving,” “My Heart Will Go On” (not the most reassuring song to hear while on a boat) and more. We also met a lovely Danish man, around our age, who studies in Oslo but was returning to Copenhagen to visit family. He treated us to drinks he swore up and down were Danish tradition-something I’m rather skeptical of. If you’ve ever mixed tequila and Red Bull then congrats, you might be from an obscure Danish town about an hour from Copenhagen. If not, I wouldn’t recommend it. Still, it was worth a try as I now know how everybody manages to stay up so late in Denmark; I also know that I still hate tequila unless properly mixed into a margarita or other drink. And by properly mixed, I mean diluted to the point where I taste nothing. It was, to say the least, a fantastic ferry journey to remember.
*The hostel actually does have a pretty secure luggage space, though I nearly locked myself in which would have been terrifying and not wholly surprising.