Holmenkollen and local gems

Throughout our time in Oslo we were fascinated by the sight of Holmenkollen, the famous ski jump just outside the city centre.  Sara and I kept saying we would find time to visit but between our excursions around the city and unexpectedly cloudy weather we had pushed it to our last day.  Unfortunately it was rainy when we made our way to the ski jump, but it cleared up a bit as we looked through the museum and around the grounds.  I would love to return to watch either a ski competition (up to 70,000 people can watch on-site) or just to see the views of Oslo from the jump on a clear day.

The original ski hill was opened in 1892–it’s strange to think it was already 100 when I was born but there you have it!  Over the years it’s been rebuilt and renovated, with the most recent jump officially opening in spring 2010.  More info on the jump’s history and modern construction can be found here, if you’re interested.  As we gazed upon the views from about halfway up the jump-unfortunately you can’t go higher unless you’re competing and whatnot-we noticed skiiers training…by running up and down the stadium stairs countless times.  I had a few flashbacks to my cross-country days (Coach Grim, if you’re reading this thanks for never taking us to a stadium quite that large-I promise the high school stadium worked just fine!) and realised I’ll never fail to be impressed with athletes of that calibre.

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Long way to the top.
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Oslofjord from Holmenkollen.

After returning to the city we decided to go to the Historisk Museum, as we’d passed by it a few times and were intrigued.  Situated along Kristian IVs Gate and Frederiks Gate, just one block off the city centre’s main road, the Historisk Museum has quite a few permanent and temporary exhibitions dedicated to Norway and the Arctic peoples’ history.  The museum is also home to the only intact Viking-age helmet discovered.  Unfortunately about half of the descriptions for each exhibit were solely in Norwegian so while I could pick out a few words the overall descriptions were lost on me.  I did find an article detailing the story of the helmet’s discovery on this site, though, and it’s worth a read!

Another great exhibit was the coin collection, including gold coins smuggled out of the country during WWII.  Remember how Oscarsborg Fortress was monumental in helping preserve Norway’s monarchs and gold stores when the Nazis invaded?  The whole story is illustrated around a room, with documents and narrations to carry you through Nazi-occupied Norway…and the ultimate return of Norway’s gold.  The museum could take anywhere from 90 minutes to the better part of a day depending on how many exhibits you explore, so whether you have a bit of time to kill or really want to delve into Norway’s past I would recommend visiting the Historisk Museum.

By the time we left the museum to prepare for our last night out together (Sara’s flight left the day before mine) an international food market had appeared in Youngstorget.  Remember me raving about Kulturhuset?  Yeah this is the square that cafe/bar looks out onto, and while we had seen a few food trucks and flower markets in the area this was the first time we’d come across the food market.  Between the French and Spanish cuisines offered and trays of sweets, Sara and I were in heaven.  Since it was nearing the end of the market’s time (I want to say it was set to close around 6pm but I don’t quite remember) we managed to get two helpings of paella for 100 NOK.  Considering that’s also the price of one beer or cider in the local bars we weren’t going to complain.

Although I love seeing museums and other tourist attractions, it was also the unexpected things–meeting great locals, stumbling upon fun markets, and planning our trip during Russefeiring–that made Oslo such a grand adventure.  Thank you Oslo and Norway for an incredible experience.  I definitely plan on returning…hopefully in the middle of summer next time so we can really experience the midnight sun!

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