Oslo Opera House, Norway

48 Hours in Oslo, Norway: A Cruiser’s Guide

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The cobblestone streets of Scandinavia’s cleanest—and most expensive—city looked completely unfamiliar bathed in a spackled light that peeked earnestly out from a cloak of ominous gray nimbus clouds. The last time I was here, the gods were angry with Oslo, pelting their terror down upon the land in a flood of Nordic rage, and so this was my first time not seeing the capital from beneath a veil of precipitation.

Oslo, NorwayEllen was my one familiar connection to an otherwise unrecognizable place. The first time we met was on a plane transporting us both from Reykjavik to New York, but since we have become regular fixtures in each other’s life, having explored the fjords of Geiranger together early on in our friendship, celebrated her 30th birthday in West Hollywood from the plush confines of a bluebird-tinged limo, and spent one Thanksgiving together at SVV’s parents’ home in suburban Sacramento before continuing our weekend of indulgence in Wine Country’s most delicious town, Yountville.

Oslo Opera House, NorwayFor many travelers on the ship, this two-month Enrichment Voyage has been a tasting platter of some of Europe’s most desirable destinations; for me, it’s a chance to catch up with some of my nearest and dearest friends living abroad.

Oslo, NorwayComing from a job interview, Ellen, clad in Karen Millen, met us in Aker Brygge before clicking around town smartly in her black velvet heels, playing tour guide to SVV, my co-worker Amy and me. The day started off gloomy so we stuck close to the city center. Oslo is an austere city, easy to explore if you’re on your own and also very walkable.

Oslo, NorwayWe meandered over to the Oslo Opera House, an edifice I hadn’t seen on my last rainy visit to Norway in 2009 though it had opened the previous year. Seeing as I’m not big on architecture, I didn’t have high expectations—or really any expectations at all. I also wasn’t expecting it to be such a modern stunner in contrast to the city center’s more dated Scandinavian architecture.

Oslo Opera House, NorwayThe stark structure, composed of Italian marble and white granite, rose from the water filling the Oslo fjords as if a Titan protecting its home. When Ellen told us we could go up on the roof, I didn’t realize that the majority of the open space surrounding the Opera House was, in fact, the roof.

Oslo Opera House, NorwayEven though the weather wasn’t particularly favorable (yet), people—locals and tourists alike—milled about in every which direction. That’s the odd thing about Scandinavia: Sun is such a rare occurrence that even when it’s just mild and dry outside, the people emerge like zombies drawn to a beating heart.

Oslo Opera House, NorwayWe headed straight up the steep incline that led us to the best viewpoint in the house (and maybe even the whole city).

Oslo Opera House, NorwayThere were far fewer visitors crowding the top level, and I couldn’t help but wish I’d just happened to pack my decades-old Rollerblades in my single suitcase. How fun would it be to coast down this slope?

Oslo Opera House, NorwayI have no doubt the entire picture is even more magnificent under the blinding brightness of the sun. Maybe next time we find ourselves in Oslo, Mother Nature will deliver such a scenario.

Oslo Opera House, NorwayBut eventually, it was time to head back down: We had a lot more of Oslo to see and just a tight 36 hours in which to do it.

Oslo Opera House, Norway**To all you regular readers: Apologies for the erratic posting. Having limited Internet access on the ship (and full days when the satellites have been down), being in a new country nearly every day, managing my freelance load and two companies from afar, and working and teaching on the ship have become a tough balancing act to handle. But I promise once I’m home on June 19, I’ll be back to my regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule. Thanks for bearing with me in the meantime!

  • June 1, 2013

    Wow – what a beautiful building!! So neat you can stroll onto the roof like that. I had an extra long weekend (all I could afford!) in Oslo and Bergen in 2002 and loved it…like you…I had rain. Me thinks a return trip is in order sometime soon!! I cannot wait to read and see more of your fantastic travels!!!

  • June 1, 2013

    I love how great you are at keeping in touch with people! It’s something I definitely need to work on. Sounds like your EU travels to date have been an awesome way to catch up with old acquaintances!

  • June 2, 2013

    Look the great pictures you take! I must admit I haven’t spent much time in Oslo but, it’s definitely in my future plans. The opera house like fun to walk around

  • June 3, 2013

    What a gorgeous building! Love your photos!!!

  • June 6, 2013

    I love the soft lighting in this photos!

  • June 10, 2013

    Markedly similar in its jutting frame – if somewhat more decorative in the detail of its surfaces – is Copenhagen Opera House. Completed three years earlier than Oslo’s, in 2004, the Operaen occupies a similar space in the city’s harbour, separated form the container port only by an expanse of empty polluted land that was, last year, the subject of a Reclaim the Streets-style action. Reffen, described as a “utopian building project,” involved the temporary occupation of the land by “constructors” who built ad-hoc dwellings out of found materials. If anything, the link between the opera house and the port is made even more explicit in Copenhagen by the fact that the $500 million required to build it were donated by Maersk, the largest container ship and supply vessel operator in the world.

  • June 10, 2013

    How does Oslo compare to the rest of Scandinavia?

  • June 20, 2013

    I think I would have purchased a pair of roller blades specifically for the visit! that would have been quite an adrenaline rush I’m sure!

  • June 26, 2013

    I used to live in Oslo and this building is awesome, especially in the summers when you can go and hang out in the sun on the roof. The interior is pretty impressive as well.

  • July 16, 2013

    ook the great pictures you take! I must want spent most of time in Oslo

  • August 5, 2013

    Great pictures you take your collection of pics is too good . I must want to visit all famous places in Norway and take some good pics

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