10 July 2011

A day in Oslo

The only time that I had been to Oslo before was around fifteen years ago, and that was a short business trip where I managed to see virtually nothing of the city, so it was good to have a full day to explore at leisure.

My hotel was next to the central train station so the exploration started from there.

I headed West along a main pedestrianised road that was processional in nature with wide pavements shaded by avenues of trees.

Along the way I passed the somewhat underwhelming parliament building and the slightly grander National Theatre.

The most attractive feature was the succession of gardens each with several water features, plenty of flowers and copious seats on which to rest and enjoy it all.

At the end of the road is the Royal Palace.

It sits on the top of a slight incline which gives it commanding views back across the city.

I believe that the place is still in use but, as with other Scandinavian and North European monarchies, security is not as overt as it is in England and it is possible to climb through the short garden and then walk across the large parade ground right up to it.

The parade ground make the front view of the palace a little harsh but step to one side and in to one of the gardens and the view becomes much more appealing, helped a little by the statue of Maud.

Turning South from the Palace takes you to a new and vibrant part of the city.

As is the case with other waterfront developments world-wide there are stunning new buildings with lots of open space between them filled with imaginative (or crazy) works of art.

There are also lots of cafes crammed with people appreciating the setting and the ambiance.

Here, on the far left, we have a footbridge connecting two parts of the development and in the centre the large waterfall has a crocodile like feature behind it and a man on stilts in front.

This all adds up to fun and the ideal place to have a coffee or an ice cream.

Just to the East of the new quarter is the large fifties style block of brick that is the Radhus (Town Hall) that makes you think for a moment that you've slipped the other side of the Iron Curtain.

I actually like the building a lot but I like the park in front of it, that separates it from the sea, even more.

Flowers grace the section nearest the building and beyond these is a large paved area with three fountains and two statues.

This is clearly another place that people like to congregate on sunny days, as the group of paddling girls demonstrates.

Turning south again takes you to the old castle.

The small size of the castle may be one reason why Noway has spent most of its history as part of Denmark or Sweden!

Today it provides a contrast to the rest of the city, old stones resting on a grassy hill and watching over a harbour that has long since outgrown its ability to protect.

We too can rest and watch over the old part of harbour as an endless stream of small boats eases in and out.

But we cannot rest for ever and the time comes to slip West over the headland where we find one of Oslo's greatest treasures.

The Opera House is stunning.

It slopes up from West to East and then turns and slopes the other way. And what makes it extra special is that you can clamber all over these slopes.

This picture is taken at the turning point with the lower level sweeping down to the harbour and the upper level climbing up to become a popular vantage point.

A closer look will reveal that the slopes are not uniform and there are smaller slopes within the larger one and patterns within the white stone. These are solely for the pleasure of the clamberers and confirm that the outside of the building is as important as the inside.

I've seen first-hand some of the world's greatest opera houses and while Sydney, Glyndebourne and Helsinki all have their considerable charms, Oslo Opera House is my new favourite.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the guided tour Matthew! I have only passed through Oslo many moons ago. The Opera House sounds fantastic.


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