“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca
Lets travel over to Scandinavia to one of my favorite countries there, Norway. I’ve been asked many times, “Why Norway?” Only a few years back, 4 years to be exact, many in the States were asking me where Norway was located on the map…because they’ve never heard of it. If you are like me and grew up 15min from Disney World, the only way we knew of Norway was because of the international pavilion at Epcot. Ironically, that was my favorite country to visit in the park because of the Viking ride!
I’ve been excited to share this adventure with you, as it’s my first Europe trip I post. Hope you guys will enjoy our “Part I” journey to the biggest city and Capital of Norway.
Velkomen til Oslo!
Lets start off with a FUN FACT!
**Norway, only a few years has previously become a single kingdom. 112 years as of today. Their independence (Norway’s 4th of July) is on May 17th. Large street parade happens on this day and The Royal Family makes an appearance on the balcony of the palace. Meanwhile, people from all regions dress in traditional wear, different regions have it’s own history and it’s portrayed on the garments of each traditional costume, it’s absolutely a spectacular sight to witness! **
Ahhh the fresh crisp air! Once I land on Viking ground the air is something to always look forward to when traveling to Oslo. Every time I fly overseas, I fly with Norwegian airlines. The new 787 Dreamliner aircraft makes over sea flights so comfortable for your bum and your pocket. Prices are reasonable and traveling seems less of a hassle.
**When booking your flight to Europe, usually through Norwegian airlines, you will find very reasonable prices. It is actually less expensive if you fly into Oslo and use it as a starting point to venture out on your European adventure. Flights are usually cheaper when flying in and out of Oslo. HUGE perk, you get to visit a new country on your way to traveling to other cities such as London, Paris, Rome and Now OSLO!**
Customs and Boarder Protection is usually a breeze, the less you say the better. “What is the purpose of your visit?” “I’m here to visit friends”. “How long are you staying for?” “I’m only here for (X) amount of days”. The less you say the smoother and faster you’ll be out and about.
Once I pass customs I am in awe just staring outside the windows of the Oslo, Airport, Gardermoen. Every step you take on your way to the baggage claim is one to admire. No matter the season, its always one heck of a view. I either see an all white view, or a rich green landscape layout right before my eyes. Either or it’s always a beautiful view!
Before collecting my luggage, I make a pit stop at the Duty Free section. Great selection of goodies! From skin care products to delicious Norwegian Chocolate. Just show the cashiers your boarding pass, and you’ll be purchasing all of your goodies tax FREE.
**If you’re planning on buying any alcohol, candy, skin care products etc., it’s highly recommended to get it in the Duty Free section on your way in or out of the airport to avoid paying taxes (Value-added tax, VAT). Norway is one of the countries with the highest value-added tax, alongside, Denmark, Sweden and Croatia. ALSO, if you happen to go on a shopping spree or buy things outside of the airport, ask for a tax-refund slip, as you can claim your taxes back at the airport with Global Blue before leaving the country.**
Once you walk outside arrivals you will immediately feel the Scandinavian ambiance, surrounded by all of it’s high-tech and modern amenities. We can quickly start with taking our very first ride into the city using the high-speed shuttles from the airport, FlytoGet and the NSB train. Which train/shuttle do I recommend taking? They are both very comfortable. If you are in no rush, I would highly suggest to take the NSB Train, with only NOK 92=11USD, you will arrive in the city or airport in less than half an hour at a reasonable price. If you’re a student, you will get a discounted rate, so make sure to have your Student ID’s with you!
**You will save time purchasing the transportation tickets at the machines stationed right before entering the train platforms. There are people who work there to assist if you have any questions. English is a language that is well understood and spoken, especially with the younger generation.**
Now I am on my way to Oslo S, Oslo Central Station, Norway’s largest rail station & terminus. Once entering into the heart of Oslo your options is endless. For example, “Oslo City”, an indoor mall consisting of different clothing stores and restaurants, you can also buy liquor here.
**You have to be 18 years old to buy alcohol (wine, beer) but 20 to purchase hard liquor. Majority of the clubs and bars have an age restriction of 20-21years of age. Also, grocery stores sell beer and cider, but they are not permitted to sell anything above 4.7% alcohol content, and are only allowed to sell before 8PM on weekdays and before 6 PM on Saturday’s. Get THIS! On Sundays and some holidays, NO alcohol is sold, AT ALL.**
I remember the day before the 17th of May (Holiday: Constitution Day), I was running around town hoping it would not hit 8PM before the doors shut on me when I was searching for places to purchase alcohol. I was freaking out as of course, being the LATINA that I am, I waited for the day before to buy what was needed for the festivities the following day, good news, I MADE IT right on time. In short, Oslo City Central is a great location to start your journey or to simply use as a meet up spot.
Just last month, I met up with a local professional photographer at the Oslo Opera House and Bar Code area. There I had the privilege to collaborate with Fabricia, a lifestyle and portrait photographer based in Oslo, originally from Brazil, Rio de Janeiro. It was an incredible experience, not just because she did amazing work with my lifestyle portraits you see here on this post, but we exchanged experiences and personal thoughts, which later we found ourselves having a lot more in common than expected.
We both enjoy immersing ourselves in different cultures. That’s where we find our true comfort zone to be. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable has completely opened up another side of us we only dare to continue to discover. Which comes to reveal the true meaning behind me sharing all of my travels with you all.
Before we begin our journey outside of the City Center lets make sure we have our media of transportation set up. In the city, the methods of transportation are driving a vehicle, cycling, taking a cab (NOT recommended as you’ll end up paying an arm and a leg for a 10min ride), public transportation (tram, bus, T-bane: Metro), and or best method of transportation, walking! You get lost and all but you really get a feel of your surroundings and get to REALLY know the city inside out. Everything within the center is less than a 30 min walk, talk about great cardio!
**Norwegian capital is working on creating a renewable district heating system and firmly committing to slashing greenhouse gas emissions. This means they would ban cars from the city, making Oslo the first major European city to have a permanent, complete no-car-zone!**
RUTER is the name of the public transport system in Oslo. Cool thing about this ticket system is it’s convenience! Right outside of the Jernbanetorget station in City Center you can get a RUTER card at the ticket center and top it up for a weeks worth. Only NOK 299ish=36USD for unlimited public transportation. Only tap it when you need to activate, and the rest of the time keep the ticket on you, you will only need it when the ticket patrol are undercover and unexpectedly ask you for your RUTER ticket.
Yes, I was one of those rebellious ones who did not purchase a ticket on my way to the busiest spots in Oslo. Jernbanetorget, the ticket patrols were waiting for all to exit the T-Bane, subway, to start scanning everyone before we could even make it out. Many were fortunate to have activated and paid for their ticket, unlike me, I thought I was going to get away with not having one. Boy was I wrong, $187 wrong that is. We live and learn.
Where to go once Oslo City, Opera House and Barcode are checked off the list? Lets do a 30minute walk or less over to see some more modern architecture and galleries at Aker Brygge!
As I’m passing the Oslo City Hall, I can see from a distance the gorgeous part of Oslo harbor filled with lovely cafes, restaurants, shopping and bars. A whole day is well spent at the vibrant commercial district. One of my favorite spots to relax is located there, the ESPRESSO HOUSE. This is where I usually go to take in the marina view while sipping on the BEST Chai Latte I PERSONALLY have had yet, along with my “Müslibrød med Brunost” (fruit toast but less sweet with brown “goat cheese”), its delicious!
WOW, talk about a busy and productive day in the city! Best part of all, is that..its not over yet. How do I usually end my night? Hitting the town up with the locals. Fortunately, I can call these locals some of my very dear and close friends. It’s not easy making friends in this country when you’re new in town, majority of the people here have grown up with one another and tend to stick with the same clique all the time.
BUT, there are those who come from different backgrounds OR those Norwegians who have travelled and seen the world, that are opened to making new friends. SO don’t take it personal if some people seem like they don’t want to open up so easily. Norwegians can be very reserved.
FINALLY, it’s autumn time here in the city, leaves are changing colors and the night skies start coming in earlier than usual.
Breeze is kicking in a little bit harder, so I make sure I am bundled up and ready to meet up with some friends at the Asian Fusion Restaurant, ASIA, located at, come on you know this, Aker Brygge. Great interior, great food, for all! Yes they are vegan friendly, vegetarian friendly and for the meat lovers. Come one come all!
Thank you for taking the time to explore one day with me in the heart of the capital of the Viking Country, Oslo, Norway!
We’ll meet again in Oslo Part II journey!
Until next time
Ha det bra! (goodbye, take care!)
Photography Services, Oslo:
Fabricia Ramiro: www.fabriciaramiro.com
“I`m Fabricia, a lifestyle and portrait photographer based in Oslo. Originally I`m from Brazil, Rio de Janeiro but I also lived in Houston, TX. I speak Portuguese, English and Norwegian.
I have discovered my passion for photography 11 years ago when I took my first photography class at Rice University, Texas.
I have worked as a dentist for 14 years and from the dentistry, I brought my perfectionist eye to my pictures.
In 2012, I moved to Oslo when finally I decided to follow my heart and started to work as a portrait photographer.
Oslo is an amazing city, a mix of old and modern, the nature is stunning during the four seasons and I like to explore these features on my pictures.”
Where to eat:
- Espresso House
Places to visit:
- Oslo, Airport, Gardermoen
- Jernbanetorget (Oslo City Center)
- Oslo Opera House
- Aker Brygge