Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series.
It was time to move on to the capital, Oslo, voted as the most expensive city in the world in 2010. I had purchased advance airfare tickets and found a low price from Bergen to Oslo, but at the last minute discovered that the flight was going to Oslo-TRF, which is about 185 kilometers (114.9 miles) away. No cancellations or refunds are given, so carefully check since there is more than one Oslo airport. Because I was scheduled to meet a couch surfer host at a certain time, I made a new more expensive reservation.
Norway is blessed with income from North Sea oil and the government subsidizes many social programs for citizens, including medical insurance, schooling and help in buying homes.
There is only about three percent unemployment so immigrants flock here and now constitute about 12 percent of the population. In Oslo, about 27 percent of the population is immigrants and some Norwegians are unhappy with certain immigrant groups. While I was here, a man who has hatred toward this group committed the Oslo massacres. It is ironic that Oslo is the home of the Nobel Peace prize. Most Norwegians were saddened and angered by the event. Spontaneous memorials sprouted up all over the city in a display of their grief.
A Norwegian woman confided in me that many Norwegian men go to Thailand seeking brides because these women are perceived to be less independent than Norwegian women. If the marriage does not work out in three years, the foreign women do not receive any state benefits and must return to their home country. I did notice many Thai restaurants. Low prices and good food make these a popular choice.
Eva Britt Kornfeldt, project manager for VisitOSLO (www.visitoslo.com) the official tourist information provider, kindly provided me with an Oslo Pass, a ticket similar to those offered in other Scandinavian cities. It provides free transportation and admission to most interesting sites. The Website is well organized and one can plan their itinerary after a careful reading.
If most cities in the United States could have as efficient public transportation as in Oslo, it would help economically and environmentally. Travel is on the honor system as money is saved by not having toll booths, attendants and fancy electronic equipment, etc., but be aware that there are frequent spot checks and fines are substantial.
The hop on hop off buses run here as in many cities around the world and is always a good choice to get a quick overall view of the city. There are many must-see stops, such as the Vigeland Sculpture Park, where Oslo provided living space so Gustav Vigeland could devote his life to producing magnificent sculptures of the human form. A small hill is topped by a large monolithic solid piece of granite covered with nude figures in all phases of life. Each of my friends who have visited Oslo wrote to me and said do not miss this site. One can get a sense of what is there from a YouTube clip, http://bit.ly/vPkHfw, but this is like seeing chocolate without tasting it.
One should be in good physical shape because walking this park is just the start of seeing other places with displays of a restored Viking Ship, a museum that exhibits Thor Heyerdahl’s famed Kon-Tiki and another one of the Fram Museum featuring Norwegian polar expeditions.
The above are all acclaimed in every guidebook and brochure, but seeing a lesser-publicized museum, the Edvard Munch Art Museum, was an unsuspected treat. Everyone is familiar with his world famous “Scream” masterpiece, but visiting the museum and seeing a movie about his life completely altered my views about Munch. Don’t miss the movie when visiting here. I loved his “Dance of Life” and “Frieze of Life” series. One can appreciate his works much more after this visit.
Talk about high prices, I had to use a public restroom at the train station and it cost 10 kroner (more than $2). Ikea is located in Oslo and most important for me, it was said to serve food at frugal prices. Hot dogs were only $2, pizza slices $6 and smoothies $6. Costco patrons would faint seeing these prices, and at much lower quality. Ikea does provide free shuttles from the town center to their store, but at these prices, they should offer a limo.
There is the spectacular ski jump, Holmenkollen, in Oslo, with an attached museum that is worthy of a visit. The Nobel Peace Prize museum, Akerhus Festning (a medieval castle and fort built in 1299), Holocaust museum, and Henrik Ibsen Museum are just a few of the many other places to visit.
I treated my couch surfer host to dinner at Rorbua at Aker Brygge that is described as a fisherman’s pub and restaurant. I tasted whale here and although it wasn’t bad, doubt that I need to do it again. It was expensive.
It was frequently overcast and drizzling here in the summer and my bones asked to return to the dry heat of Las Vegas and my pocketbook yearned for reasonable prices. I agreed with Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz that there is no place like home.
Las Vegas Tidbits
“Absinthe” is playing in the Spiegeltent in the space between Caesars Palace and Serendipity 3. It was operating with a temporary permit because of the tent structure, but it has been granted a permit extension.
Great reviews saying things like it’s the best new show to hit the Strip whetted my desire to see it. Sorry to say that the show did not measure up for this reviewer.
The good: some very good acts involving acrobatics demonstrating strength and balance a la Cirque du Soleil shows, a burlesque involving a huge bubble, and tight rope walkers that had the audience on the edge of their seats all performed in an intimate circular seating so everyone was close to the action.
The bad: the “gazillionaire” emcee and his female assistant were said to be the best part of the show, but the sound system made it difficult to hear their patter. The raunchy “jokes” directed toward parts of the audience was more annoying than funny, and I don’t consider myself a prude. Their ballet parody that was only mildly amusing. A showstopper act involving a couple on roller skates was omitted until the couple clears up their work visa. If tickets can be obtained for half price at one of the outlets, it might be worth seeing. Don’t waste your money for the VIP tickets.
The Kaeru Kid lives in Las Vegas and hopes readers will send him comments at KaeruKid@yahoo.com.