We got brave and caught a bus into the city centre this morning. In every country we’ve ever visited, we have managed to navigate our way around the train or subway system without too much trouble, but have been wary of catching buses because we don’t know where we’ll end up. However the apartment we’re staying in is not close to a train station, and the bus is right outside the front door. Buying tickets was a bit tricky – they are available from newsagents, convenience stores and automatic ticket machines for a lower price than on the bus, but we tried 2 supermarkets and a service station near the apartment and none of them sell bus tickets, so we had to buy them from the bus driver.
On the way home we got them from a newsagent near the bus stop in town and paid $6 each.
We did some sightseeing and got some stuff done – exchanging $USD for Norwegian Krone, bought a mobile broadband modem so we can access the interwebz while we’re travelling around Norway. We visited the very modern Oslo Opera House, which is made of marble and glass, and has a very impressive timber ‘Wave Wall’ inside that provides access to the upper levels of the building. Great views of the city from the roof, which is apparently a favourite sunbaking spot on warm days. We didn’t see anyone sunbaking there today, but as we saw plenty of people out and about in the sun yesterday, the Opera House roof may have been standing-room only.
We walked up the main shopping mall and dropped into a Subway for some lunch. $20 for a foot-long roll with a drink and a biscuit. We shared, and I noticed other couples doing the same. We haven’t been sticking to our 5:2 diet where we eat just 500 – 600 calories for 2 days of the week, but we seem to just be eating less than usual anyway. I guess our bathroom scales will tell us the truth when we get home.
I had read about Litteraturhuset, the House of Literature, and it sounded like an interesting place to visit, so we walked along the side of the Royal Palace park to reach it. Not quite what I’d expected, it has a large outdoor cafe with a small bookshop inside, and apparently literature-related talks, workshops and debates are held there. Lovely old building, though, and on the way there we did find Norli, a large bookshop with a good range of English-language books and I even found a couple of cookbooks by Aussie celebrity chefs – David Thompson’s Thai Street Food and Christine Manfield’s Tasting India. Jo Nesbo’s latest book Police is prominently featured in all bookshops at the moment – hardcover Norwegian language version costs the equivalent of almost AUD$80 …. and most places have it ‘on special’ for $70.
We walked through the Royal Palace Park and went past the Royal Palace on our way back towards the city centre. The palace is undergoing renovation and the surrounding area looks like a building site. There were quite a few beggars around the shopping centres and in the shopping mall. More than we have seen in other major Scandinavian cities.
Our last stop today was Nor Brothers supermarket at Storgata 34. Our Lonely Planet guide recommended it as a good place to get reasonably priced groceries and good quality fruit and veg. And it was! Excellent bananas for $1.40 per kg, fresh bread for $2 per loaf (the cheapest we’ve seen elsewhere starts at $4), a whole room full of different rices and lots of interesting imported food. We bought a few things and plan to go back on our way out of Oslo. We realised as we were leaving that there was a whole 2nd floor that we had missed! So we have to go back.
The bus trip back to the apartment was easy and it dropped us right outside the front door to the apartment block.
We have a new mission – to find Norwegian hand-knitted sweaters in a Fretex (Salvos) shop. We’ll let you know how we go.