EUROPE, CITY, KIDS / MARCH 4, 2017
OSLO, NORWAY IN WINTER
I spent three days in Oslo with my family in February. I wanted to see the city’s winter self, with its icy shades and bundled up residents. I imagined city walks on empty streets and the sounds of a harbor ferry cutting through frozen water. I wanted our boys to feel the chill, to get the sense of fortitude that our Norwegian ancestors had; they have grown up hearing stories about tough Norwegian family members who later, surprisingly, settled in the similar climate of Montana. Why didn’t they go to San Diego? Or Buenos Aires?
Also, the more that we travel around Europe, the more we vow to travel out of tourist season. To really know a place, we prefer to visit a town when it belongs to itself. It is on quiet days when the markets are empty and restaurant waitstaff is relaxed, that we can strike up conversations and get a true sense of a place and its people.
In Oslo I got what I dreamed of and so much more. I met some really cool people. There is public art everywhere and a stunning array of architecture, especially in Tjuvholmen and Aker Brygge. We ate our meals in stylish restaurants and we stayed in a very stylish hotel. Out in the fjord, we passed tiny islands with red, yellow and green cabins – they looked like illustrations in classic Scandinavian children’s books. We wandered into the Vikingskipshuset (Viking Ship Museum) where we looked at original Viking ships from all angles and marveled at the optimism that led them to cross vast oceans in these beautiful, surprisingly small, vessels.
Everyone seemed to be outside. I passed mothers with their children, all wearing winter onesies with buttoned up hoods. They looked like they were going skiing, but in fact, they were just hanging out. I passed several preschool yards and saw more of the same: kids dressed for ultra low temperatures so they could play for hours outside. Sidewalk cafes were full of people chatting over drinks and families eating lunch on seats draped with sheepskins and wool blankets. I woke up early and took a stroll to a neighborhood bakery for coffee. It was 7am, still dark, and people were huddled around votive candles, sipping tea and coffee, outside! Oh, Oslo.