It got cold in Oslo. I know that may seem obvious, it is October in Norway, but the first two days we were there, it was barely cooler than it was here in Scotland. The second two days were a different story as temperatures went down to a daily high of 41 degrees. Oh, and did I mention that October is dark and gray in Oslo? Sun comes up at about 8am and goes down about 6pm. I did know that in advance because I looked it up before we left Scotland. Here is the site for sunrise and sunset in Oslo. Can you imagine how dark January is? Another site I found useful to check before going was one for Northern Lights Forecast for Oslo. You can look at several days worth of forecast to see if it says “try” or “wait” for your chance of see any Northern Lights action. It was pretty much all “wait” while we were there. Oslo is not the best place to see them, too far south. You really have to be further north in Norway to see the Northern Lights. This site gives some good recommendations.
I must say that October is definitely a shoulder season in Oslo for activities. The summer activities are over, hiking, boat cruises, etc. I could only find one company that runs fjord cruises right now and they only do so on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, none of which were days we could go. There is some kind of commuter service that has a boat that crosses to the fjord islands, but not a fjord cruise per se. Here is where you can check to see if those are running. On the other end of the weather spectrum, winter activities have not yet started in October, not in Oslo anyway, no snow, so no reindeer pulled sleds or Christmas markets yet.
Now that I have talked enough about cold and dark, let’s about what you CAN do. We only had half of a Saturday in Oslo before we had to head to the airport. By the way, there are two airports in Oslo and since we flew Ryanair we flew into Rygge, the airport that is farther away so you need to leave yourself an hour to get there and also check the train schedule from the Oslo Central Train Station to know when those Rygge trains leave. It takes you to a station that has a bus waiting to take you to the airport.
What do I always try to do on a trip? Go to a flea market, of course! The one that I researched that is supposed to be the best and the largest is at Birkelunden in the Grunerlokka neighborhood, a hipster trendy area. Unfortunately we were not there on a Sunday, but if anyone goes, please let me know how it was!
We did make it to Vestkanttorget Flea Market, very near Vigeland Sculpture Park. An easy trip from near our hotel on the #12 tram. It’s in a very pretty residential neighborhood. There was vintage, antique and general used items. The used items were primarily clothing and accessories, but, it’s Oslo, so the used clothing was amazing!! excellent high end brands, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, many Scandinavian brands that are great quality and expensive. Everything at this market was in excellent condition. I saw several pairs of Ilse Jacobsen boots. I got a great Noa Noa waterproof cape for 100 krone ($12). There are excellent winter clothes in Oslo and this market had a lot of great coats, scarves and boots, along with some handbags. I saw a beautiful Markberg leather purse for 500 krone ($60) which sounds like a lot for a flea market, but a similar size bag online sells for over $200 and this bag was in perfect condition.
The vintage homewares and collectibles were in great condition, mostly the typical finds of ceramics, glassware, etc., but a few stand outs were some modern art pieces, wood Norwegian painted items, some Christmas and winter items, including vintage ornaments and several charming old sleds. Another stand out was a pile of wool rugs from Poland. I spoke with the dealer and they were new with tags, but made in the 1970s and 80s. He bought them as old, new stock and had about 3,000 of them. They had great motifs, some animals, some abstract and some with those great 70s colors of burnt orange, rust and gold.
My favorite thing was this wood piece. Not sure what it was, but the painting was beautiful.
There were no toys at this market so Sam was a bit beside himself. The boot sale I go to has lots of toys so he is busy “shopping”. Luckily there was a very small playground and a vendor selling the best smelling homemade pancakes to keep him occupied.
Notice the brown cheese to the right of the pancake. Yes, brown cheese. I saw it at the breakfast at our hotel and did not try it, brown cheese? and it looks plastic, yep, it has a very weird plastic quality. The girl at the flea market offered us a taste, ok, don’t be rude I tell myself. It was delicious, a very sweet buttery flavor, melts in your mouth. Come to find out, it’s not really cheese at all but made from the whey of goat’s milk that is boiled and then left to set. This blog post by David Nikel, an expat living in Norway, has a great article on it and apparently it is a staple of any Norwegian home, down to the slicer pictured above to cut it.
After the flea market we walked the 5 minute walk back to the entrance to Vigeland Sculpture Park, where the tram had dropped us off.
The Park’s web site says it is the “world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, and is one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions”. There are over 200 pieces done by Gustav Vigeland during the period between 1939 to 1949.
We focused mainly on the Main Gate, Bridge and Fountain Area. Remember how I said it got cold? after about an hour and a half at the flea market and then being out in the open space of the park, we were cold. Also, Sam saw the great playground near the main gate and I wanted to give him time to play before we left. There are several other areas you can walk to explore, The Monolith and the Wheel of Life. There is also a cafe across from the playground if you need to warm up little fingers. All the Norwegian children were kitted out in snowsuits, I was not quite as prepared for Sam.
I read some articles talking about the unusual or controversial nature of the sculptures, but I through they were beautiful depictions of human relationships.
Two particularly famous ones are angry boy and the one people say shows someone throwing babies. The hand of the angry boy gets touched a lot and is a different color due to the wear. Angry boy was even in a piece of art in the breakfast lounge of our hotel and you see him on a lot of things throughout Oslo.
If you did notice from the photos, the shoulder season of fall does provide some beautiful colored foliage on the trees.
A future post on more vintage shopping in Oslo is in the works!