13.08.2015 - 14.08.2015 23 °C
We arrived in Oslo after our 5 hour train trip that took us through some elevated towns with plenty of snow and Norway views.
Our cab driver was complaining of "rush hour" traffic at 3:00pm and it took so us over 30 minutes and $50 to get to our centrally located hotel. We later learned that the core business hours in summer Oslo are 8:00 till 15:00. They work harder in winter to make up their hours and work 8:00 till 16:00! They have a 37 hour week over the year and every hour worked beyond 37 is to be taken as leave in lieu of extra hours worked. And EVERY worker gets this benefit. The average Norwegian has 49 paid days leave per year, including public holidays due to the leave in lieu arrangement! I want to work here!
Whilst there was a lot of traffic at 3:00pm for the cabbie to negotiate, 80% of Oslo's traffic is underground. They have an eight lane highway running directly underneath the city. Oil money can do these things.
The restaurant/bar life all happens in the docklands type precinct that is very well set up. We checked out the restaurant menus at about 10 restaurants but they all told the same story. Best you can say is that the meals are good value....compared to the drinks menu!
The next day we walked around town till 1:00pm when we had a bike tour booked. I was in need of a haircut so enquired at the a notably empty Frisor venue as to how much a clipper cut....no. 4 would be. The lady got off her seat, put down her magazine and said, 390 NOK. This is around $65 AUD. I walked out and she picked up her magazine and sat back down on her fat arse.
Anyway, the bike tour was good fun and a great way to see the sights of Oslo with a knowledgeable guide.
We saw the harbour, City Hall (where the Nobel Peace Prize is presented), Royal Palace, and a sculpture park. Largest sculpture park in the world, done by one artist (Gustav Vigeland) though he did have some assistants. He has sculptured all the figures with little hair, no clothing and very little expressions. This was supposedly not to date the sculptures so they will still be relevant way in the future.
City Hall is the most boring and ugly building ever built, but inside it is spectacular. The murals are fantastic. Our guide offered us the opportunity to pee in the same toilet as Obama did, but it was early in the trip so we moved on. Interestingly, we were a couple of kms from the hall at 2:00pm when the hall bells rang out to the tune of John Lennon's, Give Peace a Chance.
We noted a lot of people swimming and diving off the dockland's structures. Apparently the water is often 23 - 25C due to Gulf Stream currents.
On one of the viewing points we could see Oslo's giant ski jump in the hills above the town. After the tour we jumped on a train to go and check it out. The train dropped us a few stations above the jump and we walked down through the forest to get to it. It was a nice walk and many serious mountain bikers were doing the same thing from the train station. Motor cross helmets and full on protective clothing. These dudes were serious and basically dropped straight down from the platform and through tight, steep tracks they went! Never to be seen again.
We got to what we thought was the big ski jump because it was, well a bloody massive ski jump but it turns out that this is only the out of season ski jump. Still as high but has carpet where it should be snow and sprinklers come on before some goose jumps. There are ruts for the skis to stay in as the jumper scoots down the ramp, accelerating at rate of knots that I could not keep up with a camera.
I was just amazed how high the jump was from where I was standing. I was standing about 80% of the height of the jump start. When I saw a guy approaching me with skis, helmet, goggles, and a padded suit I asked him if he was going to jump. He looked at me as if to say, "WTF do you think I am going to do with this crap?"
Anyway, he put the skis on, grabbed the starting arm that he sits on, keeps his skis parallel with the run till he is ready.....crosses his chest 3 times, kisses his fists, confirms with his coaches that they are ready at the observation tower, and unfortunately they are.
Whoosh, off he goes with amazing acceleration, and then he leaps from the jump with skis in a V position and he is in the air visible from where I am for seconds and then disappears. He disappears just long enough for you to think that he has landed on his head, and then you see this dot flying at a million miles an hour on the artificial turf below, pull up before the fence. WOW, and I a just watching. I cannot imaging what it would be like in the suit. Then he speaks to his coach and jumps on a chairlift to do it again. Is that a penalty? This is something that you do once and in the event you survive you move on to the Running of the Bulls or shark diving, not do it again till you break your neck!
We saw a couple more jumps and the common factor in all these guys was that they were late teens early 20's, and they have not even seen a gymnasium. The heaviest part of them and their attire would be the snow flake that may end up on their ski. Perhaps it is the nervous energy sitting so high above the ground knowing you are going to soar 140m, and all going well, land on your feet, in front of 30,000 spectators in the stadium....yeah stadium. Apparently for the World Cup Final, which this venue holds every 4 years , 250,000 people hit the place!
Whilst walking around the venue we could see a lot locals exercising by hopping up the stairs, riding bikes up the mountain and down the mountain at 100kms and hour. We read a warning sign to avoid roller skiers as they have limited ability to stop...WTF, then this guy comes screaming down the hill on roller skis! These guys are mad! It might explain their prices.
So we are now leaving Norway. What a great place for views and activity. Apparently only the Swiss come here and not talk about the exorbitant prices' but you know, I reckon it is almost worth it.