On the second trip of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a flight to snowy Norway, where we cross-country skied right off the subway!
David and I were excited to return to Scandinavia (we first saw Copenhagen this summer), and as our plane descended into Oslo’s airport our excitement grew: snow everywhere! Thousands of fjords glittered between hills covered in evergreens, revealing peeks of Norwegian cabins in the occasional clearing. We landed and took off for Oslo, our base for 48 hours in Norway. While we had entirely too little time in Norway, we both fell in love with the country and can’t wait to plan a return ski trip!
We arrived to the city early in the morning and checked into an old townhouse. This time of the year, the daylight hours are few — and the sun is fully set by 3:15pm! We set off to get our bearings with a walk around several of Oslo’s neighborhoods. We passed signs for the upcoming Nobel Peace Prize forum, and set across a lovely park that happened to also be the grounds of the Royal Palace of HM King Harald V and HM Queen Sonja. Oslo’s main Christmas market is called Spikersuppa off the Nationaltheatret, and offers a quaint line up of cabins serving delicious foods, ornaments, Norwegian knits and cheer. We grabbed two hot chocolates and warmed up by the open fire pits. As we saw from the rest of our trip, outdoor fire pits and candles play a huge role in Norway, perhaps due to the lack of sunlight and cold temperatures, and we saw them everywhere from outside restaurant street signs to candles lighting the way on wooded trails.
On the recommendation of a friend from the states, we set off to find Norwegian herring for dinner. We had tried pickled herring while visiting Denmark earlier this year, and were excited to sample similar dishes across Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The four countries are all proud of their herring and each insist that theirs is the best. Of course, in the Norway blog post, how could we disagree that Norwegian herring is the best :)? We had dinner at Vulkanfisk, located in an upscale food mart called Mathallen reminiscent of Oxbow Market in Napa for those who have been in the states. The herring did not disappoint, and we paired it with a locally brewed beer, crafted and named after a New England IPA style from Hopyard. Simply delicious.
While in Norway, we really wanted to get out into the woods, and while searching day trips from Oslo, I discovered that a hugely popular local activity is to take the subway to cross country ski the 1,600+ km of ski trails around Oslo. David and I had been looking forward to skiing all year, and we decided to try out cross-country skiing for the first time. We took the subway towards Frognerseteren, hopping off at the Oslo Vinterpark to rent our skis, then hit the trails and spent our second day in Norway skiing from chalet to chalet (about 2-6 km apart). The chalets are all decorated with Christmas cheer and serve the most delicious foods, hot cocoa, and traditional glogg (mulled wine). We visited two and highly recommend Frognerseteren for its atmosphere. It was snowing off and on while we were having dinner, but the servers said there are sweeping views of Oslo city from the terrace on a clear day. We both agree that our ski day is one of the top ten memories from our year trip. It’s hard to believe that a word-class ski trip can be had by flying into Oslo (for as low as $8 on some carriers), hopping directly onto the subway from the airport, hopping off 30 minutes later at the Vinterpark, and hitting the slopes. For all of my readers in London, if you haven’t done this yet, you should make a day of it! Next time we come back, we want to stay for a longer time, overnighting at a few of the chalets (many offer rooms as well as a restaurant to skiers).
We are picking up special ornaments from each country on our trip to fill up a small tree once we arrive in our final stop in Germany for Christmas Day. In Oslo we found a hand-carved moose ornament to represent our time in Norway, a perfect reminder of a great day spent skiing in Norway’s woods.
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com