The edge of Oslo

Last week it was suggested that I travel to Frognerseteren, a location on the Northwestern edge of Oslo.  It is the last stop of Line 1 on the T-bane.  Where I live, there was a tiny bit of snow.  Up at Frognerseteren, well, take a look at the picture below.Frognerseteren Area

Frognerseteren Area Small.jpgFrognerseteren is a very popular area, especially during weekends when people go skiing and sleding.  There is even a ski lift!  Cross country skiing is also very popular in the area from what I saw while I was up there.  I need to go back as I only headed north of the station, but apparently there are some nicer views of the city a bit south of the station.

A word of advice, though, go early, and get on at a station in the middle of the station.  –I got on at Stortinget and there weren’t many seats left.  Lots of people with skis, though!  It’s about a 40 minute journey, but worth it.  Here’s one of the views I did find looking towards the city.Frognerseteren

Picture Day!

Bislet ChurchI took this picture on the 15th on a clear day – probably around 2pm, so there was still plenty of light.  I like the way the trees sort of hide the building, but you can still see the beauty of the church.  –I’m not a religious person, but even I can admit that a lot of effort tends to go into designing religious buildings.  I don’t really know anything about this church – it’s not like the well known one in the center of the city, of which I would post a picture, except that it’s been covered with plastic the entire time I’ve been here due to renovations or other repairs.

I’m struggling to decide if I want to talk about unions in Norway – I’ve learned a lot more about them due to contract discussions at work (that won’t get discussed here), and I find that I’m rather discomforted by them, but I need to decide if I can explain the matter well here.

American Embassy

US Embassy in Oslo

US Embassy in Oslo

The American Embassy is a very unique building, especially given it’s location.  As you can see by the picture, it’s very black, triangluar, and pretty much across the street from the palace.  And it has a tall, very ugly fence surrounding the place.  To say that it’s uninviting is an understatement.

Now, first off, I don’t have complaints about anyone working at the embassy.  The times I had to go there, none of them were ever rude to me, and they were took care of my request for more passport pages quickly.

However, I have to be honest and say that I’m not proud of the embassy.  I realize the current government feels the need to do a lot to “secure” the building, but I believe that they could secure the building without making it feel like you’re trying to enter a fortress.  Not only that, but they want to build a new embassy, way out of the center of the town, and at a location that the residents claim would destroy the last green area they have near them.  The embassy has upset Norwegians by trying to get the process expedited and attempting to circumvent the local government.

So, when I visited the embassy around 9am on a Thursday, I think, there was already a long line.  Luckily for me, they have a separate line for American citizens, and nobody was waiting there, so I only had to wait around 5-10 minutes.  You first go into this guardhouse, where you get searched more thoroughly then you do at the airport.  You can’t take much in with you – your ID and documents you need, and your cash.  Then you head to a side entrance and come into a pretty small, dingy area where there are one set of windows for Americans, and another set for everyone else.  Since there was only one American ahead of me, I didn’t have to wait there long.  I was able to drop my passport off and pick it up later in the day after they added the extra pages (of course, I had to go through security again, and it was just as much fun as before, although I left some stuff behind so I was able to get through faster.

My problem is that the embassy isn’t a place you want to go.  Although the people are polite, the environment doesn’t encourage you to make use of their services unless you have no other choice.  Back in the UK, some Australians loved to talk about how the Australian embassy in London have wine tastings and other events.

In case you’re wondering, the other embassies I’ve passed in Oslo tend to be more traditional looking buildings, and if they have a fence, it’s usually more ornamental.  Even the Israeli embassy doesn’t look like a fortress!

I can’t help but wonder what things were like, say, 10 years ago…

Oslo Parks: St. Hanshaugen

sthanshaugenreflectingpondSt. Hanshaugen park, constructed between 1876 and 1886, is a bit more than a five minute walk from my apartment.  I headed over there on Wednesday to find out what was there.  It was actually a bit surreal.  The photo on the left was taken around 5pm, and you can see the empty reflecting pool that is built over a reservoir.  During the weekends, and especially in the main part of the summer, the park may look quite a bit different, but when I was there, it actually felt…  Desolate.

A few other people were passing through, and I saw a couple of people taking advantage of the peace to do some reading.  But, even accounting for the lack of people, the place felt empty and deserted.  There are a couple of interesting sculptures in the park, which I may try to find out more information about and write posts about later.

It’s always nice to know where parks are in a city, even if you don’t visit them often.  And Oslo has a lot of parks and other green spaces.  St. Hanshaugen isn’t even close to being the largest, but it’s still somewhat around 22 acres.

The Royal Palace

Oslo Palace

Royal Palace, Oslo

Norway has an interesting history.  For many years they were in a union with Denmark (not by choice), and then they were sort of given to Sweden in the early 19th century, which lasted until 1905.  It was during the union with Sweden that the Royal Palace was built.  It’s a small palace compared to others in Europe, because it wasn’t meant to be the primary residence of a royal family.

Today Norway’s king and queen live and do their work in the palace.  The crown prince also has offices here as well.  If you are going to be in Oslo in July or early August, you should consider taking the tour.  They give tours in English about three times a day during this time.  Buy your tickets in advance at the post office, otherwise they might sell out before you can get a ticket.

One downer is that they don’t let you take any pictures, and the palace’s website has all their pictures in flash files.  The tour takes you through the vestibule, the bird room, the “family” dining room, the ballroom, another dining hall, and the royal chapel, plus some other rooms.  A lot of it is very ornate, much as you’d expect of a palace, although the chapel is actually fairly plain.  It doesn’t necessarily show you how the king and queen live, but you get to see rooms that they use fairly often.

Picture by photojenni

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland sculpture


One of the more interesting spaces in Oslo is the Vigeland Sculpture Park, part of the larger Frogner Park.  There are 212 granite sculptures, all designed by Gustav Vigeland in the first half of the 20th century.  The statues range from men, women and children fighting an playing to a huge column of bodies.

All of Frogner park is very popular in the summer.  Tourists come to see the sculptures, and Oslo residents stretch out on the grass to read, barbeque, play, and otherwise soak up the sun.  There are also concerts, a water park, and sports facilities that draw people in.

The image on the right is one of my favorites of the pictures I’ve taken at the park.  This sculpture is mounted on a bridge across a pond, and for me, this view makes me feel like I’m off by myself, away from people, even when others are right next to me.

If you ever visit Oslo, this is one of the sights you must see.

One of the future posts I’m planning is about Oslo’s new Opera house.  I also have some general thoughts about living overseas that might interest some people.