I’ll come clean. I haven’t been too jazzed about writing up the second half of my September trip to Scandinavia which is why this post has sat idly in my drafts for several months. Leaving the trip half-written up however is unacceptable, so I’m forcing myself to do it so I can move onto more exciting things. This is basically because the time we spent in western Norway was by far and away the best part of the trip. We did then have a good time in Oslo, but our visits to Gothenburg and Stockholm were unfortunately rather unremarkable. Let’s get into why.
Before I talk about Oslo though, I have to mention the 6 hour train journey we took from Flåm as it was a complete delight. We crossed through so many different environments, I was jumping out of my seat every 10 minutes to attempt to take a photo of the beautiful and varied scenery. We saw glaciers, lakes, rocky plateaus, forests, valleys and as we approached Oslo, charming architecture. The outstanding scenery helped make up for the exorbitant cost of the train ticket (like more than £100?). I was left totally inspired to do more train travel in the future. I firmly believe it’s one of the most wonderful ways to see the world.
We stayed in Oslo for two nights. I was left overall with a good impression. The harbour is the obvious highlight and the city has clearly spent a lot of money and time revitalising the area into a gorgeous area to stroll round. The architecture is striking, modern and stylish. We enjoyed spying on people using the saunas that floated in the harbour and snoozing in the late September sunshine by the water’s edge.
We checked out the Nasjonalmuseet and I was really impressed. As well as having lots of incredible art (I loved the Piranesi exhibition!), I was particularly fascinated by the exhibits on how Norway’s international identity and culture has developed in the last few hundred years. This included artists beginning to paint Norway’s incredible scenic beauty and the rise to prominence of various Norwegian singers, musicians and fashion designers on the world stage. It was super fascinating to think about how, despite its small population, Norway is becoming increasingly successful at leaving a mark in the world of art and music, something it hasn’t really been able to achieve throughout history. This also translates to increasing pride in their national identity, which I find really charming!
The other thing I recall from Oslo was the disappointing nightlife, a theme that continued from Bergen and Flåm. We visited the largest gay bar in town – unbelievably called ‘London Pub’ which is themed heavily on, yes, you guessed it, the very city I live in. The drinks were expensive and the crowd… a little sparse. The best part about it was the handsome bartender, who sadly turned out to be straight anyway.
It was finally time to leave Norway so we boarded our bus down to Gothenburg. I really don’t have a lot to say about the place. I messed up the accommodation, booking it for the wrong day, so our first few hours in the city were spent hurriedly trying to find a cheap hotel (we finally bagged a room that had no windows). The town centre was fairly charming, but there didn’t seem to be much to do. We walked around a bit, saw the harbour… and that’s it really. I wouldn’t recommend to go out of your way to visit, sorry Gothenburg. Fortunately we only stayed for one night.
Our final stop on the trip was Stockholm. It’s a cool city and we liked it – Pascal and I have visited before so we knew what to expect. We walked around, visited the excellent Fotografiska (we were able to check out an exhibition I later realised my own brother had helped put together), Skansen open air museum and ate some delicious meatballs (they were the genuine highlight of Sweden for us). However we couldn’t muster much more enthusiasm for the place than that. Perhaps because we’d both been before, perhaps because it was the end of our trip, perhaps because the one person I know who lives here blanked me on Instagram AND when I later bumped into him in a bar… who’s to say.
So that concludes our Scandinavian sojourn. We’d had a good time, Norway being particularly enjoyable and impressive. Pascal and I had travelled another 1000km together without fighting. We’d seen an incredible variety of things in a short time, really proving that Scandinavia is an absolute delight to visit. They just need to work on making their beer cheaper!
Funny how those biggger cities can feel nice but a bit ‘meh’ at times. I had the same experience in Norway and Sweden, but absolutely loved the countryside — especially up north!! I just wish the local transport was a bit cheaper haha
You’re right! Perhaps we should have focused on visiting a more rural area of Sweden, then we might have enjoyed ourselves more. It’s a good lesson to learn though – I’ll definitely apply it to my future travels.
The most stylish city I ever visited , Oslo … great pics and you revived my memory