A lot can be said about Oslo, but to me first and foremost, Oslo is home to many of my Gonzales fam.
I've always wanted to go to Norway ever since I was a kid. I've heard it so many times from my father's side of the family, because two of his siblings are based there (one is even married to a Norwegian). My cousins will visit the country from time to time, bringing with them chunks of the best cheese I've ever tasted in my life, and blocks and blocks of chocolates!!! During Christmas time, they will also send postcards with snowy houses and their updated family pictures with the greeting "God Jul!".
So before the funny Norwegia issue in Manila, or the beautiful Northern Lights in everyone's bucket lists, those are my first impressions of Norway.
Important Information When Traveling to Norway:
1) Visa is required (as with most European countries). Thanks to Ate, I applied for my Schengen visa by appointment in VFS GLOBAL in Ecoplaza Chino Roces Makati. For the requirements and all other FAQs, you can check out their website here: http://vfsglobal.com/norway/philippines/.
2) There's a 6-hour time difference between Norway and the Philippines. Kaya minsan pagising palang ako sa Norway, hapon na sa Pilipinas. Magpopost palang ako sa IG ng afternoon, patulog na friends ko, hehehe.
3) Entry point to Norway is usually at the Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (OSL). We flew with Thai Airways. Travel time from Manila to Oslo is about 14 hours, including lay-over.
4) Since we have families in Oslo, there's no need for us to book for accommodations so sorry if I have no input on this!! But as usual, agoda.com and Airbnb both have great selections almost anywhere in the world you're going!!
5) Currency they use is Norwegian Krone. We did not spend so much in Norway, except on our last day to buy chocolates and cheese for pasalubong. We used our credit cards for all our transactions. I think it is also more convenient to just withdraw money than to have money exchanged here in the Philippines. Just make sure to contact your bank before your flight and ensure that it will work during your trip!
6) For electrical outlets, Norway uses two ROUND prongs. I brought with me an extension (only Php 350 @ Ace Hardware) so I only needed one adaptor.
7) Main language is Norwegian, but everyone speaks fluent English.
8) Transportation around the city include trains, trams, and buses. Like in most Euro countries, ang dami ding nagbibike!
Lego houses!? My relative's neighborhood in Oslo:
When we landed in Norway, it was breakfast time again. Umurong ang oras, haha! After the long haul flight, it felt nice to be in a warm home with lots of food on the table! Ate and I spent our first day transferring between the two Oslo Gonzales houses, eating Norwegian chocolates, chips, and cheese, and bonding with the family. In perfect timing, our arrival date was also our Tito's birthday celebration!
The amazing Tesla (electric car) of our cousin:
Always getting two breakfasts transferring from Tito's house to our cousin's, no complaints! Hehe! I LOVE our breakfasts here!
Ate enjoying all the chips and playing with our pamangkin in our cousin's beautifully designed Scandinavian house:
Youtube all day err day!!!
Our Tito's birthday get-together:
No shortage of cheese and chocolates and chips!
Beautiful greenery outside our room in my cousin's house:
After my tito's party, while everyone's still setting up the videoke, I went up to our room to sleep. Naramdaman ko din ang sinasabi nilang "jetlag" na akala ko di ako tinatablan, haha!
The next day was our only full day in the city, and it wasn't put to waste! We were able to hear mass in Norwegian (sobrang interesting), eat in Mcdo (they have veggie burger in Norway and ang sarap!), and of course go around and check some of Oslo's tourist spots.
Inside St. Olav Church in Oslo:
Please bring Mcdo Veggie Burger in Manila!!
And with barely 48 hours in the city, here are some of my ...
Ginto ang tubig! Grabe! On our afternoon walking tour with my titas and cousins, syempre mauuhaw kami with all the walks and super tirik na summer sun. May dala pa akong jacket but actually super mainit na, hottest summer daw nila in history huhu.
So we went inside the nearest restaurant and guess how much a small bottle of water costs? PHP 250!!! Hindi na namin binili siyempre, haha! Hindi ko kinaya, meanwhile mas better na sa grocery although mahal parin at around Php 150. At home, you can even drink water straight from the faucet! Kaloka. Noted na yan, nagbabaon na kami ni Ate ng bottle for the rest of the trip.
Super sarap mag dog watching dito! Actually in all the 7 countries we went to, ang daming doggos and super fluffy nila huhu! The dog owners bring them everywhere! So if dog lover ka din, maloloka ka din haha! Watch my EU Doggos highlights on my Instagram profile (@anagon)! 😁
Design is EVERYWHERE! Parang everywhere I look, sobrang aesthetic! Siguro kung de-film lang ang camera ko, naubos ko kaagad ang shots hahaha!
Usong uso din tong American Tourister maleta ko dito, hahaha! I saw it so many times in all our stops!
Meet-up with my cousin (in the middle) and her family before their train back to her new home in Sweden:
Where To Go In Oslo?
Here are the picture-worthy places where our Tita brought us during our one-day tour in Oslo:
Oslo Opera House
Located in the Bjørvika neighbourhood, the Oslo Opera House is a beautifully designed building with a theater and workplace for opera and ballet professionals. From the outside, it looks like it is floating on water! The Oslo Opera House has a nice and free open space where people just chill by the water. We also walked to the rooftop for a view of the city. The structure is sooo white and seems so near the clouds--it's nice to take OOTDs!
I think ang super nakakatuwang observation ko here is how most people are 80% disconnected. When you take a seat in a park, or in a public transportation, sobrang konti ng nakikitang kukuha ng phone and mag mindless browsing. During shows here in Manila, sobrang liwanag sa venue because of all the camera phones that were raised up. Here in Europe in general, people have board or card games for recreation. They either talk to the person next to them, play with their doggos, or just enjoy the view!
Around Oslo's City Hall.
Nobel Peace Center
Oslo Harbour and Fjord
I almost forgot, Norway is the land of trolls and vikings!
Frogner Park and The Vigeland Park
Super huge free park! We were only able to go around the Vigeland Park, but learned later on na super laki pa nya as in may museums pa dyan sa gilid gilid. Anyway, it's my first taste of Oslo so okay nadin to get a glimpse of it even though I have zero research and zero plans but to be wherever my family goes!
Which leads us to my second to the last realization: no plans is bliss! Haha! I've been so used to traveling on my own or as the guide of the group, minsan pag hindi nasusunod yung na plan ko nakaka OC and may onting kirot of disappointment!! So for this Euro trip, I really left everything to my Ate's hands. Not only for her to to enjoy the trip according to her preferences, but also for me to enjoy it by just being my go-with-the-flow self. No expectations! Yung earlier travels ko ganito naman talaga ako, haha! Nakaka miss din yung feeling ng "sabit" ka lang and enjoy whatever the planner has in stored for the trip. Surprise me! ang drama! Hehehe.
Nakakatawa pala tong Vigeland Park! It's the WORLD'S LARGEST SCULPTURE PARK na iisa lang ang artist (si Gustav Vigeland) ... Nakaka loka kung iisipin sa sobrang dami! Ang sipag nya!!
Most of the sculptures are made of bronze and smooth granite, and the figures are nude men, women, and children in different poses! People taking pictures will often copy the pose, haha! Pero syempre the PG13 poses lang a, hehehe.
Most popular ata tong baby na to sa buong park, I wondered why. So I made sure to have my picture taken with it before we left.
Thanks to Google, I learned that the sculpture is called The Angry Boy. It has a shiny golden hand because people kept on touching it and holding it for photos. So ayun nag fade na yung granite and you can almost see the bronze inside. No online info why it's the most popular, cute lang nya siguro hehe!
Overlooking the park is more view of nature. I realized now how beautiful it is to see Norway outside Oslo! Maybe on my next Europe plans I will make sure to explore more of this country known for their nature trip! And of course, I will also make sure naka-tama na to sa Northern Lights season!!
Royal Palace of Oslo
Our last stop was in the Royal Palace, the Norwegian residence of the French-born King Charles III of Norway. Super tired na kami by this time so we just took pictures in front of it, hesitated to walk further coz ang tirik padin ng araw at around 6+ pm, and decided to just go back to the house na. Hehe!
My first World Cup was also there in Norway! We were also with my cousin who works in London and was there din for vacation. Plus, he's a huge football fan na. So we all gathered in the living room, complete with chips, drinks, and hirit na pang Pinoy lang, then entertained ourselves with hours of a slow-scoring game. Kaya pala ang saya pag may nakaka score (si Umtiti) haha! Fun night!
It was past 10pm when we left for our cousin's house na, and medyo maliwanag padin at sobrang nakakaaliw. Imagine mo if ganyan dito sa Manila, tapos nalimutan mo may kailangan ka pa iflatlay or nalimutan mo mag OOTD.. pwedeng pwede pa humabol! Haha! To my surprise, we had a quick stopover in a high part of the city, where we had a grand view of Oslo's late summer sunset. Ang ganda!
I can almost imagine it, Peter Pan flying for the second star to the right! ★
To be continued....
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