Norway’s capital was the first place I visited on my own passport, and the first place I flew to. I visited again in 2008, but had long been meaning to return. Since joining BA I’d intended to take weekend breaks across Europe, with the precise location dictated by whichever flights were convenient, but had never quite got around to trying it. With my partner headed to the Netherlands for a few days and thanks to a promotion on Scandinavian flights, I put this trip together on just a couple of weeks notice.
I still had a few weeks status with Club Carlson, and their chains have a strong presence in this part of the world. Their Q1 promo offers 10K points for 2 stays, or 20K for three – by splitting my nights between an airport and central hotel, I could trigger the 10K and potentially set myself up for another stay later in the year too. I’d also get a 15% bonus from silver status, and – it turns out- they had a double points promo for stays in Scandinavia too. All told, just under £180 of spend yielded 17,000 points, which I figure for at least £50 of value.
I picked the Park Inn at the airport; it’s an easy – and mostly shielded from the elements! – walk between the hotel and the terminal. On check in I was fortunate to be upgraded to one of the corner ‘business friendly’ rooms, which upped the space by about 50% and gave a decent view too. In Oslo proper I went for the Radisson Blu Scandinavia, where I received a standard room as booked, but situated on a high floor with a view out across the palace, city and harbour as requested. I had deliberately chosen a hotel with a pool, and was very happy to find I had the whole thing to myself on Saturday night.
As mentioned, there seemed to be some extra discounting on the BA staff rate, with a return pricing up for a little under £100 in EuroTraveller. From that I dropped another £30 by trading in 4500 avios – not an amazing valuation, but I’m avios rich and cash-poor. The Friday night departure meant I could fit in a regular working day before taking the shuttle to T5, whilst the 20:30 OSL-LHR on the Sunday put me back in the UK a little later than I’d like, but ensured enough time for both sightseeing and an early meal in Oslo.
Flying economy without status could have lead to leg-room disaster, but fortunately there was still an exit row window seat to be grabbed at online check in on the outbound. For the inbound I gambled on the furthest forward window seat I could find, and sure enough lucked out with a pre-refit A319 and thus plenty of space. Otherwise there’s not much else to report on a routine shorthaul hop – staff were friendly, the catering wasn’t really worth bothering with, flights were smooth and peaceful, and there were no issues at Gardermoen despite arriving to snowfall and a team of snowploughs clearing the way.
The Tourist Attraction
I had been lamenting the lack of a proper winter in the UK, and suspected that Oslo would be an easy way to remedy this. One of the metro lines climbs out of the city and 1500ft up to Frognerseteren, where there is a network of cross country ski trails and on previous visits I had found myself knee deep in snow. Similar conditions prevailed this time – with a winning combination of steady snowfall during the week, but then dry and warmer conditions on the Saturday. However, I had unwittingly booked my trip to coincide with a ski festival, so had to share the countryside with thousands of fans. They were a bit too unpredictably drunk for my liking – cross country doesnt’ seem that captivating a spectactor sport, so most had taken the opportunity to drink hard or even attempt barbecue – but following the crowds lead to a woodland hiking route down from Frognerseteren to Holmenkollen I’d have been unlikely to find on my own.
On the Sunday, with a forecast of sleet and rain, I instead opted for indoor attractions – retracing my original steps around Bygdøy, the ‘museum peninsula’. After a leisurely start I was able to fit in the Viking Ship, Fram and Kon-Tiki museums via an Oslopass, which also granted me 24 hours of public transport. It’s worth doing the maths on these – had I only made it to two of the museums, individual entry fees and a daily metro ticket would have been cheaper, and in winter you only have a few hours to work with. But this combination put me ahead, and they’re all thoroughly recommended: the Viking ship museum is an architectural delight in addition to its impressive exhibits; and I lost hours reading up on polar adventures in the Fram museum, whilst the Kon-Tiki expedition is a delightfully improbable tale of triumph against the odds.
Norway is expensive in general, Oslo stretches the budget further, and food seems particularly expensive. So, with no dining companion nor deep love of the local cuisine, I mostly grabbed food to go. But Saturday night I settled in at the counter of one of Trip Advisor’s top picks, the Fiskeriet Youngstorget, which offers an excellent and – relatively – affordable round of fish and chips. It’s even cheaper if you take it away, but with temperatures hovering around zero it seemed worth the extra for a seat!