THU: 12º/5º FRI: 15º/3º
All in an Oslo trip’s worth: Fromage, sculptures and ravenous cougars
It’s 8 o’clock in the morning. After barely three hours of sleep, the hoarse voice of a Danish woman wakes us up through the cabin’s radio – it’s time for breakfast. Reluctantly we hobble towards the 7 Seas restaurant. Last night we competed with Japanese tourists ravenous for seafood; this time, however, the buffet consists of Danish pastries, sandwiches and fruit.
Malene fills her plate with food she’ll never be able to finish by herself. Her attitude reminds me of a stay I once made at an all-inclusive hotel in Turkey: my parents would be so embarrassed about going up for seconds that they would send my brother and I up to get them more food; the Danes, on the other hand, don’t seem to feel any kind of shame whatsoever. With a cinnamon roll and Rough Guide to Scandinavia in hand, we plan a route through the Norwegian capital. We strategically include parks on our route where we can sleep. This should be a fun day …
Oslo, the oldest of the Nordic capitals, located between a fjord and forest, is breathtakingly beautiful. We start the day at the city’s new landmark: the Oslo Opera House. A spectacular feature of this iceberg-like building is that it is possible to walk on its marble roof. We enjoy the view and move on to Oslo’s Strøget: Karl Johans Gate, which leads to the royal palace – beautifully located in between several parks.
A little nap later, I manage to convince Malene to go to Oslo’s most famous sculpture garden. I’m easily bored by sculpture gardens, but it’s hard to imagine any human – well, apart from my travelling companion – who wouldn’t happily kill an hour or two exploring Vigeland Park, which is filled with more than 200 works sculpted by Gustav Vigeland. By then, it’s already time to go back to the ferry.
With another 18-hour journey in prospect, we dine at the Blue Ribbon, a restaurant with a superb a la carte menu and a fantastic wine list. While everyone is dressed up nicely, I arrive in the shorts I’ve walked in all day. We both go for the Bornholm poulard, stuffed with sundried tomatoes, pine nuts and basil, served on a bed of pea puree with mushrooms à la crème. For dessert, I take the chocolate ice cream layer cake, while Malene goes for the assiete de fromages – the cheese plate if you please. It’s incredible how you can make every dish sound high-class in French. After finishing our bottle of house wine, we go back to our cabin.
While I’ve already spent a night here, I’m still in a state of utter shock to find a bunk bed and a pull-out bed I imagine prisoners would sleep on. Malene doesn’t seem to care at all and falls straight back to sleep – again. I am, however, not exactly ready to settle into the luxurious accommodation, so I meet up with my new-made friends to hit the ferry’s nightlife. We make our move to the main club, only to find out they are broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest.
Luckily we have better luck at the other club, where one of my favourite spectacles is the battle of the middle-aged – or at least, that’s what I like to call it. Whenever a party band is playing cheesy ‘60s music, you’re invariably find this one couple showing off their dance moves. If another couple has the guts to enter the dance floor, the battle is on. This time, however, it doesn’t exactly go as planned when the spectacle is heavily disturbed by a pole-dancing woman in her 60s, who then walks over to my friend to give him a lap dance.
The ferry is full of cougars. The night before a woman in her 40s came up to us, saying that hooking up would made perfect sense as she’d “already been doing it with 25-year-olds”. As the old Dutch saying goes: “You have to learn it on an old bike,” but no, I refrained.
The party continues until the early hours and I realise what an amazing job I have: the tough life of a journalist …