Oslo: a stylish, trendy, fashionable and modern Norwegian Capital. It is beautifully located by the Oslo fjord, surrounded by hills and vast areas of greenery and woodlands. Although it’s not a popular travel destination, it is a transportation hub for travelers to stay just a day or two before their adventures of amazing fjords, glaciers, and so much more. We stayed at a hotel right across the train station which is perfect because it has triple rooms with 3 single beds (there are 3 of us), and we do not need to drag our luggage that far after we got off the train from Bergen and hop on a train to the airport afterward. Oslo is a compact city that it’s easy to navigate and get around by walking. If not, the Oslo tram network offers six lines that cover 99.9% of the tourist spots in the city. After our glacier walk and “Norway in a Nutshell” tour from Bergen – we decided to take it slow and had a few days exploring the city.
Oslo Opera House (a.k.a. Opera Huset) is the national opera theater in Norway, and home to The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. Interestingly, the opera house is not a classical historic structure, but a modern architecture, designed by Tarald Lundevall, that stood at the seaside of Oslofjord in central Oslo – a mere 5-minute walk from the train station.
We didn’t actually catch a show but we simply admire this giant masterpiece from the outside. The roof of the building is covered in white granite and rise from the ground level, and this slope is a platform that allows visitors to walk up the building and enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
I am glad the city was ‘gutsy’ enough to commission such a bold, fashion-forward, and creative architecture instead of yet another ‘classical’ building!
Next, we proceeded to Karl Johans gate which is the main street that leads all the way to the Det Kongelige Slott (Royal Palace) and stopped in a street side café for brunch. Apparently, in the Nordic country, everyone wants to get out of the house and celebrate the summer sunshine when it’s warm and sunny! Lots of iconic historic buildings are located on the street, as well as bars, trendy shops, and restaurants. When we arrived at the Slottet we were just in time to witness the exchange of guards at 1:30pm!
There are quite a few notable Norwegian artists had their work displayed in the capital city – like Edvard Munch and Gustav Vigeland; I knew I was in for a treat but it was until I actually visited the park and it has become my favorite urban park that I have visited so far!
Vigelandsparken is a 320,000 square feet urban park with an impressive and extensive open-air showcase of modern sculpture created by Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland; Make no mistake, this park, or “sparken” in Norwegian, is the masterpiece that Vigeland put his heart and soul in. Gustav was a talented Norwegian sculptor and he was deeply influenced by Rodin. The park features more than 600 pieces of sculpture that focused on the most talked-about topic in the course of human life – birth, old age, sickness and death; love and hate; separation and togetherness, and much more. All these emotions are depicted vividly and honestly in the open space and displayed in front of our eyes. The life-like figures could be any one of us, and any visitors could somehow find their own favorite piece.
Follow the path and experience Vigeland’s interpretation of life. As we entered the bridge, there were already a lot (really a lot) to see. As the sculptures were erected intensely on both sides of the bridge and each of them is different.
I appreciate the clean lines and simple curves of these sculptures which have a hint of Rodin but also manifested in the artist’s own way. The life-like figures captured different stage and moments in life. As we were looking at each piece (not trying to mimic the moves of each one), we jogged memories of our lives, recalled some friends and family at home, and tried to interpret what the creator was trying to describe (because some of them are really wild and they’re up to viewers imagination).
Making our way up the stairs there was a beautifully crafted fountain in the center of the square. All sides of the fountain base are engraved with, again, depictions of life; and each of them is different. The fountain is also surrounded by sculptures of trees. Tree of life and cycle of water – to me it sounded like a symbol of the origin and the continuation of life. Like Gaudi, Vigeland created an organic piece of art that celebrates life!
The Monolith Plateau
As we go higher through the gate the 14 feet tall pillar that chiseled from three granites is called the monolith, and it took 15 years to complete. It was kind of like a grand finale (if not the artist’s intent) of the Vigelandsparken trilogy. The pillar featured 121 humans representing the different perspective of life – were they all trying to reach the top and grow and finding a way to reincarnate from the cycle of life?
Anyway, we loved the park so much we visited the park again the next day, with picnic food in our hands. After all, it’s a nice, spacious, and green city park that opens to all locals and travelers to do all sorts of ‘park-y’ things like jogging, stretching, rolling on the lawns, picnic and etc.- We did them all!
Maybe, at that moment, just like the sculptures, we were depicting a moment of our lives.