Summer Dog-Sitting in Oslo

Since January 2018, I have been pet-house-sitting in the UK, USA, Canada and during the month of July and the first week of August, I was also in Oslo, Norway taking care of two Greek dogs!

Expecting a cooler summer experience in the North as a refreshing interlude to what I thought was going to be an average summer for that region, Oslo experienced unusually high temperatures. Less than an hour of rain during my entire stay, the average daily temperature baked around 30+ degrees Celcius!

I took care of two mixed breed golden rescues from Greece, trained in Greek commands until… I arrived, and now they are now fluent in Greek, Norwegian and English, and Italian-inspired arm gestures!

The larger dog was a well-oiled machine with endless energy to fetch ALL DAY! I had to be the voice of reason and force him to rest a little from time to time. But overall, we played almost all day minus when I was in the city. The small dog thought he was 10x his actual size and barked at anyone, within and further than a 500 meters radius! Guilty until proven innocent was his philosophy!

Shortly after arriving, about four days into the sit, I injured my ankle pretty badly. I won’t give you the gruesome details, but it took about three weeks before I was able to return to my usual self without grimacing pain and an extended daily protocol in a valiant effort to fix myself. It was a very challenging time taking care of both myself and the dogs in a new town and country and supplies a painful kilometer away, not to mention stairs and running those errands.

The silver lining during this forced healing time was a diminished amount of guilt watching all the World Cup games and some mind-numbing commentary in a few languages. During this time, I was a great patient. Yes, looking back, I should have sought more support as soon as it happened but I played the hero card, and well, here I am. Alive to tell the tale.

Once freed of the daily protocols of disinfecting, icing and bandaging, I started exploring the many different bucolic areas including a huge forest (somewhat nearby).

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Last photo taken prior to injury in the nearby forest – two dragonflies!
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Interurban trail also nearby

THE NON-GPS STORY, a funny story, well, at least entertaining to me.

Location: somewhere in northeast Oslo

(Feel free to scroll down past this story to the details about my Oslo city exploration which begins after the red building photo below as this blog is rather long, and I’m not sure if you’ll be as entertained by this story as the future Allison with possible memory loss might be).

I was told that there was a rapid train that could get me to the city centre in 15-20 minutes, half the time of taking the subways and buses. So I ask you, how hard could it be to stumble upon train tracks that are somewhere ‘over there’ which also prevent cars and pedestrians from crossing without noticing? Easy, right?!

Attempt #1

My GPS couldn’t dedect the location nor the name of the station, not to mention the questionable infrastructure of all the roads, paths and private ant-mazes (there are map legends at all the multiple complexes of these house clusters, that’s how exciting it is).

So I consciously chose not to disturb the owners enjoying their vacation, and I treated this transportation location mystery as a game. After failing to find the station the first time, and feeling frustrated (dumb game), I spoke to a neighbour who told me to follow the path next to the house and to continue straight and that I would ‘bump into it’… ok, I can do that! Straight, as in stay on the trail, right?… Sure I can do that…

Attempt #2

I stayed straight on the path which was sorta straight and eventually found a train station … 3 km away. Not the right station. Back to the drawing board for round three.

Attempt #3

This time, I stayed super straight on the path, ignoring the natural curves in the name of total ‘straightness’, taking the highway overpass and begging for some signs to appear that might include any helpful information. Alas, ‘non‘… I humbly checked my GPS one more time and still it refused to acknowledge a train station within a km. So I kept going straight … however, then there was a descent where I really couldn’t tell how far the train station might be and although it was somewhat light outside, it was nearly 11:00 pm, so it was time to turn back and try the next day again.

Final attempt #4

The next day, I returned to my precise location from the night before and started this descent that wove a little until it forked in the road. Feeling the push of fate behind me, I chose to go slightly right and voila! There it was in all its glory! As I had been laid up for almost three weeks, this was a victory for me! I took the dogs across the bridge and down the un-nerving, steep and see-through metal staircase to the station house (deserted) where the ticket machine ended up being the parking machine. So back up the stairs and over to the other platform (the one I would take the next day) and down the scary stairs again for more investigating.

The machine, where is the ticket machine? …looking, looking, stopped at the travel board engulfed in Norwegian words… ticket machine? …ah there you are! Look at you! Looking discretely like an electrical circuit box!

However, happy days, there was an English function button. However, wait… Oslo S… where will that take me, will I need a bus after that? Hmmm, nope, Oslo S. did not stand for Oslo South… translation: Sentrum = Centre. Ahem. I blame the endless heat! What fun would exploring be if we always relied on planning and research? Yes, I can ignore my ‘A-type’ personality when I want.

Next? As the heat hovered, the dogs looked thirsty and me too, I’m sure I ‘looked’ thirsty too. Time to hydrate!

Where’s the beer?

The End (of my ‘funny’ story although you may disagree ;))

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Empty and deserted and not where you buy tickets

SO, OFF TO EXPLORE THE CITY!

VIKING SHIP MUSEUM

Vikingskipshuset på Bygdøy

One of the first tourist attractions I wanted to see was the Viking Ship Museum. It houses the completed Oseberg ship along with partials from the Gokstad and Tune ships, and the Borre mound cemetery as well as many artefacts. To learn more, follow this link!

There was also a great short film projected across three walls depicting an example of Viking life as they sailed the seas in the name of raiding, trading and battle.

The NOBEL PEACE CENTRE

Nobels Fredssenter

The same day, I also visited the Nobel Peace Centre, joining a tour (included in the ticket price) ready to be ‘educated’.

The tour included a brief introduction about Alfred Bernhard Nobel, how the prize came to be and how it is awarded. We learned predominantly about the work of ICAN (last year’s laureate winner) by following the temporary exhibit called “Ban the Bomb” which was about, you guessed it, the atomic bomb. It was fascinating but, of course, profoundly depressing and gloomy.

However, there was a particular room that contained a little more peace. It featured the permanent collection of all the Nobel Peace Prize and the Laureates along with a small write up about their contributions.

With that said, I still left with my endearing hopefulness and idealism intact, along with a sincere appreciation for the inspiring work done by the laureates and a slight twinge of guilt regarding some of my Netflix binging moments.

Overall, I’m glad I visited this vital spot in Oslo and if you are ever in the area, do visit! You will leave with a myriad of feelings and quite possibly, and most importantly, inspiration.

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OPERA HOUSE

Operahuset

On a hunch, I went inside and was able to join a tour starting in a minute (air conditioning!!), and I’m glad I did. This fascinating construction is home to numerous nuanced capacities for performances inside and out, along with practical multi-purposed functionalities. There are multiple stages, in-house workshops (metal, wood, costume, wigs etc.) that are awe-inspiring to visit. Sadly no photos were not allowed. (Fair enough) The Oslo Opera and Ballet Companies are fortunate to have endless technological, creative potentials as the opera house was only completed in 2007 with the future in mind.

Anti-gravity *hovering* stages anyone? Or flying singers and dancers with no ropes? Ya just never know.

It was also quite unusual to walk ‘on’ the actual opera house outside as you can see in the photo below and experience the dimensions and viewpoints. However, it is easy to stumble, so watch your footing!

SKI JUMP HILL

Holmenkillbakken

Able to hold 70,000 spectators, Holmenkollen has hosted the Holmenkollen Ski Festival since 1892, along with other competitions. During the summer, there is a somewhat scary looking zip line from the top end to… well, I couldn’t see the ‘end’ point. I’m sure that everyone is fine, it’s all good, you can relax. I have a partial video of two people ziplining on my Instagram account if you want to check it out here!

VIGELAND SCULPTURE PARK

Vigelandsanlegget

It is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. It’s located in Frogner Park, and it’s Norway’s most famous (and ‘free’ {rare}) tourist attraction.

The sculptures are animated, and many of them are very provocative. I was almost stunned by the many visceral reactions I experienced while strolling around. Although I only included a few photos below, you may be interested in following this google images link to scroll through some more specific examples. One of my favourites was this one, although I am a romantic.

NATIONAL MUSEUM

Nasjonalmuseet

Although I could have followed the suggested visitors’ route as indicated on the museum map, instead, I decided to be obstreperous. So what did I do? I unknowingly walked right into the Impressionistic section! I’m sure the museum visitors were perplexed by my perma-Cheshire cat grin as I glided (on the verge of twirling) from one painting to the next, flooded with memories of one of my favourite museums in Paris, Musée d’Orsay.

Perhaps it is no surprise to you that the National Gallery here in Oslo houses some of the most famous works by Norwegian painter and printmaker Edvard Munch.

“The Scream” draws crowds with the same enthusiasm as the Mona Lisa, just on a smaller scale. I bore witness to endless tourists standing in front of the painting, mimicking the expression for their photos. Soon enough though, I was alone for 15 seconds right in front, and no evil looks from any of the guards.

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There are four originals in total: two paintings and two pastels. I didn’t know that! Learn more about where the remaining three are and how much one of them sold for here.

$$$$$$$$$

As you know, the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911. But did you also know that 1893 version of the “The Scream” was also stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 and the 1910 painting was stolen in 2004 from The Munch Museum in Oslo? Fortunately, like the Mona Lisa, both of these paintings were also recovered. Interesting.

Below is a photo of Picasso’s ‘Guitar’ 1912. Now, why am I sharing this? I stood in front of this painting staring at it swearing that it looked familiar to me for personal reasons, but why? Then the Eureka, the light bulb moment happened. Back in Elementary school, one of our art projects was to replicate this painting using paints or pencil colours or something colourful as well as ripped pieces of paper to create a collage-like version of this painting. As Picasso created many, many different works of art involving the guitar, what are the chances that I would later see the same one, one fine day decades later in Norway! Pretty cool.

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THE ROYAL PALACE

Det kongelige slott

It was built in the 1st half of the 19th century as the Norwegian residence of the French-born King Charles III of Norway. Although I chose not to visit inside as my Krones budget ceiling had cracked a while back, I walked around the grounds enjoying a slightly cooler day. I was pleased to see stacks of beehives they are raising near the pond. Royal honey anyone?

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The guards in front and around the palace were very ‘active’ in their posts. Unlike the ones at Buckingham Palace, these guards had a choreographed way of moving almost continuously, rarely staying stagnant, purposefully scanning the area for vulnerabilities. So the current vulnerability that I could observe? …Endless video recordings taken by visitors.

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Maud of Wales was the first queen of Norway in over five centuries who was not also Queen of Denmark or Sweden

AKERSHUS Fortress

I’ll be honest, I walked around and up as high as I could go for the view, full disclosure. There were plenty of endless uneven cobblestones to navigate that I’m sure had been restored and replaced over time since the 1300s. There was one guard dressed in full regalia standing in front of the drawbridge yet was treated as more of an information station. She obliged many tourists. Other than that, I kind of glazed over this attraction.

As the blog slowly comes to an end, here is a slideshow from around town:

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MY LAST DAY IN NORWAY

(sorry, make that Sweden!)

On my last day, the owners asked me if I would like to join them on a small road trip to Sweden to get groceries. Although I had plans to go into the city to give them time to settle back in after returning only at 3 am, I said yes! So shortly after drinking coffee and playing with the dogs, we were on the road!

It is a common activity for Norwegians to drive to the borders to get food and gas as the prices are more competitive and this type of shopping is so official that it is called: “Harry tur”. I didn’t really ‘see’ Sweden aside from some shops and shoppers, but it was a fascinating end to an extended stay in Oslo.

I’m currently in Montréal, Québec, completing my last official pet-sit of these stringed together experiences and although I left Oslo a couple of weeks ago, I hope you enjoyed my share!

Sending loads of love to wherever you are!

xo

Allison

Facebook: Allison Lund – Blogger

 

#blogger #traveler #wonderlust #wanderlust #beauty #explorer #oslo #norway #tourist #vikingshipmuseum #nationalmuseum #nobelpeacecentre #petsitting #dogsitting #housesitting #daytrips #history #art #architecture #operahouse

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3 thoughts on “Summer Dog-Sitting in Oslo

  1. Hey Allison

    I finally got a chance to read your blog – I love your writing! As I’ve mentioned a thousand times before – I feel like I’m right there with you.

    Thanks for keeping these blogs going; yes, it is like you are taking us along with you on your crazy, adventurous life!

    Love
    Rosa

    Hope you had a nice visit with your family Auntie Allison and hope to see you soon.

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