“My velvet escape travel tip” is a guest series about what the name ‘Velvet Escape’ evokes and what that would be in the hometown or favourite place of the guest writer. With this series, I hope to uncover travel tips from places around the world to help visitors have a truly local experience. Today’s guest post is by Anne-Sophie Redisch, who writes about her favourite summer and winter spots in Oslo, Norway.
Summer in Oslo
As I sit down to write this post, I look out the window, wondering which of Oslo’s many nooks and crannies would make a velvet escape.
It‘s surprisingly difficult to choose. The fact is, this time of year – with long, white nights and perfect temperatures – the entire city could easily be described by that tantalising turn of phrase. Even Oslovians are different. With the arrival of spring, people abandon their more introvert winter mood, their inhibitions and most of their clothes. From May to September, Oslo is full of happy locals.
For a particularly velvet escape, though, try Frogner Park. The large grounds are filled with the scent of 14,000 roses and 212 life-size nudes by sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Frogner Park is Oslo’s premier attraction – as well as a local favourite. This is where Oslovians walk their dogs, jog, stroll, bask in the sun or play. Children bustle about happily, climbing on the statues or imitating them (Angry Little Boy is especially popular).
The Oslo Fjord islands offer gorgeous getaways as well. Hovedøya Island is my favourite. There’s sun, sand and refreshing dips in the fjord, of course. But there’s also protected plants, birds, free-roaming goats and sheep, and the ruins of a 12th century monastery to investigate.
Nature is Oslo’s major draw. Venture out of town for 15 minutes by public transport, and you’re in Oslomarka forest. It seems everyone is here, especially on weekends and after work (3 pm during summer). However, there are miles and miles of trails and numerous cool, refreshing forest lakes and brooks, so it’s easy to find a spot all to yourself.
Winter in Oslo
In winter, the sun sets around 3 pm. But snow brightens the long winter night. And candles. In most windows, you’ll see candles. Shops have lit candles on the counters, hotels have candle-lit breakfasts, some even light candles in their offices.
Ask any local and they will tell you Oslomarka is just as velvet in winter. Cross-country skiing is what winter is all about up here. The saying goes Norwegians are born with skis on their feet – and it’s appropriate. People ski even before they’re born. Babies are packed into a pulk (a small sledge) and pulled behind their parents. Nothing satisfies a Norwegian heart more than gliding along the trails through the ever-changing landscape, hearing the shoosh-shoosh of skis cutting through the snow. Skiing by moonlight is especially wonderful; you’ll feel like you’ve entered the world of fairy tales. Be warned: Cross country skiing is highly addictive.
For a less strenuous winter adventure, try the old wooden sailing ship that plies Oslo harbour. As snow gently falls, you’ll sail past the medieval Akershus Castle, the nature reserves of Bygdøy and the cool Opera House – shaped like an ice floe tapering into the water. Standing on deck, you can imagine you’re a Viking coming home after years of explorations.
About this week’s guest writer
Anne-Sophie Redisch is a bilingual writer who loves hopping off a train in a new city. Her two daughters often come along, enlivening the travel experience. She has lived in the USA, New Zealand and Norway, and her work appears regularly in in-flight magazines and various Scandinavian and English media. She blogs at Sophie’s World and can be found on facebook.
Read other My Velvet Escape travel tips.