norway: oslo

Its-a Mario Time!

Most of the time, when I’m super excited about anything, it turns out to be a big disappointment.  Never in a million years would I have guessed that the toboggan run that made me decide to go to Oslo was going to be better than I could have ever imagined as it was like a real life version of Mario Kart.  Mario Kart is the only way I can describe the awesomeness that is this toboggan run.  Yes, this is the game that made me spend summers inside and gave me a reason to hook up a Nintendo to the big screen (I’m going with perks of film school if you have any lingering questions about that comment).  Basically, the toboggan run in Oslo is a 2km sled run that is located next to the original bobsleigh run from the 1952 Olympic Games.  If you already have a sled, you get off at the last metro stop and go downhill as fast as humanly possible until you get to another metro stop visible from the run.  After that its a vicious cycle of hopping on and off the metro with a little tobogganing squished in  the middle.

Zooming ahead of the pack!

Zooming ahead of the pack!

If you’re a tourist like us, there’s a sled rental place that is located at the top of the run and the helmet is thrown in for free.  A word to the wise, it is a good idea to take advantage of this freebie as there is no controlling your sled or anything that is happening around you.  Throughout the time that I participated in this tobogganing ritual, I managed to take a sled to the back (massive bruise), hit another sled before flipping over my sled and his (badly bruised ankles, calves…well legs in general), hit a snowbank with my head, fell into deep snow where I thought I was going to get buried, and may have possibly lost my sled (I refuse to go into that sorted story).  My Aussie mate didn’t do much better as she broke a shoe, lost a glove, and has just as many deep bruises as I do.  Despite the aches and pains, this was an experience that was definitely worth it and just got better as nightfall approached.  As the sun went down, the run became a block of ice with deep bumps which allowed you to catch some decent air as you made your way down at top speeds.  Words cannot describe how amazing I thought this experience was and in my opinion, this is one of those things that everyone needs to try once in their lifetime!

 

 

 

Categories: england: london, NORWAY, norway: oslo | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m The Juggernaut Bitch!

It might have just been something in the Oslo air or seeing everyone in the city run around with ski equipment but enough was enough and we decided that it was about time to give cross-country skiing a whirl. Yes, I know I’m Canadian but NEVER in my life have I been cross-country skiing and to make it even funnier, my first attempt was going to be with an Aussie who’d only been once.  As far as I was concerned, how hard could it be right?  After all I was going with someone who used to be a snowboard instructor so I’m sure she’d be able to dig deep back into her teaching days and give me a few pointers.  So we did the only thing that made sense and figured out how to take the metro to the mountains. Getting to the mountain was an easy task as all you need to do is sit on a train for around 30 minutes and you’ll find yourself exactly where you needed to be.  The difficult task was figuring out where the hell to rent the equipment from. Turns out the locals we were following all had their own gear so they couldn’t offer us too much advise other than to find the steepest hill, climb it and there should be a place around there somewhere.  GREAT!  So off we went climbing what we thought was a steep hill and seeing nothing at the top of it and then winding around to figure out where the hell we were supposed to go.  After about an hour mucking about in the snow and befriending random dogs, we came across the rental lodge.  Turns out all we had to do when we got off at the metro stop was jump on the bus but that’s the knowledge that people who plan their trips possess.

The rental place we were searching for

The rental place we were desperately searching for

At the end all that mattered was we made it and so off we went to drop a pretty penny on whatever the hell we needed for the day.  Turns out that renting ski equipment was pretty reasonable in one of the most expensive cities in the world.  It would have been even better if we had just remembered to use our 20% discount courtesy of the Oslo pass but there’s always next time I guess.  All we had left to do was find a place to cross-country the hell out of the Oslo.  Word of advice, figure out where you want to go before you get there.  There are hard tracks, easy tracks, training tracks, and tracks near lakes that are buried under piles and piles of snow.  As we weren’t sure where to go (and without a decent map at our disposal) we just relied on blind luck.  At first it was grand as we stumbled upon a training track and that gave us a chance to figure out how it all works.  There may have been a lot of falling followed by a little pee your pants laughter but so far so good.  What we were lacking in technique was made up for by laughter and laughing at each other.  As we got more adventurous, we started to venture beyond the safety net of the training track and decided to go find ourselves a lake.  This was easier said than done as there are absolutely no signs telling you where you should go.  It was just snow, forest, and everything looks exactly the same.

Unable to stay upright...happens to be best of us!

Unable to stay upright…happens to be best of us!

After a good amount of searching and bugging anyone who was unfortunate enough to cross our path, we found what we were told was an easy track.  At first, it seemed to be okay and then we hit the hills and it wasn’t so okay.  Aside from being a killer workout, it turns out going downhill is a hell of a lot easier than going uphill for me.  It felt like every time I tried to go uphill, I would get so far before feeling myself start slipping down again.  It was hard and after a little frustration with a big hill, I decided to whip off my skis and just walk up that damn bad boy.  Turns out that even though I had placed the ski in question diagonally, I made the unfortunate mistake of still keeping it at a downwards angle.  After that, all it took was a little bump and my ski set off on its own, settled into the groove, and started going downhill at the speed of light.  At first, I just stared at it and laughed but soon realized that the only way the damn thing was going to stop was if it launched itself off the mountain.  Like Indiana Jones, I set off after the damn thing to stop its downwards decent before I owed the rental place a whole lot of money.  It whipped around the bend and kept continuing at the speed of light as I ran after it as fast as I could with the poles and other ski in my hand.  When I started to give up hope, I could see a man in the distance holding up the wayward ski high in the air.  He was obviously someone who knew what he was doing and before long, I was by his side and reclaiming the runaway ski with a whole lot of verbal diarrhea explaining what had just happened.

In the middle of nowhere...

In the middle of nowhere…

In situations like this, what else is there to do other than laugh.  All in all, I can say that I had an absolutely blast cross-country skiing.  My technique may have been horrid but I would say I probably was the best at laughing at my uncoordinated self.  At the end of the day, I had a great workout, was able to return all the equipment, and despite all the falling – was alive to tell the tale with minor injury and made others chuckle along the way.  If that doesn’t make me a juggernaut – I’m not quite sure what does!

Categories: NORWAY, norway: oslo | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Schooled – Like Misbehavin’ Children!

Before leaving for Norway, I was painfully aware that it was an expensive city but I was only there for an extended weekend so this little fact wasn’t going to bother me too much.  After all, the flight had cost us next to nothing and in my books, that was enough to make up for slightly more expensive everything else.  From the moment I landed in Oslo, the trip started off on the right foot.  I had managed to ditch my stalker from the flight (long story that’s just not worth going into) and was moments away from reuniting my Aussie travel buddy as I scarfed down a rather pricey fast food dinner.  After picking up some random supplies and having a rather odd conversation with a local that befriended us, we were off to figure out what kind of trouble 2 girls could get themselves into over the next couple of days.

The Icy Sidewalks of Oslo

The Icy Sidewalks of Oslo

Even though the main reason for Oslo was the toboggan run, we decided that we should start off our trip by exploring the city and all it had to offer.   After a bit of a struggle, we finally located the tourist information centre to purchase our 48 hour Oslo pass.  This pass gives us free admission to museums, winter walks, transit, with a host of discounts on food and other activities.  The one surprising thing about the Oslo pass is that it’s based on the honesty policy where the pass doesn’t become active until you date it yourself.  If questioned, I will refuse to declare whether or not my pass remains dateless to this day.  Regardless of this one little fact , we had decided that we’d kick-start the use of our passes by participating in one of the winter walks that was happening later that evening.  Until that time, we figured we could walk around (truth be told, it was more like slipping and sliding) and check out all the other tourist things to do.  Sadly, for some odd reason, this translated to an extended but amazing lunch at the Opera House and a few hot chocolate breaks to warm up from the cold before making our way to the National Gallery to do the winter walk covering Munch’s painting.

We weren't the only ones with issues staying upright!

We weren’t the only ones with issues staying upright!

As we saw the group gathering in the lobby, it became very apparent that we were going to be the youngsters on this tour but the brochure advertised a free hot drink at the end so we were sold!  What wasn’t to love – we would get a custom tour of the National Gallery and learn about what Munch did besides The Scream and all that would be topped off with a tasty beverage.  What we weren’t aware of at this time was the fun teacher turned tour guide in charge was out to put us in our place.  She was strict, expected complete silence, and kept eyeballing the two of us like we were about to steal something from in the National Gallery.  If there such a thing as a fun killer, she would be it!  She had a script and was hell-bent on sticking to it.  No questions could be asked without her making some sort of remark about us being tourists and she wasn’t going to elaborate on the stories that were of interest to the people taking the tour.  This was a dictatorship and from the moment it started, I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

I wasn't the only thing frozen in Oslo...

I wasn’t the only thing frozen in Oslo…

We tried to give her a chance but 10 minutes into the tour, we knew we had no choice but to cut our losses and run.  Even the hot drink at the end wasn’t going to be worth spending 2 hours with this lady.  As quickly as possible, we slipped to the back of the group and out the closest exit.  In hindsight, our exit was so quick that it was hard to know if the tour picked up at all or not but at the end of the day life is too short to waste.  We managed to pull together our own quick tour of the museum before exiting into the frigid cold temperatures that make up a beautiful winter’s night in Oslo.

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