I had a full day in Oslo to explore, but I was far too lazy to do my own research on what to see, so instead I joined a Free Walking Tour of Oslo. I duly arrived at “The Tiger Statue” in Jernbanetorget, outside the main railway station, on Thursday morning.
Our tour guide, Daniel, introduced himself. There was a large group of people from many different countries, but thankfully, no “get to know each other” bit at the beginning, which always feels supremely awkward for me on these tours.
To the sights! First the Knus nazismen sculpture in the square, which looks a bit like Thor’s hammer, but is in fact a tribute to the resistance movement in Norway during World War II.
We then headed down to the Opera House, situated on the waterfront on the banks of the Oslofjord. A wonderful sight (although the sun was in the wrong place to get a good photo). Our guide politely ignored the two people sitting on the adjacent grass, injecting what appeared to be heroin.
We moved on to Christiania Torv, centre of Oslo’s old town. Some of the oldest buildings in the city are here, including this yellow building which used to house the town executioner, but now contains an art gallery.
Continuing our walk, we emerged onto a plateau overlooking Oslo’s main harbour, Aker Brygge, with some fine views possible. Heading down some steps to towards the waterfront, we encountered a statue of Franklin D Roosevelt, erected to honour America’s support during the Second World War.
Another statue overlooks the harbour. This one is of Peter Tordenskjold, an officer in the Danish-Norwegian navy in the early 18th century. His exploits against the Swedish earned him a place in military history and also, bizarrely, a place on Denmark’s top brand of matches (at least, until a Swedish company bought them out, ironically).
Also at the harbour is the Untuned Bell. Formerly located in the bell tower of Oslo’s town hall, it was removed because it was out of tune. The artist A K Dolven installed it here, suspending it between two steel columns where it can ring once more.
The Town Hall is nearby, with lovely statues adorning the building. I didn’t get a video of this, sadly, but the building’s clock chimes the hour with a full musical number, often taken from a movie or show. This building is also the venue for the annual award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Our final stop was the Stortinget, home of Norway’s parliament. But our guide was less interested in this cradle of democracy than the installation in the nearby park.
Three Superloos, imported from France and painted in the colours of the French flag, with the motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité proudly adorning the roofs. Some may think this is an inappropriate way to commemorate the French, but I disagree – when you think of the French, you naturally go “Oui Oui”. On the other hand, if you want to truly honour the French, they should have only had two loos.
If those jokes doesn’t convince you to come back for the next part, I don’t know what will.