Oslo, Norway

"They really hate cars right now.."

Oslo, Norway

Oslo is one of the weirdest cities to drive through, because Oslo does not want you to drive in it. As one guy working in a convenience store said to us when we asked where we could park: “They really hate cars right now.”
It’s a transition that’s taken a few decades, but Oslo is one of the only major cities in the world that’s effectively banned cars… without actually banning cars. 
So how did they do it? Instead of cars, city officials targeted parking spaces. It’s brilliant and diabolical. You can’t drive if you have nowhere to park.
If you want to park in Oslo, and you have a big car by European standards (taller than 2 meters, or 6 feet), good luck to you. This July the city finished scrapping 700 parking spaces on streets in the center. That means every parking spot you see is likely disabled parking, or parking reserved for embassies (I’m not even joking there are so many embassies). 
Some of these former parking spaces have been converted to parklets, or bike lanes, or even art installations. Like this old parking lot near the Akerhus Fortress that’s now a makeshift dance floor. 

“They really hate cars right now.”

The parking meter-turned-jukebox encourages people to plug in their phones and play their own music. And the weird geometric blocs can be used by skaters, or as seats for when these hypothetical dancers need a break. When we went there it was empty, but I give them an A for effort.
In any case, it’s this kind of creative repurposing and commitment to sustainability that’s earned Oslo the title of European Green Capital of 2019. Fewer cars means the air is cleaner, as more people take public transportation and ride bikes. And the whole makeup of the city has shifted. 
There are more outdoor spaces to hang out in the summer, like the uber hip Vippa food market near the ferry terminal.
Or this other food market (can you tell we really like food markets?) called Oslo Street Food that has a patio made out of recycled wood pallets. I won’t lie, I had a delicious vegan burger there and I am not even mad about it.

Vippa Food Market and Oslo Street food 

Anyway, aside from looking for parking and eating in hip food halls, Morade I and took in the sights. We hit up Frogner park, which features the funniest statues I have ever seen in my life. 

Gustav Vigeland is the man. I don’t know what was going on in that dude’s head, but he had a natural talent for making art people want to interact with.
We also hit up the Viking Ship Museum, featuring the cheapest parking we were able to find in the city. Oh, and also some sweet-ass viking ships. I was a big fan of this one — the Oseberg. 
It was a funeral ship for two prominent women (!!!). And it’s super ornate and beautifully preserved. Contrary to popular belief, viking funerals do not consist of putting a dead body on a ship, lighting it on fire and pushing it out to sea. They actually buried the vikings in their ships with all the things they need to sail on in the afterlife. (Some were even buried with livestock.)
And of course, we stopped to take a few pictures at the Oslo Opera House, which is stunning. It looks like a snow-covered mountain, and it even acts like one, inviting you to climb to the top of it.
One word of warning, though: make sure you’re paying attention to where you’re going. The white marble floor is not level at all, with little ledges everywhere just waiting for you to look away so they can smash your toes. I sadly fell victim to these ledges myself.
But the view at the top is worth it.
Peace out, Anca and Morade.


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