Oslo, Norway 07/08/14
Today, Thursday, is our last day in Oslo as we are up early tomorrow morning to catch our charter to Svalbard. We took the subway to the Holmenkolen ski jump which is built on the top of a mountain on the outskirts of Oslo and which was built for the 1994 Olympics in Oslo. It was torn down and replaced in 2010 by the current structure, the most modern in the world. It’s amazing to take a subway, with no changes of lines, from downtown Oslo, up to the top of a mountain to a ski jump; Vancouver can go from the sea to the ski slopes in 30 minutes but they can’t do it on the subway!
Food here has been, setting aside the huge prices, for the most part good with one notable exception. On Tuesday evening we had dinner with the daughter of one of Virginia’s Toronto friends and business colleagues who lives and works in Oslo and with her partner, Mats. They had made reservations at the Ekeberg Restaurant, which is built on the summit of one of the hills surrounding the city. We took the subway to a stop just below the restaurant and walked the 100 metres up the hill for dinner, with stunning views over the city at sunset. It was one of our better recent meals, a silken beef tartare, followed by grilled reindeer loin with morels and completed by some wonderful local cheeses and with a wine flight of some superb wines by the glass to accompany each course. The restaurant has a sister waterfront establishment for which we made reservations for the following night.
Wednesday a day of walking around Oslo, with a walk to the newly opened sculpture park which contains 80 or 90 works by an apparently well-known Norwegian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. Park was beautiful, lots of flower beds, filled with many varieties and colours of roses and buzzing with bees and butterflies. Sculptures, not very interesting, the product of someone with too much time on his hands.
At the end of the day a walk to the waterfront to Lofoten, last night’s sister restaurant, specializing in fish. Dreadful meal; whereas last night the restaurant was filled mostly with locals, tonight it was a tourist crowd and the food reflected the fact that management cynically expected that since there would be no return visits by the patrons, quality was not an important consideration. We had the three course tasting menu; the starter of octopus was passable but the main course, steamed and sauced pollock with asparagus was actively unpleasant. In north america pollock is a fish that is ground up with a few other types of fish to make fish fingers, the marine equivalent of hot dogs, and after an over-salted and dry serving of the fish it is easy to understand why it is not served in its own right. Because costs are so high for everything here, a minor problem takes on more significance and a less than pleasing dish becomes an expensive and unpleasant meal.
Walked home to our hotel at 10 with a huge moon rising and the waterfront lit by a stormy sunset.