With my first full week in Oslo behind me, I’ve been looking forward to describing it all for you here. But now that I sit down to write, I’m struggling to put Norway into words. Instead of something more cohesive, let me share a few of my first impressions…
The great outdoors. I arrived in Oslo on a gorgeous, sunny weekend. Living near the very popular Sognsvann Lake, I immediately went exploring and discovered perhaps the entire population of Oslo walking, running, cross-country skiing, and even picnicking around the lake. I went for a run and was not alone, despite the rather slippery conditions. No wonder, because the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful, with sunshine streaming down and reflecting off the blanket of snow. And the hordes of Norwegians packing the metro with their cross-country skiing gear to travel up to the lake continue to impress me. Saying that skiing is a national obsession may be an understatement.
Snow and ice. I realize that the worst of winter in Oslo is already over, but it’s still taken a bit of adjustment to cope with winter’s remainders. The streets and sidewalks in the neighborhood where I’m living are covered with thick layers of snow and ice that melt in the sun and freeze at night, leaving behind slippery nightmares for foreigners like me that didn’t grow up dealing with this kind of weather. I’ve had a few heart-stopping close calls, but am slowly learning to shorten my steps and keep myself upright. There are runners everywhere speeding along on top of the ice, so I know it can be done! I have yet to wear any shoes other than my hiking boots, but I hope that will change soon.
Settling in. Since I’ll be in Norway until the end of April, I did a bit of advance research on how I can maintain a fitness routine during my stay. In addition to runs around the lake, I’ve found an English-language yoga course and a stellar gym, both within walking distance from my office. Both of these things make me incredibly happy. I was like a kid in a toy store on Wednesday evening, playing with all the fun fitness equipment at my gym. It will be a real adjustment returning to my two-treadmill, bare-bones gym in Bremen afterwards, but I’m trying not to think about it!
Exploring. Between work and settling into a day-to-day routine, I haven’t done as much exploring of the city as I would have liked. Though last weekend, I did manage to slip and slide my way around Frogner Park with all its Vigeland sculptures. Absolutely gorgeous, and deserves its own post — to come! I am also hoping to score tickets to the Holmenkollen World Cup for Nordic Skiing for next weekend. It’s a hugely popular event held on the outskirts of the city, so I definitely don’t want to miss out!
There are a lot more thoughts swirling around my head, but I want to give them some more time in Norway to develop. So far though, things are off to a good start, and I’m looking forward to the next couple of months!