Flying into Norway has probably has been the best part of my trip so far. Leaving behind the smog and drizzle of Heathrow Airport and descending into the sun soaked forestry of Oslo made me grin like an idiot. It’s shortlived. By the time I pass through customs, grab my bag and catch a scenic express train to Downtown Oslo, the clouds had to rolled over the sky that once appeared so great from above. Lucky I have a guilty liking for this discontented weather.
Norway’s capitol of Oslo has a strange pride in being labelled one of the most costly and expensive places on Earth. Each tourist guide and travel log will explain this, along with the fact that the Norwegian people are characteristically shy, fashion oriented, and have a long-term grudge with their Scandinavian neighbours. This makes it hard to visit this otherwise amazingly lush town and it’s country when you’re a young student, usually found screaming down the phone at Centrelink’s hold music, hoarse by the time they eventually answer. Here’s some cheapskate tips for Norway, but could probably be applied elsewhere.
Get an International Student Card.
While you’re overseas, be shameless with this card. Apply before you leave home. This card could mean the difference between being able to afford to eat that night or not. Can be used anywhere from fashion outlets, exhibition entry and public transport tickets. It adds up, trust me.
If you’re spending anymore than three days in Oslo, you’re best off to buy a weekly travelcard. The travelcard covers all local trains, buses and ferries that can take you high into the cloudy forests, across the downtown slums and out to iconic fjords. It’s easy to be deceived by the maps. I lost a lot of time and covered ground by thinking I could walk everywhere. If time is precious and expectations are great, the $36AUS won’t be missed.
Security – Don’t lose what you already have.
Norway’s home to some fantastic sights, from Den Norske Opera & Ballett to the fairhaired queens of Scandinavia that whisp up and down the St Johann’s Gate, but that’s the sheen of tourism shining brightly. The asphalt skies hang low over the heads of the homeless and jobless, desperate and crawling the streets, gobbing at the concrete beneath their feet, shady eyes with slippery tongues attempting to allure you with “something good for a small something returned”, singed tidbits of aluminium foil being caught by the wind out of back alleyways.
Padlocks are your best friends while travelling. The sound of safety is the click of cold metal connecting. There are two types of people in the world when it comes to locks, you’re either hopeless with numbers or even worse at holding onto things after a night out, usually waking up at the hostel with a hand running through your hair, “I could’ve sworn I left it…” in denial that you’ve misplaced your key. Purchase accordingly.
When you walk, do you have a song in your head? Air drumming is now your new favourite activity. Drum away at your front jean pockets every so often, especially through larger crowds. Keep it subtle. Don’t be stopping to open up yourself up in public, you don’t know who could be watching. The wind chill during a Norwegian October is enough to have your hands shoved into your pockets anyway. It’s okay, the locals do this too, and you won’t look ridiculous.
Yep. Tyler Durden. As soon as you buy your ticket for said destination, start collecting what condiments and complements you can. Your hostel might not supply them and it’s better to be prepared for that possibility. I’ve been eating 5Kr Corn Flakes out of plastic tumblers with a stolen teaspoon from Stockfleths for the past few days; you make do with what you have. Start acquiring whatever packets of sugar, salt, pepper, jam, honey, plastic cutlery etc. Or don’t and have the thrill of lurking around the “help yourself” section of a McDonalds or Starbucks longer than the standard second. Actually, yeah, do that, the adrenaline rush does wonders for your health.
Beer’s cool, Chocolate’s better.
Don’t let yourself forget that you’re on holiday. At all. It’s difficult to meet all health demands while travelling as a student so don’t get too tied up in the cost of everything, it’s better to consuming tasty food than letting the price tags consume you. You’re half the world away; nobody has to know you’re eating sjokoladebrod from Rema 1000 for every meal.
The Oslo drinking culture is not all that different to anywhere else. Despite the Norwegian’s ‘slightly’ inflated prices by tourist standards, their own paychecks match their oil rich economy. Oslo’s city center truly comes alive for the weekend. Friday night sees snappily dressed youth piling out of pre-drinking parties at hostels or friends’ apartments at 11pm to drink until 2.30am when the club’s license ends or until their unable to talk (a common occurrence).
In regards to Norwegian beer, the only thing to really write home about is the price. After being handed a 0,5L tin of their local at a hostel party when I was caught empty handed, you can conclude that it tastes like beer, nothing special, but it serves its purpose. So does water. For less than half the price you can indulge in their wide range of chocolate, which goes down fantastically with a hostel tea after hiking through Frognersetern.