Dropping some of our plans for the day, including a couple of museums and landmarks, we opted to take a cruise across the Oslo Fjord. By Philippine standards, a two-hour cruise ticket costs quite a lot—even with the discount we received from our Oslo Pass—but the experience proved to be worth it.
After getting our tickets checked, our boat set sail from the City Hall piers. Although it was technically winter, it was almost April and thus almost spring, so the weather was pleasant. The breeze was chilly, but it was nothing a jacket and the blanket provided can’t fend off.
The Oslo Fjord is an inlet that runs about a hundred kilometers. By the strictest geological definition, it’s not a fjord, but by the Scandinavian cultural definition—wherein a fjord may refer to a firth, an inlet, or some other waterways—it very much is.
With its proximity to the Norwegian capital, the Oslo Fjord is understandably a vital and strategic body of water. It used to be Norway’s busiest channel, with steamboats shuttling passengers along the coast, and it played a key role during Nazi Germany’s invasion of Norway and World War II.
At one point, famous painter Edward Munch owned a cottage and studio in Åsgårdstrand, and British writer Roald Dahl spent his childhood summer holidays there. As he wrote in his autobiography entitled Boy:
Unless you have sailed down the Oslofjord like this yourself on a tranquil summer’s day, you cannot imagine what it is like. It is impossible to describe the sensation of absolute peace and beauty that surrounds you. The boat weaves in and out between cloudless tiny islands, some with small brightly painted wooden houses on them, but many with not a house or a tree on the bare rocks. These granite rocks are so smooth that you can lie and sun yourself on them in your bathing-costume without putting a towel underneath. We would see long-legged girls and tall boys basking on the rocks of the islands. There are no sandy beaches on the fjord. The rocks go straight down to the water’s edge and the water is immediately deep. As a result, Norwegian children learn how to swim when they are very young because if you can’t swim it is difficult to find a place to bathe.
As the passage suggests, the Oslo Fjord is not only a residential borough but a vacation spot as well, akin to the Hamptons in New York. And as we discovered during our cruise, many colorful holiday homes, most of which are reserved for the rich and famous, still lie on the islets. The owners, we were told, would spend time in these homes and in the fjord during the fair weather months.
The Oslo Pass gives free entry to more than 30 museums and attractions, free travel on all forms of public transportation, free parking in municipal car parks, free entry to outdoor swimming pools, and free walking tours. It also provides discounts on sightseeing, ski simulator, Tusenfryd Amusement Park, concert tickets, climbing, and ski and bike rentals, as well as special offers in restaurants, shops, entertainment and leisure venues. For more information, check out this link.