Earlier in the year during my Japan adventures, my traveling companion, Chris, was in the process of figuring out his agenda for exploring Europe this summer. He noted towards the end of the trip he was going to Prague, a city I’ve longed wanted to explore. I decided right then to join up with him in Prague and finally check that city off my bucket list.
As it turned out, a newish discount airline called Norwegian Air was gearing up to start service from LAX to various European cities, including Prague. Even better was the fact that there was only one stop, Oslo versus other carriers that had 2 or more stops. I opted to treat myself to their “premium economy” to give my poor legs a break from yet another 10 plus hour flight.
After what seemed to be way too long since I had booked everything, I was finally en route to Prague. Part of Norwegian Air’s long haul discount strategy was to use the new Boeing Dreamliners as they use significantly less fuel. Unfortunately as I knew from personal experience, these planes haven’t been the most reliable of fleets lately. Norwegian Air had been having a lot of problems so my flight approached, I was nervously hoping for the best. Thankfully, besides some brutal turbulence, the flight was fine and the premium economy seat was very comfortable.
10 hours later, I arrived at Oslo’s incredibly cool airport, one of the nicest I’ve been to in quite awhile. I had 5 hours before my flight to Prague so despite only having about 4 hours sleep, I headed into the heart of Oslo courtesy of their very handy express train, which took only 19 mins door to door. After finding a locker to store my bag, I stumbled out into a main square, which was teeming with people despite a light drizzle.
I had read about the massive fortress that dominated Oslo, the Archsus so I thought that would be a good way to kill time. I was slightly hampered though but a large construction project on the path to the fortress so I ended up meandering a bit more than intended. Fortunately, by then the rain had stopped and it was a very pleasant walk. One of the more striking buildings I saw along the walk was the Oslo Opera House.
I continued to wander taking in the sights.
While the fortress was easy enough to spot, it being a fortress and all, the exact location of the Armed Forces Museum that had been recommended to check out, remained a bit unclear.
When I ran across a large number of cannons and a tank, it was obviously that the museum had to be close.
Housed in one of the newer (as in not middle ages) buildings within the fortress, the museum showcased the military history of Norway – from the vikings all the way to modern warfare. Although it was fairly small, the collection had been well-cured and included such fun items as these.
I spent the majority of the time upstairs reading about Norway’s involvement with Napoleon. I had no idea that Norway and Denmark were actually part of his armies, including the famed Norwegian ski patrol, the first of its kind.
Upstairs also had a scale model of the fortress, which gives you as sense of just how massive it is.
My energy was beginning to wane due to the jetlag so I headed back to the central station, first stopping for my first and only Norwegian beer – not too bad actually.
I also wanted to get back to have time to explore the Oslo airport a bit. I mean just look at this beauty – Scandinavian design aesthetics at its finest.
Feeling hungry, I ventured out to find some Norwegian salmon. Unfortunately, while there were a few places that had it, the prices were crazy – $40 for a simple baked salmon! $30 for a salmon burger! – so I eventually gave up. Instead, I had that Norwegian staple croque monsieur, which actually turned out to be quite good and half the cost. No picture as it was hardly food porn worthy alas.
Given the bumpy flight over, I was a bit apprehensive to get on yet another plane but mercifully it was both smooth and under 2 hours. One curious thing I noticed was there was no passing out of custom forms or similar paperwork. I raced ahead of most passengers only to find that there wasn’t any kind of passport control and when I got my bag, no customs either. That was a first for me.
The host where I was staying had arranged a car for me as Prague cabbies are notoriously bad and a mere 30 mins later, I arrived out front with Chris greeting me. The loft is on the 5th floor and in a recently renovated art deco building in the Praha 2 district, which is in the heart of the city.
Exhausted, I crashed as soon as I could. As luck would have it, the weather called for rain tomorrow so I knew I’d be able to take it easy as I tried to get over the jetlag and prepare for the fun ahead in Prague.