Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Oslo, Norway with Kids

Hi everybody! We're back from our travels and I'm finally able to summarize and re-live some of our favorite memories from Oslo as I sit here with a sick and feverish Maren next to me. This year's international travel was one of our longest trips to date at over 3 weeks long, and I have so many pictures to look back through. I'm always looking to others posts about where they've traveled to and what they recommend doing there, so I like to do the same. You can see some of my previous posts about travel with kids to Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Helsinki linked here.

We arrived in Oslo on a Wednesday afternoon, a short skip and hop over from Helsinki where we had been the previous 2+ weeks. Why all these Scandinavian, Nordic cities, you ask? Because they're so dang easy (relatively) to navigate with kids. Ours were 8, 6, and 2 this time, and we're just not up for the overwhelming Romes, Barcelonas, or Parises of the world with our trio quite yet. We took a train from the airport directly to city center and walked to our hotel from there--a quick 10 minutes if you're not dragging copious amounts of luggage behind you like Matt was. I'd highly recommend Hotell Bondeheimen for accommodation. For about $230 a night, we had the ENTIRE TOP FLOOR of the hotel, including a balcony, and some of the most delicious breakfast food included (including every kind of smoked or baked salmon under the sun) to feed our family of 5. A huge bonus in an otherwise very pricey city. The location was central and we could walk to nearly everywhere we wanted to go.

After settling in, we decided to jump on a tram to the Vigeland Sculpture Park--unique and weird, for sure, featuring 212 sculptures of naked humans that REALLY got the boys giggling and yelling "butt" and "balls" about every 5 seconds. So much for culture, but otherwise, a truly beautiful walk on the most gorgeous, sunshine filled day. Right inside the park is Frogner playground which was absolutely enormous and got out the travel day wiggles from all 3. They played, played, played, until it was time to head back and figure out dinner, which we ended up eating in Aker Brygge right on the water. The views are unbeatable, and restaurants on the water all have blankets for guests to use as the evenings on the water tend to get chillier. We finally headed back to our hotel rest up and figure out our Thursday agenda.

The next day, we set out to find Europe's best cup of coffee at Tim Wendelboe, a coffee house credited for starting the coffee craze across all of Scandinavia. We stumbled across the coolest, modern playground next to a waterfall in the middle of the city on our way, which the kids STILL say was their favorite part of the trip. On this note, playgrounds are frequent, abundant, all all so unique across the entire city. They are everywhere, making walking throughout the city with kids a breeze with a playground bribe just around every corner. Tim Wendelboe was the experience I had imagined it would be, with cold brew served in a wine glass and our initial thoughts of a take-away or to-go mug quickly squashed to death. This was an *EXPERIENCE*, with every drop meant to be savored. 

Afterwards, we grabbed a quick lunch and went to watch the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace, which happens every day at 1:30pm. The kids were way more intrigued by The Princess Ingrid Alexandra Sculpture Park, which contains sculptures by--and for--children. The sculpture park was established between 2016 and 2019 as the result of a nationwide competition among 5th and 6th graders, and you're able to see the drawn up submission as well as the sculpture that was brought to life as a result. August, our artist at heart, gulped it all up.

To cap off the day, we headed to Oslo's opera house, near the top of every tourist guide. This architectural masterpiece allows you to climb up the side of the building to the roof, where you're able to catch some beautiful 360 views of the city. The kids had a blast climbing and riding make shift slides down the outside of the opera house.  The views were stunning and a reminder of how Scandinavia does summer. It seemed like the whole city was out on the small beach that the opera overlooked, sun bathing, sailing, and paddle boarding. We finally wandered over to Operastranda for dinner where they have a big line up of food stands. The kids ate a pizza while we had the best fresh fish and chips of our lives as we sat and soaked up the sun. We ended the day with ice cream and the prettiest playground overlooking the sea (duh).

The next day was my BIRTHDAY (!!!) and we did it right. A must-do in Oslo is sailing the fjords, so sail the fjords we did. A little lesson on glaciers and how the water inlets were formed really peaked Oskar's interest, and it truly was fascinating, and SO BEAUTIFUL, to sail through them all. We were about ready to sell all of our things and to live in one of the cabins by the sea forever by the end of it until we learned their price tags. 

We then made our way to Oslo's most famous shopping street, Karl Johan, where I picked up a Norwegian must-have as a birthday gift to myself: a Helly Hansen sweatshirt that's waiting to be worn once our roasting Pittsburgh summer comes to an end. I also wanted to take a stroll to Damstredet--a charming and picturesque part of central Oslo with well-preserved wooden houses from the late 1700s and the 1800s. These are the colorful houses you think of when you think of Norway. We found a famous food hall called Mathallen, where you can find produce, fish, meat, and any kind of lunch option you can think up, but we, of course, ended up with gelato. We took that gelato and walked a scenic walk to Aker Brygge for dinner, probably the prettiest part of the entire city, and ate all the birthday salmon as a night cap.

The next and final day we ventured by train to Frederikstad, which is truly like going back in time. The ride was just over an hour, making it manageable back and forth to Oslo in a day. The old city is just spilling over with charm, full of wooden buildings, quaint shops, playgrounds, and outdoor restaurants. We walked and shopped, played at a playground with roaming GOATS, and sipped some ice cold Ringnes on a cobble stone street. Highly recommend. After getting back to Oslo, we squeezed in a trip to the Munch museum. It's huge, and we could have spent hours there, but with 3 already tired kids we spent about just about 90 minutes. Enough to soak in some of his most famous works, including The Scream. The kids found yet another too-good-to-pass-up playground next to a Poke bowl restaurant, so that was pretty win-win and we all ended the night on a really happy note.

Overall, I think we could have used just one more day in Oslo, as I would have loved to go to the open air museum and to have done some island hopping by ferry. The city really was a perfect one with kids, and the weather showed up for us 100%. Everyone told me to enjoy my notoriously rainy time in Norway, but not a drop was to be found while we were there. This said, if you go, make sure you pack ponchos and rain gear just in case. Next on our lists: Bergen, Norway, which looks like an absolute dream. I wanted Maren to be a little bit older and out of a stroller so we can tackle the mountains and fjords without one. Until then. 

If you're planning any travel and have any other questions about the city, shoot me a message on Instagram @thelaurablog1 and I'll get back to you! Sometimes it's easiest to talk to someone who's been there, and I think we got a really good feel for everything that Oslo holds. Ha det, for now, Norway. We will definitely see you soon!

Friday, July 1, 2022

My favorite Amazon finds for Summer

Happy Friday and long weekend ahead! I rounded up some of my recent favorite Amazon orders for summer. My favorite finds are the exfoliating mitt (never realized what a difference one could make), the lavender nail polish, and the lip mask that I wear every night. If you're looking to keep that summer glow going, I've got you covered!

1. Exfoliating Glove

2. Loose Powder

3. Tinted Moisturizer + SPF

4. Moroccan Oil Lotion

5. Lavender Nail Polish

6. Moisturizing Lip Balm

7. Lip Mask

8. Hair Mask

01 09 10