Oslo, the capital of Norway. Like a viking exploring the sea, I navigated the waters of this foreign city. By bicycle, train & bus, I explored the Scandinavian metropolis by visiting museums, meeting locals & searching for Turtle Power. Join me and my Norwegian pal, Mathias, as we tour Oslo in a quest for culture and cowabunga!
Part 3 of the 4-part travelogue!
After a few nights of Norwegian birthday celebrations, the time came to tame our party animal selves. One of the key reasons I came to Oslo was to help Mathias film a music video. Since our friendship was formed over creativity, we wanted to keep that momentum going during my visit. We once again combined my passion for filmmaking and his love for music. Our location for the project was Gullbaren ("Gold Bar" is the literal translation). The refined decor of the intimate speakeasy served as the perfect set to tell our story. The video has a simple premise - Mathias and his mother enjoy a drink at the bar. Between sips they discussed how artistic ambitions should never get too far ahead of themselves - to the point where they can't be explained to parents. Not exactly something you'd see on MTV, but hey, it was way cooler than anything on MTV.
Oslo had already given me so much at this point in the trip. Tasty food, local experiences & a wealth of fun memories. But in the department of Turtle Power, I was empty-handed. The window of opportunity was closing as the end of my trip was quickly approaching. With our music video complete, I began exploring the city with a newfound confidence - determined to uncover cowabunga. On a sunny afternoon search, I stumbled upon a familiar sight. No matter where I am on this planet, a flea market never slips by me. The usual junk-covered tables and pop-up tents were scattered across a small park. Along with Mathias' girlfriend, Marte, we joined the locals and strolled through the makeshift aisles in search of cheap treasures.
Like a Turtle to pizza, I spotted a vintage toy vendor almost immediately. The table was a museum of classics. There were a lot of goodies from the 50s & 60s, but nothing from the eras I often collect. Did Norway hold any TMNT treasures for me to discover? I couldn't even find toys from the same decade! My confidence was dwindling, disappointment was creeping in. The closest we came was when Marte spotted a massive 12-inch Mr. Potato Head toy. We covered him with his accessories as the vendor, a Frenchman, told us the toy was imported from his native country. Ex-pat Mr. Potato Head, who knew?
Luck was alluding me at Norwegian flea markets. It was time to shift gears and craft a new strategy. Mathias suggested an urban hike that would pass through the heart of the city. Ideally, this would give me a grand tour of the town and increase my chances of finding TMNT riches. Even though it was Mathias' suggestion, he is not an outdoorsy man. He admitted being indoors on a sunny day makes him quite content. But, he mustered up enough enthusiasm to walk the length of the Akerselva River. The 5-mile trek starts at the Maridalsvannet Lake (where the city gets their water supply), runs south through the center of Oslo, and eventually ends at the southern-most point of the city.
Movie-like scenes played out in front of us as we started our journey. The striking golden sun reflected on the rushing, picturesque river. We navigated the rustic pathways that clung to the sides of the water. My sneakers were taking a beating traversing through sloppy mud and staggered rocks. But I was doing much better than Mathias, who decided to wear dress shoes for some odd reason. He often fell silent as his feet sunk into the wet earth. This poor decision became the butt of many jokes throughout our odyssey. "I'm a city slicker, " he repeated, each time with more defeat.
The further south we hiked, the more urban the walk became. The swampy earth evolved to pathed pathways. Great brick buildings replaced the soaring trees. The stunning outdoors quickly became industrial. Nature might have been fading, but toy opportunities were blossoming. Many establishments that flanked the river piqued my interest. There were lots of old factories that had been converted to modern businesses. We popped into a few, but unfortunately found nothing of interest. Our best and only discovery was a small coffee shop, where we snacked on croissants and tossed back a couple beers. True outdoorsmen!
After many pitstops and failed toy attempts, we eventually reached the end of the river. It was a bittersweet success. No TMNT, no glory.
The next day, I decided to bicycle around the city on my own. The solo exploration would allow me to cover more ground and stick to my TMNT-hunting agenda. I pedaled away, zipping through the streets. The prospect of Norwegian toys fueled my excitement. I had only been biking for about ten minutes when I cruised by a spot that brought my search to a halt. It was Frogner Park, an oasis of beauty boasting a strange blend of mystique and unrelenting charm.
Scattered throughout its sprawling meadows and tree-lined paths are a bevy of outlandish sculptures. Locals keep the place active, using the grounds as a meeting point for group walks, runs & bike rides. While the natives dashed over the bridges and around the fountains, tourists (like me) moved at a leisurely pace. I became glued to my camera - taking advantage of the infinite photo opps the park had to offer.
The statues in Frogner Park weren't Ninja Turtles, but much like The Sewer Den, they were an impressive collection of weird. Their unusual attributes made them seem like a bunch of mutants on display. It was oddly comforting. I felt peaceful among this band of eclectic statues, wandering around the park grounds in a trance until sunset. Like the daylight, my opportunity for TMNT treasures was now gone.