Landing in Oslo I was overjoyed by the nature surrounding the airport runway. Tall evergreen pine trees seemed to wave in the plane for landing, and I secretly relished the fact that I was now in a country where Christmas trees live and thrive . There aren’t many major cities in the world that have a landing strip on the outskirts of what seems like a full-blown forest. Then again, there are far fewer major capitals that are almost entirely surrounded by nature such as Oslo.
Stepping off my flight with Norwegian Air (who I hope to fly with again very soon) I was immediately thrust into an environment surrounded by a new language, sweet Norwegian. There was a time when the sound of a Germanic language wouldn’t have done much for me, but while the pronunciation was very foreign, the words in front of me were awfully similar to the Dutch language. Surprisingly so. This made getting around the city more fun as I was able to decipher and put things together which I hadn’t anticipated.
Did I mention there was snow?
While waiting for the train, beautiful snow flurries lightly covered the tracks. It was just as I had imagined Norway would be. By the time I arrived in Oslo it was pouring rain, it didn’t stop until the day I flew back to England.
Taking Public Transport from Oslo Airport to Oslo City Center
When I had originally researched the best way to get from the Oslo airport to Oslo Central Station (Oslo S), the airport express train (Flytoget) seemed to be the overwhelming favorite for travelers. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes and will cost approximately 170 NOK (£17, $28) for a one-way ticket.
This was more than I wanted to spend honestly and planned on hopping a bus when I arrived. I was shocked to discover that the bus was still 160 NOK (£16, $26) but took an entire hour! That wasn’t going to work for me.
Finally I discovered that there is also a non high-speed service into Oslo. (i.e. The train the locals take.) It only took three minutes longer than the high-speed, and cost a whopping 90 NOK (£9, $15). That was more like it.
You can book your ticket at any of the information booths outside the rail station or online at the NSB website if you are all technologically savvy like that. Admittedly, this probably was not rocket science, which is why I took an hour to figure it out so you won’t have to. You are welcome.
Lesson for budget/smart travellers: Take the non high-speed train from Oslo Airport to get to Oslo Central Station.
Tigerstaden – The City of Tigers
I never knew Oslo had the nickname the “City of Tigers” until I ran into that statue of a tiger (on top of this post) in front of Oslo Central Station. After a quick Google search I found that it wasn’t entirely random, and was in fact a nod to a long standing relationship between Norwegians and their capital city. There are several stories to explain why Oslo became the Tigerstaden (City of Tigers), but this is where it all really started.
In the late 19th Century, famed Norwegian author and poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson referred to Oslo as the ‘Tigerstaden’ in his collection of Poems and Songs because of the city’s reputation at the time as a cold and dangerous place. It was said that boys from the country would visit Oslo and come back scarred from whatever had went on there.
The nickname became a positive one over the years and was embraced by the city of Oslo. For it’s 1000th anniversary in 2000, Oslo put up dozens of tigers all throughout the city.
In recent years street crime in Oslo has been on the rise. Over 50% of locals fear getting mugged, so watch those bags! This trend is largely associated with the recent wave of immigrants coming in from Eastern Europe. I was very surprised by the amount of beggars in Oslo, and felt worse than usual seeing so many of them in the bitter cold and rain.
The influx of beggars to the city has started a new nickname in Oslo, Tiggerstaden, which means ‘City of Beggars’.
Oslo is a small and beautiful city, but it is still a city. Travellers visiting Oslo should use the same precautions they would in any other major cities, especially in busy shopping areas, outside and around tourist attractions, and in the train station.