Monday 10th August
Sarah: It was a very early start as our flight back to Oslo was at 8.35am so we were all up at 5am (ouch!)
My mum and little (but not so little at 23 years old…) brother Eddie were coming back with us for a week in the motorhome to explore Oslo!
Bringing the family onboard for our honeymoon – probably pretty unconventional but we hoped it would work…
Mark: I’ve always got on well with Sarah’s family so the prospect of spending the next week living in a motorhome with them wasn’t really a daunting one!
Sarah: The sleeping arrangements were fairly cosy… the motorhome can sleep up to 4 people – a double bed above the cab (where we normally sleep) and the ‘dining area’ can be transformed into another double bed. So we would remain up in the cab (or the ‘snug’ as we call it) and mum and Eddie would share the other bed. Luckily we come from the fens so mother and son sharing a bed doesn’t even raise an eyebrow.
Flying to Oslo was very painless and we were soon touching down and making our way fairly anxiously to see GIG (the motorhome).
The past 5 days had been the first time we had left her on her own and I had visions of break-ins and parking fines or just an empty parking space. Fortunately she was still there just as we left her!
After giving mum and Eddie the grand tour (taking under 30 seconds) we got on the road to a campsite on the outskirts of Oslo called Ekeberg.
It sits on top of a hill overlooking Oslo and the view is stunning. It did however cost 320Kr (~£25) per night, which is fairly pricey as far as motorhome pitches go and you still had to pay for showers (something we always found annoying! In fairness, the showers were really good!)
Ekeberg campsite backs right onto the beautiful Ekeberg park so we had a little walk around and found it was full of art pieces and sculptures of all kinds. First we found a talking lamp post and later this exciting and confusing thing which had lots of different screens showing bizarre videos.
It’s quite funny sleeping in the same space as my mum and little brother, it reminds me of our family holidays when I was younger and it takes us a little while to stop chatting and giggling before finally falling asleep.
The following day we thought we would have another walk around Ekeberg park and and found a few more interesting art pieces…
Then after lunch we took the short bus ride into the centre of Oslo to explore!
NB – If you are planning on visiting Oslo, make sure to get your bus ticket before you get on the bus (we got ours from the campsite reception but you can get them from shops and things…). It’s a 24-hour travel pass that activated from when you use it and it works for all transport including ferries!
With this in mind, we decided to spend a day hopping on and off ferries between the different islands in the Oslofjord.
We found a little beach area on one of the islands and decide to sit and relax for a bit looking out over the water.
The weather had turned to glorious hot sunshine and we kick ourselves for not bringing our swimming stuff so we could take a dip in the cool water.
Evening falls and we head back to camp for dinner promising ourselves that we will go swimming the following day.
The next day is another gloriously hot day so we head to the most popular beach in Oslo called Huk (via the supermarket to pick up some beach picnic food).
Our Oslo/Norway discoveries so far
1) By now we have discovered that REMA 1000 is the cheapest supermarket chain in Scandinavia and – considering we are in Oslo which has the reputation of being the most expensive place on earth – the prices for groceries are really not that bad (especially if you are used to living in London!)
2) Drinking out is very expensive e.g. minimum £6 for a pint of beer, so pre-drinking is key!
3) If you buy booze in supermarkets in Norway, the most you will find is 5% alcohol so for anything stronger you have to go to a separate shops called Vinmonopolets.
4) Be warned if you are generally travelling around Scandinavia that they don’t work in Euros – they work in Kroner and they all have their own one; Danish Kroner, Swedish Kroner, Norwegian Kroner which are not interchangeable and they look pretty similar so by this point our heads were sort of exploding.
We make it to the beach and are a little taken aback by the vast number of naked people – is this the done thing in Norway?! It doesn’t take us long long to realise that we have accidentally entered the nudist beach right next door to Huk beach – whoops! I think nude beach bathing would be a little too much with the family in tow…
We walk around a little and find the real Huk beach and it is beautiful – the sand it a little coarser than what we are used to on our British beaches but still lovely all the same. Now time for a swim!
The water is heart stoppingly freezing! But being hardy North Sea swimmers, we aren’t ones to back out of a challenge. Eddie just runs screaming into the water kamikaze style while we trail behind slightly more apprehensively but it isn’t long before we are all in and bobbing around.
There is a little diving platform floating out from the shore and we all swim over and do some pencil dives off the edge before swimming back to shore and drying ourselves in the warm sun.
Later on we return back to camp and as we settle down to a game of Bananagrams we hear some thumping music but can’t figure out where it’s coming from. It sounds like a big party going on somewhere and after some intense googling we discover it’s actually a festival called Øya Festival and we are even more excited to find we are good friends with musicians in two of the bands playing on the Thursday and Friday. I know the guitarist in Lianne La Havas’ band, Mark knows the keyboard player and I know the Alt-J boys so we send off some messages to see if we can get tickets to go.
We are delighted when my friend Gus (from Alt-J) replies saying he can get us Festival day passes to see them on Friday. Now we were just waiting to hear back about seeing Lianne tomorrow afternoon.
The next morning we still haven’t heard back from our friends in Lianne La Havas’ band so we decide to head into central Oslo to try our hand at busking!
As normal on our first day busking we spend a great deal of time agonising over which spot to choose before we eventually try two spots on the main shopping street – Karl Johans Gate.
Mum and Eddie peel off and go do some shopping and we try busking at the Marina and it’s really good fun! Busking is always so much better when the sun is shining and in picturesque places so we tick both those boxes! Everyone is very friendly and generous so when we meet back with Mum and Eddie later we are bowled over as we have made 160Kr (€100!) which is by far the most we have made busking ever!
We sat up by an old castle ruin overlooking the marina and bask in the blissful sunshine, mum & Eddie show us their shopping finds and we are all relaxing sprawled on the grass when Mark gets a message that completely changes the mood.
It’s from his friend James who is the keyboard player in Lianne La Havas’ band and he has just managed to get us day passes to the festival so we can see them play that afternoon. The only issue is they are playing in just 30 minutes!!
So now it’s a frantic dash to find a taxi to take us there. Luckily we find one without too much trouble and it only takes 20 minutes to get us there so after a little walk and waiting while festival staff find our names on the guest list we make it only 5 minutes into the set – hooray!
It’s a magical set and we are so proud to see our friends up on stage and they even manage to give us a little wave during the performance which makes us feel very cool in the crowd.
Mark: It really was quite incredible and a little emotional to see how Lianne has matured as an artist in the years since we first booked her for her magical In The Woods Festival debut back in 2011… still the same incredible voice, but now with a confidence and assuredness that complement a more developed writing style. Breathtaking stuff.
Sarah: After the performance my friend (the guitarist) Cameron comes out and brings us some G&T’s which we sit and drink on the grass thinking how lucky we are!
It’s so lovely to catch up with Cameron and my family warm to him instantly – Eddie is in awe of his guitar skills and my mum seems to get instantly drunk on one sip so we are all laughing and having a great time. He tells us that the backstage area is absolutely incredible with pools and loads of free stuff, including a free massage that he subsequently leaves us to enjoy and promises to send James (Mark’s friend on keyboard) out to see us!
James soon pops out and he’s really lovely too! He tries to sneak us into the backstage area but alas it doesn’t work so we all head to get a beer and some food.
As if today hadn’t been magical enough, this is when we experience the best burger in the world.
It’s beautifully simple because they only give you one choice, you go up and ask for a burger and they give you the burger. And that burger is the best burger in the world. I have no idea what they did, but we haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
Mark: This was the best burger ever. I took a photo of the stall (see below), hoping that we could find it again while we were in Oslo – it seemed to be attached to a particular butchers, but alas we were unable to track it down. Next time Oslo, next time…
Sarah: When leaving the festival they had several rows of volunteers standing primed with bin bags that we had to weave between and apologise to for not having any litter. I’m not sure if there was some sort of rubbish collecting competition going on but they looked very determined to collect refuse.
We soon realised we didn’t really know how we were getting home but luckily enough these two Norwegian girls that Eddie started chatting up were heading back our way and guided us all the way to our bus stop!
It was now Friday and as we had had such a lovely time at Huk beach on Wednesday we decided to do it all over again today before going back to Øya festival in the evening to see Alt-J play.
It was another sunny day and we couldn’t believe the luck we were having with the weather – none of us had really thought of Oslo as a place for for a beach holiday! Yet here we were sunbathing, swimming, reading our books and playing bat and ball – it was heavenly.
We planned to return back to camp for dinner before going to Øya Festival but we hit rush hour coming back so it took ages and it was a bit of a mad dash again to get to the festival but we made it in time.
Alt-J were awesome, it’s funny for me because I have known them for so long and remember their first gig they played at their house in Leeds and I find it really surreal when I look around and see thousands of people cheering and singing their songs and realise how far they’ve come.
After the show, Gus messaged me saying that we should be able to come backstage too – result! We sauntered up to the backstage entrance trying to act cool as the security checked our wristbands and to our extreme (yet concealed) delight they wave us through!!
We walk up some steps and behold the wonderful sight. Everywhere is decorated beautifully, there are little white marques where the performers can get haircuts, massages, food, booze etc. We manage to find Gus and he brings us out some very strong G&Ts and beers which make us all immediately drunk!
We spend the rest of the evening there, it’s so nice to catch up with Gus properly and we also see the rest of the band and meet some of their touring crew which is very exciting!
Eddie didn’t waste time and was soon in his boxers jumping off the high board into the heated diving pool they had there.
Whilst we’re chatting to Gus, a girl comes up and thanks him for ‘wearing the clothes’. It turns out she was there working for the clothes brand Lee who were giving out free clothes to performers in the hope they would wear them on stage.
We got chatting to Steffi and she seemed really cool and sweet and she very kindly said she would be up for showing us around Oslo but was going away until next week. We planned to stay around Oslo for another week so we gratefully took her number and said we would be in touch.
Gus’ girlfriend April arrived later on and she’s so lovely too – but unfortunately they all have to leave then as they have another festival to play in Helsinki the next day!
We stick around a little longer chatting to Steffi before heading back to the campsite – another wonderful day!
It’s Saturday and after a lazy morning, we head into town again to try some more busking while mum and Eddie do some exploring/shopping.
That evening mum treats us to a meal at TGI Fridays which is highly delicious and we all reflect on what a wonderful time we’ve had in Oslo. Islands, beaches, festivals – we went in with no idea what to expect from Oslo really, and we all all came out feeling very pleasantly surprised!
Tomorrow we would be driving back to Oslo Rygge airport (which is about 1.5 hour drive away from Oslo!) and camping overnight around there before mum and Eddie have to catch their flight home on Monday.
As we drove back the following day everyone was feeling pretty exhausted!
We stopped off by a lake on our way and have a gentle walk around.
Eddie is a bit like a dog around water – as you take your eye off him for a second you’ll just hear a splash, turn around and see his head bobbing about in the water!
There was some wooden decking with a diving symbol on it so Eddie went bombing in only to find that it was really shallow and rocky! Thankfully he didn’t hurt himself but we couldn’t believe that sign was allowed to be there!!
My mum bravely went in too but Mark and I weren’t feeling in the mood so we sat with our feet dangling in watching them.
As we sat there, a young teen came over who couldn’t speak any English but we gathered he was asking if we could watch his stuff while he swam. Eddie stood up to show him how shallow it was and warning him not to dive but the boy took no notice and ploughed head first (and fully clothed!) right into the water.
I have no idea how he didn’t kill himself but after a little bit of swimming around he got out again, collected his phone and put on his shoes before waving goodbye. How strange…
We drove to a nearby camping spot and went for a little walk before having some our final motorhome dinner together!
Monday 17th August
To mark the final morning of their Oslo adventures with us, I make everyone pancakes! And I have to admit, they were extraordinarily good for some reason… I do love making pancakes but it’s not often I get them to this standard, I really wish I could remember what I did…
Their flight isn’t until later in the afternoon so we have time to go back to the lake we visited yesterday and have a picnic.
Finally it is time to say goodbye to my family – we had such a lovely week with them and I hope they did too!
We leave the airport and we are alone together once more… but not for long!
Tomorrow our dear friend Sephy would be coming to join us alongside our beloved Lani who is returning to us once more before she heads back to Australia for good!
Sephy, Lani and I used to work together and we would often dream about them coming to visit us on our motorhome adventures and it was finally going to happen!
What adventures will we have with Sephy and Lani on board? Will Steffi show us around Oslo? What more delights will we discover?!
Find out next time!