Last fall, when I was in my third trimester of pregnancy, I was thinking ahead to summer conferences and trying to decide whether to try to attend a conference in Oslo. When Baby P was two months old, Mr. P and I decided to go for it and bought a passport and transatlantic plane ticket for our baby. And when Baby P was six months old? Team P went to Norway! We actually did it!
I know, it sounds nuts. For months leading up to the trip, when I’d tell people we were going to Norway, they’d respond with 1) incredulity, 2) alarm, and finally 3) smug disdain for my perceived overconfidence, because hahahaha who voluntarily takes a six-month-old on a plane to Europe?
Joke’s on them, though. Baby P is an awesome flyer! He just needs a crinkly pretzel bag.
A barf bag will do too, though.
He’s also a champion plane sleeper.
We got lots of compliments from fellow passengers, which was nice to hear even when they were of the backhanded variety (“I thought your baby would be terrible! But then he was perfect! I just assumed he’d cry the whole time.”). Honestly, drunk British and American adult passengers are louder than Baby P. They also tend to wake up perfectly sleeping babies. Just saying.
He was even sweet on the train ride from the airport to our downtown apartment, if a bit confused about why we slept for only a few hours on a plane and then it was suddenly morning again. The kid’s a born traveler.
And speaking of our downtown apartment: it was the best. I think I’ll do a separate post on tips for traveling with a baby, but suffice to say, a studio apartment with a kitchen beats a hotel room any day. We even had a rooftop terrace, from which we could watch the sunset... at 11pm.
Because of our central location, we tackled most of Oslo on foot. And the closest landmark to our apartment was the Opera House:
The inside of the Opera House is nice enough, but what makes the place special is the crazy sloping architecture. Apparently, because Norway doesn’t belong to the EU, it doesn’t have to abide by stricter building codes, so they built an Opera House that is basically one giant ramp up to the roof. The views from the top are stunning!
And because it’s built right on the water, you can see all sorts of boats – including sculptures pretending to be boats.
I read that in the winter, the harbor freezes over and you can walk out to the sculpture to see it up close. Crazy!
A lot of our sightseeing had to be done in shorter chunks to allow for Baby P to nap as needed. So for that reason, we didn’t go visit other cities or try to cruise along the fjords. Instead, we headed out and about in Oslo’s gorgeous summer weather whenever possible.
(If you’re wondering, yes, Mr. P is the stroller-pusher most of the time. It must come from the same desire that designates him the grocery-cart-pusher, too.)
We didn’t eat out much in Oslo, partly because of Baby P’s inability to stay up late, but mostly because food in Norway is pretty meh. When we did eat out, we stuck to lunch, and went for the prettiest views possible – like those from Aker Brygge.
Sure, it’s touristy, but the food was tasty enough! As an aside, I probably ate more mayo in one week in Norway than I ever had in my entire life.
Fortunately, Baby P was usually well-behaved, especially in outdoor restaurants. And if he started to get bored, all he needed was another crinkly piece of paper! Six months is a magical age when you can entertain babies with whatever trash you have lying around.
Another stop on our walking tour of Oslo was the City Hall. Sometimes it seems like everything in Oslo is made of wood, even the sculptures on the outside the building!
I’ll save the rest of City Hall for later, though, when I show you the party the Mayor invited us to. (Seriously!)
The main street through the Oslo city center is Karl Johan’s Gate, and we ended up walking along it practically daily.
The street itself was a sight to behold, especially because of the events going on in the park adjacent to it. Baby’s first Pride Festival!
Okay, we didn’t actually go in the park, but it did make the whole area lively and fun. I’ve heard it said that you’ll always remember where you were when you heard that same-sex marriage was legal across the US, and I think I certainly will.
Whether because of Pride, the lovely weather, or who knows what else, the city felt vibrant and busy while we were there. We even randomly stumbled upon a taping of Graham Norton’s show in the middle of Karl Johan’s Gate (we didn’t get to stick around to find out why, as it was Baby P’s naptime).
Also along Karl Johan’s Gate: the Parliament Buliding.
The National Theatre, too, complete with seagull on statue (I think of Ibsen?).
And at the end of Karl Johan’s Gate is the Royal Palace.
It’s possible to buy tickets to tour the inside, but we stuck to watching the guards march around every few minutes and family selfies in the beautiful palace grounds.
On our way back down Karl Johan, we stopped at the university to allow Mr. P to instruct Baby P on the importance of a good college education.
And at the end of our wandering, we could go back to our apartment and see many of the sights all over again (see the Opera House directly behind me?)!
More of our Oslo adventure to come! (I’m thinking this has to be a three-parter!)