I just got back from a short but long independent journey through beautiful Scandinavia last week and it was definitely a different experience from my other trips! Although, I did meet with a friend in one city, I spent the rest of the trip alone. At first, I was nervous and felt a bit lonely but with time those feelings did subside. I'm an extrovert, I love talking to other people but I especially like to talk to people who I already have the connection with. I had seen groups of girls together taking photos and couples hugging and having romantic dinners together which gave me a lonely feel. Another feeling I felt at first was paranoia. In the past, there had been some experiences while traveling that gave me a feeling that someone is out to get me or that I'll get pick pocketed again. These were all just fears I had in my mind the first day and I wasn't expecting that at all. Once I got to the airport in Copenhagen, I had to shake it off and learn that I decided to do this trip on my own for a better reason than to be scared. After that, I felt much better and could actually enjoy the trip comfortably.
I did meet great travelers along the way, some of the sweetest people, actually. Everyone I ran into in Copenhagen had a smile on their face and was glad to help you if you needed any assistance. In Norway, a woman named Heidi shared her travel journeys and her life as an expat. She had lived in Greece for 11 years, Scotland and now Oslo. In Malmö, I met a very sweet woman named Camille who was a traveler herself but talked mostly of her three kids who also travel extensively. All over Scandinavia were there people just ready to talk to and share their experiences with you. Ok, enough about how I was being a sissy on my trip and here's more about what I did in Scandinavia!
I started out by taking a long 15 hour overnight bus ride from Nuremberg, Germany to Copenhagen, Denmark (there was a bus transfer in Berlin, Germany) through the bus company Meinfernbus. This company was awesome to be honest! It was very easy to purchase tickets and make changes through the website, the price was unbeatable (40 Euro each way), most busses included Euro electrical sockets, and there was also free Wi-Fi available. The Wi-Fi didn't work the entire trip but I doubt anyone would need internet for 15 hours straight. There was also a ferry transfer once we had to cross into Denmark which was 45 minutes long and the price was included in the bus ticket.
Once I arrived into Copenhagen, I was scheduled to fly out to Oslo, Norway only a few hours later. For the time being, I had walked around and relaxed in the areas close to Copenhagen Central Station until I had to take the train into Copenhagen Airport. You can purchase a one-way ticket to the airport at DKK 36 (about 5 USD) and it was only a 12 minute ride, getting off on the 3rd stop from Central Station. Most locals and tourists prefer to get around the city on bicycles, it reminded me a lot like Amsterdam for that reason!
Oslo was my first full stop on this trip and I was lucky enough to be guided by one of my greatest friends, Jessica, who had been staying there with her boyfriend for a few months while he lived there. I flew from Copenhagen to Oslo Gardermoen Airport through Norwegian Airlines. The flight was only an hour long so it didn't take away too much adventure time for me. To get into Central Oslo by train, you can take the Airport Express Train from Oslo Lufthavn (Oslo Airport) to Oslo Sentralstasjon (Oslo Central Station) with adult price tickets at NOK 180 (about 22 USD) and discounts at NOK 90 (about 10 USD). I purchased a student ticket so I only paid the NOK 90.
We saw most of Oslo by purchasing a 24 hour public transportation ticket that cost NOK 90 (about 10 USD). There were no student discounts available unless you were a student purchasing a 30-day ticket which would then be at 40% less than the original price. Other discounts such as child, young persons, seniors and family discounts were available, just be sure to ask before purchasing the ticket. Once we got our tickets, we were ready to take over Oslo!
Oslo Opera House
After catching up with my friend Jessica when I first arrived into Oslo, we went to check out the great views over at the home of Den Norske Opera og Ballett or otherwise known as The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. This Norwegian venue has been dedicated to classical opera and ballet with performances such as Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake. Although I didn't have the chance to view the inside of the opera house, the scenery from up top of the building was a great sight. From walking around the rooftop, I was able to see just how serene and peaceful Oslo can be. You could see the Barcode Buildings, the Holmenkollen ski jump, and a scenic view over the water front. You'll catch other tourists doing same up there, just hanging out and relaxing by the water. If you're able to take the 50 minute guided tour, it's available in English on different schedules throughout the year. Tickets are available online and can also be used with the Oslo Pass.
Vigeland Sculpture Park (Frogner Park)
The sculpture park was the highlight of my Oslo trip! I had noticed there were many sculptures around Oslo, most of them were nude sculptures. Once we arrived to the sculpture park, we were welcomed in with hundreds of impressive sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron (also nude) but these sculptures were portraying a different image than the previous sculptures I had seen. The Vigeland Park is very popular for tourists and also Oslo locals in which now I can understand why. This park is the world's largest sculpture park accomplished by a single artist named Gustav Vigeland. Vigeland's work has been interpreted in many ways, especially one of the most famous sculptures, the Monolith. My own interpretation was the struggle of human existence. The 12 meter high sculpture seems to reflect on hardship, agony, depression- just a few words to describe what I felt when I approached the sculpture. If you have the chance to visit Oslo, let this be the priority of the trip. You could spend hours wandering, interpreting and relaxing in this park. The park is free of entrance and is open all year round for visiting. There is also the Vigeland Museum that is dedicated to the preservation of the sculptures from Gustav Vigeland.
The Aker Brygge area is known for its shopping, entertainment and dining but I enjoyed this area in other ways. I was more intrigued by the contemporary architecture of the buildings all near by the pier. The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art was also part of great structures in this area. Just off of the marina, you'll find a perfect view of the Akerhus Castle which is only about a 10-15 minute walk. If you are in the Aker Brygge area for its suggested purposes, I'm sure it will be to your liking! It seemed to be the fancy spot to hang out for drinks and visually presentable food with great scenery.
If you like to check out bookstores around the globe (I've seen a few unique spots), this is a good one to stop at! When you're walking towards the bookstore, it doesn't look like what you think you're about to step into. Eldorado was once a cinema that opened back in 1891 but it is now one of Scandinavia's largest bookstores! Grab a book (there is a small English section), order a crêpe at the cafe and hang out at Eldorado while you're in Oslo!
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I spent most of my trip hanging out in Copenhagen, Denmark and used the city as a hub to get in and out of the other Scandinavian countries. Getting around the city was easy using the metro and the train. A 24 hour city pass for zones 1-4 cost DKK 80 (about 12 USD) which includes bus, metro and trains. Before my trip, I printed a map with all of the train and metro lines so I could easily navigate through the city while using public transportation. Planning your schedule ahead helps to save time instead of going back and forth throughout the city.
Of course, I stopped by the beautiful port of Nyhavn as I had seen many photos of the colorful buildings and had to see it for myself! This harbor district is buzzing with music, cafes, restaurants, and bars crowded with locals and tourists. There are canal tour boats lined up for you to be able to take an hour long tour around the city hitting hot spots and learning some history. To get to Nyhavn from Central Station is quite simple. It's just one stop to Norreport and then you switch off to the metro line towards Lufthavn, getting off one more stop on Kongens Nytorv/Nyhavn.
Rundetaarn or otherwise known as The Round Tower, was once towering over all other buildings in Copenhagen. You can still find great 360 degree views over the city by walking up the 209 meter long spiral ramp and exiting through the rooftop. When you're facing East from the rooftop, you'll be able to see Sweden just across the water!
The Round Tower was once used for the sole purpose of an astronomical observatory but it is still active even today and is named to be the oldest observatory in Europe! Now, Rundetaarn is used as a lookout tower, observatory, exhibitions and other cultural events and concerts. Rundetaarn is a short walk from the Norreport train station, just one stop away from Central Station. This spot is a must see and is only DKK 25 (about 3 USD) so be sure to put this on your list!
Superkilen is an urban park project in the more diverse side of the city but is known for many cultures involved in this project. It was pretty neat to see the many different objects and furnitures from more than 60 nationalities that contributed to this project. For example, the palm trees came from China, the fountain is Moroccan, and swings are from Iraq just to name a few. I saw many people playing in the parks with their children and also some photographers who really enjoyed the white lines curving from North to South in The Black Market side of Superkilen.
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Originally, I had planned to visit Stockholm for my Swedish travel fix, but since I was on a budget and a time crunch, Malmö was the convenient option for me and I'm glad I made the trip! From Copenhagen Central Station, you can purchase a one-way train ticket to Malmö, Sweden for around 107 SEK (12 USD). Malmö Central Station is 6 stops from Copenhagen Central Station and was only about a 34 minute train ride. I had spent half of the last day of my journey there and it was just enough time for me. The city is small and less busy than Copenhagen. It was pretty quiet but still a great city to check out if you're in the Scandinavian region. I actually just walked instead of purchasing any sort of public transportation ticket around the city because for me, it was all mostly walking distance. I would suggest for anyone else to rent a bike for a few hours or even for the day. Seeing the city on bikes is what I saw most people do while I was there but I had a heavy backpack on and felt like walking instead of biking.
Once I stepped out of the train station, I headed over to Malmohus which was probably a 10-15 minute walk. This once fortress is now a museum... A rather big museum, if you ask me. If I wanted to see the entire museum, it would have to take me at least a full day. It was a bit overwhelming with all the different collections in history but it was definitely a great spot to check out. There were so many exhibits ranging from Nazi history to an aquarium to then an art exhibit and many in between. The entrance fee for an adult is SEK 40 (about 5 USD) but there is a student discount 50% less and kids up to 19 years old are admitted for free.
This was a mere coincidence that I was in Malmö at the right time to visit Ebba's House on the only day it's open during the week. It was on a Wednesday around 4pm (an hour before closing) and there was a woman just quietly reading a book inside. I didn't know what to expect when I walked in so the woman named Camille taught me some history behind the house that is now the smallest museum in Malmö. Other houses nearby were demolished while Ebba, who lived there in the mid 1990's, decided that this house was to remain where it is. I took a short tour around the house seeing that everything is still well preserved and had been kept in place since Ebba turned the house over to the City of Malmö.
Although this house belonged to Ebba and is what most people stopped by to learn about, I learned more about Camille. It was great to meet someone who was not of my age but has taught me more than just the history of the home. She had such great spirits and loved hearing about my travels. She as well spoke to me about her travels. We talked even after the hours of the museum had closed. Meeting Camille was the highlight of my Sweden trip. I hope if you're in the area on a Wednesday from 1000- 1700 that you have the chance to stop by Ebba's House.
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Since I was on a budget for this trip, I didn't eat out much and mostly ate the snacks I brought from home. When I did try Scandinavian food, I was impressed! In Copenhagen I tried the shrimp and egg smørrebrød, in Norway I had fresh crab and Norwegian baked salmon (which is a huge step because I really don't eat fish!), I also ate the shrimp baguette, and lastly I had a typical Swedish dinner which consists of a baked potato, shrimp and dill. Of course my friend Jessica had me try the Norwegian chocolate which was delicious! I don't think I ate meat once on this trip!
Are you convinced that Scandinavia should be next on your travel list?