It all happened out of the blue. Back in October 2021, I said yes to a photo of a polar bear and a city I could hardly pronounce. I booked my place and planned to get down in the weeds closer to the date. It surprised my family and friends because the Arctic, professional photography and life on a ship came out of left field. More importantly, I wanted to experience something different with some of my favorite peoples after a 2.5 long year travel hiatus because life got in the way.
A couple of weeks before flying out, I watched a ton of vlogs related to the expedition by random people who were of a certain age, a key fact I overlooked. Plus, I absolutely forgot to learn about the award winning featured guests who were making guest appearances on this adventure. Instead my attention was directed to planning city running routes, researching Japanese restaurants (because that’s what I do when I go anywhere) and what running gear and heavy book I should bring because the sun don’t set. In my mind, I’ve got all the time in the world to kill.
The plan was to meet the group on the 30th of June, fly out to Longyearbyen on the 1st of July and set out to the reach 80degrees north from the North Pole and maybe see wildlife while sailing around the icy and sometimes not so icy Arctic region.
I arrived in Oslo a day earlier and explored the city. In an ideal world (one that I preplanned), I was to run and explore a couple of hoods I pinned on a map but oh the sun! It was 18C. Something about the sizzling sun in Europe puts me off and makes it feel like 38C. So I stuffed that and went for a long 7.5km hike.
From my hotel, once a small theatre and survivor of many wars that sat across the main National Theater dolled up in rainbow flags, I walked down to the waterfront in Tjuvholmen. The Nobel Peace Center also dolled up in rainbow flags was difficult to miss and headed towards the glassy museum of modern art (Astrup Fearnley). I’m sure there was a flag somewhere. I walked around Frogner lined by a mix of contemporary looking buildings some dolled up in rainbow flags, some wooden and some that have been there for hundreds of years towards Frogner Park famous for sculptures by Gustav Vigeland and all I could think about is why are they all naked?
I stopped for a delicious Omakase dinner and walked back via the Royal Palace and called it a night.
The next day, determined to beat the crowd, I set out early in the A.M. towards Akershush Castle and Fortress. I renounced running goals and took a hike instead, this time 6km. Besides, Oslo’s elevation is undulating and running uphill is not my strongest suit. Fox warnings or stepping over a historic site that had undergone a bunch renovations and political shenanigans did not throw me off as much as the gut churning sight of a Norwegian Princess cruise ship on steroids. It took over the view from the top of the fortress. What was once designed to be the OG of Oslo is now outshined by luxury sea travel, introduced in the 20th Century… I looked at it for a very long time… all kinds of questions ran through my mind.
Via the quiet Bjorvika neighborhood, I headed towards the beautiful Oslo Opera House and the Public Library. Swarms of passengers from the cruise ship had begun to take over the streets, so I hung around the library for a while to block out the noise, and made my way back to the waterfront for lunch. It buzzed with locals on their lunch break.
At 2pm, I headed back to Oslo Airport to join my friends and the party of seasoned travellers.