This trip came about because my sister is doing an exchange in Oslo for 6 months and you can read about her saga here.
So my mother and I started with a 6 am flight to Newark airport followed by a 12 hour layover before flying to Oslo. Since we had a lot of time to kill we took the train into NYC and spent the day touring around. We started with a quick peek at Times Square to check if we could get tickets to a Broadway show, however we quickly decided to move on since the line was huge. We then walked over to the Rockefeller Center to check out their massive Christmas tree.
Afterwards we went over to Saks 5th Ave to look at the windows (which I learned was actually a thing to do); the windows were decorated with scenes inside them and a caption which started with “Once upon a time in New York City…” and then had a spin on some old fairy tale like “Cinderella fell madly in love with a pair of designer shoes”. It turns out the inside of the store was decorated quite nicely too which was neat.
We then hiked over to the NY public library to check out an exhibition on propaganda for WW2 and then we had dinner in this lovely Christmas market in a park behind the library.
After that we caught the train back to the airport and was joined by my sister for the flight to Oslo.
The flight to Oslo was a red-eye (overnight) so we arrived in the morning, dropped our bags at the hotel and toured around Oslo for the day. The day wasn’t action packed since we were all pretty tired but we did go by a number of cool places including a palace and some churches
The next morning we took a flight to Iceland where we met up with my Dad who was only joining us for the Iceland leg of the trip. It turns out that during winter in Iceland they don’t exactly get a lot of sun (I think the sun came up around 11am and set around 2-3pm) although it was bright for a lot longer than that. That day we hiked down a nice pedestrian street and poked into a few shops before calling it a day.
The next day we drove a route they call the golden circle, which basically mean that you get to see the majority of their cool landmarks on that drive. We first went by a natural hot spring/spa and decided to come back later. After that we stopped at Þingvellir National Park which was pretty cool as it is being continually spread apart by the mid-atlantic ridge. They also founded their parliament there (which my sister seemed really interested in) but I was more concerned about the good pictures.
The next stop was Geysir. Yup, the place where the term geyser comes from. It turns out that the original geyser was inactive but there was a different one which erupted every few min.
The whole area was steaming and there was little fountains of very hot bubbling water all over the place, super cool!
The final stop was this waterfall called Gullfoss, which was very pretty (I’ll let pictures do the talking)
The next day we went back to the aforementioned spa and spent the afternoon there. After that we headed back to town to have some dinner and get ready for New Years Eve. Oh I should probably mention something about New Years in Iceland: its crazy… AWESOME. Ok so the average person buys 5 pounds of fireworks. Since its dark a lot there is pretty much no limits on when fireworks are set off. We saw fireworks on the 30th and from 5pm on the 31st till after midnight. The fireworks ramped up throughout the evening until about 10pm, where they slowed down for about an hour and then it was all in craziness. The pictures (or video) don't really do it justice (but have some anyways).
We flew out of Iceland that night (my Mother, Sister and I back to Oslo and my Dad to Ottawa) but on the airport we took a stop at another hot spring(ish) location called the blue lagoon (photo not mine)
When we arrived back in Oslo our main mission was getting my sister moved in and settled so didn’t do as many touristy things. The first day back we just did chores and got the keys to my sister’s new place. The next day we went to the Ski museum which was at the ski jump in Oslo. First off, the ski jump was amazing, it’s one thing to see it on TV and another to actually go there and see the size and angle of it.
The museum was probably the most interesting museum I have been in to date; it was focused on cross country skiing (thought Norwegian history) and ski jumping but also had some biathlon and downhill. For example, I learned about an old type of cross country skis which was composed of a long ski for gliding and a shorter ski which was covered in fur for pushing.
At the end of the museum you can take a elevator (ish - it was like 45 degrees) to the top of the ski jump and the views from the top were amazing.
The next day we took the bus to the Viking Museum where they had a bunch of ancient viking boats and artifacts. These boats had been buried for ceremony in the 9th century and were actually in really good shape,
The bus stop for the Viking museum was right in between the town hall and the Nobel peace center so we poked around there for a little bit too.
On the final day before my mother and I left we checked out their new opera house which was actually really cool! The building was built so the roof was a ramp you could walk up and had a large flat(ish) area at the top.
The next morning my Mom and I flew home (which composed of 3 flights and a total of 4 trips through airport security), and I started work the next day!