Norway is an incredibly beautiful country and I am disappointed to say I only visited Oslo. I would love to go back and explore more of this fascinating landscape. I have never been to a city before and immediately felt completely welcome and like I belonged. It was a quiet, peaceful city (although it was the middle of winter, so possibly this had something to do with it?) with people who were unbelievably friendly. This made me feel warm and fuzzy which (slightly) reduced the impact of the freezing cold.
There were some really interesting things to do in Oslo, like the Akershus Fortress and the multitude of museums, which tell of Norway’s history with Sweden. The harbour is a very welcoming area, with many great restaurants all with warmed outdoor seating, as well as many places to sit and relax along the water’s edge. There is a huge park full of sculptures, which was interesting to see, however there was a definite theme of naked, human sculptures. My favourite part of Norway, however, is the toboggan track just outside of the city centre.
The Korketrekkeren toboggan track is a public venue about 30 minutes from Oslo. If you have your own toboggan you can run the track as you please. If, like most tourists, you don’t, then there are two different places you can hire them from near the start of the track. You rent them (and a helmet!) for a day. I assumed that they would give us a safety briefing or some kind of instruction of how to use the toboggan but no, they just handed them over and said “have a good day”.
My partner and I walked off towards the start of the track and we struggled with this small task! The toboggans kept sliding past us, dragging us along the slippery ice, or they would zoom into the backs of our legs and hit our calves! Once we finally got to the top of the track, my partner and I looked at each other. We had no idea what to do and felt silly as everyone else was just getting on and going. We shrugged our shoulders, put the toboggans down and sat on them. There was rope that we held onto and we both assumed this was how you steered. Clearly, we were absolute beginners. We put our feet up and started flying down the hill. The first big corner came and there we were, pulling like mad on the ropes trying to steer away from the corner but still heading straight for it. Chris, my partner, was in front of me, and I watched as he was aiming right for the edge of the track which was bordered by big piles of soft snow and then a brick wall. I was getting very nervous that we would crash and clearly pulling on those stupid ropes did nothing at all, so I did the only thing I could think of and took my feet of the sled and shoved them in the ground. To my surprise, I started slowing down. Chris, however, hadn’t figured this out and I looked up to see him flying off the toboggan and into the snow, head first. I hadn’t figured out how to completely stop, so I yelled out to him. He had gotten up and was laughing, I was reassured that he wasn’t too hurt and turned my head back to see what I was heading for. The rest of the run down I was so nervous and anxious of crashing. I kept my feet hovering over the snow to shove them in and slow down at any point. I started to realise towards the end of the track that I could steer with my feet. I still thought I was doing it wrong and had just found some strange way of making it work for me (hint: you absolutely do steer with your feet, or if you’re really good, you might steer by just shifting the weight of your body). I went around the final corner and saw this huge tree at the end of the track. I was heading straight for it. I shoved my heels into the snow and pushed down as hard as I could while leaning away from the tree to try and miss it or at best, slow down a bit. I narrowly missed it and breathed a sigh of relief. Chris finished the track not long after me and we then took the train back up to the start of the track. We went down the run about 5 more times, as by the end of the day the track was mostly just ice, not snow, which made it ridiculously slippery and difficult to steer. Chris managed to fall off the toboggan two more times and also fell over three times just walking to the track!
Needless to say, we had an absolutely great time tobogganing and seeing all the great sights around Oslo. I would love to visit more of Norway, especially the north end. It really was a winter wonderland.