ISLE PADDLES THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE CITY OSLO, NORWAY
The Isle Crew loves searching for new spots to paddle. During a stand up paddle trip to Brazil last year we made great friends with a Norwegian expat living in Rio De Janeiro. He told me Norway offered up some amazing paddle spots and I should make a trip out in summer to avoid the almost year round freezing weather. After tons of planning and second thoughts due to my fear of the cold along with its reputation for being the most expensive country in the world, I finally decided to make the trip over. Turns out it was one of the most incredible paddle trips I have ever taken and I can’t wait to get back! Here is Part 1 of a multi-part series about the journey.
The trip plan was to do the entire southern coast of Norway starting is Oslo and making our way southwest around the horn visiting the major cities and summer festivals along the way finally ending our journey in Stavanger at the end of the road on the west coast along the North Sea.
Just getting the boards to Oslo was a big nightmare. SUPs are huge and the airlines won’t take them so the only option was shipping them and it aint cheap. Then you need to have a Norwegian citizen clear the freight along with duties taxes etc.. So no easy task getting them in and the few paddle boards that exist for sale in Norway at the local outdoor gear shops are around $3k USD for a full package. After jumping thru lots of hoops we finally cleared the SUPs from customs with many thanks to our gracious Norwegian host and were anxious to finally hit the water under cloudy skies.
First Paddle around the Oslo Harbor
We found a cool little harbor just down the street from our charming hotel in central Oslo with a bunch of rustic wooden ships. The city is very clean with tons of really cool art, fountains and architecture around every corner.
We launched the paddle boards off some steps and made our way into the center of the bay to a small little lighthouse in the distance. After a few circles we looked up to see a gigantic cruise liner headed right at us in one direction followed by a speeding ferry in the other direction. We narrowly escaped a collision and drew the attention of the Oslo harbor police who pulled up alongside and asked us to clear out of the water promptly. They said the “vessels” we were riding were not allowed on the water.
We did not oblige and chose to make our way along the busy waterfront and into some inlets near the harbor. The inlets had modern residential buildings and cafes along the edges and as we ventured deeper into the channel we were met with a small waterfall and a really cool statue of a man on stilts right in the middle of the water. We soaked in all the new sights and snuck back to the steps of our initial launch ready to step out for the evening and check out the nightlife. By this time it was around 10:30pm and it’s was still bright light out. In the summer it gets light at 3:30am and sunset is at around 11:30pm giving you lots of time for outdoor activities.
A Night on the Town
Our gracious host took us out to a fabulous Italian meal then off to the nightclubs to check out the scene. The club was packed with lots of very tall and good looking well dressed men and women and the drinks are very very expensive anywhere from $15 to 20 USD for one drink. There is a magic credit card machine propped up on every bar and after you order your drink the tender simply points you to it to swipe your plastic. Cash is accepted but most use the all too easy slider. After lots of overpriced vodka and beers the night turned hazy. The clubs stay open until 4am so it is light again when they kick you out the door. If you want to party in Oslo just don’t forget to bring a deep pocket!
Day 2 Paddle at the Oslo Opera House
Everyone I told about my trip warned me about the poor weather potential even in peak summer in Norway. I admit the first day paddle was fairly cloudy with some nip in the air but not all that bad as we timed our trip during peak summer temps. I had packed plenty of wetsuits, jackets, sweaters and pants but when we awoke for our day 2 paddle we arose to 80 plus degree temps and perfectly blue skies. I could hardly believe my eyes and it felt like we never left summer back in southern California. We quickly scrambled down to the waterfront and hopped into calm waters with a warm breeze in the air. We opted this paddle to head the other direction away from the main harbor to see what was around the corner. We noticed a huge white building in the distance that turned out to be the Oslo Opera House with a really modern sculpture floating in the water adjacent to the building. The courtyard cascaded down into the water and offered a perfect ramp for docking the boards.
As we approached to dock a couple locals were sitting on the edge of the water and we offered them up the paddle boards so we could check out the building. It was packed with people and tourists taking photos and enjoying the views out into the harbor. After being warned the water was way too cold to swim, I jumped in and it was in the mid 60’s making for a refreshing dip and a relief to the hangover from the previous nights rage. The weather was uncommonly nice and after speaking to several people it turns out we had landed in Norway just at the start of a major heat wave across Europe and it was to be the first of many days with record high temps not seen in decades across southern Norway. The Gods had smiled upon us and with this good news it was shaping up to be an excellent trip. We headed back to the hotel with morale high ready to start our journey along the southern coast.
Now on to the southernmost city of Kristiansand just in time for Palmesus, Scandinavia’s largest summer music festival held on the shores of its famous white sand beach.