Well, I’m finally out of quarantine and can go about exploring the city as I wish. Interestingly, because of the strict measures in place over the last year and a half, things seem relatively normal here. I haven’t seen anyone wearing a mask, but the majority of the population is vaccinated at this point.
The first day out of quarantine wasn’t a whole lot different than the previous days. I did get to meet a friend in person for the first time and I ate a yummy appetizer in a restaurant.
It was refreshing to get out and walk around the city and take in all of the sights. I was surprised at how easy it is to get close to the palace where the king and queen live. It seems to be a big attraction. While I was walking by, they were doing the changing of the guards, which was pretty cool to watch.
I finally got the chance to check out some stores and get a few items that I didn’t pack to bring with me. I picked up an extra blanket, slippers, and a hair straightener.
Prices Compared to the U.S.
A lot of people warned me that things here would be more expensive. So far, I am finding the prices to be fairly comparable to most of the places I lived in the U.S. Food and drink prices at restaurants are about the same, but tipping is not required in Norway. I even had one server try to give me the tip back saying that it’s not customary and they make a living wage, unlike the U.S.
My grocery bill was not much different than I would expect to pay at home. You can search for good deals and sales. Just like in the U.S., there are certain times and days when stores run promotions or deals on items.
The coolest app that I learned about a couple of days ago is called Too Good To Go. It looks like some of the big cities in the U.S. are starting to use it as well.
Essentially, you pay a discount price, typically a few dollars, for a surprise bag from a store or cafe. The pick-up window is between 10 and 15 minutes before the store closes. It helps reduce waste so they don’t have to throw as much away. For $10, I have enough sandwiches and baked goods for my breakfasts and lunches this week. One cafe gave a salad, hummus wrap, and arugula sandwich in the surprise bag.
Travel in Oslo
For around $100, I purchased a monthly pass to travel around the city using rail, metro, buses, and ferries. That is fairly comparable to a pass in NYC, which is $127 for the month.
Interestingly, there are no stations preventing entry onto the metro platforms. It is super easy to just walk right on from any stop. I tried to scan my phone on the train the first time I got on, but nothing was happening. I asked someone and apparently, it is all done on the honor system. So basically anyone can ride public transportation. They do random checks with hefty fines to prevent people from taking advantage of the system.
The monthly pass even allowed access to the ferries. So yesterday, I decided to take a ferry ride to the different fjords.