A short piece written for a travel writing contest… before I re-read the brief and realised the finished piece had to be only around a *paragraph* long. Thought I’d post it here instead. – E
My best travel experience started the way that any trip does: with a long journey from my home to the destination of my dreams. Two friends and I marched along the cobbled streets of Durham, celebrating our freedom from essays and exams with an almost spontaneous trip overseas. Taking a short detour via London, with a short stop at the Harry Potter shrine at King’s Cross station, we were soon en-route to the Norwegian city of Oslo.
Being students, our budget for the trip is best described as infinitesimal. We had a handful of brightly coloured notes and some kroner coins, with a small hole like a doughnut in the centre. Before I start, before I explain exactly why this was my best trip, I have to tell you something. This isn’t a tale of culinary exploration or of the wonders of street food. Admittedly, even street food would have stretched our budget by the end of the week, in one of the most expensive cities in the world. We thrived on hot dog buns, on cereal and loaves of freshly cooked bread bought from small family run shops and I shared my lunch with the birds resting on park benches outside a museum.
The adventure of our trip came not from tastes and smells, but from sights and sounds. Travelling further north than I ever had before, expecting a land colder than the North East of England, I found myself in a place hotter than I could have dreamed. Perfection. The sun stayed longer in the sky there, not wanting to dip beneath the horizon for a moment longer than necessary. We spent long days exploring what Oslo had to offer. Modern art that we mistook for seats and postcard holders, leading to a confused conversation with museum staff and an afternoon questioning ourselves philosophically on everything we passed: “Is this art?”
A day visiting the small islands around the city. Talking to a Dutch man at the ferry terminal and then watching as students filed onto the ferry ahead of us with mammoth backpacks ready for a camping trip on an island. We were headed to another island; one famed for its beaches, although by the time we arrived it was cool and close to
Misreading the ferry timetable, we thought there were only minutes to spare before the last ferry to the mainland. Desperate to see a Viking ship – we were in Scandinavia after all – we scouted out the right museum but struggled to find the one we were looking for. Long halls with artefacts we’d never quite remember, resting on the edges of our consciousness like boats on the open sea.
Another day we abandoned the guidebook and took out our map, exploring tucked away streets where stalls lined the streets with jewellery and art peddled by their creators. Just along the road graffiti marred walls called out for anarchy.
Lazy evenings in the gardens of the Royal Palace followed, gazing up from beneath a street lamp that was almost Victorian in its decoration. The bustling city down the hill seemed so far away from our vantage point.
From the almost nightmare inducing statues in the sculpture park, with a column of entwined people rising high into the sky above us to the hours spent with an ice-cream and not a care in the world, for a while Oslo felt like home. Our time there was quickly over and it was back to England, back to university, back to reality.
My best travel experience ever? The time I spent in Oslo. I wouldn’t change it for the world.