OSLO – The 2nd Most Expensive City in the World?

With Oslo being rated as the 2nd most expensive city in the world behind Tokyo, it’s not your usual destination for an European holiday. Unless you’ve a desire to know all things Norwegian.

The current project I’m on requires a global implementation across 14 countries, as such “change management” is a crucial element to ensure not just a smooth roll-out but a solid buy-in after we go live. As part of the plan to soften the grounds before go-live date, we arranged for visits to key locations to deliver our change management & communication plans.

With the company being a Norwegian company – even though their HQ is now in M’sia – Oslo has to be the 1st port of call for us. The timing also couldn’t have been better… we were due to do our Oslo visit in end February which is when winter is tapering off.

110223 OSL

Winter is REALLY winter there, with tempatures dropping to below -25C at times and with -20C being the norm. Oslo is not known as the Winter Capital for no reason. However the February month is probably when Oslo is at her “warmest” in winter.

Then again, the BEST time to visit Europe is always in the cold winter season… never mind if the temperature is -20C. After all what other time can you get to pull out your expensive cashmere coat to wear?? hehe

Just a Drop-n-Run trip

When I was moving around Europe back in 1999-2000 on the ORCA Projects, I tend to extend my stay there after work is done. Makes sense since the air ticket is paid for and all I need to fork out would be the accommodation, which would make for a very affordable overseas holiday. J

This time this trip was a short drop-in, get-the-job-done, move-out thingie.

Partly becoz wifey is not traveling with me, and partly becoz the project demands require me to be back in KL soonest possible.

KUL-AMS-OSL

We flew KLM which required a drop at Amsterdam before transiting us onwards to Gardermoen Airport, Oslo. It’s a longish 14 hr flight and with only an hour transit time at Amsterdam, let’s just say all I saw of Schiphol Airport (AMS) was the journey from Gate A to Gate B. LOL

We arrived at Gardermoen in good-time (9 am) and quickly parked ourselves at a café in the Arrival Hall while waiting for John, our external change management consultant to arrive from S’pore (his flight was due to arrive half an hour after us).

Two basic hot-dogs and coffee cost us more Rm90. You did notice I mentioned Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world rite? 😛

Day One was a Resting Day

Our Change Management programme was scheduled for Friday and we’ve a Meet-n-Greet sessions with some of the management and key staff on Thursday, leaving half of the day for us to kinda recover from the jet lag.

After checking-in to the hotel, picking up some emails, and a short nap, we met at the lobby to decide what we were going to do for dinner and the walk-about before dinner.

Sally, my colleague who has been to Oslo a few times suggested we visit the Royal Palace and then dinner.

110223 OSL - Royal Palace

That’s me and Sally in front of the Royal Palace (Slottet).

110223 OSL - Royal Palace
John and Sally @ the Royal Palace

I’d seen one or two runners braving the freezing temperature for a jog around our hotel area… how I wish I could do the same but seriously, you need to be well-prepared to run in this weather!

110223 Oslo - Royal Palace

The snow was almost up to my knees! Never mind run… even walking can be a problem!

110223 OSL - Royal Palace

Some rehearsal for a show in front of the Royal Palace?

110223 OSL - Royal Palace (King Carl Johan)

The statue of King Carl Johan in front of the Royal Palace.

110223 OSL - Royal Palace (King Carl Johan)

A closer look at King Johan…

110223 OSL - Royal Palace (King Carl Johan)

110223 OSL

Oslo is a dog-friendly city so you can expect to see more pictures such as the one above in my blog entry of this Oslo trip. Well, I mean pictures of dog and not necessarily pictures of them peeing randomly all over Oslo!! Bad doggy! LOL

An Art of ICE

After a quick walkabout of the Royal Palace – really there was nothing much to see except snow here and snow there (spring or autumn would have been different) – so we started walking towards our dinner place.

Along the way, we passed into the centre area of Oslo city itself.. And there were some displays of ice sculptures and other art form.

110223 OSL

110223 OSL

The one thing I admire about Europe – and the reason I always favor Europe as a holiday destination – is it’s beautiful and unique architecture. And Oslo is no different.

110223 OSL

The weather was probably around -15C now, which was just at the nice level to enjoy the winter capital. 😛

Sally was trying to locate a Thai restaurant here that served good thai food – we were skeptical. I mean, all the way here to eat Thai?? But it was a good respite from the cold to pop into this building to look for the restaurant.

110223 OSL

I did find a nice bookshop but didn’t have the time to pop-in for a look-see…

110223 OSL

And there’s also this café named “Cafe Bali”? Thai and now Bali… hmm…

110223 OSL

More ice sculptures on our way out…..  can you recognize this “famous” figure?

110223 OSL

I suppose when in winter, there’s nothing much you can do except play with ice! 😛

110223 OSL

Around the streets of Oslo…

110223 OSL

This poogie was so obedient… sitting there posing for his owner to take a few snaps.

110223 OSL

More doggy…. and no peeing. Good doggy!

110223 OSL - Firklover

The BEST chocolate – FREIA Firklover (or so I was told by Sally)

They were having a sales of FREIA choco bar at the duty free shop in the airport. You should have seen the number of bars we smuggled out of their airport!! Hohohoho… even the airport security lady was giving us the “winky look” when she saw our stash!! 😛

110223 OSL - Parliament Building

We passed by the Parliament House  (Stortinget)…..

110223 OSL - Nobel Peace Center

…. and also the Nobel Peace Center (Nobels Fredssenter) but as we were rushing for dinner, didn’t drop in for a look-see except to take a quick snap of the building.

If I’m back here again – hopefully with wifey – the Nobel Peace Center is one place I’ll be sure to pay a visit!

After failing to locate the ahem, famous Thai restaurant, Sally proposed a Chinese restaurant that she said serves very delicious and authentic Sze-chuan dishes. Chinese now? About 10,000 km from KL? Sure or not?

Sounds wonderful but I did inform her either a) she has not gone to good Chinese restaurant back in KL or b) it’s a fine dining place!!

110223 OSL - Ah Hong Restaurant

When she passed by this restaurant (above), for a moment I thought this was our dinner place! No disrespect meant but this doesn’t really look “delicious”. 😛

Thankfully she continued walking …. hehe

The walk to the fine Chinese restaurant serving delicious Sze-chuan food seemed to take forever and ever! I was beginning to wonder whether it’s Sally intention to walk us till we are so hungry & tired, any food would taste like Sze-chuan fine dining!!

110223 OSL

We passed by this beautiful port.. Well, it’s NOT that beautiful in winter, with all the frozen water around the stagnant boats but I suppose in summer or autumn, this place would look marvelous!

After walking what must have felt like half of Oslo, we finally arrived at our fine Chinese restaurant serving delicious Sze-chuan food!

110223 OSL - Dinners Restaurant

I was half-expecting it to be called “Royal Sze-chuan Fine Chinese Cuisine” or something grand.. but it was simply called “Dinner Bar & Restaurant”. Talk about keeping it simple, hah!

Ooi… is this the fine Chinese restaurant serving delicious Sze-chuan food? Anyway legs were tired, it was getting colder (must be closer to -18C now), it’s also getting dark (Oslo gets dark around 5:30 pm this time of the year), stomach was growling… now’s not the time to debate about fine cuisine but the time to sit down and have a warm meal!

Once we entered the restaurant, our mood improved! It was packed! People were queueing for tables and the place looks very nicely decorated and does appear like a nice dining place with a warm ambience.

Maybe there’s some truth to the fine chinese Sze-chuan food after all!

We waited for a short while and were soon seated. But the head waitress – a pretty Chinese lady (from Sze-chuan?) who speaks good Cantonese and Mandarin, and English… and Norsk – informed us politely we need to finish our dinner by 7 pm. It was 5:30 then.

At first we thought she was joking but then realized she’s dead serious! She explained we were the first wave of diners, and their 2nd wave starts around 7 pm! Oh…

110223 OSL - Dinners Restaurant

The spring rolls for appetizer… well presented and tasted as good as they look!

110223 OSL - Dinners Restaurant

Yes, their signature Sze-chuan soup! You can really taste the “sweet” and the “spicy” part of the soup distinctively… and the spicy part kicked in as you get down to the “bottom”. I’m not one who take spicy stuff yet I almost finished the entire bowl. But the last two spoonful were really too fiery for me to finish!!

Compared to this, I dun think many Sze-chuan soup served in KL come close! The soup alone cost more than Rm40 per bowl so price-wise they are in the high-end but I suppose in Oslo, they are considered a “regular dining place” since a coffee & hotdog also cost me Rm50+!

110223 OSL - Dinners Restaurant

Fried sea bass as the main course…

110223 OSL - Dinners Restaurant

… and mixed vege.

I’ve to swallow humble pies and really have to give this restaurant TWO THUMBS UP!! You bet I’ll want to visit this restaurant again (am sure wifey would luv the fiery kick of the sze-chuan soup). It’s certainly not on the cheap side but for the quality & taste of the food, you simply need to try this highly-rated restaurant!

That’s day one of my Oslo trip. Stay tune for the next instalment for our 2nd day where we had dinner at the port after our Meet-n-Greet session at the Oslo office.

OSLO 2011-02 PHOTO ALBUM

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