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  • Jonathan Pilkington

Ascension Day, Mathallen, and Wendelboe


 So breakfast today was yogurt, more blueberries, and a muesli bar that I took from dinner the night before. It was good mixed in with the yogurt and blueberries. I arrived at the ship’s coffee shop at 6:59 AM just before they opened at 7:00. I also ordered an orange juice, which was expensive, but it was freshly squeezed and wonderful.

The ship was arriving in Oslo at around 9:45, so all I had to do was gather my belongings and relax until we reached the port. I noticed that it was a beautiful, sunny day, so I went out on the deck to see the view. Although it was beautiful, it was a bit chilly with the wind, so I eventually went back to my cabin since it had a window. From my cabin, I watched the ship dock in Oslo. The mob of people waiting to get off the ship was crazy—much more than when we arrived in Copenhagen.


The weather was beautiful as we arrived in Oslo, and I had a very nice, easy walk back to the place I was staying. It’s a perfect, central location. I found out from my host that it was a national holiday because of Ascension Day. Certain stores and shopping centers were closed, but tourist attractions and restaurants seemed to all be open. By the way, I passed by the Mini Bottle Gallery, which apparently doubles as a museum of mini bottles and an event center.


My plan was to go to Oslo’s food hall, Mathallen Oslo, and then to go to the Viking Ship Museum and Norwegian Folk Museum. My host suggested that I check out the food hall that is by the central train station, so I did. It is nice, with just a few restaurants and the nicest grocery store I’ve seen in Norway. Someone was cooking samples of a pork sausage that he said was made from pork belly, so I had one, of course!


I then got on the tram that was going in the direction of Mathallen Oslo, which apparently goes by a different name by locals. Once I got off the tram, I realized that I was very close to Tim Wendelboe, a coffee place that I read amazing reviews about. It is a great space inside with a huge coffee roaster right in the middle of the floor. I asked the person at the counter how one orders at this place. He said that they brew all of their coffee with the AeroPress, which I also use at home to brew my coffee. He continued to tell me why they use it, which is because it is the best way to get consistent results. He also said that they go to great lengths to buy quality beans, they roast them in-house, and having a brewed coffee (instead of espresso) would probably be the best way to experience what they do best.


I ordered the coffee that was from Columbia and sounded appealing to me. The girl prepared it with great care, from weighing the beans, then grinding them, weighing the water, and setting a timer as it brewed. I asked for the exact method, and she was happy to tell me that they use 14 grams of beans, 200 grams of water at 96 degrees celcius, etc. After I finished the coffee, which was wonderful and served on a very nice wooden tray, I asked about the details to confirm them, and she told me that there are videos on their website that describe the whole process. I had just read online, from NPR, I think, about an AeroPress competition, so I knew that there were quite a few different methods for getting the perfect cup of coffee. Some people are probably yawning by now (and need coffee), but this fascinates me.


I thought I was also near that waterfall that I had such trouble finding the other day, and I actually had to cross it to get to Mathallen. I didn’t realize until later in the day that there was a rainbow in my photograph. Mathallen was a very nice food hall, much like the one in Copenhagen but about half the size. I scoped out the options and was torn between fish soup at a fish place and duck confit salad at a French place. I figured fish soup can be found all over Oslo, but how often do I have a change to eat a duck confit salad. I also saw the duck confit, and it looked and smelled amazing! What I didn’t know was that I was going to get a heaping portion of the duck on top of the greens. It was amazing, and the mustard that was served along side it was the perfect compliment, along with the sun dried tomatoes and olives. I was completely stuffed, but it was so good. I’m ashamed to mention that I had a scoop of ice cream at a place across the street. I’ll be doing some sort of major cleansing, reset, fasting, etc when I get home!


Everybody likes fried chicken!

On the way to Mathallen, and after I left, I encountered some very interesting street art, which I always enjoy for some reason. After lunch, since I was close to an area with historic wooden houses, I decided to walk over and see them. It was a very charming area that I suppose is “Old Norway.” 


I eventually found the #30 bus that would take me to Bygdøy Peninsula and had a mini nap on the way there. Bygdøy must be a very ritzy area to live, because there are very big houses with fences and nice landscaping. I got off the bus at the stop for the Viking Ship Museum, and I took the very short walk there. I walked in and noticed that the big Viking ship was right there in plain view before paying admission. The place wasn’t that large, so I didn’t feel like it would be worth my time and money to stay there. I took a picture and left.


I walked over to the Norwegian Folk Museum, which was about 5 minutes away. Admission there was more than the other museum, but there was clearly more to see. Part of the museum was in a building, and much of it was an open-air museum. It begins with the exhibit in the building which is a bit of a journey through the history of Norwegian Folk Culture. I learned a new word, “rosemaling,” which is a word for Norwegian decorative painting, while looking at some furniture. There was also an interesting display of sweaters, which one particular Norwegian woman took into the world of haute couture.


The open air museum portion was so big that it’s almost too much to write about. The highlights are an apartment building with apartments from different eras, a stave church, and a place where two people were making lefse, a Norwegian flatbread. They had pieces of it for sale with some butter, so I took a piece. I know, I didn’t need more food, but I had to taste it. I was so worth it, especially with that delicious butter! When I finally made it to the stave church, which was up a steep hill, a group of Spanish people was there. They were standing in front of the church as I was trying to take a simple picture. Then they asked if I could photograph them, which I was happy to do. The were still standing in front of the church, though, so I circled it (couldn’t go inside), and by the time I had made my way around, they were still taking pictures. Uggh. I stood for a few seconds, and they finally finished. I snapped a picture before anyone else got in my way! Oh, and there was a old guest house there, which looked like the Norwegian version of the tiny houses that are popular right now.


I got back on the bus and rode it to Aker Brygge, the port area. It was very busy, which I’m sure was because of the holiday. I stayed around there for a bit and watched the locals enjoy a day off on a perfect day.


After going back to the apartment to rest and charge the phone a bit, I went out to go tot he Underwater Pub once again. Since it was Thursday night, it was opera night again. It seemed like a good idea to end my time in Oslo the same way I began it. However, when I got there, they were closed. I assume it was because of Ascension day. Very disappointing. Oh well, I walked around the block to find a place to eat and ended up eating at the Thai place where I had take-out when I was at the Underwater Pub. It was excellent again.


Since the evening was nice, I decided to walk back to the apartment. It was closet to 10:00, so the sun was beginning to set. I noticed a stadium with Olympic rings on it. Maybe they used that during the Olympics that were in Lillehammer? As I was walking down Karl Johans Gate, I noticed a small crowd gathered around a cube that had been built in the middle of the street. Two guys were playing chess and being filmed. I think this was happening in front of a local television station, and it was apparently a Scandinavian invitational chess tournament.


There are quite a number of nice stores near the apartment where I’m staying, and the one right next to it seems to sell silverware. They are just one example of many store windows that are decorated for the national holiday coming up on May 17. I believe it is called Constitution Day, and it is a huge deal, just like our Independence Day. However, they celebrate quite differently. Many people wear traditional dress (or they at least wear dressy clothing), and the children have a parade in town. Then people go to brunch. Too bad I’ll miss the celebration!


I settled into my room, did some writing, and ate some of this very good Danish chocolate bar!


#ascension #waterfall #Coffee #aeropress #Oslo #rainbow #wendleboe #mathallen #Food #streetart #dfds #Vikings #confit

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