Of Fall and Fjords

Technically it's still summer for those of us living in the northern hemisphere. And yet, if I didn't happen to have a calendar sitting right next to me, I might guess that autumn had already arrived in New York.

The harshness of August's rays have softened and the temperature has happily hovered in the seventies for several days now. Walking down Houston Street on Monday morning, it felt positively Scandinavian outside. In fact, it made me nostalgic for past trips I've taken to Norway in September, most recently in 2007.

Besides the weather, a feature and slide show published in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about my last visit to Oslo. As the author observes in his opening sentence, the Norwegian capital is really expensive. Even so, it continues to be one of my favorite cities in Europe. If I had the money, I would go back immediately. But if I were only given 36 hours to reacquaint myself with Oslo's urban landscape, I'd probably deviate from many of The Gray Lady's sensible recommendations.

First of all, I adore Vigelandsparken and have often enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the waterfront. Actually, central Oslo is quite walkable, or if you prefer, bikable. But if, like me, you prefer history and nightlife to theater and art, I'd suggest one of the five museums on the Bygdøy Peninsula followed by a pint or two at the city's fine brewpub and later, maybe an indie band at Mono or some jazz at Blå on the Akerselva River. Then the next day, take your appetite to the end of Line 1 on the tram, shuffle down the path from the station, and prepare for a satisfying meal of reindeer fillet and apple cake, plus the single best view of the Oslo fjord.

As for the Royal Palace, my advice is to stop by at sunset, after the other tourists have deserted the plaza for one of the crowded bars on Karl Johans Gate. To me, it looks all the more majestic in the fading light of a fall evening.

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