It’s not that cold in St. Louis, Missouri. Not yet anyway. I don’t mind the cold, I find it invigorating. And I am fully aware I may be one of the few that do. I love walking out of the house in the morning and seeing my breath escape and disappear into the frost. But like I said, St. Louis isn’t quite there yet and typically a St. Louis winter is missing a key ingredient, snow.
Just before my 24th birthday I asked a few friends to suggest a weekend get-away. A couple cities sparked my interest but after Googling “Oslo” and discovering the 2012 World Snowboarding Championships were the weekend of my birthday I was smitten. And there was going to be snow everywhere.
I booked a flight from Dublin on RyanAir for 45 USD round trip. The bus I took from Cork to Dublin was the same price. I wasn’t prepared for a Norwegian Winter, I didn’t even have a pair of boots but lucky for me I was living in a hostel and there’s a plethora of left-behinds in the lost and found. What I couldn’t find in the boxes I borrowed from fellow travelers. My coat and snow-pants were far too big and made for the other gender and with a baggage allowance of one small carry on, I was bound to wear the heaviest items for the duration of my travel.
Planning was easy until I learned that Oslo is the most expensive city in the World. Hostels were at the very cheapest 50 USD a night and I feared the trip was going to break my bank. Then I had an epiphany; Couchsurfing!
I stayed with a host just outside of the city centre in a quiet neighborhood. I even had my own room and on my second night’s stay we made tacos, my favorite.
I wrapped myself up and spent the first day walking the city. The centre is relatively small so it’s easy to navigate. Public transportation is simple and always, always on time. I ventured to the Nobel Peace Center and what should I find across the street but a group of guys skating on the steps Oslo City Hall.
Frogner Park is as stunning as it is enchanting. Under a blanket of snow the bold and beautiful statues burst out of the white.
I spent a majority of the afternoon strolling along the Akerselva River, it cuts right through the heart of the city. It was a frigid walk and I had to remind myself to trust my feet and look up and around me to bring it all in. Not only are there cafes and shops along the river but places to stop and feed ducks or spot a hermaphrodite with devilish eyes carved right out of a tree.
This trip though was all about the half pipe. I made the trek up to Oslo Vinterpark, rented a board for the day and rode down to the training area. I can’t read a word of Norwegian but lucky for me it was a small mountain and only a handful of trails down.
I made camp at the base of the Half Pipe and spent hours watching boys and girls hurl themselves into flips and turns and grabs I couldn’t even do on a trampoline.
As it was the first days of training and the official competition was three days away, all the athletes were as smiley as they were chatty. Every rider ended their run into a mess of high fives and back-pats, it truly was the friendliest competitive atmosphere I’d ever witnessed.
I ended the day with a few more runs and a giant coffee that cost me the price of a pound of coffee back home in the States. From the city centre to the top of Vinterpark, I was never less than mesmerized by Oslo.