Stage 9: No O-slow

'The cheapest place to get to, but the most expensive when you're there'

After our first visit to Oslo 2 years ago, that was the impression we had after a boozy bank holiday weekend in August. That being said, and despite Cameron ironically suffering from a tight arse injury, when planning this year there was no way we were not going back to beautiful Oslo.

First challenge: Get to Oslo

Open to change, and getting bored of Gatwick airport and Uber taxis, we decided to fly from Stansted. Only a mere 1 hour 20 from our homes. Cheap flights had nothing to do with it.

Luckily, Oslo also helped this challenge by all 3 of its airports being situated about an hour outside of the city. Thanks Oslo, so kind! Still, the coach into Oslo allowed Cameron and I to listen to a football podcast and do a post-cast analysis. Yes, conversation really has ran that dry.

When we did finally arrive and locate our Hostel, someone had assumed my identity. Having being told 'You've already checked in', we hoped that mine and Cameron's doppelgangers were about to present themselves, and they too would be doing the half marathon. Sadly this did not happen, and doppelganger doesn't translate to Norwegian. Fortunately, we got some beds anyway and had a nice chilled pre-race evening.

Second challenge: A Saturday afternoon race

The Scandinavian countries love an afternoon race. And they love it on a Saturday too, which is a bit different to the UK set up. Our first experience of this in Stockholm last year led to bad preparation, in which eating too much resulted in 'pit-stops' during the race. We were determined not to repeat this again.

After a whoppingly big brekkie (getting our money's worth from the hostel), we set off down to a hill overseeing the marina to stretch in preparation for the race. This is not our normal routine I should add, but it killed 7 minutes or so and also provided us a chance to soak in the atmosphere and stunning views.

The Oslo marathon was in full flow by this point, marathon participants having to run our course twice, and we cheered them on as best as we could. It was a beautiful day for running, 22 degrees and clear skies. With the cheering and stretching well out of the way, we were relaxed and prepared for our afternoon of half marathon running.

We set off in the second group of runners towards the west of the city. The course would take us out west before following the sea back to the town centre, then heading out east passing the gorgeous Oslo Opera House to the docks before returning to the centre where we started.

The sun really helped initially and everyone set off at a good pace, however, as the good weather was not expected some people would fall short before the finish line with some even needing medical assistance. Luckily, we were not any of those people. Cameron continued his return from injury with a comfortable 1:43 time and I set a new personal best of 1:27, finally I can say that my PB is no longer in Hackney!

Final Challenge: Do Oslo on the cheap

We had a post-race plan and we executed it perfectly. Duty-free celebratory beers on the Oslo jetty watching the sun go down. Yet another romantic moment shared with each other. Situated at the top of the marina, the jetty is a lovely place to go for a swim in the sea and cool down in the sun, something Cameron took full advantage of. Determined to keep costs down, we kept our celebrating to a minimum, instead of painting the town red we hit up an Irish bar to open my eye to the world of shuffleboard.

Ok, we know it's bad to go to another country and not immerse yourself in their culture, but shuffleboard was SO good we don't even feel bad for playing this. It was my first time but I love it and I'm totally hooked on it! The barman told us it was charged by the minute so to be careful... one customer got carried away playing it one evening, lost track of time and racked up a 1,000 Euro bill! With beers already costing £7 a pint, this was not a mistake we could afford to make so capped our addiction at one hour.

The remainder of our trip mainly consisted of learning about Viking ships. Whilst fascinating, we didn't learn as much about Vikings as we hoped. We're just going to stick to the History Channel's TV programme 'Viking' to get our nordic bearded fix.

In summary, we loved our second trip to Oslo and will definitely be going back at some point in the future. With the Lofoten Islands in North Norway firmly on my list of places to visit, I'm sure I'll be in Oslo for a stop off on route.

9 races down, 3 to go... The end is in sight!


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