2017 ended with an awesome trip to Austria, and this was decided literally less than a week before the date we ended up leaving LA. Everybody knows Christmas is an expensive time to travel, not to mention the fact that we booked our tickets so last minute. I found a way around it, while a round-trip ticket to Vienna cost over $2000, a one-way direct flight to Oslo is only $350. We ended up flying to Oslo first, then flew from Oslo to Salzburg, Austria and left from Vienna back to LA. This way, it only costs us ~$1200. I guess I was so determined to make this trip happen that I found a way to do it!
The reason for the cheap ticket to Oslo, probably not surprising to anyone, is that winter is really not a good time to visit Norway. Most of the nature attractions are under snow, and there is only 5 - 6 hours of daylight a day. We arrived in Oslo at 4:30pm and our flight to Salzburg was at noon the next day, therefore we really did not have much time to see the city. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there is not much to see really at this time of the year. We arrived on Christmas eve, and apparently the last train that goes from the airport to the city was at 5pm. We bought the train ticket using the ticket machine, not knowing the last train had already left. The fact that you can still buy train tickets when there is no train really did not make a very good first impression. We later found out that the only way to get out of the airport that night was by taxi, and even then, there were no taxis. Due to the limited availability of taxis and extreme prices, most people split the trip since everyone was going to the city anyways. We finally caught a taxi after waiting in the cold for a while, and the ride cost a total of $300 USD for that 30 miles, which is ridiculous. Thank God we were splitting with another couple, so we ended up paying $150, which is still insane.
The night was still young, so we decided to walk around the city and at the same time, maybe search for food. The city could not have been more dead. Nothing was open (well, we found a couple convenient stores after walking for a while searching for food), and no one is here. Oslo has over 600K people, where are they? We were told by people we met that they are either having family gathering or vacationing in other countries, such as Spain and Italy, where there is nicer weather.
We found out that there is a fortress in Oslo, and it opens at 6am. We decided to check it out before the flight, and it was pretty cool. We were able to walk round the wall, the courtyard and got a nice view of the river from the fortress. On our way back to the hotel, we passed by the palace as well.
It was dark almost the whole time we were there (the sun finally came up at about 10). It really did not feel like we were there for two different days, and that felt a little odd. Anyways, I can understand why Norwegians go somewhere else for vacation during this time of the year. It can be depressing without sunlight. That being said, Norway has always been on the top of my travel list because of its nature attractions, the fjords, the mountains, the glaciers, etc. Definitely going to go back in summer time!