Travel, Travel Stories

Happy Norway (Constitution) Day

Every year, Norwegians gather to celebrate the Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17th. I have been to Norway twice, and both times mostly to Oslo. But both times I was there either in summer or in autumn, and never to witness the May 1th celebrations.

However, I get to see a lot of posts on my social media feeds through friends.

The Norwegian Constitution Day

Norwegian Constitution Day, or “Grunnlovsdagen” in Norwegian, is a national holiday commemorating the signing of Norway’s constitution on May 17, 1814. This day symbolizes their liberation from Danish rule.

Since then, Norway has evolved into a model progressive country.

You can see more photos in my collage at my YouTube Channel.

One of the unique features I have seen in Norway is that when I am with friends from South Asia and their friends from other parts of the world who live there, English doesn’t become their lingua franca, but Norwegian, or Norsk, as it is called.

Sights of Norway/Oslo

While the Norwegian Constitution Day is a day for celebration with cultural activities, traditional food etc., the country offers something to enjoy year around, from the majestic fjords to the arctic landscapes and mountains.


Unfortunately, both of my trips were short and Oslo focused, so I stayed in the capital city.

An Oslo Street
An Oslo Street

Oslo city’s population is just over 600,000, but there are almost 1.5 million within the Oslo Metropolitan Region. And it is growing fast. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, and this growth is caused by immigration and intra-country migration.

The city, which is one of oldest in northern Europe, sits at the northern edge of the Oslo fjord, and is surrounded mostly by hills and woods on the other sides.

The Aker Brygge in Oslo
The Aker Brygge in Oslo

The city has an excellent public transit system that includes the subway line (T-bane), streetcars, buses, ferries and trains.

Most tourism and travel related websites are in English, and you can get more info from and

The capital itself offers much to enjoy for the visitor.

The Vigeland Park

The Vigeland Park is considered the world’s largest sculpture park by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. This, of course, raises the question which is the world’s largest sculpture park.

There are conflicting reports, with one saying it is the Hakone Open Air Museum in Hakone, Japan. It has more than 1200 sculptures.

Then there is the World Culture Park in Changchun in China with more than 10,000 sculptures. This obviously would make it the largest but perhaps some consider it as an exhibition centre.

The Vigeland Park was designed and created during a ten-year period starting 1939. It has more than 200 sculptures made of bronze, granite and wrought iron, and are arranged in a thematic fashion.

The Vigeland Sculpture Park
The Vigeland Sculpture Park

The overall theme of this park is humanity from cradle to grave and every sculpture is painstakingly created to show the various human emotions at various stages of life, evoked by life situations,  in their truest sense.

The Angry Boy Sculpture at The Vigeland Sculpture Park
The Angry Boy Sculpture at The Vigeland Sculpture Park

The final sculpture in the park is called the Monolith and is also the park’s highest point. Created using just one stone, this skyward-looking column with humans under different circumstances carved out is, again, about the collective human tendency to look towards the divine as a positive ending to life.

The Monolith at The Angry Boy Sculpture at the Vigeland Sculpture Park
The Monolith at The Angry Boy Sculpture at the Vigeland Sculpture Park

The Oslo Opera House

The project was mired in controversy from the very beginning, with many Norwegians questioning the need for such an expensive scheme. But understandably, this was part of a grand plan to revitalize the waterfront, provide Norwegians with a modern cultural centre and, on a wider note, to raise Norway’s stature in the cultural world.

It was built ahead of time and well within the budget. As well, it has gone on to win a number of awards, including the International Architecture Award for 2010.

Opera houses serve two purposes — to provide a venue for performances, and to serve as a tourism ambassador for visitors, particularly to those who are culturally or architecturally inclined.

But the Oslo Opera House is more than these. The giant white building is built to impart the feeling as if it has risen from the water nearby. Part of the roof rises at an angle and then another part of the building is connected to this. The end of the angular roof on one side leads the visitor to the roof of the other building. This allows anyone to walk up and take a look at the city’s landscape. The roof is vast and gentle, allowing whole families to take a stroll. Parts of it is also skateboard-friendly, and I even saw parents pushing their kids on strollers.

The Oslo Opera House. Levels of Access
The Oslo Opera House. Levels of Access

There are a number of art works installed as part of the Opera House project; notable among them is the She Lies sculpture, designed by Monica Bonvicini and set float on a concrete platform on the waters outside the Opera House. It turns on its axis according to the wind and tide.

There are more pieces of artwork, including a giant chandelier but time constraints prevented me from going inside. I was content breathing in the panoramic view of the Oslo city from this marble roof.

The Fjord Ferry

Norway is famous for its fjords but with just under for days in the country, there was no time to travel outside of Oslo to see them. However, Oslo sits on the northern part of the Oslo fjord, even if it is not as majestic as the western fjords.

View from the Ferry
View from the Ferry

So, we decided to take a ferry ride through the fjord. The ferry starts off at the port at Aker Brygge, close to the City Hall and the Nobel Peace Centre. The ferry goes to the famous Drobak, and farther down to Son before returning to Oslo.

It is a two-hour trip just one way

The ferry passes through a number of small islands, where it stops to drop off and pick up passengers.

The ride gives the visitor an idea of the landscape of the capital and its surrounding areas, may be even an inkling of Norway’s beauty. Along the way, there were thickly wooded areas and hills, jotted by holiday cottages or even apartments and houses, all built up in the typical Scandinavian fashion with different colours. There are tiny islands and islets, with a few homes or nothing but green.

The major attraction obviously is Drobak, which is located in the narrowest point of the Oslo Fjord. It used to be an important maritime city, functioning as the winter-time port replacement for the Oslo port. It appears to be a cozy little town ideal for a stay of a day or two. I say ‘appears’ because I did not set foot due to time constraints. You can get more information from their very friendly website.

The other attraction certainly is the Oscarsborg Fortress, located on another island near Drobak.

This used to be one of the coastal fortresses setup to protect Oslo. It proved its potential in 1940 during the Second World War, when the guns and the torpedoes installed there sank a German cruiser, giving time for the Norwegians to relocate their King and the government to a safer place away from imprisonment by the Nazis.

Later, it continued to function as a defence line against any potential Soviet-led threat against Oslo, but since then has been gradually decommissioned to its present status as simply a touristic and conference venue.

The Ice Bar

The Ice Bar concept has become a global phenomenon since its Swedish inception in the nineties. Even tropical countries such as Dubai with hot conditions take pride in possessing one.

So, when I read about the Ice Bar in Oslo, it was time to pay my first ever trip to one. This bar is made out of 60 tons of ice from the Torne River in Swedish Lappland, about 200 km north of the Arctic Circle.

The Ice Bar in Oslo, Norway
The Ice Bar in Oslo, Norway

They allow you inside the bar at the top of the hour, for about 45 minutes.

Before entering they also provide you with a parka and a hood, along with gloves. They are a must.

As the name suggests, everything inside is made of ice, except the floor which looked aluminum. The guests are welcomed by meticulously and artistically carved simplistic sculptures.

As you walk in, you turn left and at the far end see the bar, behind which a single bartender works on your requests. The narrow space just inside the entrance is separated by a wall, made from ice of course, and on the other side there are ice-seats for you to sit and enjoy the drink, and even have a conversation. Reindeer skin covers are laid on top of the seats to protect your buttocks.

Glass Made of Ice at Ice Bar in Oslo
Glass Made of Ice at Ice Bar in Oslo

Obviously, the drink glasses are also made with ice and you will definitely need the gloves to hold them. A free drink — alcoholic or non-alcoholic — is included in the ticket.

A Seat Made of Ice at Ice Bar in Oslo
A Seat Made of Ice at Ice Bar in Oslo

It is indeed a strange, but mellow feeling to be inside a room that is kept at -5 C and is full of ice sculptures while outside the weather is a warm 20C. But by the time you look around the sculptures and enjoy their beauty, take some photos of them and of you with your friends, the time is up, and you are also starting to feel the cold. Time to come out.

One pays for the feeling, to be inside an artificially created cold weather room, decorated with ice sculptures glowing in the soft light.

Gratulerer Med Dagen Norge!

Happy Norway (Constitution) Day!

I had also visited the Phallological Museum in Iceland. Check My Story

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