Tøyen parkrun (Oslo)

After we booked our weekend in Oslo I had a little look for parkruns, knowing that the Nordic countries have a few (there’s 5 in Norway) so I was happy to see that there was one in Oslo, Tøyen parkrun.  As I previously mentioned, we were travelling hand luggage only, and the hotel had breakfast included, so logistically I couldn’t get back after running it in time for breakfast, and also couldn’t pack a load of winter running kit, so I decided I would walk it. It was a 9.30 start, so plenty of time to have breakfast first and make my way there.

Our hotel was on the same street as the train station, and it was only two stops, but I still managed to have a panic about getting on the wrong train and was messaging Andy from the platform (the line split later, so some of them were labelled as going via certain stations, with some of them mentioning the one I needed and some of them not)- I needn’t have worried as they all went there. Once at the station I loaded up google maps and followed directions for the Munch museum as that was in the same park. Maps estimated a 7 min walk (and this was 9.20 so I was a bit worried), but as I came out of the underpass I could see the high viz jackets, bright signs and people meeting- always a relief!

The meeting place was by the big rock/sculpture in the centre of the park- easy to spot from the road.

I was a bit nervous about turning up to walk- I didn’t even have trainers on as I only had my snow boots with me. I had checked the results pages on previous weeks and they had people doing it in 50 mins to 1 hr 15, so I knew the volunteers would be prepared to stand in the cold for that long. The paths were a little slippery in places, but some of them had been gritted, and as there was lots of grass you could usually walk on the grass and avoid the pavements when needed.

The course was a small lap from the middle and then 3 laps around the park. The RD did the run brief in English, and said there was a little hill. They had cancelled the previous week, and he explained that they considered it because of the ice, but that the Norwegians were used to it, so if you were not used to it you should be careful as they didn’t want any injuries. The hill turned out to be a very short steep slope leading from a grassy field back up to the main path (not easy when walking so I imagine super tough when running, especially as you had to do that part 4 times). Before it started I chatted to a couple of tourists- one of them was debuting his 250 shirt and had posted in the parkrun tourist facebook group beforehand- it turned out most of the people I chatted to were from near me- Milton Keynes, Cheshunt and the South-East.

Once we started, I was keeping an eye out for the tail walker (as Andy put it, “you will have to make friends with the person who walks at the back”) but there was someone else walking a little behind me. I wanted to keep warm so I walked quickly where I could. I had opted for trousers, thermal top, jumper and my Run Disney jacket (it’s warm but thin) plus hat and scarf- Andy was bringing my big coat later as is really bulky and I thought it would annoy me while walking. This turned out to be fine because I did get warm but didn’t ever need to take any layers off.

It was so beautiful, so as well as slowing on the icy parts, I took a few photos as I went around. The higher point of the course looked across the city, and in the early morning light it was just stunning. I think the sun appeared on my final lap! There was only one marshal out on the course, but plenty of signs and cones so you couldn’t really go wrong. I said thanks to him in the first lap, but I don’t think he realised I was actually taking part in the parkrun until he saw me the second time around as I wasn’t in running gear. In the middle I was being lapped by all the runners, but by the end I was out there on my own and couldn’t see the tail walker either (they only finished 4 minutes behind me). As I came to the finish and crossed the line, the finish token and timer people were chatting, and one of them said “oh, are you doing the parkrun?” and when I said I was, they said “oh cool”, and beeped the timer and gave me a token- I had my watch in case I needed to show (but of course that’s me being irrational!).

Andy messaged to say he as getting the train when I was going into the final lap, and as I passed the bottom part of the park he was crossing the road so came to the middle to meet me and of course I needed a picture with the frame.

My official time was 51:09 and for my 219th parkrun, 68th event and 5th country. I was really glad to have been able to do it, as it was such a pretty start to the day. As soon as I stopped I got a bit cold so we were glad of the museum close by  to have a look around and warm up (and use the toilets).

I think that is the snowiest parkrun I’ve been to- we have had some lovely frosty mornings, and I have been to Panshanger in the snow- they don’t tend to need to cancel because the paths are all off road so don’t get very icy compared to normal paths in parks.

Have you run a parkrun in the snow or ice? Does your parkrun often cancel in the winter?

Oslo Christmas markets (and museums)

Herts schools have something called an Occasional Day, which it appears neighbouring counties don’t get- basically a day off to be taken when the school wishes (I think historically it was to do with not being at work on Boxing Day so having a day off in lieu of that?)- usually ours gets added onto the summer holidays but this year it was on the final Friday in November (the last time this happened we went to Copenhagen for the weekend)- as we love a Christmas market of course we had to book something. The original plan was Munich, to see the markets there and then to go to Nuremberg on the Saturday, but Easy Jet cancelled our flights so we decided to head to Oslo instead.

Heavy snow and cold temperatures were predicted so my decision was made- snow-boots it was!

Andy picked me up from work and we went straight to Heathrow – we got dinner in Pret (my favourite) after going through security- this was their vegan Christmas sandwich and it was really tasty with roasted butternut squash, stuffing, cranberry sauce and toasted pecans. So good.

Our flight landed fairly late but it was easy to get the train (the normal commuter trains go from the airport and are cheaper than the express trains). There was so much snow as we were coming into land- just seeing the fir trees laden with snow made me feel so excited!

When I was little we lived in Denmark for a bit and made some of these little heart pouches- I saw lots of them in Oslo and have since downloaded a template so I can have a go at making some more.

Our hotel did breakfast (a really lovely one, with so many vegan or gluten free options) so after we had that we headed out for a wander around the city. After walking into the centre, admiring the central Christmas market and walking down to the water, we got a tram out to the sculpture garden- best to enjoy it in the light! (It was only light from 9.30 to around 3). The city centre had only a dusting of snow, but in the park it was proper deep snow. Honestly, we could not have been there on a better day- the low winter sunlight made everything look even more beautiful.

The light, I just love it.

There were some interesting sculptures too, but mainly I just loved seeing all the snow and trees.

Once back in the city we walked to the castle, saw the changing of the guards, then walked back to the water, as there was a fort there.

We’d got an Oslo pass, which included transport and museum entry (we had ordered them online and just collected them from the tourist information centre in the train station), so we went to the Resistance Museum, which was really interesting.  I had heard a podcast recently about the teachers refusing to  teach the Nazi propaganda, so it was interesting to find out a bit more.

After popping back to the hotel for a cup of tea, we headed out to the Christmas markets in the dark. (We tried to buy something with cash, which was left over from a trip several years ago, and it turned out that in October they got new bank notes so we had to visit a bank to have it converted).

There was a central one, and then one run by the people who herd reindeer (Sami ) with lots of things made from bone, fur and so on. All the markets had these fire pits so you could stand by them to warm up a bit.

We ended up going to Leon for dinner, and had bought a delicious school bun from a bakery to share for dessert. (We have only had these before in the Norway pavilion at Epcot- cardamom buns with vanilla custard and toasted coconut).

Pancakes and fruit for breakfast/ cinnamon bun and school bun/ chia fruit pot at breakfast

On the Saturday after breakfast I got the train a few stops along to the parkrun- I will do a separate post on that. I walked it as I didn’t have space in my hand luggage for trainers and a load of running gear (layers would be needed), and as our hotel did breakfast and Norway is pretty expensive and parkrun doesn’t start until 9.30 if I waited until after running to eat, they wouldn’t be serving any more. A few factors! The Munch Museum with lots of Edvard Munch’s paintings was in the same park as the parkrun, so Andy met me there after, and we had a wander around. It was fairly small, but they are moving to a bigger site. I had only seen his Scream painting before, so it was good to see some others- there were some beautiful ones of the landscape with huge pine trees.

Then it was time to get properly into the Christmas spirit- we got the train to the centre and then a bus out to the open air museum (Norsk Folkemuseum), as it also hosts a huge Christmas market. There were big crowds there- lots of locals going as well as tourists, which is one of the elements of the Germanic Christmas markets that I really love.

The main church had amazing ornate wood carvings all over it

The main square had a huge Christmas tree and loads of stalls around the edge, and then as you walked around the museum (which was huge) there were loads of stalls, food stalls, children dancing, big fire pits to warm up by and so many pretty decorations.

I bought a couple of decorations, although I couldn’t buy marzipan because you had to have an app to buy from that stall.

That pig is made of marzipan- it was huge!

We treated ourselves to a hot chocolate as the temperature was much colder that day.

Near the market were lots of museums, so we visited them afterwards as it was getting dark- the Viking Ship Museum (people had been buried in the ships, a bit like being buried in a pyramid, with lots of artefacts, and they had been discovered 100 or so years ago and preserved), the museum all about Polar Exploration (again, so interesting, and with the actual boat inside the museum as well as lots of exhibits) and a museum about the Kon-Tiki, a raft that crossed the Pacific). We got good value from our Oslo passes, and it was good to have some indoor things to do when it was so cold outside.

By then it was dark so we popped back to the hotel for a tea and to warm up, and then headed out for a final wander around the shops and the Christmas market. There was a big ice skating rink and it seemed everyone there was an expert!

On Sunday we had a fairly early flight so after breakfast we headed straight to the airport. The countryside was covered in snow and as we whizzed past on the train I felt like I was in The Snowman. I’d had a few busy weeks at work and so this just felt like the perfect antidote to all of that- so much fresh air and beautiful scenery. I felt so festive when I got home- time to crack out the Christmas playlist on Spotify!

Have you been to Norway? Do you like going to Christmas markets or museums?