Traveling to Oslo? Here are some places you can visit

The Norwegian capital combines stunning scenery, copious culture and a relaxed vibe. (Shutterstock)
Updated 01 October 2019

Traveling to Oslo? Here are some places you can visit

DUBAI: If the cooler climes of Scandinavia aren’t enough reason to counter a long, hot summer in the Gulf with a trip to Oslo, then consider the ease: It’s the only city in the world where I’ve taken a train ride from the airport that ended at the doorstep of my hotel in less than half an hour.

And not just any hotel. Recently named one of the Top 100 places in the world to visit by Time magazine, the newly opened Amerikalinjen is a passion project that reflects not just the maritime history of Norway’s capital, but also the growing number of reasons to visit its revitalized waterfront.

Located at the doorstep of Central Station, the Wes Anderson-inspired boutique hotel takes its name from its Neo-Baroque premises, the former headquarters of the Norwegian America Line, which ferried passengers and cargo between Norway and the United States beginning in 1910.

Amerikalinjen is named one of the Top 100 places in the world to visit by Time magazine. (Supplied)

Opened in March by Nordic Hotels & Resorts, the historic building has been redesigned to pay homage to that era, from the jazz bar in what was once the luggage room to the old-fashioned room phones that allow you to dial “Tales from the Sea” from a former ship employee. 

“Travelers today, they want to be part of history,” explains Martin Andersen, the hotel’s commercial director. Historic documents, including the menu from the line’s maiden voyage in 1913, are displayed in the Heritage Room library and in frames on the walls of the rooms. They take their place among a well-curated art collection through the hotel, which includes Shepard Fariey’s famous “Hope” portrait of Barack Obama, and of an American Muslim woman, titled “We the People.”

The redesign comes with modern touches — lights that turn on automatically when you step into the black-and-white-tiled washroom and a boxing gym connected to a Finnish sauna in the basement. It would be tempting to spend the day in my deluxe room, sitting in a mid-century Scandinavian chair staring up at the blown-glass pendant lamps and original moldings on the ceiling, but the city beckons. Opening up my Juliet balcony doors onto the building’s balustrade, I can see the Oslo Opera House, a glass box that juts out of angular marble walkways, across the fjord.

Amerikalinjen, the Wes Anderson-inspired boutique hotel, takes its name from its neobaroque premises. (Supplied)

Saudis who know and love Dhahran’s Ithra building will be drawn to this modern architectural wonder (which kickstarted the waterfront revitalization in 2008), because they share the same creator: Norway’s Snohetta. It’s clearly a hit with the locals, who gather to sun themselves or stroll on its striking slopes.

It’s a five-minute walk from Amerikalinjen, and from there I take the Harbour Promenade, past floating saunas and moored ships to the Vippa food hall, a collection of indoor street food vendors. Passing the stony walls of the majestic 14th-century Akershus Fortress, I wind up at the Nobel Peace Center. A guide takes visitors through the history of the annual prize, awarded in the City Hall across the street. The Royal Palace isn’t far away, and after walking through its grounds I stroll down the main boulevard, Karl Johanson, back to the hotel, stopping in to shop at the nearby Steen & Strom department store.

The cooler climes of Scandinavia makes it the perfect destination to escape the Gulf's heat. (Shutterstock)

The next day, I venture out a little farther, to the Vigeland Sculpture Park. With more than 200 truly eccentric sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, the Norwegian artist who also designed the Nobel Peace medal, it’s worth the 20-minute tram ride from the hotel. 

The Munch Museum — home to the painter’s “The Scream,” stolen from its premises in 2004 and recovered the next year — is also a bit out of the way, but not for long. Next year it will move to its new premises next door to the Oslo Opera House.

At the end of the day, I make it back there to see the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet’s production of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” Upon returning to Ameriklinjen, I’m delivered freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies before bed. As I fall asleep, listening to the lone call of a seagull, it’s hard to imagine a better, or easier, place to be.

Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

Updated 36 min 23 sec ago

Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

  • “It (Saudi Movies) will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi,” Shahrukh Khan 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia took another step toward establishing its place on the global entertainment map with a major industry event in Riyadh on Sunday.

The Joy Forum19 brought together entertainment promoters and pioneers from around the world, along with global stars such as Indian actor and film producer Shah Rukh Khan; Hong Kong martial artist, actor, film director Jackie Chan and Belgian actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The event was organized by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which signed several important agreements on the day, including a financing guarantee program for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Participants are ushered in on the first day of the Joy Forum19 event in Riyadh. (AN photo by Noor Nugali)

“Our message is for both, locally and internationally. Me and my generation suffered a lot, we had lots of time on our hands,” GEA chairman Turki Al-Sheikh said at the event.

“Today you are witnessing things we have never had in Saudi Arabia. We have 300,000 visitors to our events, and our sales have hit 80 percent.

“Saudi Arabia has never seen anything like Riyadh Season, we have over 400 sponsors, which is unprecedented.”

Al-Sheikh announced that the authority had named a stadium after singer Mohammed Abdo, the “Artist of Arabs,” and another after Abu Baker Salim, the father of Khaleeji music. 

READ MORE: Three MoUs signed at opening day of Joy Forum19 in Riyadh

Drunken master

The actors expressed what it meant to be movie stars and how wide-reaching their influence could be.

Jackie Chan recalled that when he was a new actor, he often acted like a drunken fighter until he realized that he has a responsibility towards younger fans. 

Jackie Chan: no longer a "drunken master". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“All over the world I keep drinking and fighting (in films).  I realized that I made drunken master cool — so I stopped,” he said. One of Chan's most popular movies was the 1978 action comedy martial arts film "Drunken Master".

“When you’re 20 you don’t have this inner thought — anything that makes the audience laugh you do, but later on especially (when I went) to Africa so many years ago — they started doing the drunken style — the children look up to me. So, I realized we have a responsibility to the children so all those years I corrected those actions: no dirty comedy words or action,” he said.

He attributed his awareness in being responsible for the content he produces to the fans. “I’m really thankful to the fans in making me a good actor.”

Chan spoke about his experience in acting martial arts in both the United States and Asia. “I realized we have two different markets one for America another for Asia. They are totally two different things.”

The safety measures the US takes for stunts is very impeccable making sure of the wellbeing of the actor comes first. However, in Asia it’s a different story, “In Asia when I want to do a stunt, I roll, jump (and then go to the) hospital, he said laughingly.

“It’s so difficult sometimes in the USA so many rules- Jackie Chan movies: NO RULES!” he said and received applause from the audience.


Good start

Jean Claude Van Damme gave a shout out and a big thank you to all his “brother and sisters from Saudi Arabia,” He said he got a royal treatment fit for “Kings and Queens”. He went on to reveal that his hotel room at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh was so big he could easily “roller-skate” in it.

Jean Claude Van Damme: "Let's do a movie together". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“I’m honored to be invited here. I know it’s your first time to do this event, but I know it will have a very bright future and I hope next year you will invite more people,” he said.

He said he may not be a “good talker” but expressed his joy at being in Saudi Arabia saying. “I’m happy to be here and I hope to have more connection later with the audience.”

Van Damme remarked how that in every country in the world you have treasure actors and movies with different cultures, “In the Middle East I don’t know what the taste will be, but I know they love American, Asian and Indian movies. They have a broad taste. (Saudi Arabia) should do a movie with all of us together!”


Crossing barriers

Sharukh Khan emphasized the importance of every country telling their story through movies; “As long as we are telling the story in whatever language it doesn’t matter. Cinema crosses all barriers.”

Shahrukh Khan: "I'd audition for a Saudi movie". (AN photo by Noor Nugali)

With the opening of Saudi Arabia to the world and Cinemas, he said, “I can’t wait to talk about the Saudi films...It will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi.”

“The stories that you tell should talk about goodness and people should be engaged with the content and it should bring them together. People want to laugh and sadly have to cry, to be entertained and to feel.”

Sharukh noted that Saudi Arabia has started to make movies and he’s watched the King Faisal movie, "Born a King". 

“You’ll always find gems in all movie industries and I think there’s are gems in Saudi and as a matter of fact one of the things I’d like to do is audition for a Saudi movie … Please give me an opportunity!” he said, eliciting a thunderous applause from the audience.

Red carpet

Abdulaziz AlMuzaini, co-founder and CEO of the Saudi Arabian Myrkott Animation Studio; gave a heartfelt thanks full of gratitude to King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying: “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have dreamed of this moment or this panel.”

Some of the celebrities invited to the event walk the red carpet. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

Lebanese actor Wahid Jalal, who was the voice of Long John Silver in Treasure Island, came onstage for the opening of the event. “Children love heroes and they try to imitate them,” he said. 

He also delighted the crowd by performing Silver’s famous laugh.

Some of the celebrities who walked down the red carpet were American actor Jason Momoa, star of Aquaman; Amr Adeeb, Balqis Fathi, Yusra, Boosy Shalabi, Lojien and Aseel Omran, Mohammed Hamaki, Nawal AlZoghbi, Talal Salama, Ahlam Al-Shamsi, Hussain AlJismi, Suad Abdulla, Ibrahem Alharbi, Tariq Alali and Abdulnaser Darweesh.

The gala dinner hosted 500 guests and was a private event, but the red carpet captured the essence of where Saudi is moving to culturally.