grand cafe

All last week I’ve had Oslo on my mind. Maybe it was because I had been looking at the itinerary of the Crown Princess Baltic cruise that the mother was going on this week. Or maybe it was because I had recently come across an article discussing plans for a new Munch Museum on the Oslo waterfront.

Whatever the reason, Oslo was well and truly stuck in my mind and as a result, I ended up rummaging through my overflowing file cabinet – the one that sits in the study, filled with notes, ideas, and half written articles – looking for my 2010 Baltic cruise travel journal.

Oslo has been on my ‘travel bucket list’ for as long as I can remember, so I had been really excited to find out that it was port of call during the 2010 Star Princess Baltic Cruise I was going on with my mother (Backstory: Would you go on a cruise with your mother?).

We were only going to be in Oslo for the day, nowhere near long enough to see all the things I wanted to see.  So I started make a list, and then a plan. And I soon became clear that most of what I wanted to see revolved around one man – Edvard Munch.

I really wanted to see the place that inspired ‘The Scream’.

But being on foot and limited in time, that was probably too far to go. Instead, I focused on Munch-related places close to the port.

The route I mapped out had me heading initially for the Grand Café, located at the Grand Hotel on boulevard of Karl Johans Gate, where the young Edward Munch once sketched and traded paintings for food and drink.

Legend has it that before Munch and playwright fell out over an unpaid bill, Munch produced a series of portraits for Ibsen.

Here I would stop for coffee while taking in the 1928 mural portraying many of the café’s famous habitués, including Munch and Ibsen at one end of the dining room.

Time permitting I would then head to Oslo University’s Aula Hall where, in 1918, Munch painted a series of murals celebrating the university’s 100th anniversary.

But that, I figured, was probably as far was I would get on foot. The National Galley and The Scream were too far afield, as was Var Frelsers Gravlund where Edvard Munch (and his nemesis Henry Ibsen) is buried.

It was a great plan, alas one that never took place.

Life, as they say, got in the way. The night before we arrived in Oslo, my mother suffered from an acute cardiac episode.

So instead of walking the streets of Oslo in the footsteps of Munch, on arrival in port we were disembarked to a waiting ambulance and speed through the city streets to the University Hospital on the outskirts of the city,

It turned out to be the perfect place for my mother to recover as I battled with the travel insurance companies.

My encounters with Munch, it seemed, would have to wait for another time.

(image via flickr / Guilherme Degasperi)