If you’ve ever tried seeing the Mona Lisa, or any famous work on display at the Louvre in Paris, you can sympathize with a New Zealand couple who recently found a horde of selfie-takers blocking their view of the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece.
But unlike most of us, who simply have to endure long lines to enjoy all that Paris has to offer, Sam and Marela got a surprising offer: Take an abrupt, expenses-paid detour to Oslo, Norway, and spend the rest of their vacation away from the crowds.
They took a chance, agreed to the odd offer, and soon became stars of an Oslo tourism video that’s been viewed more than 1 million times across the city’s social channels, according to Norwegian advertising magazine Kampanje.
It all began when the Oslo Brand Alliance, which includes Visit Oslo, spotted an Instagram post by Marela in which she complained about the throng of “self-absorbed” tourists taking selfies around the Mona Lisa, making it hard to actually approach and appreciate the painting:
Her post seemed the perfect fit for an idea the tourism officials had already set in motion—to find and “rescue” tourists from overcrowding at a spot like the Louvre.
“We have The Scream by Edvard Munch, which is the world’s other famous painting, and we have a lot of space,” Visit Oslo communications manager Katrine Mosfjeld told Kampanje. “Over-tourism isn’t a problem in Oslo. We decided to save the couple from Paris.”
Reminiscent of a similar stunt by the nation of Georgia, which surprised a Dutch visitor—the country’s 6 millionth tourist—this year with an unexpected VIP tour including dinner with the prime minister, Visit Oslo also gave the couple a whirlwind experience of exploration that covered everything from bohemian cafes to paddleboarding.
And yes, the couple got to see Munch’s The Scream, with no need to elbow through a crowd. You can watch the video of their experience here.