Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oslo: crappy weather, expensive, new friends!

After an overnight train ride in which the Perpetual Roommate and I had trouble figuring out where to sit (Don't ask, okay? The tickets were in Danish.), and a pit stop in my great-grandparents' hometown of Frederikshavn, Denmark, we got a ferry to Oslo. Once we figured out where to sit on the ferry, I had a Burn energy drink* and promptly took a glorious nap on a leather couch in the restaurant in front of a big flat screen TV playing the Olympics. Then we got up in time to admire the fjord before we docked in Oslo. Once we figured out where the hell we were going in the city, the PR immediately had her ATM card eaten by the machine. In Norway. It was awesome. Also, it was like intermittent torrential rainstorms the first 36 hours we were there. But we were able to turn things around and enjoy ourselves. Although after being spoiled by Copenhagen, Oslo seemed really dirty, crowded, full of cars, and just generally more urban. But it is also hilly and green, and the outlying areas are particularly beautiful. Kind of reminded me of my home state of Washington (*tear*). Anyway, some highlights: 1. After dealing with ATM card-loss business (hooray for large immigrant populations and abundant internet cafes!), we ended up at a restaurant very, very close to our semi-sketchy hostel. We ordered the cheapest things on the menu, which were tacos (me) and a hot dog without a bun** which we accompanied with some Carlsbergs, since they were the cheapest beer listed that we recognized on the Norwegian menu. Anyway, while we bitched about how much everything cost, a lively group of younger people speaking mostly English sat down at the next table. We ended up asking them what something on the menu was and why it was so cheap, and were quickly informed that it was an alcohol-free beer. WTF? Why bother? But we got to chatting with them and they invited us over to their table. There was one local college student, a Finn (who was disappointed his country didn't warrant a stop on our "Scandinavian tour"), and several transplanted Spanish architects and engineers. The told us all the good sights to see, took us to another bar, and introduced us to Ringnes on tap. (Which they kindly bought for us after we had spent the last hour and a half complaining about how expensive Norway was and how the American dollar is worthless.) And it turns out one of our new friends is a blogger! ¡En español! And while José assured me that if I didn't understand it, I could just look at the pictures, I went there and could at least get the gist of his posts without having to use a translator. But I'm just good at reading like that. Anyway, check out The Nordic Connection for the latest on being a Spanish architect in Oslo. And thank god we met some cool people (who seemed to mostly catch my massive amounts of sarcasm), because the city and us really had got off on the wrong foot. Also, I got decently buzzed on beer (I had three!) for pretty much the first time ever.
View from in front of the palace.
2. Between rainstorms, we saw some sights and did laundry at our hostel. We took many, many pictures atop the Opera House, saw the royal palace and the like, and saw The Scream at the national gallery (for free!). We also had crazy cocktails at some random bar. I ordered mine because it was called a mango something-or-rather and I like mango, but then it was super peppery! Weird.
Random circus theater equipment near which we were called whores.
3. We were accosted by a Norwegian punk who yelled at us first very drunkenly in Norwegian, and then after he figured out we only spoke English, proceeded to tell us how he and his punk friends were drinking and he needed 20 kroner. And we were like, "No." That's like $4! Kind of steep to ask of someone random on the street. But then he got mad. "You blonde.... whores!" Blonde whores. Wow. His quiet female friend who had not said a word the whole time then led him away from us while he kept yelling, "Whores! Whores!" At which point I felt as if I needed to say something, so I yelled, "If we were whores, we might have some money!" Fucking Norwegian punk. Probably makes more money than Bill Gates just panhandling in Oslo.
It's a little-known fact that Norway was once populated exclusively by elves.
4. The Norwegian folk museum. Old, old farmhouses from all over the country. Definitely a place my parents would have insisted on taking us as kids. 5. Battery energy drink! Not bad.
At least this part of the gravel path didn't have lampposts along it.
6. Then we went hiking AKA "walking around in the forest," as our local friends kept calling it. We took the train outside the city and hiked between T-Bane stations, encountering gravel paths, pretty forests, and a lake completely surrounded by Norwegians running and biking and whatnot. I couldn't believe people were swimming, because it wasn't really that warm, though at least not raining. We had been informed, though, by the locals that summer was already over. Apparently that happens in July. Also on the lake shore was a group of suckers obviously being forced to participate in ridiculous team building/"trust" exercises. Some more pics:
Look at the workman's little cap!
*Website features ridiculous dancing woman. **I don't eat hot dogs. I've sworn off them for life. Because they are gross. I haven't had one in five years.

1 comment:

  1. Hei hei Lauren! Hvordan går det?
    Thanx for the link (i have a spy that traced it ;) i see you followed our advice and ended up taking the walk 'in the woods' he he, too bad the weather was so miserable those days because damn! i swear Oslo is a very nice city...and after loosing your card, buying you some beers was the less i could do! (now i wonder if the card stuff was just a self-pity strategy...he he)....
    cheers! :D