Tongue tied

In the elevator heading up to my room in Oslo I had to coach two young men to insert their card in order to press their floor number.  While they had been having a conversation for a bit it wasn’t until I heard one of them say ‘fuck’ that I realized they the had been speaking English the whole time.  The thick Irish accent had masked my ability to understand them. 

I have found myself very quiet on this trip.  You see, while I know that most Norwegians speak English better than some Americans, I feel uncomfortable assuming that they should speak to me in my language.  During the time I have needed to I have asked questions in English, so for the most part I have kept silent. 

I tend to be good with languages so it is frustrating to me to not be able to communicate with someone in their native language.  I can read and understand most of the signs and some of the other writing, but I haven’t learned yet how to pronounce some of the sounds.  It doesn’t help that they are different.  For example the town I mentioned in my last post Skein is pronounced Schein and the letters sch are pronounced sk. 

One or two words a day.  I’ll be able to ask for a meal by the end.

Don’t miss the nature.

On my flight from Amsterdam I had a nice conversation with Björn, an oil rig trainee heading home to Skein, Norway.  We had a number of interesting topics to discuss during the course of the trip and the one I find the most interesting is what not to miss while visiting Norway.

I asked him ‘Björn, if there is one thing I should make sure to see while here, what is it?’

He replied ‘The nature!’

I was admittedly surprised.  I was expecting something different.  I am not sure what, but I was not expecting that. 

I guess maybe I have more often found the answer to that question to be check out this area of the city, this restaurant, this store…  Even when visiting and area known for its outdoor beauty.

But then the guidebook backed this up by roughly saying the same thing ‘be sure to spend time outdoors.’ 

I shouldn’t be surprised.  In Oslo you are able to take the subway to nearby lakes and hiking trails in the mountains, and there are tons of parks all over the city.  There are also boats, and ferries to take you to nearby islands and less populated areas.  Sweet!

The 80’s

No matter what I do here I can’t seem to get away from the 80’s.  When I first arrived it was the background music in the cafe I had the exorbitantly price wine. 

80’s music and other early American pop was playing  at Lövebakken the restaurant where I had my first dinner. 

Now I am on my second day and there is an exhibit on the 80’s in the Norwegian Folk Museum.  ‘Take on me’ was playing when I walked in.  I wandered through the interesting exhibit learning more about Norway in the 80’s.   I also got to stroll down memory lane a little since so many products, styles, and entertainment were the same in both Norway and the USA at that time.  

Getting to the back of the room there was a Michael Jackson movie playing.   I don’t know if they chose to play it because of his recent death or prior to it.  At least in American right now it feels like you can’t get away from Michael Jackson.

So here they are the two things I cannot seem to escape Michael Jackson and the 80’s.  Let’s see if it is the same in Sweden

Jetlagged

Why do I feel so tired after getting 11 hours of sleep?  It feels like waking up in the middle of the night even though it is 9AM,  Oh, wait, it is the middle of the night.  To my jet-lagged body at least.  Somehow I have managed to eat, shower, repack my suitcase, meditate and get down to the dock in an hour and a half.  I think this is pretty quickly considering I feel like my eyes need to close. 

At the dock I am waiting to catch the 91 ferry to Bygdoy for the museums.  Standing on the floating dock, I find myself moving gently with the water. 

Sitting in the warm sun while waiting for the boat is nice.  It reminds me of spring and the desire to get outside at every opportunity.

Remembering back to my trip to Kenya in January, I try to casually slid up my pant leg so that the back of my knees are exposed to the morning sun.  I remember someone saying that this was the trick to getting over jet-lag.

Nothing’s free

Cheesy 80’s pop fills the air. That is why I first noticed Lovebakken’s existence. 

The fairly simple, boring menu of Christiana (on the map) drove me to check out this place next door (off the map).  Initially the prices almost scared me off.  In the end what made me walk through the front door was the pan-fried Monkfish with citrus risotto and pickled red onion.  I just couldn’t walk away from a treat like that, despite the nearly $40 price tag. 

I went in.  A clean atmosphere that bustled in a busy yet low-key way, greeted me inside the door.  Next came the hostess who sadly informed me that they had a special function going on that evening and that I could only get the 12+ tapas they had out for free, there was no access to the regular menu.  Seriously?  Yes.  I walked in thinking I would be spending at least $50 on dinner and it actually was more like zero.  I was out of luck with the wine menu as well.  The were only offering one special (which tasted like a Merlot) that was cheaper than my previous glass by several dollars and tasted good. 

American Pie ends and now ‘What a feelin’ comes on. 

Among the tasty treats set out for guests (customers isn’t the right word when it’s free) 
– Watermelon, feta and cucumber salad with red onion
– Tomato, olive and rosemary Focaccia
– Piles of soft smoked salmon
– Pork with either a slice of bacon or a strip of its own fat- either way it was delicious!

‘Take your passion.  Make it happen…’

I am so happily full right now.  Feeling tired, as well, as the lack of sleep catches up with me.

In the end I paid for two glasses of discounted wine and left with my belly full.

Norway, Day One

It’s gray and raining here and I have a feeling that this is often the case.  People seem to either be prepared with rainjackets and umbrellas or to go on with their walking unfazed. 

The strangest thing happened at the airport.  I got off the plane, picked up my luggage and walked out the door for nothing to declare.  All of a sudden I was at the exit.  No questions.  No passport check.  No stamp.  No ‘look this way’ as they snap your photo to compare to a database of terrorists.  Does Oslo trust Amsterdam to not let bad people on the plane?  The only person I saw working was on the side where you could declare goods taken into the country and she looked like she hadn’t seen action in awhile.

I almost feel guilty about this ease of transit.  First, I get to keep my shoes on going through security in Amsterdam, and now no one harrasses me into the country?!  What is the world coming to?

Maybe the Norwegians rely on their rediculous prices to keep bad people out.  69 Kroner (~11.50 USD) for a glass of house wine.  Holy Crap.  Of course the struggling US dollar doesn’t help the situation.  At least the wine tastes good.  If it didn’t I might be more pissed about the cost.  It is definitely a different experience going from having the A/C on full blast to wondering if you can turn on the heat in the hotel room…