Monday, 26 March 2007


...has the distinction of being the most expensive city on the planet. It is shocking. It takes awhile to sink in, and then a kind of numb acceptance creeps over you. It really hit me when I bought some postcards and realized that at 10 NOK each they were costing me nearly £1, or for you Canadian readers, it worked out to about $2 for a single postcard. So if you haven't received your card yet, it's because I haven't sent them. I shall be following Moe's lead and sending them this week in my post-travel state. (got your cards moe - thanks!)

I wandered aimlessly most of the time, mostly on Karl Johan's Gate, the main street that leads to the royal palace. Along this street, which boasts the parliament building, the university and also many buskers playing accordians, I discovered the most delightful bakery, which even had a chocolate fountain as part of its window display. I splurged on a tiny coffee and a beautiful chocolate goody - it was kind of like a cake and kind of like a muffin. It was delicious.

I saw the changing of the Norwegian Guard, which is just as silly as the changing of the guard outside Buckingham Palace. On my last night before I flew back to Glasgow I took another stroll up to the palace and there they were - these poor young men who stand all night outside the gates of this massive building. If they start to get tired they get to march up and down to stay awake.

I didn't make it to the folk museum or the viking museum, both of which would have involved hopping a ferry and shelling out more money than I had to spend. The cathedral was closed for repairs so no luck there.

There is a roughness to Oslo and I kept thinking of Prince George, if PG was a little bigger, European and was a sea port. (The landscape between the airport and the city - rolling hills, evergreens and dirty springtime snow - reminded me of April in the Cariboo). There were numerous homeless people padded out in layers against the cold. A favourite place to pan handle is on the wee bridge between the train and bus stations. Saw one young man, slumped over asleep, still with his hand out, which was dirty and also swollen and red from the chill.

I wasn't expecting the city to be so multi-cultural. I saw many Muslims, but the city does not seem to have small ethnic community "nooks." It seems like there are a lot of people who ended up in Oslo after leaving/fleeing their own countries, but Norway has never become a true home for them. I did not see one mosque.

I popped into the national art gallery and did get to see Edvard Munch's "self portrait with the Spanish Flu." Alas - I didn't get to see The Scream. However I did discover a landscape artist named Harald Sohlberg and I stood a long time staring at his "Winter Night in the Mountains."

I enjoyed Oslo more on my second visit - when I stayed overnight before my flight home. It was Saturday night and there were loads of sports fans in town for some event. There was a lively atmosphere and I stood next to the palace and listened to the bells chime 9pm. Other than the bakery that is my favourite memory. I also enjoyed watching a man ride an office chair down a small hill.

I shall post more photos and recount the trip in stages. I go back to work tomorrow and I hope this does not ruin the calmness I have discovered on this trip.

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