Friday, June 11, 2010

Norway

Note: pictures tell a thousand words, but we can't upload them just yet. Stay tuned.
Claudia, today's guest blogger from Germany, and I are sitting in an Internet Cafe on Thorvaldsgate in a hip part of Oslo (once called Christiania), Norway. We hate to admit it, but we are about to go back to our very luxurious hostel to take a nap. When the native Norwegians take you out to dinner, and then to the Beer Palace, trying to hit more than one museum a day is simply too exhausting.




The Norwegians were friends of Bill's, who is also part of Team Travel Frau. The Norwegians were very large men,  three times the size of normal people, with large voices, and large personalities. They took us to the Meat Market. That's a restuarant, people, where they serve meat for dinner. It should have been fish, since we were right at the port at Aker Brygge, but we will eat fish tonight. Matt, an American friend who lives in Oslo, showed up on his bike and met us there. So we were seven out of 400,000 other people in the city last night. Erik and Jens-Erik were the perfect hosts, paid for dinner, and bought a round of drinks at the Beer Palace. I tried a Borg. OK, maybe more than one. Takk (thanks), Erik and Jens-Erik! We partied into the night, which in Oslo begins much later. At 11 p.m., it was still light outside.

Erik wearing a South Carolina Seersucker tie (I brought treats for the guys).



Matt on his bike in the port area that has been built including mixed use, modern buildings.

From the moment we touched down in Oslo on Wednesday night, we noticed how long the days can be. Literally. By the time we arrived at midnight, it was still somewhat light outside. My day had started early, in Cologne, with a trip to the Dome where I happened upon a demonstration. Then some shopping, my first Broetchen mit Schinken and I was back at Bill's packing up the suitcase for my next jaunt. Claudia and I were to meet in the train, as she was coming from Bonn to Duesseldorf, where our flight was leaving for Norway. I got to the Bahnhof, got in the train, and realized the Verizon network was not connecting me to Vodafone. Great. I wouldn't be able to connect with Claudia. I didn't find her in the train, but I did get to sit next to a cute British guy who had me so flustered I got out too early and had to take a taxi to the airport.

No flights leave Duesseldorf after 11 p.m., so the airport was pretty empty. I went to check in, hoping Claudia would have done the same, and there she was - just about to give up on me and head back to Bonn.

We hadn't seen one another in six years, so big hugs all around, and then off to check in. An hour and a half later we landed in Oslo. It was still light out. Claudia had the brilliant idea to purchase a bottle of bubbly at Duty Free, then we went to the taxi station.  Though we are seasoned travelers, we did not check the best way to get from the airport to our hotel, so 20 minutes and 900 Kronen (100 €) later, we asked exactly how far it was from the airport to the center of town. "Oh, about 40 kilometers." Scheisse. So we finally find Einendom Hostel #1 and jump out with glee, only to find a locked door. We call the number, get a machine with options offered in Norwegian, can't get a person on the line. It's 12:30 a.m. Hmmm ... What would you do? Well here is what we did, and the lovely and talented Claudia guest blogger will now give you her perspective on the story:


Unexpected stop at Radisson Blu


 Guest Blogger at work in the Internet Cafe:



Okay, I try..... After a few glasses of Cava, red wine, whisky and beer (yep, in that order) it's not easy to think today..... But I am happy to have booked the adventure trip with Love Tours as it's everything but boring.... Okay, back to the story..... Thanks to modern technology, we googled Oslo's taxi number to get our very own Pakistani taxi driver to take us to the next hotel (Anker hotel). Amy got out and I had to stay with Abdul to watch the luggage. After 15 minutes, Amy comes back..... no more room at the Anker hotel since it's fully booked.... But the friendly concierge (after telling her that there was a conference in town which is why all the hotels would be booked) gave her a list of hotels and we started calling one after the other..... "sorry, we are fully booked....". So the concierge was right. We finally managed to find a room at the Radisson Blu and at 2 a.m. we were ready to pay any price. So off to the Radisson which costs the ridiclous amount of 2,500 Kronen (a bit more than 300 Euro). No, not the Queen suite - a regular room. Anyway, a bottle of warm Prosecco later we got a call from Bill who had arrived in Oslo in the afternoon and stayed at the same hostel we were supposed to stay. We had tried to reach him a couple of times - without success. His phone had died and only after re-charging the batteries he got our messages.... It's a bit peinlich to say, but we were both too blonde to read the instructions on the confirmation page..... "... for key retrieval please open the attached pdf file....". We were supposed to have picked up the key at the 7 Eleven around the corner from Eiendom.... So much about being an experienced traveller. 



Five hours of sleep later, we took a shower (not knowing how luxurious it was) and went to have breakfast and did some people watching. A lot of the doctors in town for the conference were staying in the Radisson and we got our 30 minutes of Grey's Anatomy. 

A flirt with the cute (young) Swedish concierge later, we were sitting in the taxi, trying to find the 7 Eleven to pick up the key for our hostel room. Well, what can I say... there are simply too many 7 Elevens in town..... To cut a long story short, about 12 p.m. we had our key, found ourselves back at Steenstrupsgate 1 to finally get into our room..... Room? I actually wouldn't call it a room.... it was more like a doll house.... two small beds with disposable bed sheets (yes!), a multi-functional bathroom (you can do all in one: pee, brush your teeth and shower) and a flat screen TV (?????).



The shower and toilette at the Hostel.

 
Okay.... back to Amy....

With the hostel scenario behind us, we could put our energies into FUN. Claudia the intrepid tour guide, mapped out our way to the National Theater, where we were to meet the boys (Matt, Dirk and Bill). She brilliantly navigated us through the Trikken and T-Bahn network, and we got to the National Theater on time. Claudia, the Original Travel Frau, was back!
Oslo is a beautiful, tidy, friendly city. We walked from the National Theater to the port for a boat tour of the fjords. Wow. Little wooden colored houses on the edge of the rocky cliffed waters, lots of green and rolling hills. Many of the island homes were private, and the older homes had bathing houses down near the water, where water is pumped inside the house so you can go skinny dipping without your neighbors seeing you. They are painted the same colors as the main house, so you know which belongs to whom. Wouldn't want to walk down and catch your neighbor in the full monty!





We were on the boat for two hours, and about halfway in, Bill couldn't resist ordering an ice cold Fanta. And the guy in front of me couldn't resist ordering a hot dog, what Claudia later called a Frankfurter Crepe, because it was literally a crepe rolled around a hot dog. Maybe a little mustard on the side.

We passed the new opera house, a very modern building right on the water. One island had a bird sanctuary, and one populated with rabbits.  It was good we went on the fjord tour yesterday, because it's done nothing but rain today. That's why we hit the museum today, to check out the Munch Museum. Munch is from Norway, and the Scream hangs in this museum. At least one of them. He painted two, and etched one. My favorites are the vampire series and the landscapes. Yellow Log had a cool near-3D effect.

In the time it's taken to write this blog post, I think we've lost time for a nap. Tonight we've got a date at the Fish Market. And tomorrow we're off to Sweden.

Ha det!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on making it to Europe - sorry you had such plane delays. Your trip sounds fabulous!!! I have three cocktails for me - when you get to that point of asking, "is it really a good idea to have another?" go ahead and say "yes" since you are drinking for me as well.

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