I have to admit, Oslo and I did not get off to a great start.
By the time I got here, I was jetlagged, hungry and wanted nothing but to fall over and sleep forever. But that was not in the cards for me.
When I landed, I found out that the host of the AirBNB I had booked, had accidentally double booked and I had no place to stay. Or even shower. Jesus, I wanted a shower. I found a Starbucks, got some hot chocolate and started to hyperventilate. Will, having just woken up, was as usual, endlessly patient, sure that something would work out. He was right, but I was too busy losing my mind to notice. After dicking around on tumblr for a while to think about nothing, I pinged my friend Jo, who suggested I just come join her in Stockholm. Two hours later, I was on a plane there for two glorious days that I hope I’ll get around to telling you about later. I never even left the Arlanda airport, and while usually that would have annoyed the shit out of me, I really didn’t care.
So, fast forward roughly 48 hours and I was back on a plane to Oslo. This time, when I landed, I had a place to stay (actually, the same place, there just wasn’t a person in my borrowed bed now) and a friend waiting for me.
I took a train from the airport to the city center and had my first glimpse of the actual city. I was massively disappointed.
Not every city can be Paris, and of course, not every part of every city is made for a postcard, but all I saw when exiting the station was the Raddison Blue across the street and lots and lots of ugly concrete. Once I cleared the end of the station, across the tracks I saw lots of modern glass buildings that all looked as my friend said “…like geometry problems I forgot how to solve.” Not exactly what I was hoping to find. After all, I can see plenty of that in New York. I did, however, see a rather full and lovely rainbow
and some excellent graffiti.
Eventually I found my lodgings and my adorably jet lag drunk friend. Both of us were rather hungry, so we stumbled down the street to a MAX (the local equivalent of Burger King), enjoyed a not terrible at all burger,
caught up on the last crazy month of our lives and sucked down the wifi. Suddenly, the place was closing. We had failed to catch due to the deceptive lightness of the evening that it had somehow become 1am. We headed back to the flat and swiftly fell over.
Despite my usual penchant for adventure, I let myself sleep in until about noon. My adventures in Stockholm had left me rather low on sleep (damned midnight sun) and I figured there was no use in starting a tour like this sleep deprived. I hung around the rented flat with Mark until the FedEx truck bearing his EuroRail pass arrived and then we ventured forth into the city. Mark had spent the better part of the day before exploring Oslo and quickly showed me the not bleakly concrete parts of Oslo.
I’m not entirely sure what I expected out of Oslo, but I didn’t get it. The city while charming in a way, is remarkably unremarkable. I felt like I could be in any Northern European city. The only thing that really stood out were the obscene food and drink prices. And a weird ass statue, but I’ll get to that later. I paid $2.50 for a bottle of water and $4.80 for a bottle of coke. Oof. Turns out that Oslo is the second most expensive city in the world behind Tokyo. Having seen both, I’d suggest Tokyo.
As unremarkable as it was, it wasn’t a terrible place to be. There were plenty of cobbled streets and old buildings to check out.
The location of my friend’s event was cool – tucked in an alleyway that I immediately dubbed Diagon Alley-
and close to the site of the 2011 bombings, which, not exactly cool, but certainly educational. Everyone who showed up was LOVELY. Someone brought food and cupcakes to share, and afterward showed us how to use the trams. She even brought us to Vigeland Park, the world’s largest single artist sculpture park.
The park was lovely and bright even late in the evening but had some FUCKED UP sculptures ala the totem pole episode of Hannibal.
Additionally a man playing soccer with babies
. So yeah, I was not prepared for that.
Oslo is a lovely, sleepy city. I’m glad I came, but I’m just as happy to be on my way. Next up (and again) Stockholm.