Oslo in a Day

Yesterday was quite a busy day! Or perhaps I should say busy afternoon. I set my alarm for 9 a.m. after getting to bed around 11 the night before – all in all, a pretty good way to fight off jet leg. (This is about as good as I’ve ever done with jet lag in Europe!)

Anyway, after the flight arrive in Oslo on Friday, Micheline met Grace and I at the airport and helped us find the correct public transportation cards (a month pass that pretty much covers every mode of public transit for a month) before we got on a train to the city’s main train station, Oslo S. (S for Sentralstasjon). Then, Grace went with Kevin to find her apartment, while Micheline and I were unable to get in touch with anyone at my apartment. So we hung out at Micheline and Kevin’s apartment for a while, until I looked about ready to fall asleep, so we went for a walk. While on this walk around the neighborhood, I had the brilliant idea of just going to the apartment and ringing the bell (because calling the number I had been given wasn’t working) and that worked out pretty well. I got the keys to the apartment, but I didn’t have my luggage, so we went back to Micheline’s apartment to wait for dinner. At this point, I fell asleep on their couch while watching Mythbusters on the Norwegian equivalent of Discovery Channel.

After a wonderful dinner of homemade pizza (thanks, Kevin!) we decided to explore Oslo on Saturday, since it was the National Music Day. There were around 30 stages set up all over Oslo, and different bands, rap artists (Norwegian rap is comically bad, by the way), choirs, etc. were performing 15-30 minute shows all afternoon. Kevin had seen on the schedule that choirs were performing at a stage in Akershus Fortress, so the plan was to meet by the tiger statue at the Sentralstasjon at 1 p.m. before heading to Akershus. I went over to the station a couple hours early to find brunch, as I hadn’t bought any groceries yet. There are two malls around Oslo S, so I explored the one directly connected to the station and bought some (relatively) cheap breakfast items from a mini-grocery store. This is a very European thing to do: firstly, to have a mall attached to a train station so that all kinds of shopping can be done on the way to or from one’s train; and secondly, to have a small grocery store inside a mall.

After breakfast, I sat outside the station for a while in a few different spots. First, I was listening to the sound check of some screamo-band on a stage a block away from the station, but after they started playing their set, I migrated over to the tiger statue to listen to a trumpet player playing familiar radio songs with accompaniment from some sort of iPod-speaker set up. Micheline showed up a little before 1; she was apparently going to meet Grace earlier in the morning to buy a European cell phone (Grace’s turned out not to work), but Grace never showed. After Kevin met us at the tiger, we decided to head to Grace’s apartment, and indeed, she was still asleep. With her in tow, we headed for Akershus and finally got some nice views of downtown Oslo. I promise to post pictures to Facebook soon! After eating lunch (also bought hastily at a grocery store), we found the stage on which choirs were performing. The first group was singing American radio songs (including Lady Antebellum’s “I Need You Now” – hilarious!) and they were pretty good, but unfortunately it went downhill from there. The next group was smaller and made up of mostly middle-aged women with four men. The director said they had been singing together for 30-something years. They were ok, but sang entirely in Norwegian and Swedish. After that, an even older (average-age-wise) choir took the stage, so we took off toward downtown again.

At first, we decided to walk around Aker Brygge, one of the most expensive/hip/posh/whatever neighborhoods in Oslo, right by the fjord. But it was rather crowded, and Grace still needed a phone, so Micheline headed for an electronics store while the three of us (Grace, Kevin, and me) killed some time at the Nobel Peace Center’s bookstore (we’re waiting for a free admission day next weekend before we go to the actual museum). After we had seen most of the bookstore, we went to a stage in front of the piers and listened to a band (actually good) play their final number before two different rap duos (comically bad) performed a couple of songs. We couldn’t take any more, so we walked over to the pier where we planned to meet Micheline, and after she arrived (new cellphone in hand), we took a public transportation ferry to the peninsula of Bygdøy. Bygdøy  has several museums we plan to visit at some point, including the Viking Ship museum, and museums for the Fram and Kon-Tiki ships as well. (You’d think they like their maritime history here or something.) We toughed out some increasingly brisk wind while walking to find each of the museums, so Grace and I can find them again on our own if we so choose, and then took the ferry back to downtown

We ended the night with some grocery shopping for the weekend (most stores are close on Sundays, just like in Germany) and Micheline cooked dinner at her apartment before we made plans for today. Today’s schedule is (thankfully) lighter, as we are only meeting at 4:30 to discuss where to go with the research project, and then it’s Grace and my turn to make dinner. This could be very interesting so I’ll keep you posted. Aside from the meeting, all I know for now is that we will spend most of the week working at our office space at FAFO – the Institute for Labour and Social Research, which Micheline has established an affiliation over the last couple of years.

Well, this post turned out to be incredibly long, so I commend you for making it all the way through it. Next, I’m going to start working through photos from yesterday and uploading them to Facebook, but that might take a little while. Stay tuned.

5 thoughts on “Oslo in a Day”

  1. Matt,
    I really enjoyed reading about these experiences. Sounds like you got a real “taste” of the culture over the past couple of days. Please do include some photos of your experiences. Sharon and I have Norway on our “must-do” list for the near future. And yes, the jet-lag can be difficult those first couple of days!

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  2. Sounds like an interesting, musical, and exhausting weekend! Did you take a jacket or sweater to break the wind? Looking forward to looking at all your photos on FB! Glad you are getting around so well in new territory. I was surprised to read that you have an office to work out of – how convenient!

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  3. Last night Micheline made pasta with roasted vegetables, and tonight we bought an Old El Paso taco kit and had do-it-yourself Mexican, with sauteed bell peppers and onion, lettuce, tomato, cheese, plus rice and beans. We’ve eaten (and cooked) quite well so far!

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