Velkomen, to the land of beautiful blondes and high-top Converse—Oslo, Norway.
[But seriously, everyone in Norway is extremely good looking and at least 60% of people were wearing high-top chucks.]
After we jumped off the overnight plane ride from JFK, we breezed through customs at the Gardermoen airport and then stopped, dead in our tracks. We looked at the ultra-modern airport. We looked up at the signs—so many small dots and circles above the letters—no clue what they were saying. We looked at each other. “Are we really doing this??”
Yup. Definitely weren’t in the US anymore.
Excited, nervous, exhausted… What the heck, YOLO [yeah, I said it], let’s do this.
We exchanged 150 Euros [about $200] into the Norwegian currency, known as the Kroner. We had heard Norway was expensive, but thought that would be more than enough money for spending 6 hours in the city.
We took a train into the downtown part of Oslo. We stopped at the first restaurant outside of the train station and got some coffee. Still in shock, I looked around at the array of beautifully orchestrated historical and modern architecture down the main street of Oslo. Hundreds of people walked the street shopping and eating at restaurants.
It’s the weirdest feeling to know that this place has always existed, and people know it so well, yet I had never known anything about it before today. It’s strange to be placed somewhere so new without any knowledge of the geography, language or currency. We definitely felt like silly Americans trying to pay for coffee as we fumbled through our Kroners.
We could have paid $20 for a cup of coffee, and not even known. Truthfully, we practically did. Crazy.
We sat in the outdoor seating that kind of looked like a country club with couches and tables. We sat and listened to a little boy next to us sing to himself in French. He was in his own little world as he played with a bunny stuffed animal. As he saw that we were watching him, the bunny’s ears became helicopter wings and he “flew the bunny” right past us several times. Never skipping a beat in his song, he gave us a mischievous smirk [also, he was wearing a Lego movie tee that said, “Everything is Awesome!” which makes him that much cooler].
After sitting for a while with our jaws dropped that we were actually in Norway, we decided to explore a bit.
We moseyed down the main street and stopped at Cafe Cathedral to get food. The only thing on the menu we could afford after an unexpectedly expensive coffee and train ride, was pizza. So, we had a traditional Norwegian meal of…pizza. We were really getting into the true cultural experience…
After we ate, we sat in a park and people-watched. The first thing I noticed was the different sense of style. As I previously mentioned, apparently Converse are all the rage. Some little boys wore fedoras and rode mini skateboards. Several middle-aged women had super cool looking faux-hawks (I’m not even into that kind of style, but it was awesome) and they all had flawless skin. My favorite, was an old man workin’ a pair of green and navy plaid pants. Definitely not the average street style, and it was incredible.
As we sat in the park, we listened to an older men’s choir sing in a gazebo. There were noticeable pitch problems, yet they gleefully sang loud for all to hear–it was incredibly charming. Diapered babies and little kids played in a nearby fountain. Flowers were in colorful bloom all around us, and all I could think was, “My mom would love these… And these. And these.”
After a few hours, we walked back toward the train station and checked out the opera house, called Operaean. The all-glass paneled walls and angled roofs were so cool, but I got super sweaty walking up the steep climb. Typical me.
There was a gorgeous view of a waterway with rolling hills on either side. My guess it was a Fjord, but the people I asked didn’t speak English and I am unfortunately monolingual, so neither of us got much of an answer.
We got back to the airport and waited for our flight. As I sat there, I reflected on the few hours in Norway.
My Learning Moments from Norway
1) Don’t go back until you make bank or win the lottery
We busted through 150 Euros without even knowing it—without even doing anything! We only bought coffee and food during the time we were there. We also had to pay for $60 train tickets [for a 23 minutes ride!]. Bonkers.
When we got back to the airport had a couple coins left, so we got some Norwegian candy that tasted like a mix between bubble gum and Swedish fish. It was alright, but the sour candy I wanted was two cents too much. Rawr.
2) “Beautiful” doesn’t give it justice
From the airport, train, landscape, and buildings, to every single person there, pictures and words can not describe the beauty. Everything was awesome [queue little French boy singing Lego movie theme song].
3) Eg må øve på norsken min
AKA I need to practice my Norwegian. Actually, I need to practice Spanish, French, Italian, and basically everything else besides English [my mother may even suggest my English grammar needs sprucing up ;)]. Norway was my first glimpse at what it will be like to be completely immersed in a non-English speaking country, without a safety net [I have been out of the US before, but always had the security of others with me who spoke the language]. Thankfully, mostly everyone we ran into in Norway spoke English, but it’s a strange, helpless, and humbling feeling to be the outsider. Time to start ceaselessly practicing with Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and whatever other apps I can find!
Until next time, Norway, Hyggelig å møte deg [it was nice to meet you!],