Up In The North

Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Max's Family Home

Flag of Norway  , Oslo,
Friday, June 18, 2010

If one looked up Oslo, Norway in Webster's, I believe a snippet would read something like this: "...city inhabited by breathtaking blondes in messy buns and big sunglasses." And Oslo is just as pretty as the people that live there. The architecture is reminiscent of any other metropolitan European city – old world apartment buildings with arched windows and thick columns on one corner, and glass paneled modern rectangles on the other. The sidewalks aren’t as cobbled as the other countries we’ve visited, but what they lack in curb appeal they make up for in window shopping. The clothes, the shoes, the home décor trinkets, and most notably the abundance of baby items (like the rest of the continent they’re having a boom) are to die for. And to afford them I think you’d have to sell your soul – so the saying fits. Yes – Norway is as expensive as Wikipedia says it is. But thanks to the country’s thriving oil and gas industry, the locals seem to easily afford this luxurious standard of living that the rest of us Europeans (particularly cheap Czechs who are accustomed to one dollar pints) can’t keep up with.

All currency converting followed by mild heart attacks aside, with the help of our gracious host, closest friend, and Nordic dweller Max, we scoped out the country’s cheap deals. We started every morning off with the 3 boller and a Kaffe deal from Deli de Luca, a true blue Norwegian convenience store popular in the country’s capital – you can find one or two on every block. Let me interrupt my train of thought by saying this one thing, boller equals deliciousness. It’s a type of Norwegian sweet roll that is hot and toasty fresh from Luca’s oven and comes in several different flavors. My favorite is chocolate bits with saffron. Delightful. After a hearty breakfast (3 bollers each can be quite filling) Max navigated us to the National Gallery which, I might add with an excited squeak, is completely free! For those of you who know me well, it probably does not come as a surprise that the collection brought me to tears. I ran from room to room in what felt like only a few seconds, but I’m sure Max and James remember differently. I soaked up all of the painted canvas glory like a sponge, dripping with detail. From Munch to Picasso, to Manet and Monet, I was in heaven. Free heaven! I was abashed, and felt almost guilty that the Norwegians were letting me view all of this incredible art at no charge, and constantly checked over my shoulder expecting a security guard to check my pass or stamp or clip – but I didn’t have anything! I giggled to myself like a school girl stealing candy from a baby. Too many analogies? Anyways, the gallery was a highlight but not the only incredible story to share. The next day Max took us on a boat cruise through the fjords – a must see, and the ride is included as part of your public transit pass. Bonus. We island hopped the afternoon away soaking up the beautiful warm and sunny Nordic summer weather ( I know, you were picturing icebergs and snow storms - me too). The boys decided to go for a quick dip in the fjord boxer-clad, while I sat on the rocky coastline finishing Treasure Island and stopping to feed the rest of Max’s boller to the ducks (I wouldn’t give up my own). It was one of those days that you think back about and can’t help but to smile.

In the evening we headed to Max’s place, a magnificent family home right outside the downtown core of Oslo, to cook up a barbecue dinner. Don’t worry, James and I bought the meat in Prague and brought it with us (carnivorous eats can get pretty pricey in the snazzy city).  We spent the remainder of our time reminiscing about our hometown lives (Max is a childhood friend of James, born and raised in the same city) exchanging European adventures and impressions, and planning our near futures – whether they be on North American land or elsewhere. Way up in the North, Oslo is a fantastic city to visit and I’m elated that I had the opportunity to see it in all its splendor, and still do it on a dime. It really helps to have friends in high places. Thanks Max.

Ha det bra!

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my name is... Dady on

wspanialy styl. duze bogactwo slow. of course...this is may daughter!!!!

Alessia Pica on

Nat face!
this blog was beautifully written... so great to hear your heading north and visiting the scandinavian region ... i dont know many people who have done that... ive been keen on traveling there myself.
How much longer will you be in Europe?? i need to make my way over there before u come back! miss you to death.
love love love you!

Wanda on

Love the blog and the photos!! So incredible! Drink a nice euro coffee for me! xo

Tooaustraliantobenorwegian on

Nice penning there Cali - that journalism degree was useful for something ;)

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