Not only was it exhausting living out of my backpack, it was also exhausting seeing one city and trying to maximize my time of a day and a half or two there. It was starting to burn me out. Seeing tourist site after tourist site and not having many good conversations within anyone outside of the customer service business. I don’t think it’s fair to say I know what France or Belgium is like just like someone who has seen New York City can’t say they know what America is about. It was so nice to see Kristine in Norway and to meet her family and friends. People make the place and I have such a good impression and memory of Norway because of everyone I met through Kristine. just going to Oslo would not have been the same. Seeing a couple places in Norway instead of only the capital made this trip really special for me.
My classes were over at 11:30 at Wednesday at 11:35 I was in the private car service to Budapest. I book through the airport and always have a really good experience with them. I was fortunate enough to have Zsolt drive this time, he detoured around the traffic and took me into the airport the back way when I told him how little time I gave myself… the flight was at 1:00. But Zsolt also owns a couple other businesses in addition to the car service. While I don’t think I’ll have the time to check it out for myself, he takes people to Slovenia for skiing in the winter and tubing in the summer. This is his winter website link – http://sicsoda.si – and I really wish I would have been able to go skiing or summer activities with Zsolt’s business, it sounded fantastic.
I made my flight despite the very short time slot and headed to Stockholm with the row to myself, my favorite way to fly. Stockholm was beautiful, and expensive. I had Swedish meatballs and a walk around the town. Honestly, I headed in early that night to finish the last book the Me Before You series by JoJo Moyes and really, it might have been the best of the three books. I was hooked. I still did see a bit of the city that evening. I loved the ice chunks in the river. I did not love how cold it had to be outside for that to happen. I walked into so many antique stores here. There was so many beautiful dishes and other small things I would’ve loved to buy but antiques were super expensive in Sweden, just like everything else, plus a lot of what I liked would’ve been hard to take home.
The next day I took two walking tours. They were both okay, neither girl was actually Swedish which was disappointing and one’s French accent was so think I had to focus all of my sleepy brain power on her to understand what she was saying. I don’t remember much of what I learned, but here’s what I do remember:
Executioners lived on one street in Stockholm and no one wanted to live near them. They also had their ears cut to be easily recognized as they weren’t allowed to lead normal lives. This is because executioners were criminals who put off their sentences for a year or so if they were willing to do the job. Not everyone was offered this way of procrastinating death, it was typically young, fit men. One guy actually decided to become an executioner without being a criminal first. After about ten years on the job, he killed someone in a pub after a disagreement and it was then the king decided it was time for him to go because he enjoyed his job too much and thought he had more power than he really did. Stockholm is made up of several islands. One of which is solely used for office buildings and is completely dead on evenings and weekends. Kind of creepy actually. Red and yellow buildings were at the site of one of the blood baths in Sweden. I can’t recall many details, but Stockholm’s history was pretty bloody. The royal family today has been branching out quite a bit from traditions of marrying other people of importance. The prince married a girl he met in a bar in Australia (I think) and one of the princess married her personal trainer. Not only that, but they have a crowned Princess instead of Prince which is a first for them as well. the last picture is church where royals get married. the picture with graffiti walls is the smallest alleyway in Stockholm said grant 26 wishes as one walks down the stairs with their hands touching the walls. Swedish people used to get taxed by how many windows their houses had so people bricked up their windows and painted the outside so it still looked symmetrical. it’s common to see some painted windows still today because of this practice although some have been reopened.
The Swedish meatballs were served with mashed potatoes, jam, pickles, and onions. It was sort of strange at first but I kind of enjoyed it. I don’t remember the restaurant but it was right on the main tourist strip. The meatballs were amazing. The bento box was a mistake as I didn’t realize how much it was going to be exactly, but it was really good. I think this was was at ESA Sushi. I just love looking at pastries in different cities. It’s really my favorite way to get to know a place. And the last was some of the best cider I’ve ever had with dinner.
Here’s a few more pictures of the city. I don’t really have anything to say about these buildings history wise but I really enjoyed them and feel like they give a good idea of what the city looks like.
Spotted at a bathroom:
Thursday evening I took an (crowded) overnight bus to Oslo. it was a $15 Flixbus and it did get me from point A to point B but it definitely wasn’t in style. I arrived to Oslo puffy eyed while I waited for the bus to Kristiansand. after a further five hours on the bus (at least this one had wifi) Kristine picked me up and we spent the evening in her town of Mandal and she showed me the viewpoints.
That evening we went to her friend’s housewarming party. They were just starting to play a trivia game when we got there and since I can’t speak Norwegian, they translated the game so I could play too. A group of about ten people my age translated a whole game for me. I was taken aback with not only the hospitality and consideration they showed me but also with all of their English skills. Definitely no one in my friend group at home could play a trivia game in a second language to include someone else. Norwegian schools are doing something right and other countries should take notes. I didn’t meet anyone my age who wasn’t able to speak English. Some also had a third language. It was beyond impressive and welcoming for me. Some of the guys at the house warming decided I needed to “prove my americanness” or something like this by shotgunning a beer. I did it, and they talked about it the rest of the night, so I didn’t have the heart to tell them I never had done it before. In turn, one of the guys taught me “Elsker øl” which means I love beer.
We stopped by Kristine’s gram’s house for a bit where I noticed this case. any idea what the cups are? These are what Norwegian trophies look like. Probably more practical then our statues. Her grandfather was apparently quite good at shooting and had many medal and trophies for competitions, mostly from the army I believe. Her grandmother’s trophy is on the right; she got it for skiing and is very proud of this.
The view outside her dad’s house looked like it could’ve been Pennsylvania so much. I got a bit homesick here. Red used to be the cheapest paint to make as it required only two or three inexpensive ingredients so it was always used for barns and by tradition, many are still red today.
We went to Lindesnes fyr which was the oldest lighthouse in Norway. It was also used a bunker for the German troops during WWII. It was breathtaking and just a great experience. ten minutes away from here, the coastline is still rocky but it’s covered with trees. the drive there was so cool to watch the change from forest to only rocks. I haven’t seen anything quite like the coast by Lindesnes Fyr until now. We also got lucky with a warm day. It was really wonderful.
This is the main church in Oslo, the Oslo Cathedral I believe it’s called. I did learn some facts about this during the two free walking tours I took, but I don’t remember anymore…
Here’s the Norwegian palace which has a nice park around it and I’m sure is lovely in summer. unfortunately for me, it was just muddy.
Here’s the castle and views to the harbor from the castle.
there was plenty of street art around the city, but on Brenneriveien street, there is the district that’s sort of like Christiania in Copenhagen, the free-spirited living together.
this is the inside and outside of the town hall, the third town hall of Oslo.
Oslo is marked with gold bricks on the sidewalk. They put these in with names and dates of the Jewish people who were removed from here during WWII as a way to remember them. I haven’t seen this anywhere else and I think it’s a really nice idea.
Here’s a few pictures of the harbor and a weird statue. In the last is one of the other two previous town hall buildings, though I can’t remember if it’s the brown or orange building.
I don’t have that many pictures of food from Oslo because everything was so darn expensive. The fish and chips with a soda cost me $30 so I didn’t try too much while I was there. I am not really a fish person, but that fish was fantastic. it was at Fiskeriet Youngstorget, despite the price I really recommend.
If I would have just seen Oslo, Norway wouldn’t have been half as beautiful to me. The nature was gorgeous and the people I met really made the trip for me. I really loved my time there and hope to back someday and see more of the great outdoors Norway has to offer. Thank you so much Kristine for showing me around and Kristine’s friends and family for being so kind.