As was mentioned in the previous post, I've been in Oslo this past week (hence, no new posts since that last one).
I got back “today” (1am), and after a long day of sleeping in and desperately trying to find anything vaguely interesting to watch on Youtube / Netflix (without much luck), so as not to have to actually get on with getting back on with any of the responsibilities that my little vacation from the real world has so conveniently allowed me to put on the back burner… I figured I'd get the ball rolling with a blog post about said trip. And a couple cans of lager.
The general sum up of things is that Norway is really quite lovely.
Well, I can't speak for the entire country, but their capital is exactly what anyone who has the slightest experience with anything Scandinavian might expect: it is clean, modern, and well designed. Being there kind of makes you a little less cynical about governments, or rather, a little more disappointed with your own (for me, that would be Canada and now the UK). Things just seem to work quite well and make sense. There is a weird feeling of honesty and progress and logic that one does not always feel when spending time in an Edmonton or Nottingham. I'm sure they have their corruption and waste of space, backwards thinking politicians, but they seem to be outnumbered by the more forward thinking “let's do what's best for our society” ones.
As is the stereotype for Scandinavian countries, there are a lot of good looking people kicking about. And even those that are not necessarily “good looking” are definitely in great shape and fine health, which is a form of ”good looking” in its own right. I think I only saw a couple of fatties, and I'd be willing to bet that they were tourists (I did see both at the bus station after all). There are also naked statues everywhere (I don't think I have ever seen as many stone penises), which has possibly etched the idea of keeping a chiseled physique in the back of everybody's minds. Plus, unhealthy food seems to be priced at “maybe we should just eat some fruit / vegetables” prices.
Speaking of prices, that does seem to be the one down side to Norway. It really is quite expensive. Even more expensive than I was expecting, and I went in expecting expensive (like £9 for a pint, £3 for a coca cola expensive). But perhaps there is something about high prices that makes one appreciate and take advantage of enjoying simpler things. Like riding bicycles everywhere. Or eating in and having picnics. And riding bicycles everywhere.
I've got to say, for the capital city of a westernized country, it's quite amazing how little car traffic there is, even in the heart of their “downtown”. I've definitely left Oslo thinking that I really need to look into getting a bicycle in Notts, or at least start taking advantage of our new city bike scheme. But I worry I won't feel quite as safe riding around on the streets over here as I did in Oslo (the UK doesn't even feel that safe as a pedestrian, I can only imagine how much more dicier it will feel once I'm on two wheels riding beside the same vehicles that seem to think yielding for pedestrians crossing a side street is a non-option).
Luckily, we had some friends to stay with in Oslo, so we were able to avoid a few major costs that might have soured our experience a bit. Not only was it great to catch up with some dear people in our lives who we haven't seen for a couple years, but having both a lovely and free place to crash + the use of their Oslo city bike cards really provided the perfect storm for making the most of our 5 days in tiger city.
So yeah, if you ever get a chance to go visit friends in Norway, I'd highly recommend it. And even if you don't have any friends there, I'd still recommend it (although I'd also recommend packing a few extra bills in your back pocket).