I’M BACK. I had a wonderful little adventure, and I’m excited to recount the tales of my travels. The trains! The boats! The…walkings! Let’s start with night one: Oslo.
I’ve already spent some time in Oslo, but I wanted to visit the National Gallery and try a nice restaurant. Plus, my train the next morning was scheduled for 8:25, so staying the night was just easier. I booked an Air BnB less than a kilometer from Oslo Central Station, and I double checked that the Gallery would be open. I also found a couple game stores to investigate because nerds gotta nerd.
I started my adventure Tuesday morning at 11. I departed my apartment excited to travel and minimally baggaged. Traveling light is a new skill, but I’m getting better. On this trip, I didn’t once feel encumbered by stuff–even when I spent 45 minutes walking in circles (in the rain) trying to find my Air BnB in Bergen, but I’ll get to that later.
I found my Oslo Air BnB with no issue: up the main shopping drag, right at Victoria’s Secret and straight on to the door that (per the host’s directions) would be nestled between a fancy lap store an a salon. She left the key with the folks at a nearby convenient store, which was..well, convenient. The building had an old charm, and by that I mean an uneven, narrow spiral staircase. Luck would have it, my host’s apartment was at the very top. I’m not ashamed to say that I got a little winded. Well, maybe a little ashamed.
The room was well-prepared and comfortable. I’m a little surprised at myself for not taking more pictures, but this is what we got. The host left a book with local info, some travel-size toiletries, and a little Merci chocolate bar (that I ate immediately…I was famished after all those stairs). The directions said that “the bathroom is across the hall,” but the pair of napping legs I walked in on didn’t agree. I awkwardly apologized and retreated. The legs didn’t reply.
The bathroom–which was DOWN THE HALL–had a heated floor, a shower with one of those huge rainfall shower heads, and a wooden sink. WOODEN. SINK. The ad said “bohemian style apartment,” so I was anticipating some kind of hippie commune and maybe an invitation to a threesome, but a wooden sink is cool too. I looked around the apartment a little, but I didn’t want to snoop. I’d describe the decor as colorful and delightfully cluttered. Lots of books and a copy of Ticket to Ride on the shelf. Not bad.
After settling in, I ventured to the game stores and bought some DnD dice. Then I found the National Gallery. In a town fully of very assuming buildings, this one was relatively unassuming. I circled it a few times before deciding that it must be the place. You’d expect some indication of “art inside” or “paintings this way.” Maybe even a more noticeable sign. It’s like they loathe visitors but stay open because they have to. Cool building though. It had tall wooden doors that required some effort to open. Felt like entering a really fancy house. But like a castle house.
There are a lot of boobs in old paintings. That place was filled with stern old guys robed to their necks and woman with their tits hanging out. A surprising number of them breast feeding. Even one where a woman was breast feeding a grown man. It was called charity something. Did women suckle starving men in the dark ages? Do I even want to know the answer to that? My point is, breasts aren’t sexualized in this context and they shouldn’t be. It’s art and it’s showing appreciation for a very natural process. So the next time somebody says boo about feeding babies in public, tell them to go to an art gallery and then to go fuck themselves.
I guess Edvard Munch was Norwegian, and he’s kind of a big deal. “The Scream” is supposed to be really important, but it’s a crappy painting. It just is. There were a lot of paintings, but I only took pictures of the weird ones. And one that looks like Harry Potter. Don’t ever take me to an art museum; I’ll embarrass you. Ask Wool.
I also found this pretentious looking dude who was a Christy! Not spelled the same, but I was excited to see my name pop up. Christy isn’t so common at home, but it came up a few times on my travels. This dude looks like he could be a family member, no?
After the Gallery, I wandered down to the water front. My timing was impeccable as I caught this Roosevelt statue before they could replace his missing nose. He’s an American Sphinx. I waited around for a riddle, but alas.
I caught the waterfront just as the sun was starting to dip. Love that glowy hour.
I’m not sure why, but I felt sort of listless and lonely wandering through Oslo. Maybe because I’d already been there a few times, but probably because I’m still a little homesick. Will assured me that I’d find some magic in the city, so I kept looking for it.
I found the National Theatre (awesome building) and heard some music coming from behind it. I came into a busy square with a very soapy fountain and a jaunty five piece band paying a few paces away. The fountain was probably a practical joke, and the band, likely formed on a dare, consisted of an accordion, a guitar, a sax, a bongo, and drums. The air was cold enough to keep my fingers retreating into pockets, but somehow those guys played and played. I sat and listened for about 20 minutes. I dropped a tip and started to head toward the palace when the band started SINGING. Joyful music is a kind of magic.
In front of the palace there’s a statue of a dude on a horse. I’m sure he’s an important Norwegian Royal. He was my chair while I waited for the king and queen to invite me in for tea. They must have overlooked my visit. Maybe next time. Then I hit the woods behind the palace just as the sun was setting. Also pretty magical.
The band and the sunset lifted my spirits, but I still felt lonely and yet kind of anti-social. (Any therapists know how that works?) I passed several restaurants that might have made for nice dinner options, but I couldn’t bring myself to go in. I just wanted to curl up in bed and feel somewhat at home. I grabbed a sandwich from the Deli De Luca and walked back to my Air BnB.
The apartment was quiet when I got in, so I retired to my room. I did, however, get to meet the host. She must have realized that I checked in because she checked in to my room to say hello. Without knocking first. Kind of awkward, but she was a nice enough lady. I stayed up a little too late watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix (that show is the BOMB) but I slept like a log on that pillowy soft bed. I’ve slept in 4 different Norwegian places now, and here’s what’s carried over to all of them: soft beds, heated bathroom floors, and good showers. These are Norwegian traditions I can get behind.
Next post: Bergen!