After going to bed last night at 6:00, I awoke this morning to chirping birds and a brilliantly shining sun. At 5:30. The weather when I went turned in for the night was eerily reminiscent of Blacksburg: windy, rainy, and cold. Today, however, it is gorgeous. I could see all the way out to the Oslo fjord from my breakfast table. The hostel breakfast was great. Norwegian breakfast resembles German breakfast: there are cheeses (Jarlsberg!), cold meats, jams and jellies, fresh vegetables, muesli, and grainy breads. A few Norwegian additions include pickled herring, beets, and a few substances I have yet to identify. The coffee and juices are excellent.
Today is Syttende Mai: Norwegian Independence Day. Oslo on a typical day is pretty busy, but today the city was a zoo. Not thinking clearly, I wore my orange effect t-shirt today. (Norway’s national colors are red, white, and blue, just like ours.) Most people wear the Norwegian colors on Syttende Mai. Others wore traditional Norwegian garb or their finest Sunday clothes with red and white ribbons.
I probably saw three quarters of a million people today. The only other person wearing an orange shirt was a hobo.
I felt rather out of place, but the festive atmosphere and the great weather were a good distraction. There were a smattering of different parades, but the biggest one was the traditional children’s parade, which went on for a good three hours. I visited Slottet (the Royal Palace), Stortinget (Parliament), and the brand new Opera house, which was just finished in 2006. The building is really quite remarkable – the whole outside is tiled with marble and it rises on a majestic slant right out of the harbor. On the inside there is a Guggenheim-esque rising spiral with a cool wooden pattern. Definitely the coolest building I have seen in Oslo. The urinals in the men’s restroom were pretty flipping sweet too.
I grabbed some Subway for lunch (95 NOK = 12 dollars) and then made my way over to Vigeland park and statue garden, where I encountered a statue featuring a man that I fondly refer to as “the baby basher.” This Vigeland guy would have been an interesting dinner guest to say the least. Most of his work was weird and some of it was downright grotesque, but it was pretty cool to look at.
I’m having my other frozen pizza from yesterday now. The past two days I have spent less than half of my $40/day food budget – but I am hoping to save money in the first few weeks because I did not account for my possible day of skiing in Stryn on my original budget.
It’s 6:30 and I am tired again – I can tell I’m still not adjusted to European time. I’m going to stay up a bit later tonight to hopefully allow myself to wake up at a more normal time tomorrow. 6:30 instead of 5:30, perhaps? A few pictures from my busy day: