Hello everyone. I have landed safely and successfully made my way to the Haraldsheim Hostel in Oslo, 4 km from the city center. It’s my first day in Scandinavia (and Norway) and I have already learned several new things:
1. I do not speak Norwegian.
I just returned from the grocery store, where I bought two pizzas and a bar of chocolate, which rang up for 75.90 NOK – roughly 12 dollars. Fortunately everything was well labeled and I was able to see my total on the cashier’s display, thus avoiding a total communication failure. I had a delightful conversation with the young woman working the register.
TORY - smiling, dumbfounded: Uhhhhh…
CASHIER – smiling: Birkelsojidorf sikfj suudkj rweoiru. Sodudk skojd ox?
TORY – still smiling, handing over the money: Um.
CASHIER – accepting money, puzzled at lack of response: Sodudk skojd ox?
TORY – clearly distressed: Yes.
CASHIER – frowning: Tslkjdoiook durpfk. Dfjek uyoot.
TORY – apologetic, dismayed at unintentional breach of etiquette: Danke. (Oops!)
Aside from my most recent experience buying groceries, everyone I have met in Oslo has spoken impeccable English, in many cases with no discernable accent. I have my handy dandy Norwegian phrase book, but I haven’t needed it yet. I guess at the store I was too embarrassed to break into English. I’m eating one of those pizzas right now – Jarlsberg cheese, ham, and mushrooms. Delicious.
2. Norwegians are realllly friendly.
I landed in Norway with no train reservations, no bus tickets, no map, and no friends. I was quite pleased with how easy it was to get all of those things taken care of in almost no time at all. Not only does everyone here speak English – they are also really friendly! I have been to a lot of places where I felt like I was part of some sort of invasion. Certainly not the case here… I have now paid for all of my accommodations, transit needs, and admission fees for the next four days. I pulled out 3000 NOK this morning after I landed, and half of it is gone as a result. I have experience working with the Euro, the Pound, and the Swiss Franc, all of which are comparable to the dollar in spending power. So, finding out that a bottle of water is 18 NOK is taking some time to get used to.
3. I love me some Jarlsberg.
Well, I am going to take a few more bites of this pizza and then it’s time to tram back down to the city center for some exploring. It’s almost 2 pm Norway time, which means I’ve been awake for 21 hours now. I haven’t crashed yet, but I know it’s coming. My goal is to make it to 5 pm.
A few pictures from day one: