Monday, June 28, 2010

trip to Norway installment one... "travel"

I know I already posted this as a note on Facebook... but I apparently forgot to post it here. And since I made a point of saying I was going to be more active with this blog, I figured finally getting around to elaborating on my trip would be a good start. ...Why it's taken me this long??? I have my reasons, and what can I say? Procrastination is a favorite hobby of mine and it's one that I practice regularly. But I have been going over notes and things from my trip and plan to produce something more very soon.

Norway. Installment #1

If any of you see my statuses I’m sure it was hard to miss that I was in Norway not too long ago, yet it feels so distant now. And as the experience was a long and complex tale to illustrate to its full justice, I am going to have to break it down into categories. This is installment 1.

I should start off this telling you about this little journey of mine the same way I began the actually journey. With what went wrong before I even left.

In the week or so leading up to the trip, as I went to pay my credit card bill, I found something potentially hazardous had occurred. They dropped my limit. What I was depending on to get me from point A to meal B while abroad had vanished like an unguarded pizza in a room full of growing teenage boys. I was in a bit of trouble. So… I did something I never thought I’d do. But desperate times call for desperate measures. …I called for help. …I hate asking for help.

I threw myself a fundraiser. Just a little shin dig of sorts, and I was very surprised by the response my friends gave me. They went above and beyond the call of duty, and by the end of it, I had a nice little purse for my trip. (Literally as well, Daisy bought me a neat little purse with owls on it) Really, if you took ANY part in that event, thank you from the bottom of my heart. While I was away I was thinking of you all and you truly gave me a greater gift than you will ever know. The modern family is comprised not of blood, but of friends, and I’m so grateful for you guys. :)

…On to the start of the physical journey.

I stayed up the entire night before departing. I had to leave @ 5am as I was tagging along with a friend that works on a naval base very close to the O’Hare Airport. It just made sense to do this and wait for her to get off work to make it the rest of the way. I did take a short nap at this point in the car, just to make sure I would be SOMEwhat alert once trying to decipher my gates and travel details. It was a bit of fun when a unit was marched past the car and stopped in front of it chanting hoorah-has. End nap. And just as well. I woke to find a voicemail from the friend I would be staying with while in Norway. The details were confused and instead of my flight LEAVING that day, it was thought it was LANDING. (In other words, as far as my friend was concerned, I was MIA.)

I flew about the office my friend works at in desperate attempt to find a way of contacting my friend waiting for me on the other side. Once sorted out, I was not about to fall back asleep. I wanted to be there, and I wanted to be there THAT SECOND. I felt I should have been. How dare I not arrive a day early! Shame on myself! Bad AIMEE!!!

Well, I tried to distract myself with a bit of writing. For those of you that have missed this little detail about myself, not only was this to be my first time traveling “alone”…. But first time leaving the country as well. There were a million and one questions I had needed distracting from. Customs? Passport? Gates? Security Checks? Seat assignments? Layovers? Trains? Boarding Passes? Baggage checks and claims? It was all a jumble in my mind. But it is best to learn by doing. And it was all part of the experience.


Wasn’t nearly as harrowing as I suspected it would be. I was a little confused as to what to do with my laptop with the x-ray machines. Someone was finally kind enough to tell me to take it out of the bag and set it in a bin of its own. No problems getting out to Norway. However, I found it interesting you also had to go through security getting OFF the first plane in Stockholm. It seemed excessive but who am I to judge?

Getting back to America? Was by far much more interesting. I got patted down. (I forgot to remove my stupid little wallet that is made out of metal.) The alarm went off, I removed it, and I stepped through again. (Very sleepy eyed) The alarm sounded off again, and I rolled my eyes realizing I forgot the hoodie I was wearing had a quality metal zipper. It was then that I heard the security guard utter to me, “This is a Random search.” Random search? Really? Come on. Maybe it was the language barrier, but I know a screwed up. I’ll admit it. I have nothing to hide. Just say, “we have to search you since you sounded the alarm twice.” Leave the “random” out of it when there was nothing “random” about it. The pat down was extremely mild (dare I say half assed) and I doubt if I WAS carrying anything they would have found it anyway. Say… Oh I dunno… if I had strapped a knife on my back under my bra strap for example?

After arriving in Copenhagen (journeying back TO America) I was in line waiting to go through security. The line was long, time was running out, and I… got waived thru? Seriously? Yup… they opened a side door and let the two people in front of me and myself around the security room. I just waltzed right on into the gate’s waiting area. …maybe not so much “waltzed” as tip toed nervously, expecting it to somehow be a trick, and for some reason expected a football player to appear and tackle my ass like I was in a Snicker’s commercial the moment I would let my guard down. Skipping security? I knew this was too good to be true. There was going to be a catch. Karma was going to catch up to me. Customs back home was going to be hell, I just knew it.

Yeah…. Same thing. Waived right on thru. No search, No x-ray, No nothing. (Not that I’m complaining.) But how many of my friends have I witnessed stories from? How many tales of horror about customs have filled my ears? They’ll search your luggage… you have to wait in line forever… they’ll slice you open and read your intestines on a long metal counter…. I hate to disappoint, but my intestines are fully intact and I honestly found the whole process to be very quick and painless. (And we were at threat level orange too… if anyone even notices that crap system anymore)

But that was on the way back…. Let’s talk more about the journey THERE. When I had arrived in Norway, I found the train that runs between the city and the airport. All roads lead to Central Station. I really mean that. There isn’t a single bus, train, trolley, or taxi, that doesn’t make regular stops at this building. It is the HUB of Oslo. The trains are very nice out there. Even most of the subway cars and busses. Most are cloth cushy seats. Not the hard plastic, cheap—feels like you won it out of a happy meal—seats we have here in the states. I mean, there were a couple of older trains I had hopped on every once in a while. But for the most part, it was all a quality experience.

I got off the train, dragging my luggage behind me, and found Josh. He helped me with my bags, and showed me to the next sequence of transportation back to the apartment. As I stood on the platform waiting for the tram to arrive, I stared at a machine that you purchase transit passes from. I knew I would need one. I knew there would be different increments of time you could purchase them for. …(I don’t speak Norwegian) “So… how does this work?” I stared, intimidated by the big blue box. He had his back to it, ignoring the thing, and reached into his pocket. “Already taken care of.”

He then handed me a little rectangle of paper that put the entire city quite literally at my fingertips.

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