Sunday, August 1, 2010

Norway. Installment #4

A day of solo wandering.

The other day, (here at home) I was regaling some friends at my usual Karaoke hangout with a story. Something a little “odd” happened to me a little over a week ago when going out for a girl's night, and by the end of the story one of the girls gathered ‘round added that something similar happened to her once. But her story ended with a bunch of guys beating up another guy. I’m not going to go into detail, this is supposed to be about Norway, and I promise I’m getting there. I replied to the end of her story, “Yeah, I don’t need a bunch of guys.” A friend of mine laughed, and I looked at him very curiously. “What’s that about?” I asked. He shook his head, “No, I just agree. I know you are TOTALLY capable of handling your own shit.”

This has been happening often. The other night I was informed by a coworker whom is former Air Force that he was under the impression that I was also former military. When I asked why, his conclusion was that I seem very “proper,” “confident,” “educated,” and “assertive.”

That same night, when I told another friend that I want to move away and start over soon.Possibly Seattle. She gave me a hug, told me that she has every confidence that I will do well in that endeavor, and that she doesn’t feel that way about many females she knows. She would worry about others being unprotected etc. but me, I can take care of myself.


I’m starting to wonder if there’s such a thing as TOO confident? And looking back at my last full day in Oslo, only makes me all the more curious. I do some reckless things sometimes. Really reckless. My head KNOWS it. And yet, I don’t feel any fear. Maybe I have a broken adrenal gland? Physical fear I can sense. The anxiety of riding a rollercoaster and the heart arresting plunge. But I warn you before reading any further that you may feel a need to lecture me by the end of the blog. Please don’t. I know not everything I do is what some would refer to as “smart”, but I can’t help this adventurous/risk taking side. It’s just part of being me.

So. I’m in Norway, realizing time is quickly running out. I had preferred to venture about with company when possible while there. Sightseeing is always better in good company, and I had been a bit nervous about going off on my own. Not because of an element of danger. I just didn’t want to risk not being able to find the apartment again. That, and even if I did, I didn’t think I would be able to get back in without Josh. I have no key, no cell phone, and I don’t know about you, but my Norwegian is a bit rusty. So, I came up with a plan. And if you’ve read any of the previous installments on my experiences you know that all roads in Oslo lead to Central Station.

I asked Josh what time he would be on his way home from work and arranged to just meet him at Central Station at that time since he passes through there anyway. With that settled, the next morning I slept in an hour or two, packed a bag, and set forth. I had six and a half hours of walking around ahead of me.

But where to walk to…. Um…. Where am I??? I have this little slip of paper that says I can ride busses and trams but… ah, shit. I have no idea where anything is in relation to where I’m standing. So, in true typical Aimee fashion, I just pick a random direction and start walking. I find a McD’s on the way, grab a cheeseburger cause it’s fast and familiar, and keep on walking….And walking…. And. I’m about 2 miles out of town and find myself on a strange stretch of freeway before I decide… this probably isn’t the direction for me. I may want to choose another route before I hit Sweden. There nothing much to see on this road but an Enormous cemetery.

Interesting point to be made however, is European cemeteries have a FAR different feel than what we observe in America. They are worth exploring if you get the chance. But I will get more into that on my next, and very final installment of my experiences, along with the ferry ride to the ancient ruins, and trip to the movies.

Moving on… I’m walking this stretch of lonely road and decide before I abandon the city limits altogether I may want to consider the train stop coming up. (I had been following tracks) So, I board the train and take it back to the city. (Thank GOD for my magic little slip of paper)

Once to Central Station I spent a bit of time looking over some maps. I couldn’t understand much of them, but Josh had armed me with some of his travel booklets, and I finally deciphered how to get to the district that housed the Palace.

This is National Theatre.

There are statues at every turn it seems. I broke out my camera tripod and tried setting the timer. If I look annoyed, it's because this is the 5th attempt at getting the damn thing to work.

Proof that not ALL statues in Oslo are naked ;)

It is a GORGEOUS area. The architecture is to DIE for. I would have LOVED to brought my grampa there. His mason’s mind would have been in overload. I know I was thinking of him. (He built half of Crystal Lake) I walked around, me and my bus pass, winter coat, ninja turtle hat, and camera. Strolling about admiring when… It starts to rain. I should have included an umbrella in that list of take-alongs.

I froze for a bit but enjoyed all the same. Looking, snapping photos, and finally took shelter under a gazebo. My heavy DOWN winter coat was saturated. The long sleeves of my shirt were soaked with thirty three degree rain. I needed to get warm.

So I found a mall across the street from National Theatre. Bookstores are always a favorite respite, and I had some last minute gifts to pick up besides. And I found some REALLY cool stuffs in there! The first and last mall that seemed reasonably priced that I encountered there. I found a handful of bday presents that I snagged up, and found a nice warm corner of the coffee house style food court to rest in while I begged my jacket and sleeves to dry.

When it was time to move on, I was very resolved in attempting to find the palace. It was the whole reason I came to this district after all. So. I packed up, put my still wet coat back on. And I sallied forth. I let instinct guide me again, and somehow found myself on the palace grounds.HAZAAH!!!!

It’s exquisite. The jewel of the ornate masterpiece surrounding it. You feel very welcomed and free to roam about the grounds and can walk right up to the back door of the building. The statues and ornaments are grand, and the guards at every post seem to be understanding and with a sense of honor in their full dress uniforms.

These are a couple of the statues and what I would think to be what the horse drawn carriages used to drive down. Thats what my imagination was seeing anyway.

We are arrogant pricks.

When you walk through this beautiful area, you are reminded of something out of a fairytale. It’s a trip to a distant time and way of life. Proper, polite, cultured… Yet when you get to the front of the building and gaze across the street, you start to hear phantom heavy breathing like your listening to a pervert through a drive through speaker. Foreboding music starts to fill your brain’s empty spaces. And you expect someone to put you in a choke hold demanding the Deathstar plans you had the audacity to intercept.

THIS is the US embassy.

In the heart of all that is beautiful we dropped a big black geometric shape, on a street corner with no plant life or warmth. Against wishes. Now these pictures were taken from a bus I was on as we cruised past. I was going to take a pic from the street, but whereas the palace guard made you feel welcomed but watched. The American guards just made you feel you were about to get tased. Maybe I feel an occasional tick of fear after all.

I moved on.

I found my way back to Central Station and very much wished to make a trip in daylight to Naked People Park.

So, I looked over the tram lines, boarded one, and got…… Horribly lost. Very very very lost.

I ended up in a rather rough looking neighborhood, with vacant lots, and graffiti laden walls. But try try again. I got off the tram. Yes, alone, in this abstract area. The people seemed very nice actually. :)

Eventually I did figure out the right bus to take, and found my way.

By time I was finished with my last visit to the park, my feet were soaked and numb, and I was shivering with cold. I threw a few coins into an accordion players hat, unable to imagine anyone being able to withstand being out in this weather night and day without other option. She seemed grateful and gave me a smile and nod that warmed me some as she picked up the tempo.

I had very little time left to kill, before meeting back up with Josh, but slay it I must. So I headed back to the station, thinking I could browse the couple of shops within. That’s when I found I was a very short distance from it all along. Ooops. I had simply gone in the wrong direction on the right line the first time. Looks like I have more than a “little” time to kill.

Hey! The EMO mall!!! (You’ll understand more of this in the next blog too.)

I walked a couple blocks down to this very vertical mall hoping to slay some of the remaining minutes. That’s when it hit me. That insuppressible human urge. And following the little hieroglyphs that are familiar enough to indicate “bathroom” (I don’t read Norwegian remember) I walked past what I had assumed was a customer service, or information counter to the lavatory door. …It was not a service counter. It was the desk for what the Norwegian signs likely said “pay toilet.” I got a few dirty looks as if I were trying to steal something, and blushingly just walked away when I figured it out. I did not have the coin to use it. I gave it all to the accordion player.

So, I gave up on the window shopping, walked back to the station where I was more familiar, and waited in the entry for the next 20 minutes or so; watching the rain drizzle outside, cold, tired, and contemplative on all the adventures of the week. I wanted a hot cup of chocolate, and good rest before my flight. I got both. :)

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