Oslo Observations

  1.  There may be no greater evil in the world than bus tourists. (Okay, this is a huge overstatement, but hear me out.) Bus tourists bring out the worst in mankind. This is a fact. Confine any person in a group and then let them free in an area with a limited amount of time to see whatever it is that they have come to see. Not only do these people now feel it is their duty to cut in line, push their way in front of polite people (me…at least 35% of the time), and cause everyone to act like John Snow crushed beneath a pile of dead people. Now the important question is: “Does the bus make people act this way, or are people who take bus tours naturally predisposed to step on your face to see the top of the ski jump?” This is a very chicken and egg philosophical argument that I will leave up to my readers who come here for the brilliant philosophical wonderings…men in prison who google searched “mob mentality.” 
  2.  The Norwegians say, “There is no bad weather, there is only bad clothing.” Okay, I want to update this saying to “There is no bad weather, but there can be if you are packing for a vacation during the SUMMER!” Come on Oslo! Give me a break. Let me see the sun shine with dry shoes. 
  3.  I would believe that is impossible to get drunk in Norway, but I have seen a number of men who were very, very drunk in public. These men must be millionaires because any form of alcohol in Oslo costs as much as a new Tesla. Norway has a way of forcing people to act in a more healthy fashion, they tax the hell out of anything they don’t want you to do. A beer at a bar costs between $10-$20. So if you want to get your drink on in Oslo be ready to take out a second mortgage.
  4.  Like many major European cities there are a good number of Romanian beggars on the streets. My wife and I have been fascinated by the beggars outside of our hotel. The hotel we are staying in is near the main train station and our breakfast restaurant overlooks the main square of Oslo so we have been watching the interactions of the beggars with interest. Now this may make me the worst person in the world, but I want to understand what is going on with these groups of people. I did a little research and read a few articles and then watched the people while I ate far too much for breakfast. According to the articles these Romanians have traveled to Oslo to beg, they earn about 200 Kroners a day half of which they send home (200 K is about $25 US), they live in large groups in small apartments, there are a number of NGOs assisting the members of the community who are homeless, and they are not organized by a mafia type organization they are primarily extended family units who are looking for a better life but don’t have job skills or language skills to get jobs. The news articles were split pretty evenly that these people were either evil or just victims of unfortunate circumstances. I suppose a truly compassionate person would talk to them and find out, but I don’t want my wallet to get stolen.
  5.  There is a national conspiracy to make people walk in Norway. I’m serious. Yesterday, I went to Holmenkollen, a big ski jump on the hill above the city. It was pretty cool and had a train stop called Holmenkollen so one would assume that the train stopped right next to the ski jump. You’d be wrong. The train stopped, we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked until we arrived at the ski jump. It was steep, and far too long to call the train stop Holmenkollen, a better name would have been Kinda Near Holmenkollen But Really About 2 Kilometers From Holmenkollen. Now, Holmenkollen isn’t the only example. Every metro stop is about five city blocks from a tourist attraction. You must walk, or catch a bus. The museums on Bygdoy (Fram, Kon Tiki, Viking, Norwegian Outdoor Folk Museum) are all spread out to make you walk to get to all of them. Could they all have been put right next to each other? Yes, certainly. This might be why there are so many bus tours in Oslo because fat people want to see stuff too. I don’t mind walking, but when the weather has been rain followed by heavy rain, followed by wind and rain, I start to get a little grumpy. I do believe there is a national conspiracy to make people exercise, there are signs on public transit of bad people playing video games or watching television and good people jumping off diving boards and skateboarding. 
  6.  Norwegians know how to do breakfast. The breakfast spread at my cheap hotel has smoked salmon, baked salmon, eggs with bacon, 10 types of fresh bread, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, sausage, liver paste (terrible), coffee, tea, 10 types of fresh juice, cheese, sliced meats, salad bar…it is insane. For a country where eating costs $25 a meal, this excess of breakfast foods has turned me into a pig and I’m not sorry.
  7.  Locals dress in a very neat and fashionable way: Tight pants, slim cut shirts, and fancy haircuts. Tourists stick out in a crowd. For example, I’m the only person in Norway wearing a checkered fleece shirt. 
  8.  Outdoor folk museums sound like fingernails scratching on a blackboard to me, but in reality they are pretty cool if you give them a chance. The folk dancing is still pretty lame, but it brought out a million dollar idea: 1980’s Folk Museum. Think of how awesome it would be to visit the 1980’s. Instead of meeting a young lady churning butter you could talk to some kids plunking quarters in a Space Invaders game in a video game arcade. Or, you could visit a family watching Miami Vice on a 25 inch television. You could buy Wham albums at a record store. There would be phone booths, day glow clothing, big hair, and MTV would play music.
  9.  American city halls suck. The city hall in Oslo is an attraction. I can’t even imagine visiting any city hall in America and getting wowed. LA? No way dude. Seattle? Do we even have a city hall? Portland? Only if you like Portlandia. We need to take some pride in our public buildings. America’s motto shouldn’t be: ” We built that under-budget and on time.” 
  10.  No matter where I go I end up hating the people in museums. I show up ready to see paintings and by the time I get to the second room I’m already mad at three groups of people: The Bus Group, who move together; The Clueless Guy, who stands in front of every painting I want to see; and the Guy Who Takes Pictures of all the paintings using a flash. I should learn to take a deep breath and relax, but I can’t. If I ever get in a fist fight in my lifetime it will be in an art museum. 

14 thoughts on “Oslo Observations

  1. Jon,

    Holmenkollen is the name of a neighborhood in Oslo, not just the ski jump, so there is more to Holmenkollen than just the ski jump. But of course, you’ve discovered that walking from the station (and back). And yes, the Norwegians like to walk. You won’t find many obese natives, so there is merit to their madness.

    Your comment about the drunks reminds me that some people party at home on home-made beer and booze before they go out to party in public where it costs a lot, and therefore, they won’t be tempted to buy so many drinks. One good thing: you won’t see them driving; the penalties are too great. Ask a local what a DUI can bring. Cab drivers are very busy on Friday and Saturday nights.

    You’ve lived under the blue hole of sunny Sequim too long. Other parts of the Pacific NW experience cool rainy weather in the early summer. Europe can be the same. Having said that, we’re sorry you’re wearing wet shoes. Get yourself a Helly Hansen jacket and blend in with the natives (assuming you have high credit card limit). Dry your shoes on the heater, because it’s probably running. At least you’re not getting sunburned.


    1. That makes more sense about the ski jump. On our way back to the train we ran into a Swedish family. The dad was so mad they had to walk so far. By that time we were on the downhill side and got quite a kick out of it.


  2. I wish you had told me you were coming Scandi way–I would have told you to go to Bergen instead of Oslo ;-). Seriously, are you doing CPH? And if so, when? We’re in the US now, but will be back in DK mid to late July. Happy to give you some tips if you’re looking. But everything you say is true, which is why Scandinavia works (the stupid tax on luxury goods 180% on cars in DK–because they don’t want people driving–makes sense, right? It’s lethal, but I respect it. Same on paper products. You don’t need them so they’re premium. It’s something like 6 or 7 USD for 15 paper plates and don’t get me started on decent toilet paper). Oh, and the damn ‘no bad clothing thing’ is such a joke for all of us expats. I am constantly referring to my closet full of fantastic summer clothes I don’t get to wear. Enjoy and let me know if you’re around!!


      1. Sorry to have missed you. Hope the weather is decent for you. Make sure to see Tivoli, and the canal boat tours are a good value, especially if the weather is nice (the one further along Nyhavn is less expensive than the one near the anchor). Also Louisiana and Arken both superb modern art museums.


  3. Sounds remarkable — hence, your remarks. Sublime, you’ve surely earned a nice get away. And yet it will be nice to return to Sequim, too. And that Helly Hansen outlet in Centralia, or thereabouts. Bill


  4. I bought myself a checkered fleece shirt about a week ago because it’s cold and I’m old. And that allows me to dress myself with whatever i want to. I walked into the hairdresser’s shop and she scream at me: “Are you going for the lumberjack look?”

    I wanted to leave but my hair needed a trim to make me look less like a lumberjack.

    I love your travel posts by the way…


  5. I wanna see that fistfight. Make sure the guy with the flash photography is there and then fight somebody else. Also, try to do the bulk of your brawling in front of the over-hyped paintings that I would recognize.


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