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Published: March 24th 2012
Detail of a stave church on my first day of solo travel.
Today in the hostel I woke up with the alarm of the man in the bunk below me. I think he was German, but at 7:30 in the morning, 6:30 Irish time, I didn't care where he was from. I lay awake trying to collect my thoughts. Ahead of me lay the promise of my first day in Norway and the daunting challenge of my first full day ever of solo traveling. I really had no idea what to expect.
My first challenge was working the hostel shower. After thoroghly spraying my medicine bag and my clothes I enjoyed a surprisingly, bordering on painfully, hot shower. I then rolled down to the famed Norweigen breakfast where I picked myself up some juice, some ham and cheese, and some bread. I also picked myself up some cornflakes. And when I went to pour the milk, the milk just kind of oozed out of the carton in sort of a plopping fashion. Back at my seat I decided to take partake in this sketchy bowl of cornflakes. Well that milk substance certainly had a bite to it. I never did find out if this was a special Norweigen milk or if it
Exploring old Norway on the Byrdby Peninsula
had just gone bad, but it didn't matter because I was eager to be on my way.
My first mission was to find the tourist office. This being achieved I purchased an "Oslo Card", so I wouldn't have to worry about transportation or admission prices for the duration of my stay in Oslo. With my card in hand I was on my way to the first spot of interest, the Byrdby Peninsula and its famous museums. However, when I arrived at the Norsk Folkmuseum I was told that the museum wouldn't be open for another hour, but I was welcome to wander the reconstructed Norweigen Folk park. As I wandered and wandered, I soon discovered that I was the only soul in this great expanse of a park. This gave me a funny feeling. While exploring I happened upon a most interesting stave church, typical of this Scandanavian country, with its timber design and dragon carvings. It was fascinating in a Hansel and Gretel sort of way.
After killing an hour in that cold open-air park, I was let into the museum and its exhibits. Again, not a soul was to be found. As I wandered in amongst
Viking Ship Museum
One of three ships in the museum.
the dimly lit exhibits my movement kept setting off this eerie and creepy Nordic music. The music was sad and haunting. And at once I thought that I knew what it was like to be alone perched above the fjords with only your singing and your heartbeat to keep you company. Afterwards I walked along the snowy road to the Viking Ship Museum, where to my relief there were in fact people. Those three Viking ships were striking in appearence. They really exuded the power and confidence of their former owners. They were also in remarkably good condition. I lingered around for a little just happy to be around people again.
After the two museums I head off, bound for Oslo Station where earlier I had seen a McDonalds. I had heard rumors of salmon burgers being served in the McDonalds of Norway. But, sadly these rumors proved false. So I had a Big Mac instead, which was of course delicious as always. Once finished I headed out of Oslo station with no clue where I was headed. So I just started down this grand pedestrian street, Sir Karl Johan's Gate. I was simply exploring. Now this was more
Changing of the Guard...Norweigen style.
like it. This was a street worthy of a European capital and it displaced my notion that Oslo was simply White Plains or Mamaroneck plopped down in Scandanavia. On my left was the National Thearter on my left was Oslo University, but what caught my eye was this grand looking palace in the distance.
So I cautiously made my way up to this place of splendor. I say cautiously because Oslo is covered with patches of ice. Some stretches would really make a good cross country ski trail. Actually, all around Oslo you keep seeing these healthy looking people with skis in tow, like they were in some kind of resort. They are on the bus, on the subway. You never know where one might turn up.
Up at the Royal Palace I thought that it was quite different from Buckingham Palace in London, which is the only other palace I have been to. There are no gates so you can walk right up and touch the palace and it is surrounded by beautiful parkland. It is however, protected by special uniformed guards. I was fortunate to be there as they were doing marching drills. It was quite
The sun had set on my first day of travel remarkably early.
a sight. Just like back at the stave church I was trying to find someone to take a picture of me in front of a landmark, but finding no one I had to resort to taking a picture of myself. Good thing I have long arms.
I walked back along Karl Johan's Gate stopping off at the National Thearter to gaze upon a statue of Norway's patron playwrite, Henrik Ibsen. A dour looking fellow to the least. Back at the Haraldshein Hostel I relaxed while catching up with the news of USA Today. On my way to dinner I discovered that the Norweigen sun set completely at 4:50pm and it seemed to be very low in the sky as early as 2:15pm. Interesting...
My goal was to eat dinner at Fognershed Resteraunt at the end of T-Bane line #1. Along the way I was beseiged by little Norweigens with sleds, apparently they were headed where I was. We were left off in what seemed to be the middle of the woods, certainly not a subway station. With no restaurant in sight I blindly set off here and there among many a desolate, but well-lit, snowy mountain trails.
Unfortunately, my search did not turn up the restaurant, just a decrepid abandoned cafe. With no luck, coupled with the many skiers and tobaganers who seemed to be eyeing me strangely I left and headed for the famed Holbokken Ski jump where I had heard rumors of a restaurant. Once I found out that they had reindeer meet on the menu I was pulled in. Even at such expense I deserved a treat after my first day of solo, not to mention winter travel. Before I ate though I was off to see the ski jump. My first glimpse caused my jaw to drop. How could anyone jump off that? It looks absolutely suicidal. It causes my heart to thump just thinking about it. But now here I sit in a warm restaurant overlooking the lights of Oslo, my belly full of reindeer meat. I think back on what a long, full and strange day its been. It has been both lonelier, yet far easier and rewarding than I had ever imagined it would be. Note: This comes from a tiny notebook I found when cleaning out my room yesterday. I had forgotten it completely. It is my experiences of my first day of traveling on my own back when I was 20 years old. Amazing to think how much traveling I have done since then and this day was the start of it all. It is far more detailed then anything I have written since. -Tommy No Papers 3/23/12
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