Written on July 26.
On Thursday, we finally got to go into Oslo and explore the city. We got off in the city center and walked to the Royal Palace, saw the National Theatre and City Hall and some of the other main attractions of Oslo. After a short time there, we left to go eat on top of a mountain that overlooks the entire city.
After lunch, we walked down to Oslo’s competition ski jump, a towering metal structure in the summer with zip-liners but covered with snow in the winter. The heat was pretty much unbearable during this time, especially on the train up the mountain, so we headed to Frogner Park to sit in the shade for a bit and look at the Vigeland installation, a series of nude sculptures of men, women and babies, including a giant monolith of naked bodies.
After Frogner Park, we left to get out of the heat and headed home, stopping by Marianne’s old school and the main shopping street (I don’t suggest shopping in Oslo unless you’ve got a lot of extra $$ hiding around).
At some point during all of this, we came to find out that Norway is facing a “imminent concrete” terrorist threat regarding the Syrian civil war and that I’m supposed to register with the American embassy (sorry mom for not telling you, but I didn’t want to scare you). Norway increased security in the airport and main bus/train terminal, with police carrying guns (unusual here), and shut down the Royal Palace and City Hall to tourists. Guess we just made it in time to see them.
I registered online with the American STEP program, which alerts the embassy that I am in the country in case they need to track me down. I’m sitting on the plane to London writing this, so I’m fine, but hopefully Norway escapes whatever threat faces them and finds whoever would be responsible before anything happens. We caught a piece on the news interviewing Americans in the country later that week about the scare, which was unexpected in a country that is generally so safe that police leave their guns in their cars.
It’s odd how I managed to be in Oslo in such a tumultuous time, with the burglary and record breaking heat and the terrorist threats. Marianne’s family told me they usually find themselves complaining in the summer that it could be a little warmer, a little less cloudy or rainy, but that this summer they’re complaining that they’re not complaining. The chances of a burglary in Oslo are much slimmer than at home, and targeting Norway with terror threats has been compared to doing the same with Idaho in the States.
Marianne’s parents came home Thursday night to deal with the burglary (they had guests at their summerhouse the day before and the police told them there was little they could do by getting back early), having to leave the fjord earlier than planned. Marianne’s brother came by, and we all ordered pizza.
Friday was another chill day mostly spent at the apartment. I had to get some laundry done, and it was too hot to really do much. Marianne, her dad and I went to the Munch Museum. Edvard Munch (pronounced monk) is a famous Norwegian painter known for “The Scream,” and his collection made me a fan. I think he’s got to be one of my favorite painters now!
Marianne’s parents had a friend’s party to go to that night, but they sent us and Marianne’s brother and his girlfriend to a seafood restaurant called Lofoten recommended in the Michelin guide and The New York Time’s 36 Hour Guides. I ordered Norwegian lobster, which was perfectly cooked, and we all shared a nice bottle of white wine. The waitress was a bit off, but the food was on point. We all headed home and I packed up to leave for London the next day.
Now I’m sitting on the plane, laptop and tray table out before they’re supposed to be and Lana Del Rey’s new album echoing through my headphones. It’s been more than a year and a half since I was last in London, my favorite place in the world. The place that spurred a two-year personal growth unlike any other in my life, where I spent the best three months of my life. My flatmates are still scattered across Europe, though I will get to see three of them and some of my other friends throughout the 19 days I plan on spending here (I may take a few days to go to Dublin and maybe a short trip to Oxford or Cambridge). I don’t know what to expect this time around, but I anxiously await stepping out of the plane and back into a place with infinite personal meaning to me.
I loved Oslo! I have a lot of family there so I’m praying everyone stays safe. That country is incredible!