Oslo

Written on July 26.

Royal Palace

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.

Frogner Park

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.

Vigeland Installation

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. 

Overlooking Oslo

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.

Naked Monolith

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!

Lobster at Lofoten

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.

 From Frogner Park

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.

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Beaches and Burglaries

We left the summerhouse on Tuesday evening to head to Oslo for the rest of the week. My time on the fjord was quite refreshing after being on the go for so long, getting to eat home-cooked meals and give my feet a break in the sun. My sneakers pretty much never got put on, and my breathing feet thanked me for that. Tuesday evening in Oslo was pretty chill, considering we got in around 8pm and had to grab groceries for the week. We went to bed relatively early and got up the next morning to go to the beach. Marianne had a package coming between 3-4 on Wednesday, so we went to the beach knowing we’d need to head back around 2:30. It was really hot out – the heat has been near record-breaking in Oslo this past week – so we would alternate lying out on the hot sand in the open sun and hopping in the cold waters of the Oslo fjord. Once we cooled off in the water, we’d hop out and dry in the sun only to get wet again with sweat.

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There were tons of naked babies running around (how European), gorgeous Scandinavian couples (I swear there’s something in the water here) and swans unafraid to gather around the humans, one of whom sat guard outside of a baby carriage for a short time (okay I’m actually afraid of swans ever since I got chased by one when I was little). At 2:30, we headed back to the apartment, which is when the real action of the week occurred. Marianne’s flat is on the top floor, and when we got out of the elevator we noticed an oddly familiar sheet sitting outside of the roof access door, which was wide open. Marianne put her key into the deadbolt lock, turning with no success. Then we noticed that there were indentions on the side of the door near where the locks were. “Oh my god someone’s broken in,” says Marianne. 20140726-232817-84497114.jpg There’s no way. I’d left my iPhone and wallet in the apartment since we were going to the beach, had my laptop and passport there. Everything important to me and my travels was sitting inside of that apartment. “They didn’t get in through this door,” I say. “Could they have gotten in through the roof?” I was holding onto the hope that someone tried unsuccessfully and that everything was fine. I climbed up the ladder onto the roof and ran across the hot black ground there to the side overlooking the veranda. The door to the apartment was wide open with the lock busted. I ran back and Marianne was talking to her dad, who had called the police. I go into a full on panic because I’m assuming the worst, that everything is gone, that I’ll have no way to get money or get out of the country, that I’ll have to figure out getting a new phone in a foreign country and have to replace my laptop (which, though small, had a blog post written and ready to go up that I thought I would lose forever). 20140726-232817-84497993.jpg When the police arrived, they couldn’t get the front door open either, so they had to call a locksmith. Marianne’s family – her brother, sister and brother-in-law all showed up. The police were going to take a while, so we left for a café while they took pictures and fingerprints from the scene, and it was more than two painfully nerve-wracking hours before we would realize what was taken. When we got to the café, I used Marianne’s brother-in-law’s “Find my iPhone” app to check for my phone. It said it was still in the apartment, but it couldn’t find my laptop. My laptop wouldn’t have been connected to wifi, so seeing that my phone was still there I had hope. The police called Marianne to survey the scene and tell them what was missing, and finally Marianne’s family and I were able to go back into the apartment. Somehow, all of my things were there except 300 NOK (about $50), which felt like nothing compared to what I thought would be gone. The burglars did manage to steal the Tyvand’s safe, which had silverware and passports in it, and most of her mom’s jewelry and some silver ornaments for their Norwegian national costumes. Things were thrown everywhere and there was fragmented wood surrounding the door to the veranda where they had broken in. After we had checked the apartment, we left to grab sushi and decompress and spent the rest of the evening cooling down in the apartment. We couldn’t be bothered to go into Oslo as we had planned after such a stressful day.

Dear Kragero

This letter brought to you by my laptop surviving a burglary in Norway – more on that next time…

Kragero

Dear Kragero, 

I spent my days with you watching the sun make its slanted path across the sky, not setting until past 10 and never truly getting dark.

Midnight on the Fjord

Your long, easy days helped mend my tired feet. Your cool, salty waters woke me from my lazy naps, the salt curling my hair in the warm breeze.

You were three days of fresh air, sunshine, kayak and motorboat rides and dips in the fjord to cool down in this year’s unusually hot Norwegian summer. You were long talks about politics and culture, about international friends and the trip the Tyvands once took to Siloam Springs, Arkansas, where I haven’t even been.

Kayaking

Meals too were eaten in the open air, underneath a large umbrella to keep us in the shade. Coffee and cereal in the mornings, Italian pizza in the village nearby for lunch, Norwegian salmon or hot dogs in potato tortilla-like buns in the evenings. Would dinner be at 4:30 or 7 or 9 today? Only the day could decide.

Late night dinner

We took a boat ride yesterday, past the islands and through the fjord out to the open sea. We anchored near a small island and jumped off the boat into water that first knocked the air from my lungs but then felt warm under the sun floating on my back. We snacked on Norwegian sweets – one almost like a pancake and the other like some sweet tortilla.

Taking out the boat

As I floated, face towards the sky and body cool under the water, I couldn’t help but think, there is nowhere in the entire world I would rather be than here.

Thank you.

Brennan

Good friends

Out on the boat