visiting Oslo and long lost friends

Posted from Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

I’d always wanted to visit Oslo, but I never really had a reason, until contact what re-established with a long lost friend. You know that saying – Some people enter your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime? What if they enter periodically, on a 14-year cycle?

The story starts in 1999 when I was just a pup in the sport of skydiving and I met a guy from Norway who happened to be hanging out on the same Florida dropzone I was visiting. A year ago, whilst cleaning out his e-mails he contacted me wondering if my e-mail address still worked and if I remember him. Of course, I replied. And I totally remembered him. In fact, I had searched for him on Facebook and never found him. But all this changed from that one e-mail. So as I found myself in Sweden I sent him a message saying we should meet. Then as Plan B began to disintegrate I sent him another message saying I was leaving Sweden. It was now or never. So we agreed to meet. ┬áIt was at least 100 years ago that we last met, and he could be a crazy person, but the way things were going, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

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Oslo doesn’t appear to be a big city, but it is. According to a shifty web source, it’s the fastest growing city in Europe, which is odd seeing as it’s the fourth most expensive city in the world to live in. I can vouch for this. And yet I’m getting used to the obscene prices in Scandinavia. It has a small town feel, but that could be due to the amazing amount of green-space in this lush place.

My friend Aleks picked me up from the bus station and we made our way to get some pizza – not exactly a Norwegian specialty, but it was either that or Thai. It’s kind of strange when you haven’t seen someone in 14 years. Facebook has helped you stalk them, but until you actually see them, it’s kind of like a grab bag. This was a good grab bag. And he had an apartment to crash in, which meant saving $40/night on a hostel. Winning.

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The next day we headed to Tusenfryd, an amusement park just outside of the city. In 1999 Aleks and I went to Busch Gardens in Orlando. We rented a wheelchair so we could bypass the lines (in the days before Fastrak) and had an amazing day doing rollercoasters and seeing Shamu (or some orca.) In the spirit of that imprudent event he thought a day on the rollercoasters was in order. A man after my heart. No wheelchair this time, but that’s OK. The lines here are nothing like Florida.

From the glory of coasters we headed into town so Aleks could get some work done. He had just spent the entire week in Voss on the west coast of Norway at Ekstremsportveko (Extreme Sports Week.) In the evening we went to see a movie – Man of Steel in 3D at the Colosseum, the biggest cinema in town. The good thing about movies in the north is most people know English, and therefore there are subtitles, but not voiceovers. I just ignored the line of print at the bottom of the screen and watched to my little hearts delight. We dined on popcorn and chocolate covered peanuts. Heaven.

Part of my history lesson. Learning about oceanic travel in reed boats.

Part of my history lesson. Learning about oceanic travel in reed boats.

The next day I was supposed to leave, but Aleks blew off work and we headed to some museums. He thought it was very important that I left Norway informed about some of the country’s culture and heritage. Wasn’t it just vikings? Mead? Runes? I was schooled, much to his contentment, whilst he left to do an interview with a reporter. Who is this guy, anyhow? After my Norwegian history lesson he took me to the top of Oslo’s Olympic ski jump just on the edge of town. The view, outstanding. But there’s more.

From the top of the ski jump to the bottom runs a zip-line. A few prior phone calls and we were both suited up and doing the (590NOK) ride for free. The guy said they controlled the braking system. OK. So when I slammed into the barrier at the bottom (which was totally fine – except for the moment prior when I accepted this was how I was going to die) Aleks said he looked at his friend and he shrugged. Apparently not everyone gets brakes.

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From the zip-line we picked up some sushi and went to Vigelandsparken to eat it. This park is famous for its naked statues. I lost count how many there are, but if you are unclear about anatomy, this is the place to go. So there we sat, on the steps, chowing down raw fish surrounded by nakedness. One of my better meals, really.

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As with Sweden, night time creeps up on you. The sun is still shining after 10 p.m. Then suddenly you look at your watch it’s nearly midnight. And then suddenly you realize two amazing days have completely gone by. And then suddenly you know it’s time to leave.

After two wonderful days and three nights in Oslo with a long-lost friend I booked myself a train ticket to Stockholm. I couldn’t come all this way north and not see legendary Stockholm. But as the train pulled out of the station I couldn’t help but think that leaving is getting a little bit old. And then I had to wonder where I’ll be when I choose to stop. And then I had to wonder where home is for me now. Because really, for the first time in a very long time I don’t know where home is. They say it’s with the people you love, but that confuses me more. The people I love are all over the world.

At the train station. Will it be another 14 years??

At the train station. Will it be another 14 years??

 

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