I don’t know. I guess because it initially looked like the cheapest flights on the Ryanair site were to Norway. On closer inspection though it was only one of the flights that cost 14.99 euro.
The return flight was 80 something euro and the Ryanair Airport was 66km away from Oslo proper. After buying the flights and passing the ‘fuck it’ moment I was committed though. It allowed me to tick the Nordics of my map of places I have to travel to.
Did you enjoy it?
I did but you might get the impression talking to me that I didn’t. This is because Norway has many negatives which I enjoy talking about. Perversely though that collection of cultural failings of the Norwegians I found to be very enriching experience.
I’ll run a few off. The place is pretty much uninhabitable to humans (see picture above) – it might as well the fucking North Pole. It’s just snow and freezing cold and ice floes and more snow.
And this is it when it’s warming up and in one of Norway’s warmer cities.
On my second day there I had 4/5 hot showers in the day just to keep myself warm.
The next negative is the concerted effort of the Norwegians I encountered to be unfriendly (just the people I met..don’t pull a freaker).
When I asked a young man was a seat taken on the train from Rygge Airport to Oslo he looked at me as though I had just prodded him with a Luger. Later when asking another man could I see the map on the bus stop behind him he disgustedly shimmied about two inches to the left not enough so that I could see the map.
I am told that there is nothing malicious in this behaviour that the cold weather brings on this introversion but to be honest there is really no excuse for it.
I felt as though half my social skills were gone. All of my pleasantries, small jokes and courtesies that usually make normal public sphere interaction tolerable fell flat.
After a short while though I learned and inculcated their unfriendly ways – not hard for me being pleasant was always a courtesy to others in the first place – they started to mistake me for one of their own.
I shared a mutual disgust with a fifty something year old Norwegian man as a stretch hummer drove passed us. Our moment was soon ruined when he asked me a question in Norwegian to which I just nodded. He looked dissatisfied. I said the word ‘obscene’ in English, pointed at the hummer still passing and nodded again. He looked confused. I started walking away. Hopefully he thought it was a Norwegian word. He is no longer in my line of sight. I have forgotten him and my discomfort.
Here comes the paradox though – in the midst of all of this inhospitable environment and surrounded by the inhospitable people I met being equally inhospitable I felt rejuvenated. My dreams normally dark took on a different quality in Norway.
They included building castles on beaches and climbing mountains on long heroic journeys.
Norway was a strange beauty to snowy land – Norvay – the way North – I mean just look at the pictures.
And Vigelind sculpture park – some of the worlds most fucked up statutes.
One a monolith of bodies which reminded me of the tower of murdered bodies in Hannibal. Serious nightmare fuel and serious artistic inspiration. Pictures of both included below for your examination.
Would you go back?
Not in a hurry. It was super expensive. 13 euro for a pint. 12 euro for a Burger King by my estimation. No apologies for that price just take it or leave it.
They can have the best health system in the world, a super narrow gap between the rich and poor and whatever else but a place where a pint is 13 euro is just not a friendly place.
I met a bartender in on his 7th shift ever. By far my favourite Norwegian I met while there. Unfortunately bullied by all of his colleagues and completely stifled by his own culture. I ask him for his opinion of Oslo City and its people. He tells me people are very busy and that you have to remember to smile to get the best out of people. I am unsatisfied with this answer I feel he is being held back.
After an unfriendly bouncer IDs me while drinking my first pint (I show him my passport and make a joke about coming all the way from Ireland – His steely blue eyes take in all of the light of my joke and like black holes no mirth escapes. Another joke has gone to die in the Norwegian conversation graveyard) and after another two pints I return to my question.
I say I have my own opinion about the city and it’s people. I tell him I think it’s unfriendly and too expensive. He tells me on both counts ‘that’s Norway’ and laughs. Apparently this is a joke. I enjoy the concept of jokes I actually do find this perversely funny and I laugh at both instances.
It is clear this man is the exception that proves the rule. He tells me of that he was an accomplished pianist and that he is working as a barman to save up money to study something perhaps it is psychology. There is an expansiveness of personality to whatever it is.
Unfortunately though he is without knowing it he profoundly unhappy but then that’s most people and especially people who are either different or self-relexive.