“Time for a good, long sleep.”
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that whenever I end a post with something about sleep…sleep is not what I get.
This post is no exception.
Somewhere around 8am, one of Peder’s neighbors decided to demolish his condo. Quite literally. I’m talking belt sanders, jackhammers, power saws, and every other type of noise-producing equipment you could possibly imagine. It sounded like they were one inch from my face.
I’m not sure if you’ve already picked up on my recent reduction of pace, but throughout these last couple cities I have been slowing down quite a bit. After so many long days and sleepless nights – coupled with the overcast weather, which always dampens my motivation to “get up and go” – my typically fast-paced lifestyle has slowed to a series of late starts and casual strolls. So now that I had access to a comfortable apartment, I decided it was finally time to recover.
Plus, it was our last day before what would undoubtedly be the biggest challenge of the entire trip: a bikeride across all of Denmark, ending at a 9-day nonstop festival. So for as much as I wanted to see Oslo, for as long as I’d been excited to finally catch a glimpse of my best friend’s hometown, I knew that the wise choice would be to succumb to a lazy day in bed.
By the time we finally rolled out and started our brief tour of the city, it was after 4pm. Good thing it stays light until 10 🙂
So, what’s my first reaction to the day in Oslo?
“Jesus, Peder has an INSANE amount of knowledge about this place!”
OK, so that’s not really an impression of Oslo – but seriously, it was crazy. He could probably start work as a tourguide tomorrow, if he were so inclined.
As we zigged and zagged through the city on bicycle, he narrated everything from why a certain type of marble was chosen for the opera house to why buildings are located a certain distance apart. It was a day of history, architecture, environmental planning, and all the societal highs and lows rolled into one.
Man, I wish I had a memory like that 😛
It was also quite interesting to see just how much pride he has for his country. And not in the “America is duh best country inna world! Cuz I dun say so! And I’ll git in yer face if yer tryin tuh take mah freedum!” kind of way. Quite the contrary, his pride – though clearly perceptible – is quiet and modest. You can just sense it when he describes all the things Norway has done – or is doing – for its people and for the world. It’s a society not about over-consuming and forcing its will onto others, nor about making sure everyone drives a car that’s twice as expensive as they can afford. It’s about making sure everyone has just what they need. Free education. Free healthcare. Cleanliness. Safety. All that good stuff.
Within minutes of stepping outside his door, we passed a little street stall selling some Norwegian specialty meats. When the man working there overheard him describing it in English, he immediately offered an entire helping for free. Not a sample mind you, but a full helping. Later, I asked Peder “Is that normal?” “Sure,” he said. “Norwegians look out for each other. He saw you were my guest and wanted to make sure you had a good time.”
After a few hours touring around the city, its massive parks, harbor, and central walking districts, we biked to one of the most prestigious streets in all of Norway – where I finally had the opportunity to meet Peder’s parents face-to-face.
Mmmm, homecooked Norwegian meatballs. One could not ask for a better “welcome home”…to a country they’ve never even visited 🙂
*OK, so technically I’ve been to Norway before. But I was so young that I don’t remember it at all, so from my perspective this was pretty much my first visit.