Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This Way to Norway

At border control I was told that I could only stay in the EU for three months.

I arrived in Norway.  First things first, I inspected their restrooms.  I think you can learn a lot about a culture from their restrooms.  In Norway, the bathrooms are small and require an admittance fee.  I’m not sure what that says about Norwegians.  

By the time I got out, I was separated from the crowd of people who had left the plane with me.  I looked for the baggage claim.  No luck.  There weren’t that many, and none of them said JFK.  I asked around and eventually found my bag on the carousel that said it was moving luggage from Germany.  I also found my paddle on the conveyer belt for oversized luggage.  There was a sticker on it indicating that it had been examined by TSA.

I got on a train to Oslo and watched steep pine hills roll past.  The neighborhoods at the edge of the city were in the woods.  Fairy tale houses stood out from the pine like M&Ms on ice cream.  Then we were in a tunnel and came out in Oslo.

I got off at the train station. I had taken notes from a map.  It would be a half hour walk to the hostel where I was staying.  After directions from an information booth, with all my gear in the duffel on my back and my paddle in my hand, I set out.  I started asking people for directions to the street I thought I was on, just to make sure, and promptly got lost.  Nobody knew where any streets were and I couldn’t find any street signs.  I asked some more people and was soon even more confused.

I walked aimlessly.  Then, on the corner of a pedestrian promenade in old Oslo and a small side street stuffed with gift shops  there was a couple that was helpful.  He was not blonde and she was not tall.  They did not look Norwegian. And they didn’t know where the street my directions started at was, but they whipped out a smartphone and looked it up.

“ישראלי?”  The woman asked me in a sort of a mumble.

“כן, איזה מגניב!” I answered.

Using the phone, they walked with me for a while until I was on trchack and on my way.  From there I followed the directions in my pocket until I got to another intersection without signs.  I was about halfway to my destination.  The first two people I asked which street was which told me “We’re also tourists!” and didn’t break stride, but the next one told me to follow her.  My hostel was only a couple of blocks away from her house.  We took some shortcuts and arrived in no time.

Now I’m in Oslo, my shoulders are sore from the long walk with the duffle bag, but I’m ready to explore.

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