Anyway, enough of that nonsense. Time for the Oslo recap!
Because I am a poor grad student, I flew one of Europe's leading budget airlines, RyanAir, to Oslo. This meant leaving my flat at 4AM on the 12th in order to catch a bus to take me to Liverpool Street where I caught another bus to Stansted Airport, roughly 1 hour outside of London. I had hoped to get a bit of sleep on this second bus ride, but was lucky enough to have a woman with a screaming baby sit next to me. It is never a good sign when the baby is screaming when it gets on to the bus. As if this were not enough, the baby apparently suffered a gastrointestinal meltdown ten minutes into the trip. Needless to say, sleep (and comfort) were not to be found and it was a relief when we arrived at Stansted.
Flying on RyanAir is always something of an experience, and this trip did not disappoint. Since it is a budget airline, most of its flights depart at odd times of the day. My flight was the exception, departing at the reasonable time of 8AM. Still, I waited in line at the baggage drop to get my passport checked (non-EU citizens have to go through an identity check) for an hour and a half after arrival since there were no less than 15 RyanAir flights departing within 45 minutes of mine. The highlight of the wait had to be watching a woman with seven (!) children in tow attempting to argue with the check-in desk over her need to have priority seating. I don't believe such decibels have been achieved by the human vocal cords before. (Seating on RyanAir is something of a free-for-all. If you pay extra, you get 'priority' seating, which essentially means that you board the plane first. But for everyone else, you simply have to hope that you join the queue early enough so as to get your pick of seats once on the plane.)
|Yes, that is snow that you see in the background. In April.|
The view from the coach windows showed that it was raining quite steadily outside, but it wasn't until that I actually emerged from the Oslo bus terminal into the city center. The wind and rain were ferocious and there were very few people to be seen braving the outdoors. My umbrella, which had survived the winds off the Thames for the better part of a year, proved a weak force against the Norwegian winds and surrendered after 5 minutes. It literally snapped in half, leaving me holding the end and watching helplessly as the actual covering blew off down the street. What strange and brutal land had I come to?
|Karl Johan's Gate - The main thoroughfare|
|Oslo Domkirke - taken on a better day|
After eating, I braved the weather to travel up the main thoroughfare, Karl Johan's Gate, to the Oslo Cathedral (Domkirke) to seek shelter and pray for some divine intervention in alleviating the financial poverty that I was about to plunge into by staying in Oslo for five days. (I did not want to eat nothing but apples for two days as I did in Dublin, so I was destined to spend some money.) According to the Cathedral's official website, the church was completed in 1697. It was rebuilt in the late 1850s and renovated in 2010. In 2001, it was the site of the royal wedding between Crown Prince Haakon and Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby. As far as cathedrals go (of which I have seen many), it's exterior was not all that impressive, but still boasted an ornate interior. And it provided an opportunity to get out of the rain for a brief spell. Unfortunately, there was little to no information about the cathedral's history provided in the church itself, so my stay was brief.
|Genuine Viking helmet!|
|Day 1 in sum: wet and windy|
After recovering, I ventured out again to make my first visit to a Norwegian supermarket, REMA 1000, to buy the ingredients for dinner. After spending half an hour trying to navigate around the market and decipher ingredient lists, I finally settled on buying a bowl of frozen fiskesuppe (a traditional Norwegian fish and vegetable soup in a milk-based broth) that was not half bad and a bag of spelt rolls. I finished off the night by sitting in the television room with a group of 40-year old men (who lived in the hostel on an almost permanent basis) reading one of my IR textbooks (because I'm a good student), and getting distracted by watching the Norwegian version of X-Factor. Overall, a good (albeit wet and windy) first day.
Coming Soon (but no idea as to exactly when): Day 2: My trip to Bygdoy, the summer island of the Royals -- and Day 3: Lessons in Resistance at Akershus Fortress.
As a side note, for those readers caught up in the Royal Wedding fever: this is exactly how events are going to transpire: