The ride to the airport was uneventful. For 6 Euro, a shuttle service picked me up at my hostel proving the anxiety that I’d had over catching an early morning bus on a quiet Sunday unnecessary.
As the shuttle meandered its way through Dublin I noted how empty the streets were. After a full weekend the city was finally at rest, recuperating and preparing for a new week. The airport itself was fairly quiet, which was a relief.
The line to check my bag was short, as was the line through security, which left me ample time to find a bite of food before winding my way towards my gate.
The flight to Oslo was brief. To be honest, I slept most of it – between jetlag and the late night I’d had the previous evening, I was in desperate need of a nap!
Rygge Airport is located some 40 km south of Oslo. A small airport, we were the only plane present. This was convenient given the size of the airport’s one runway, which we had to taxi back up after landing before we were able to get to the gates.
From there a bus shuttled us all to Oslo, where we went our separate ways. After a quick pause to get my bearings, I set to the task of finding my way to Hildur’s place. She’d given me an address and general directions, but getting oriented, judging landmarks, and weighing distances is never an easy thing when experiencing a new city/culture for the first time.
In short order I found the subway, figured out what ticket I needed and after a few missteps was headed in the right direction. Before long I reached the National Theater stop and headed toward the surface. Candidly, as the escalator dragged me towards the surface, I felt a bit like a groundhog leaving its hole.
I emerged in the middle of a beautiful greenbelt surrounded by old buildings that borrowed from French and German architecture – creating a unique mixture of the two. Then, with map in hand, I slowly spun about before guessing which direction I needed to go. Unfortunately, it ended up being up hill…toward a large palatial building in the midst of a giant park. It was, as I would later learn, the royal residence.
The day was beautiful; warm with a few clouds in the sky. Needless to say it was anything but what I’d expected. In typical European form a lot of the locals were out enjoying the weather. Most stripped down to swimming suits, sprawled out in the park, sunbathing, picnicking or barbecuing. It made for a welcome sight.
Feeling fairly confident that I was following my directions correctly, I wound through the park and up a side street before turning onto the street where I hoped to Hildur’s apartment. To my surprise, I quickly realized I was walking down Ambassadorial Row. Most of the buildings had unique architecture representing their home country and a diverse mixture of national flags flying from beautifully manicured front lawns. Thrown into the mix were a few private residences, coffee shops, and B&Bs.
Before long I found the right address and tentatively made my way to the door. There I was stumped. Unfortunately, while I had her number, I didn’t have a phone or her apartment number. This was even more challenging because the buzzer had some 8+ last names, none of which I recognized. Torn between randomly hitting the buzzer’s until I got the right one or backtracking and finding a phone – I made one attempt, then opted for the latter…Which came in the form of a small Korean convenience store where I borrowed the phone and picked up what turned out to be orange-flavored water.
A few rings and a quick conversation later, I was back on my way down Ambassadorial Row. This time, with the right last name in hand I was quickly buzzed in and made my way up the winding staircase. Reaching the top I re-connected with Hildur, an old college friend who I’d met a few years earlier while she studied as ASU. We quickly caught up before striking out for a quick bite to eat and tour of the immediate area.
She explained, to my surprise, that one of the cheaper local foods was Sushi of all things and promised we’d try it at some point during my stay. For the sake of convenience and price, however, we made a quick pause at McDonalds before heading to the park where I met up with one of her best friends/roommates and another mutual friend who was visiting from the west coast.
We spent an hour or so relaxing in the sun, enjoying the park, catching up, and getting to know each other before heading back to the apartment for a beer and to watch the evening’s world cup match.
After the game it was nap time. Still fighting jet lag, I crashed out for an hour or two before waking up in time for a delicious home cooked meal. Shortly after dinner Hildur’s boyfriend Sten got in. He had volunteered to give me a grand tour of Oslo the following morning. We all spent the rest of the evening catching up, getting acquainted and sharing stories before turning in early – the following day promised to be a full one.
With the sun still up, I crawled into bed, pulled the covers over my head and slipped into delightful dreams of new adventures and far off lands. It was 1 am.