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I'm in Oslo, Norway. Think about that for a second, will you? I am currently google knows how many miles away from my home in Toronto, spending day after day in various cities, and places around the world. And right now I'm in Oslo, Norway. Every now and then when I travel I forget just how amazing it is that I have the opportunity to do so. It just seems like “something to do.” Ahh – it's Friday, lets go to another country.
Yes – that's how quickly I acclimatize to these things. It made me an excellent Tetris player when I started off at level nine (or level nine heart in the game boy version.) And today, it just hit me for the first time in two weeks, that I'm doing things that some people will never be able to do, some will dream of doing, and others won't even know it's something that can be dreamed of.
I'm in Oslo, Norway. Fantastic.
Now – sure – you might say, your hostel is terrible. And it is. Only four people per room, and lots of showers, but the bathrooms (six stalls) are always full. I'm sure someone has locked them from the outside. It's the only thing that makes sense, unless I am in the company of the quietest poopers in the world, all competing for a time record award. Sure that was a bit convoluted, but you get what I mean.
Today was a fantastic day. It has been the best day of my travels thus far (one Friday in Reykjavik holding the crown until now, for those interested in knowing.)
I saw amazing things, and I discovered the key to the city. Let me tell you there is a secret to understanding Oslo, and it's not found in the tourist offices. Don't bother with them anyway, they're ridiculous. They make you take a number and line up to ask a question. Not only that, but they also sell train tickets, and merchandise, all requiring the same number taking line standing. It's ridiculous, and I'll have none of it.
There are five tourist maps (at least) of Oslo. All of them are terrible. I know – I have them all. I've been looking at one, plotting it on another, comparing that with the attractions on yet another, and using a final map to plot the metro route to get there. There had to be an easier way – and there was.
And wouldn't you know, the answer was to be found by following one of my own rules. Where do you go to get the best map of a city? What have I always said? What saved my butt in Glasgow?
You go to the subway and ask for a route guide. Now – the first time I did this it was a failure. I got a train schedule for the subway. Sure that's great and all (and distressingly German) but then I asked again. “Ahh, the Visitors Map.” I was told. Ahh – yes – that. Why it's called a visitors map I have no idea. It's the only map that plots subway, tram, bus, and ferry all over top of the actual city map. There's no way that people in Oslo have all this information comitted to memory. Visitors map. Please.
But there you have it. That, my friends, is the key to understanding Oslo. With it, you will be unbeatable. It shows you how to get around the core, and how to explore in all number of different directions. Once you try it, you shant go back. And oh, how you'll scoff at people using those inferior tourist maps. Please – tourist maps are for suckers. You're no tourist. You're a visitor. You need the visitors map.
In other news, still related to the metro though, it seems you have to stamp your 7 day pass when you buy it to activate it. As it stands I trammed around all yesterday “for free” how nefarious of me. I stamped it today though. This means when I leave Oslo I'll have 3 days left on the card. I wonder if I can sell it to someone? I'll look into that later.
Oh right – my terrible hostel. I never finished explaining that did I? The fact that it's not in the city core is fine – don't worry about that. Fifteen minutes on the metro and you're golden. And the station is right by the hostel (bus, tram, or subway – take your pick. I've sampled them all.) What should have clued me off was the sign that said “No drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. Violators will be removed from the hostel.” This isn't really a problem for me. I don't use drugs or smoke, and alcohol is terribly expensive here (to buy beer in the grocery store is the same price as buying it at the bar in Iceland... Ai ya.) but a hostel that forbids them will not draw many fun youths.
Let me tell you what this hostel looks like right now – in the TV room there are eight people aged 40 – 70. In the kitchen there are about fifteen people aged 15 – 17. What the hell is happening here?! Never again. Never again will I not read the reviews before booking. And yet still, Oslo managed to impress me today.
I went to the National Gallery, the Sculpture Garden, and the the very top of the city. Each of these will require their own post. Stay tuned.
Once again – my meal was soda (orange), flat bread (tortilla), and packaged salad (potato). Fantastic! Someone's gonna get rickets!