Norway’s Way of Oslo

When traveling in Norway, Denmark, or anywhere up there, turn off the currency converter in your brain or risk becoming completely paralyzed by the price tags. I have my own currency, which is the price of a cup of coffee in my city of residence, Barcelona (1.50 euros approximately). You see, going out for a cup of coffee is a luxury that I don’t get to enjoy everyday. I make capsule coffee at work for 40 cents a cup. Therefore, when I go out for a cup of coffee, the day feels a little special. When my brain involuntarily converts the cost of a bus ticket in Oslo, which is about 5 euros if you buy it directly from the driver, into my currency, I vision 3 cups of coffee purchased, and poured down the drain right before my eyes. Northern Europe is unkind to Spanish salary.

We were recommended an everyday Norwegian cafe by a local, and I feel very ignorant and guilty for saying this, but  it tasted a tiny little bit like very expensive Ikea food (think meatballs with lingonberry sauce). A quick check on trip advisor would reveal that budget and delicious food are to be found in mostly ethnic restaurants (ex. Thai, Indian, Mexican), and highly regarded Norwegian restaurants are bank breakers.

Oslo is a very walkable city, and transportation is clean and modern. I had never seen vending machines on trains. City center is a 30-40 minute wifi-equipped train ride away from Oslo airport.

Blonde jokes are probably not even understood in this country because blonde is the norm. Some people in Spain can be rather racist toward people from poorer countries, but Spanish people apparently are the Moroccans in Norway. I wonder who gets to pick on the Norwegians because if white is…power, you don’t get any whiter than Norwegians. There is a surprisingly large Somalian population in Oslo, especially around Grønland. I have no idea what race relations are like in Oslo, but you do see posters for government sponsored assisted returns on the metro. We’ll pay you to get out is the general message, although not an uniquely Norwegian message as Japan, Spain, Czech Republic have all employed similar strategy to reduce burden on their social programs.

Other than the Akershus Fortress, Oslo is surprisingly free from beautiful buildings. The very sleek looking Opera House has won some architectural awards but failed to impress me much. However, the waterfront of the city is really lovely on a sunny day, and green space generously scatter across the city. Biker/Hiker friendly trails around lakes and forests near the city are easily accessible by public transportation. In some ways, the city kind of reminds me of Northeast USA. I do miss the smell of grass and trees.

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