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Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Sleep in until almost noon, very tired, legs still hurting, back a bit stiff. Walk down the main drag to the Royal Palace, then get a bit lost looking for City Hall. It is hot, and I am hungry. I find City Hall, then walk down by the harbor looking for someplace affordable to eat. Oslo is absurdly, just silly expensive, these places want the equivalent of like thirty US dollars for a sandwich. I settle for goddamn McDonalds, but even here the prices are hidden and there is a long line. Finally I find a place that is sane, wandering in in a bad mood but soon I settle down. The Norwegians are fond of burgers and kebab. I have a beef stew with curry and chat with the bartendress, who gives me ideas of things to do. After lunch, I wander down to check out Akershus castle, a cool little fortress overlooking the water. The Norwegian military has a presence here. After this, I walk across town, spot a pool hall and shoot pool for a while (badly once more, I just can’t shoot no mo). Buy a bottle of water for about $250 at the convenience store, then go back to the hostel to rest. More cheerleaders everywhere. Upon reflection, I think the Norwegians are a pretty friendly and open lot, but there seems to be something of a tough guy routine going on here as well, I don’t know, a remnant from the Viking days or something. I go back out again around seven to try to find some dinner. The prices are just outrageous; I go past restaurant after cafe after bar with no luck. I find a kebab place that is affordable. “Do you take credit card?” I ask. This is another challenge, as I don’t have any hard currency (since I am leaving countries so quickly). “Yes,” he says. He runs the card, it doesn’t work. Apparently it is not the right type of card. Exasperated, I locate a place that is pricey but not insane, with a terrace view of the streets. The waiter is a guy previously from Minnesota, real nice guy (as mid-westerners tend to be). We talk for awhile, he fell for a Norwegian girl years ago and now lives here with her and a kid. He sympathizes when I complain about the prices, and tells me that even in Europe, Norway is considered expensive. I have a few tacos and a beer. I leave, walk past a park where I see an overweight homeless woman squat down amidst a crowd of people and urinate in the grass, drawing shocked stares. Later, I see a fight break out on the lawn in front of a church, a bunch of dark-skinned guys just start going at it out of nowhere. There is definitely a rough edge to the place – perhaps there is a substantial income gap between the haves and the have nots. Head back to the hostel, grab a beer and go to sleep.


Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

The room is loud overnight, with doors slamming and guys snoring, so I basically get no sleep. I am lying wide awake at 6:30, turn off the alarm before it goes off. A quick shower, pack up and walk across town to the train station, catch the early train at 8:23. I am apprehensive since hearing the news yesterday about the concert, and my concerns are justified, as there are no seats available on the train. However, there are a few pull-down seats in the connecting corridor, so I manage to be able to sit down anyway. Four hours go slow, with the six of us in the carriage all glancing uneasily at each other. There is a giant muscular frat boy listening to speed metal, he twitches impatiently, he is like a gorilla in a cage. There is an old woman with a broken leg, propped up on a bag. There is a backpacker with bad body odor. There is a girl bopping along to the tunes on her ipod, eyes closed, mouth moving. She has unshaved legs and giant orange bushes under her arms. People start to pack into the car at the local stops, it is cramped, barely room to stand. A fellow with a beard and huge bushy eyebrows comes in with a tuba on his back, then another guy climbs aboard carrying a bike in multiple pieces. It begins to feel like candid camera. Another old lady gets on, and I give my seat to her. Amidst the commotion, I manage to pay some attention to the passing Swedish countryside. The flora and vegetation have become much more sparse, more grassland than forest now, red roofed cottages, groups of cows, the sea off in the distance, like a postcard. I get off at Goteborg, intending to transfer to the Oslo train, but again my fears are realized, as they tell me that the train is full and can take no more passengers. They do however direct us to a nearby bus that will take us to Oslo. Myself and the other refugees climb aboard (after a short wait), and we are off along the alternate route. Scandanavian women are undeniably beautiful, by the way. This is not a myth, this is indeed fact. A very large percentage of them are drop dead gorgeous long-legged blondes that look like they have jumped from the pages of some magazine. I saw them on the streets of Copenhagen, and now I am surrounded by them on the bus. I spend a good forty-five minutes just ogling a consumingly pretty blonde from the back, I am hypnotized, my eyes are glued to her, just to watch her put her hair back is a miracle. The blonde sitting across from me has deep blue eyes and a blinding smile and beautiful feet which she dangles all over the seat. She sees my glances (which I am not controlling too well), and teases me, flexing them and posing them in all their glory, leaving me a frustrated lovesick ball of writhing despair by journey’s end. We finally pull into Oslo around six or so, I get out and find my hostel, then walk around a bit. Oslo is supposedly the world’s most expensive city. The prices reflect this, but I would say the people do not. Many of the ones I encounter are rough-looking, almost homeless, heckling and hassling each other on street corners. Perhaps it is just the local area I am in. Upon returning to the hostel, I discover that it has been overrun by screaming teenage cheerleaders – the European cheerleader championship or something is in full swing in Oslo. One of the girls has broken a leg, there is a big hubbub about it. My roommates in the hostel are a Spanish doctor and his young son, who offers me a drawing he did as a present. Later on, I take it and pin it up on the wall using a plastic bread bag clip.


Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Sleep in pretty late, am dead tired, my legs are sore. First I go to the train station to try to reserve tomorrow's train, but apparently there is a huge music festival that is wrapping up and all of Norway ... [Continue reading this entry]


Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Hop on the early morning train to Copenhagen. I am saddened to be leaving Germany. I sit across from a pleasant old man on his way back to Denmark, he walks with a cane and is very dignified. At the ... [Continue reading this entry]


Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Go out for a walk in the morning around eleven, hit up the sausages and taters again, then stroll through some parks and gardens. See some more giant German ducks, some swans and a few Canadian geese (! long commute, ... [Continue reading this entry]


Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Get up and walk around Hamburg, nice town. Supposedly this is the city where my German ancestors were from. I see the Rathaus, the docks, the warehouse district. A German woman sits down with me at lunch at the Rathaus ... [Continue reading this entry]


Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
I wake up in the morning very hungover and ennervated. The shower is difficult, brushing my hair is difficult, everything is difficult. Painfully I gather up my things in the backpack and head to the train station. Aboard the train, ... [Continue reading this entry]


Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
I get up late, there is somehow a new cast of characters in the room now, including a guy from Kentucky who has been living most recently in Austria. We talk for a while, then I go take a ... [Continue reading this entry]


Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Get up in the morning, it has rained during the night. Drank a bit too much last night, am feeling hungover and weak. Walk up to the north station, catch the train to Amsterdam. They are out of sandwiches on ... [Continue reading this entry]


Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Get up and hike through Niederrad, catch the metro and wait for the train at the station. I drink a big dark beer at a bar there. A gay train worker sits down next to me, he is decked out ... [Continue reading this entry]