Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Catching up #2: My first day in Oslo

Well I should start telling my 17 may story, because I have so many others to tell too! Ok, so for years Jon has been telling me about Norway's national day, Syttende Mai, where Norway gathers to celebrate it's charm and coolness, and for at least a year I have wanted to go, and this year I got my chance to experience it in Oslo!

Day 1
I showed up on a Friday but still in the day, so I had some time to bum around on my own, something I rather enjoy doing. I saw the inner city of Oslo, took care of some stuff I had left back in Berlin, and took a nap on oslo's opera house, the finding of which turned out to be an issue since Norwegians do not pronounce "opera" like germans OR the English but rather like "Oprah huss!" Worth the asking though for sure. Check out the rad photos and video!

From there I could see jon's building (I will not go into detail, so we will say he works at Arthur Andersen since they do not exist anymore), and I decided, after he turned out to be running a bit late, to surprise him at his job. This turned out to be a bit more fun than it should have, since I had THIS exchange with the could-not-BE-nicer receptionist:

Can I leave jon a message?
Sure. Does he know you are here? Is it important?
Oh, he knows I'm here...just to harass him.
No! Not like that! In a good way! I am a friend.
Umm...what should I tell him?
Tell him his Comrade is here

A very confused Jon showed up on the lawn not 2 minutes later and just in time for me to make a happy southern scene in front of his branch manager. Haha!

We headed off to his place then, where I met his relaxed and charming roomie Henrik, who works at...let's say "KBR," since they too recently had a name change. He had his collar popped in true NU style, and sitting around in their living room with Henrik's sushi felt quite like hanging out at Norris Student Center's couches with some buddies after a long day, only this place had more IKEA and less UGG.

We had planned for a night on the town Oslo style, in which Jon and I would have dinner at a Thai place and then hit all the liberal bars Jon knew, a very sweet gesture on his part. The restaurant was pretty good ("I like Thai...you like hat?"), and was mostly noteworthy for two reasons: the staff was mostly Swedish (swedes: the low rent workers of Norway!) and every 30 or so minutes they would replicate a tsunami with the lights.

You know, because it is never too soon!

Now Jon does not go to my kind of bars as a rule. Generally he goes where tattered jeans and dirty shirts are indicative of you not belonging...let me use the word "chic" for his bars. That is his scene and I dig it. But as an amazing host he had hunted up a potential hotbed of Kate-bar activity, a square holding the headquarters of the labor party, Doctors Without Borders and the big trade union. The bar was even called The Internationale! The only problem was it seemed to be on the cusp between a "normal" shabby-chic bar and a hipster joint (hipster count: 13) with music so loud we coils barely talk. Oh well!

Ad proximum con vivium (Onto the next party)!

The next stop was an outdoor bar on the east side of Oslo that was so edgy that one of Jon's older co-workers (or maybe supervisor of something) was there, but the moneyed set blended easily with less attractive locals and kids with dredlocks. The whole thing felt like a damned good patio bar, an we stayed a while. On our way home at around 1 we swung by a bar to say hi to Henrik and his friends, and we ended up staying there until the first pre-dawn light colored the sky. The folks there were quite nice, although a bit less keen on being understood by me, which was well within their rights. I could hang acceptably and really liked hearing them speak Norwegian, a language I am on record as believing is one of the top 5 prettiest languages on the planet. Add to that some good beer and life was good!

On the way home things soured a bit as we ran into the Norwegian version of a redneck fight: two gelled mullet types white jeans versus two excessively drunk girls, a fight that should NEVER take place ever, but luckily a bouncer had waded in as we were figuring out what was going on. In a way, this let me know that we aren't the only state in the world who doesn't have it's act together. A bit of a relief really.

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