A little Back story...
Let me tell you a little story before we go in about our time in Olso, Norway. It begins a few years ago, with a 6ft tall man wearing a kilt in Washington state---during the fall. His name is Alf and he is a proud standing Norwegian. There is always a horn tied to his kilt for drinking afternoon mead, beads hanging proudly from his braided beard, and a genuine twinkle in his eyes. Cash worked together with Alf for a land restoration company, and after many long days, they became close comrades. Both are descendants from Norwegian roots, and eventually, we were invited to attend one of Alf's "Blots" in which once a month, he hosts a traditional Scandinavian event. They learn about rituals, history, games and culture, draw runes and tell tales to small children around the fire. Sometimes there will be Ax throwing, other times, they are learning how to make a bow n' arrow, but the day always closes with a feast. One evening we arrived to a dinner party hosted by Alf and his wife, Lulie, and he shared with us stories of his travels to the homeland, (with light tears in his eyes,) via a reality show called 'Alt for Norge" (All for Norway!). The idea is to take Norwegian-Americans who have lost touch with their extended family, back to where their family lived, worked, and eventually, fled. Contestants compete in language, cultural and food based challenges in the hopes of winning a reunion with their current residing descendants! Alf had been on an early season, and was so encouraging in having Cash apply, that he took a day off to drive him to Seattle for the try-outs.
Cash got on the show, and spent a total of 80 days in Norway, all the way up to the season finale. Although he did not win, (shucks!) the show did something un-usual, and gave him a voucher to fly back and still meet his relatives. Lemme tell you guys right now, the Trygstads' have a HUGE family abroad, all over the country and into Sweden. My mother in law booked us flights together and just like that, the three of us were headed to Norway!
I'll clue you in on a secret...
If you plan on traveling to Norway, pack a set of sheets and pillow covers! Everywhere we stayed, had an additional charge per night for linens. Be prepared to make your own beds, and strip them down when you are done, talk about culture shock! The first week of our trip we stayed in the capitol of Norway - Olso. Its an expensive city, you would be grateful to find a hostel room for less than $100 a night. We checked into our 'basecamp' for the week, decorated modestly with a bunk-bed, two twin mattresses, one bathroom, and a sink. The walls were white, there are two windows at the end of the room, facing an apartment complex where all the city noise floats in. Faintly in the background, music is playing from a neighbor down the hall, it sounds like the language is either Islamic or Turkish, and it sounds like a pretty good time. Thundering footsteps echo and shake the walls as young children chase each other, squealing and laughing. I quickly notice the outlet situation --- because instagram. We needed to locate the nearest store that sells adapters, the outlets only have two little holes in them, and kind of look like cute little ghosts. The sink has a laminated sign on it, letting us know when we can rent dishware and what times they expect them returned and cleaned. However, the most shocking aspect to me, was the bathroom set up. This was universal everywhere we stayed in the country---Shower Squeegees. The Shower is only separated by a curtain, so once you are all done, expect to use a squeegee to get the water into the drain from the entire bathroom. Doing laundry was perhaps the hardest adjustment for me personally, there are not many laundromats in the city, and most rentals do not have a facility. The hostel had us going through a parking garage to a tiny room with some old equipment. It was a comedic experience, trying to de-code a foreign washing machine with symbols that looked like alien script. Eventually, we just picked a setting and hoped for the best, I only ruined a few sweaters and re-dyed some undies in the process! I know I am certainly coming off like a lazy, typical American, but I assure you, the case is closer to a culture shocked island girl in new lands.
Oslo, Norway June, 2018
Olso - the modern city
We awoke early, still very much on Washington time, to a sleeping city and an empty room. Cash and I threw on some clothes and decided to hit the cobble-stone streets. This was my first time in Oslo, and Cash wanted to give me the full experience, so naturally, we sought out the nearest coffee shop. We were met with empty streets, brisk air tied to a gentle breeze working its way around the tall buildings and old architecture. We headed to the local square, during the day vendors set up booths to sell to tourists, local students come to study, friends meet for lunch, and the smell of fresh food floods your senses. I finally found myself a coffee shop and ordered a latte and a bagel with Brunost (brown cheese) using my botched Norwegian phrases that Cash taught me moments before we walked in. "TAK!" (Thanks) came ringing out proudly as I grabbed my items and enjoyed my first breakfast abroad.
Afternoon rolls around, the crowds begin to emerge, store fronts open and suddenly, everything is alive! We found ourselves roaming the halls of a fortress before too long, meeting by my mother-in-law. Well kept, and over-looking the harbor below, we took a step back in time, if only momentarily. Then came hoards of tour groups, cameras flashing, everyone wanting to be right where you are standing, I'm quite certain a man took a photo of me not looking very pleased with his camera in my face. As we left we noticed several stands getting put together, which we later discovered was for a summer music festival, followed later in the week by Eminem, during the same time as Pride. We ended up getting lunch at a small pocket of the city that was covered in art. Fixtures across the walls, vendors selling vintage clothing on bridges, sculptures in the river, graffiti art and futuristic eateries with food from all over the world (which meant this girl finally got some pasta.) As the evening began to set in, our tired feet met the entrance of the hostels main lobby. The space was sardined with locals and travelers, tuned into the World cup that was playing on every screen. As we weaved our way through the sports fans, a group of tall men squeezed by us on their way out, and to this day Cash will insist that among them was Ed Sheernan himself. The end of our stay came quickly, and it grew time to check out of our little room and travel across the country to what would become my favorite town. We got to see Oslo celebrate pride without a single protester, learn about the vikings, experience Jurassic world in 4D, lost my wallet (dont worry, we found it), and enjoyed some rooftop wine. Oslo was an incredible experience, my first date with Norway, and certainly not the last.
- Jazmine Rolon
- Oslo, 2018