The best-kept secret about the people of Norway, or as they prefer to be known, Norweegies, is their hidden vein of adorability. I went in expecting a certain icy efficiency, then was completely caught off guard as we drifted down into Oslo by the plane’s repeatedly expressed hope that we’d had a super flight. Thanks Norwegian Air, it was super. You were cheap as shit and yet your plane was one of the nicest I’ve ever been on, which I think probably means you’re losing money, which might not be that super for you but was pretty super for me.
The Oslo airport was spare and clean, in tasteful Scandianvian wood paneling, and also surprisingly empty. Was I mistaken in thinking this was a major airport? Maybe they’re just really efficient at moving the people on through.
The men’s room had the kind of towel loop hand dryer that I didn’t think existed anywhere anymore, and which clashed with my vague sense that Norway is in the future. This must be how Norwegians pay their penance for their flight shame.
Adorable “Ut” signs directed me toward the exit, and before I knew it I was on a very expensive train whizzing my way into the city. I accidentally sat in the “Shut the Fuck Up” section of the train, and mid-way through the ride a woman came into our car and told the chatty guys sitting behind me to shut the fuck up. Okay, this is more what I expected from Norway.
Outside, the winter landscape rolled by, reminding me of both Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was easy to see why the Scandinavian immigrants to the United States settled where they did.
I felt a deliciously visceral sense of contrast between the cold, snow-filled fields and the warm glow of the farm houses dotted across the landscape. I could almost feel what it would be like to be inside one of those houses in that moment, toasty by the fireplace as I looked out across the snowfield and the train blurring by.
Gradually we entered the outskirts of Oslo and OH MY GOD THERE’S A GIANT WITH A HAMMER WAIT WHAT
RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN PEOPLE they can’t hear me.
The Oslo central train station featured this cool mural on the front of somebody making a suicide on the Coke Freestyle machine at the Burger King inside.
And this sculpture that from one angle looked like a giant foot and from every other angle looked like something pooping itself out.A playground in front of the train station did its level best to educate me.
I walked up to a nearby row of trees that had caught my eye.
I put my hands on one of the trees and closed my eyes. I felt the cold bark against my fingers and under that, the smooth wood of the tree, which stretched in both directions, up into the sky and down into the Earth. I followed that feeling down into the Earth, the roots beneath the soil fanning out in all directions down to solid rock below, as images begin to flicker before my closed eyes and I saw in a series of flashes, a time-lapse of the history of this place, rewinding through the decades in a blur. It was too fast to pick out specific events, perhaps this is how a tree experiences time, but I was filled with a feeling of what it would be like to stand in this space in different eras of time. What the sun felt like in the summer, and what the energy of this space felt like before these buildings were here.
The tree itself may not have even been that old, but through its connection down into the Earth and up into the air I was able to tap into the memory of the space. At the end of the rewind there were no people or buildings at all, just the energy of wild nature all around me.
I opened my eyes and it was a cold winter day in Oslo, and the people and buildings were back. Someone shot me a “What’s that weird guy doing with that tree? Oh well whatever I need to go dry some cod in the cool wind” look as they hustled by.
I shivered in my fleece as I was dressed for my ultimate destination in the Middle East and not January in Norway. I was only on a two hour layover and didn’t have a lot of time to figure out what Norway was all about. I hustled off into the city.
A light rail train ticked by as people bustled from place to place. In the central square... oh my god there’s a huge tiger!
Clearly this massive tiger had met its match with a wizard in this very spot. Either that or somebody just decided to put a giant tiger statue here for no reason at all, which I find far-fetched.
Cool! Across the square there was a huge hammer with a plaque that said “Here’s a big hammer and some scooters. Love, Norway.”
Clearly the rampaging giant from earlier had also been defeated by Norway's friendly neighborhood wizard. Good job dude.
The hotel behind it had cut out the middleman and just made some trees out of Christmas lights.
Nearby, there were some bathrooms from the future. Ah, thanks, there we go Future Norway.
I glanced up at a huge clock on the side of a nearby building.
HOLY LUTEFISK! It’s Scorpio o-clock! I’ve got to catch my flight. As I hustled back to the train station, an old Norwegian statue man clearly famous for his exploits on the baseball diamond looked at me like there was no way I was going to make my flight.
What do you know old man, you’re a statue.
Trot trot trot trot. One of my favorite quirks around Oslo were the absolutely gigantic revolving doors to get into anywhere.
The train blurred back across the landscape and a futuristic escalator tunnel ingested us into the airport.
Thanks to Norway’s adorable efficiency and the utter ghost town that was the Oslo airport, I anticlimactically made my flight, with enough time to spare to sit on the floor and drink an avocado smoothie.
Boarding the plane, I reflected sadly on the fact I did not meet any Latin dudes in Oslo at all, shattering my dream of having a friend I could call Norway Jose. Life is sad sometimes.