Holy wow, Oslo I'm going to miss you

*sighs* I'm closing in on my final days in Oslo. I've been something of a hybrid tourist/resident here almost: visiting the sites and doing more normal day to day things with J.D. I even put in a few hours of RA work on this trip (alas, not as many as I would have hoped, but hey it's a new city, new country, right?

I've learned a smattering of Norwegian words — enough to occasionally understand signs, get from point A to point B and still make out all right. I don't really attempt to speak it much — I should I imagine — but for the most part I'm getting by rather all right. I do wish I could read more, even though Norwegian is relatively similar to English, some museums have relatively little by way of English text and it's hard to read long descriptions in Norwegian.

I've learned that my favorite grocery stores are ICA and Meny (Kiwi, Rema 1000 and Bunn Pris are others that I've visited), that I rather like Freia chocolate (the Lakris kind is extra yummy as it has licorice bits in it), that bread here is generally delicious, that I love lefse and Lomper, that sushi is considered fast food (and is very yummy here!), that lockers usually are on a deposit system rather than a pay per use system (or they're free!), that this city has like a million parks (or so it seems), one of the best public transit systems (hey Edmonton listen up!), and many small but history-rich attractions. I like the street performers, and well yes, there are people begging for food, they're generally quite polite, and don't look as scrawny as those in other European countries.

As for sites I've seen: Homenkollen was impressive (the ski jump); the Viking Ship museum was awe inspiring; the Historical Museum was educational; the Fim museum was worthwhile; the Polar Ship Fram was one attraction I'd definitely recommend; the Vigeland Sculpture Park is a MUST SEE; the Oslo Bymuseum (city museum) was definitely worth it as well; the Resistance museum was pretty sobering as was the Holocaust Center (though I'd recommend the resistance museum over the Holocaust Center); the ferry was fun to ride; the Intercultural museum was educational but I'd put it pretty far down my list of attractions; the Kon-Tiki Museum was pretty nifty (I could have spent more time there); I REALLY enjoyed the Folk Museum and recommend it to anyone who has a full day to take it all in; the Munch Museum was fabulous; the Ibsen Museum and apartment was wonderful and well well worth my professor's recommendation; Oslo's Radhus (City Hall) was marvelous, and the National Gallery is a DEFINITE must see for everyone. Yes, I missed some attractions, both in this list and on my trip, but hey, if/when I return I ought to have things to see! And well, I enjoy Norway enough that I would probably return at some point regardless of the course of my life and all that… maybe I'd even visit another city!

And I've walked the streets of most of downtown Oslo many many times. I've seen both the really ugly and the eyecatching graffiti, I've looked at the good architecture. I've been in the small malls and shopping centers, seen pay-for-use washrooms (fortunately these are not in the majority), walked through the nicest of parks, and seen more children than I could even imagine in Edmonton (this city is VIBRANT! GROWING! a great place to raise a family!).

During my stay I've visited IKEA twice, I've shopped at grocery stores, and Narvessen (and even the occasional 7-11 store too), I've been a tourist, ridden (and fallen off of) a city bike, taken the T-bane (metro), trikk (tram), ferry and buss (bus) (public transit rocks and the busses are so nice!), and time and time again I've realized just how much I'm going to miss both this location and my wonderful boyfriend who has put up with me for the duration of my stay. His roommate has been kind (particularly since 3 weeks is a rather long time), and his co-workers, friends (etc.) have been so friendly. Yes there are noisy houseparties everyweekend here. Yes, alcohol is super expensive, as is food (though sushi, ethnic pizza, kebab, and burgers are cheap), and the purchase of anything isn't particularly cheap but hey the quality of life seems excellent just like at home.

Cars stop for pedestrians here, and everyone walks places. There are many pedestrian only roads/paths, playgrounds are many, green space is frequent, and road/sidewalk repairs are done quickly and efficiently. Yes, construction is everywhere, but what northern city doesn't have winter and construction season as two dominant forces to contend with? Perhaps I've blathered on rather long, perhaps I tire of the question that others ask of when will I move here (even if I did, it wouldn't be until school was essentially out of the way — at least the course work part, so there's at least 2ish years yet that I'll be in Edmonton no matter where I would end up so this isn't a question I'm going to be answering… particularly as I love Edmonton [some think that that's strange, but it's home]).

As for souvenirs, I did pick up a couple pricey but worthwhile items: a fall/spring jacket, a sweater (not the more traditional Dale of Norway sweater, though I like those too, but a more unusual, still wool Norwegian sweater), a Viking Board game (see it at the next board game gathering, and I'll have it with me in Montreal and Victoria), and some gifts (not for many people as they are pricey but these gifts should be worthwhile).

Anyway, I've blathered on long enough. Does anyone have questions or anything? What else would you like to know?

A little Oslo update

So I've been in Oslo for well… one and a half weeks I guess I could say… meaning that I'll be leaving far too soon. I like this city — yes I find the Norwegian hard to read/understand and yes I do thing some things are strange about this city but I do rather like it here (and not just because J.D. is here either, though that does make a huge impact on things, particularly as he's likely to be here for quite some time more…. *sighs* I'm very much going to miss him when I leave… dratted lack of teleportation devices!).

J.D. works at Opera Software. I rather think his workplace is pretty awesome. I got to tour it and we had a lunch there for Constitution Day (17 mai) among other things. I very much like the hot chocolate/coffee machines! But really he does work in a mighty awesome office — if I could find a job nearly that awesome, I'd be one happy woman! Of course I have school to deal with first… and I won't be done that until 2012 which is a ways away.

The neighbourhood he lives in has a lot of awesome little kebab shops, sushi places and pizza places. These are all the cheapest foods to get in Oslo and the sushi quality is rather good (much better than Edmonton) given that it is the cheapest foodstuffs you can get outside of grocery stores. We've had sushi twice, kebab twice and take out pizza once (the pizza had the most excellent of toppings including chicken, pineapple, beef, peppers etc. and that's not even the strangest stuff available! You can get french fries on your pizza here!).

Grocery shopping is FUN here — and that's not just because I work at a grocery store in Edmonton. I really like seeing all the interesting products available at the local Kiwi or Meny grocery stores. The bread here is pretty fantastic for one! And the strawberries NEVER tasted like this in Canada. Generally it's not easy to find everything we're looking for food-wise but there are so many other delicious options… not as fancy as many countries, certainly, but it's an adventure none-the-less.

Last week I was sightseeing with Kim every day. We saw everything from the water to the mountain and much in between. For a souvenir I'm eyeing a jacket or a sweater… and I'm thinking of what I'll go back for next week for a gift or two. Pricey to get a sweater or jacket but heck they'd be worth having and I wouldn't mind the tax refund either.

So yeah I have pictures and whatnot on Facebook, eventually maybe a video or something on YouTube (not yet though). Pictures of 17 mai will go up at some point (soon I hope to get around to it anyway!). I'm having a wonderful time but as per usual there's not enough hours in the day to do everything I'd like to do.

And lately I'd like to do a whole lot (as much as yesterday and today have been veg. on the computer days I should get out and about again soon.

Things I would still like to do:
— go sightseeing with J.D.
— spend some time at the Ibsen museum
— spend some time at the Munch museum
— go to the Resistance museum
— and there's maybe 2-3 other museums or things I would like to see.

Non-touristy things to do are many. As of yet though I've been enjoying it all… even when things don't go as planned like our rainy picnic at paradisbukta (paradise beach), or the mess we made at the 17 mai lunch…

Writer's Block: I'm off to see the wizard

Gosh, well… I find that a fair number of movies that I enjoyed as a child have aged remarkably well. Those that haven't, for the most part I don't much remember. Then again I think my impression of the Land Before Time isn't as good as it was when I was a kid, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit isn't nearly as scary when I watch it now (nor is The Mask).

Arrived in Oslo, spending time with J.D. = awesome!

So after an interesting plane flight experience (including two children kicking the back of my seat, a homecooked Lebanese sweet (similar to a donut but nothing like one), kids comparing Norway to Canada, kids being friendly, and whatnot), an interesting yet brief connection at Heathrow, and a fun arrival in Oslo (I rather like the airport's architecture, and we took a bus to the right part of the airport…) all my luggage arriving safely etc…. I met up with J.D. and we took the Airport Express Train to Oslo Sentralstasjon and a tram home to his place.

I arrived on Friday afternoon/evening, and wasn't immediately hungry or anything so we went for a walk. The walk was good: we ended up back by Sentralstasjon and in a nearby mall bought some new bedding (this was an adventure as it was hard to figure out where to buy such, and what the packaging said). Our purchases were at this store called Princess.

I rode a bysykkel for a bit but was awkward and nearly got into the path of a trikk… but today I rode one again and was much better off (although the one I rode today was broken: it lacked a right brake). J.D. gave me a tour of Opera Software's office and I got to eat a kebab as a late dinner once I was finally hungry.

Today we got going late but stopped by the posten and then checked out this farmer's market. After that we went to a world free trade day 2010 celebration (and had some free food plus an AWESOME vegan milkshake). The equivalent to the Salvation Army was also serving yummy pancakes for free. We continued walking down a sidewalk market for a while before we ended up at the cemetary where we hiked about and saw some mighty famous graves including Henrik Ibsen's and Munch. It really was beautiful (and a beautiful day). After that we stopped for some delicious sushi for dinner (perhaps too much dinner but it was pretty awesome! I rather like having sushi in countries where the ocean is nearby and love the variety in items offered. No California rolls here!!)

And although I was tired earlier today I think that all is well with the time change and all. I'm enjoying my time today. Now we're playing games and whatnot. Tomorrow we'll meet Kim too!

Snow, snow, and more wet soggy snow

Yes, Edmonton had its wonderful (insert sarcasm here) snow day today. Yes I was a good responsible woman this morning and wore appropriate clothing. No, I didn't do quite as well this afternoon on my trip to work and thus nearly fell in a puddle (but I didn't!) and nearly slipped on this slippery stuff that clogged the city streets.


But 15% Tuesday wasn't as busy as it could have been. And my day went well enough — my only REAL complaint is my apple (which I was looking forward to eating) was rotten, and made a mess of my purse which is now drying.

Anywho… time is growing short…

Maybe Empire Avenue is getting me to post more frequently?

Or it's just my excitement about summer travel plans. Regardless if you want an Empire Avenue invite, contact me (I have lots). I believe that this site has a lot of potential and really enjoy using it. Heck I'm more than just a little bit happy to be doing as well as I am with this site!

But regardless what's on my mind right now has little to do with online influence. Instead there's the fact that someone has been preying on my friends' and acquaintances' bank accounts. Indeed I know of more than ten separate individuals who, within the last day or so, have had a) money taken from their accounts b) their accounts compromised c) their bank cards canceled d) difficulty paying for things [including potentially rent, given the time of the month!] e) had their bank call them etc. Honestly this is frustrating, and more than just a little frightening, particularly since people mostly pay for things with plastic these days. Keeping money safe under the mattress just doesn't cut it anymore, and the number of people paying for things from a wad of cash in their pockets is shrinking fast.

But yeah this threw a wrench into the works for quite a few people in the last several days. I'm entirely nonplussed, and more than just a little bit concerned myself. I mean really now!!

I leave on Thursday….

… and I'm admitting to counting down the days.

But in other news, tonight I went to the Citadel to see Beauty and the Beast. I almost didn't buy tickets — but having seen the costumes on display in the Citadel lobby when I went to see other plays, I just had to. And my decision was worth it. I've always loved live musicals over movie versions, and though this one was based on the Disney movie, it exceeded my expectations. It definitely deserved the standing ovation (complete with cheers!) that we gave it. I managed to get emotionally involved (not surprising really) and rather enjoyed myself. I loved how the actors made the musical their own.

And, well — I enjoyed my walk to and from work and the theatre today. I'm very pleased that it only rained WHILE I was working, making my walks all that much better.

Anyhow, there remains much to do, but today was definitely an enjoyable one… and now I only have three more work shifts left (2.5 if you judge them by length!) before I'm off to my travels yet again.

Time's a tickin'

I leave in 5 days.

I have 4 more work shifts left.

I'm already partially packed.

I have a usable cell phone for the Norway part of this trip.

I've booked Montreal accomodations 3 times (hopefully it's successful now!).

I'll be seeing 2 of the most awesome people I know in Norway.

And… tomorrow I'm going to go see Beauty & the Beast at the Citadel.

yes, life can't just be anticipation of travel!

But if you're free on Wednesday May 5th (any time from 6:30pm onwards), you're invited to join me for board games before I leave!