Twenty-four hours ago we arrived in Oslo, Norway. It was sunny and a pleasant 13C outside, almost as warm as Auckland. It was a favourable first impression, and one which would only grow on us as we made our way into the country.
The airport was amazing, easily surpassing Changi in cleanliness, architectural awe, and class. I was still agonising over whether customs would confiscate my Toblerone, or at least what was left of the 1.6kg we had taken with us. After re-reading more of the small print, I decided we were ok, and would declare nothing.
We went through the green corridor and appeared on the other side. There were no angsty custom officials, no stamps in our passports, rummaging through our luggage, or questioning us on our business here in Norway and whether we had ever been a member of the Nazi party.
The green door lead directly outside to the wonders of Norway.
From there we had to find our way to the Oslo CBD. The airport is situated some 50km north of Oslo. We sought help, and were advised we could take the train for 120 NOK ($25 NZD); however we warned that this was the slow train, and if we needed to get there sooner we should take the express train. We enquired just how slow, this slow train was. 37 minutes, was the precise answer. 37 minutes to travel 50km. That’s not bad. We boarded the train.
The station, and the train maintained the same impressive style, as had Oslo Airport – immaculate, comfortable, and impressively stylish. We suddenly became embarrassed by what Europeans would think of New Zealand, if visiting for the rugby world cup.
And then, the train started to move. It was silent. The trains are electric. We silently glided through the countryside, and as we watched Norway pass us by, we were once again assaulted by more cultural overload.
The scenery is beautiful.
Picturesque rolling green hills, dotted with traditional farm houses, and all in perfect order. Not a weed or broken fence in sight. The only thing that was curiously absent was grazing cattle or sheep. But at a 0.01% sheep to person ratio, these creatures are hard to come by.
Arriving in Oslo we rambled up to our hotel, relishing a hot shower, before setting about to business for the day, and battling the temptation to sleep.
Oslo itself is gorgeous. A criss-cross of old cobbled roads, impressive parks and naked sculptures, beautifully maintained old buildings, with awe-inspiring modern new architecture spliced in between, and no rubbish anywhere. Silent electric trains run everywhere, an exciting scene to watch as they whoosh past carrying locals to their destinations.
Exhausted from our day of urban exploration we finally retired to bed at 10.30pm, it had been some 44 hours since we last slept. We pulled the thick curtains in our hotel room, trying to stop sunlight from streaming in.
That’s something else we’re going to have to get used to.