blogging, Travel

Friendly Friday – Meet Olav in Norway

Back in 2004, I jumped on a subway train in Norway. It was my first time visiting the country that was to steal my heart. I had little knowledge of where I was going that day, or what would happen, other than I was headed for a ski jump outside of Oslo, which had panoramic views and a ski museum.

oslo
Oslo, Norway

Meeting Norwegians

You know that feeling of confusion you have when orientating yourself on a public transport network, in a new city. I felt like that. With the aid of some young Norwegians, my young son and I found the platform and the unmanned train – a curiosity for us, as there are no metros in Australia.

Without station reminders or announcements, we sized up the young passenger sitting opposite for advice on when to depart the train, in order to go to Holmenkollen station and ski jump. The passenger was not only keen to help out with the required information, but offered to take us home for dinner and to meet his family! I politely declined the invitation, but thought how open and kind Norwegians were. Albeit a little too friendly towards strangers.

Believe it or not, that summer in Oslo was hot, especially after walking for several kilometres up Norwegian roads with a laden backpack from Holmenkollen station. It may have been a bit of jet lag, but I was tired.

Walking to Holmenkollen Ski Jump

After walking those few kilometres, or so it seemed, I spotted the ski jump ahead, and also the road to it winding round and round the mountain for another kilometre or so. If you have traveled with kids, you’ll relate to questions like: – Are we there yet? How much further etc. etc. My son was a stoic, but I feel sure he was making plenty of facial grimaces behind my back.

It was with that thought in mind that I spotted a narrow walking track up a grassy slope on the side of the road, that appeared to lead directly to the ski jump, I thought a short cut would save us time and energy.

With only a slight hesitation, my 11 year old and I took the track up the grassy slope.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

A little over halfway up the hill, with images of mountain goats flitting through my mind, I pondered what I, as a 41 year old Aussie Mum, was doing. I wasn’t young and fit anymore. No sooner had I thought that, than I had to reach my hands forward to the ground, as I climbed, just to maintain balance.

Oh uh, Mum. It is getting steep, really steep.” I heard from my son.

Don’t stop now, we’re so close to the top; just keep going,” I urged him, not wanting to lose any of my forward momentum, lest the slope become too much, for me.

At that moment, ‘Olav,’ who had, in all possibility, been trained during the Nazi occupation of Norway, appeared at the crest of the hill, standing feet astride, hands on hips, in an authoritative stance.

He boomed out at me, in English, “You can’t come up here. Go back!”

Oh, wait – Why not? I said as I scrambled the last few steps of the slope. “I mean, I’ve paid already. I have an Oslo Card,” fumbling in my pocket for the 48 hour tourist card that allows a visit, to any tourist attraction in Oslo, for one pre-paid charge.

Olav, his name emblazoned boldly on his badge, in ‘Arial black font’, glared at me.

I prattled on, stupidly thinking he had misunderstood. “Oh – you Norwegians. I thought you were all so nice and welcoming….” I stopped mid-sentence thinking how silly that sounded.

To which Olav repeated his intimidating mantra a little louder this time,

“GO BACK. YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE COME THIS WAY.”

A sickening feeling of guilt crept into my throat as I realized that the short cut path we had taken, that would save us some time and energy, had NOT led us to the entrance of the ski jump, but had in fact, led us inside the museum itself. Olav thought we were trying to gatecrash, without paying.

A quiet Aussie accent reached my ear. “Let’s just go back, Mum.”

I turned to my son, “Yeah okay, I made a mistake; we’ll just go down again and walk the long way around.

I took a few steps off the edge of the slope and was shocked to see just how precipitous a slope, we had scrambled up. I nearly lost my balance, just looking down.

It dawned on me that going down was not even going to be difficult, it was going to be downright dangerous, especially carrying a heavy backpack. I could see that one of us would surely slip and potentially break a leg or something. Any alternative was better than that.

Gathering courage I didn’t know I had, I turned back again towards Olav, his implacable face and overly muscular body still blocking my way into the ski jump museum.

“Look – I’m really, really sorry, I just can’t go down that way. I’m more than happy to pay a second entrance fee, if you want. I never intended to avoid payment or do anything wrong. I am from Australia, I didn’t know.” I was blabbering quickly now, like a child caught with his hand in the candy jar.

“I am more than happy to buy another ticket. I do have an Oslo card, so it’s all paid for, already.”

I hadn’t explained myself well, as Olav remained unconvinced.

“Then why did you come up this way?” he spat.

Because, I thought this path was a short cut.

He looked bemused. I started to consider whether the phrase, “short cut,” might be lost in translation. So I continued:

It is so very hot today and I thought it would save us walking in the heat.” Olav’s face showed no indication of relenting.

Mum, c’mon let’s just go.” My son started walking down the precipitous slope again. I wavered.

What should I do? It was clear that Olav was not ‘feeling the love,’ the other Norwegians had shown us, so I made a bold decision. Fight or flight must have taken over.

After muttering under my breath to give myself courage, I said:

Look, I’m not going to potentially break my leg going down there, when I have already paid to go into the museum,” I said with as little nervous emotion as I could muster, at that moment.

So, I’m just going to run over there to the ticket office and thrust my Oslo card at the attendant, cos I can’t, I just can’t go back down that slope.

Why not?” – Olav again.

I’m terrified I will fall.”

Okay, then,” was his final response. To my complete surprise, he turned his back and walked away.

I literally ran over to the ticket office, to show them my Oslo card, my heart beating wildly for the next ten minutes, or so.

There was an awkward moment when we spotted Olav again, in another part of the exhibit, but he remained silent, a serious nod to us the only acknowledgement of our previous terse interaction.

Travel Note: The Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum has been renovated and is in a slightly different location than 2004.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Meet One Person

This is not my typical travel story, but as this is Sarah’s first week hosting the Friendly Friendly Blog Challenge, I wanted to post an interesting story of someone I had met in my travels.

Have you met someone interesting on your travels and wish to share a story or photograph about it? Someone who might be a little friendlier than Olav?

In her post, Sarah writes about her guide in Senegal, called Cheikh.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge

Sandy and I would love your support in welcoming Sarah, the new co-host of Friendly Fridays.

I will be back hosting the challenge again on Friday 13th August.

107 thoughts on “Friendly Friday – Meet Olav in Norway”

            1. First time I stayed two weeks in a small town called Hamar and second time I stayed about one week. Both times, I visited during the winter. It was so cold but so beautiful. I miss visiting Norway again.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Hey! I have had a few trips and stays in Norway and one time, I was a few weeks in Hamar and then up in the mountains and it was winter! Although summer is a good season to visit as well. What is your favourite Norwegian spot?

                Liked by 1 person

              2. In Hamar I was visiting my sister while she was doing her master studies. I remember we used to go by the lake and sometimes in the park.The centre of the town was very charming too. There was a very nice caffee place that we visited few times, it was a nice spot to read a book or hangout with friends. Very lovely town!

                Liked by 1 person

  1. This sounds like such a brilliant, wholesome experience! Olav seems a bit bizarre. The Scandinavian countries are high up there in my bucket list for countries to visit, especially since my visa got denied once due to some complications 🙁 Hoping to have an adventure just like you 😉☺️

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Ha, that made for a really good story even if it wasn’t so funny at the time 😆 Thank you for joining in, and for the warm welcome to the FFC gang. ANd guess what? Your pingback worked!! Mind you, it’s the only one that has, so now I need to figure out why that should be?!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. And the last time you left a pingback it worked too – the only one to have done so recently. I did get one from one other blogger not that long ago, but again I have no idea why hers should have worked when most don’t!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, going downhill is known to be more dangerous. I remember climbing a glacier in the Swiss Alps and people higher up were throwing rocks down this mountain which I was climbing.
    I was lucky none hit me.
    Good story and yes Norway is stunningly beautiful not that I have been there. I did live in Finland for a while though.

    Liked by 1 person

            1. Yep, gotta get that in there, too! It touches a raw nerve when I hear someone imitating an Aussie accent, saying “maayte,” and I wonder if that is how they hear us?
              I don’t think I said that to Olav, he wasn’t the kind of bloke you would banter with.

              Liked by 2 people

  4. Great story Amanda. You are a spunky Aussie! I’m not brave enough to go off a path & up a mountain much less stand up to a stern Olaf! I can just imagine what your son was thinking 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Sandy. It could have gone horribly wrong but I wasn’t going to jeopardise our safety if there was a chance of getting past Olav. I had waited so long to get to visit Norway I wasn’t going to spend it in a hospital. I was a bit fearful of this, even when I took my daughter to Iceland in winter. I was a bit paranoid that she wasn’t in wet clothes for very long.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. What a fascinating encounter and how plucky of you to stand up to Olav’s bullying. In the UK we would call his attitude “jobsworth” as in “… not worth my job to let you in”. I love stories like this, they are what makes travel fascinating. Landscapes and romanticised photographs are fine but the real travel tale lies in the people we meet.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I also find these anecdotes fun to read, so that is exactly the reason I thought to share it, Mari. It is funny to think back to that moment and I can still sense that feeling of panic as I stood up to Olav. Being in a foreign country I had no idea what would happen, but was surprised when he acquiesed so suddenly. Perhaps in the end, he felt a bit sorry for me? I am not sure.
      Photographs are lovely to see and entice one to visit a place you may not have seen with the eyes, but as you can see I have no photographs of my own to accompany this story and it still appears to be interesting for others to read.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. A few folks have commented on how dangerous going down would be. Had I thought it through better or supposed I would be going down the path, I might not have started climbing up! Olav was doing his job well and did act reasonably in the end. As the path was well trodden, I suspect he had to deal with teens or such like skipping the entrance in the past and had to act as a deterrent. Have you been to Norway, Janis?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. We had a ride on it and I tried to imagine I was really flying down a ski jump. It rattled and bumped shaking us all around. At one point, I imagined a little too much, because I let out a small squeal. It was quite effective for a simulator!

          Liked by 2 people

  6. That was a thrilling story. My heart was in my mouth. I too have enjoyed my visits to Norway and you have corrected my memory. I went to the ski jump in 1978 as part of a young tour group. I’d remembered it as Hohenzollern. Slightly muddle up!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I am sure that I read that they re-located and or renovated it. It certainly has changed a bit since I was there. They have added sides on the jump for a start to decrease the wind resistance. Hohenzollern sounds German?

      Liked by 3 people

  7. As a Norwegian, this sounds very like what Norwegians would say. Great read. And the old ski jump in the picture was torn down and rebuilt in 2010. The ski museum is now in the base of the jump, and in the summer time you can zip line from the top of it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. An interesting comment on Norwegian culture. Both the friendly ones on the train inviting me home and stern Olav?
      Thanks for confirming that they rebuilt the ski jump. I thought it looked different to how I remember that day! I didn’t thinknzip lining was an option in 2004 I would definitely do that if I went back. Did they move the ski jump to further down the road?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. We are quite friendly 🙂 even though we have a reputation of being a bit hard to get to know properly. I guess that comes from isolation and being on the fringe of Europe. The only thing they kept when tore down the old jump was the «diamond» at the very top. Think its at the ski museum now. Everything else was demolished to build the new jump, looks more high tech now. And the zip line is a new thing after the new jump was finished. And a fun fact, not many Norwegians are called Olav anymore, despited what Hollywood told you in Frost, sadly it is seen as a bit old fashioned, Im hoping for a revival 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      1. My pre-teen absolutely loves Norway. I have watched so many travel vlogs with him and now anytime I come across a blog that has to do with Norway I show it to him. Its his dream to travel there one day.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. He sounds very much like my son, who was so interested in going back to Norway, he completed a Norwegian exchange program when he finished school. It was such a thrill for him. Would your son consider something similar?

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting read, Amanda! I’m not sure about Norwegians, but Finns are very strict about any sort of rule – they looove rules and there are rules for everything and you don’t break them! 🙂 Happy he changed his mind, though.
    This also made me think of how back in 2003 I was solo traveling in Italy and so many strangers offered me dinner at home cooked by their mum/aunt/grannie. In 2016 when I last visited Italy, the mood had changed and no one was curious about a foreigner anymore, quite the contrary. I like to blame Instagram for mass tourism 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can well understand that Finns love rules. I think Germans and to a certain extent Dutch folks can be like that too. Rules! Australia used to be lax – but we are now heavily regulated to the point of being a nanny state. Yet I feel that we might still be curious about foreigners aside from the backlash against immigrants that is sometimes heard. Iinteresting observation that you made about the mood and curiosity of Italians for for foreigners changing from 2003 to 2016. I think social media does have a lot to do with it. It was rather nice travelling in the days pre smart phone but I have to admit smart phones have their advantages, for example finding places of interest in a strange city. A map is good but you need to take your time to do one’s researchfirst. We were certainly lucky to travel in those days when people were more open to meeting strangers. On reflection, it seems idyllic. So are people more wary of strangers generally or was it just in Italy, do you think?
      Social media has made the world smaller in that you can develop friendships online with anyone around the world – look at the two of us for instance. Does that quell the curiosity of talking to foreigners in the street? Not for me but perhaps for others?

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Wow! What an adventure! I’ve lived in Oslo and in Tromsoe(further north) for a bit and honestly both cities are charming and interesting. Any plans to visit Tromsoe at some point? You’d love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love any chance to be back in Norway. I have not visited Tromsø but as it has more snow than other towns, it should be on my list to visit. How long has you lived there?

      Like

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