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.

Community

Part 3 EuroScandi Odyssey – Landing in Frankfurt

Day 3

Although it was Friday and we spent most of it flying over Asia and the Middle East, we were to move backwards in time and experience Friday a second time. It was shortly after 6 am Friday when we landed, so the start of Friday again!

Our Lufthansa flight was on the then new and so enormous A-380, which has two floors of seating. With the Lufthansa CEO and his entourage taking up most of the senator class on the Upper deck, (spotted later on German TV, otherwise would not have had the foggiest who he was),  it then took us almost a full hour to board this mammoth, flying monster that had just come into service; so recently in fact, that it still smelt new. I must comment that the cabin was very well insulated, which did cut down on that awful vibrative noise one gets during long haul flights.

The Crew were not very friendly, but not unfriendly either. Just a presence, could not really say  a verbal one, more a physical one. As for the passengers, the man next to me was either Russian or East European and he was the best flight neighbour I have had yet. He just curled up and went to sleep, and I did  not hear ‘boo’ out of him all night. The other side of the plane consisted of a large group of square-headed, severely blonde gentlemen with no. 1 crew cuts, shouting in what sounded like an angry Deutche. But then German sounds like an angry language, sometimes.

Frankfurt airport itself, is huge and extremely difficult to get one’s bearings in unless, of course,  you go directly out to an exit. On passing through Passport control, we were asked about our itinerary as happens when you are a foreigner. I must say that the customs/police were very kind and friendly, as was our taxi driver, (who was hell bent on breaking the sound barrier, getting us to our hotel in Offenbach, a satellite town of Frankfurt. He was from Pakistan, ( aren’t most taxi drivers?) and he told us how he had a near fatal car accident when he first started driving… eeek! Something he tells his customers to reassure them, no doubt……

To our delight, our room at Sheraton Offenbach was made available for us straight away, at 7.15 am, which was either by good fortune, or because we were part of a large tour group that was commencing the next day. So, after settling in, we toddled out to find what Offenbach had on offer….excuse the bad pun/Dad joke.

What we found was a small  Christmas market, focused on food, in the “main” (again excuses for the pun/Dad joke), a wonderful Cafe at the Rathaus, where hot chocolate would be served to you for a  meagre $1.20 Euro, but who am I to complain? (Especially when I am used to paying $6.00AUD).Also,  a medium sized indoor shopping centre with some wonderful clothes shops, just a short stroll from our hotel. Heidi and I spent most of the day there buying jumpers and t-shirts, also some jewellery that was a bit more stylish than the mainstream shops back home. We loved it and found many a bargain and some nice new winter gear. When I visited Germany in 2004, everthing was so  expensive, now…. things were very inexpensive. Was the AUD performing that well against the Euro?

It was rather cold and we started to feel it, but nothing daunted, we did spot a squirrel in the nearby Palais park, and it was far too tempting to not chase this little fellow into the park. Whilst the Autumn leaves periodically dropped around us, we attempted to get a good photo of the illusive creature (which turned out to be a blurry shot anyway). The Palais building, pictured below,  is now a conference centre for the hotel, but looked like something that the Von Trappe family might have once owned.  The outside temperature was about + 5 degrees, but felt a little colder, presumably after our Singapore sojourn, and we had not yet acclimatised to the cold.

Busing Palais Offenbach
Busing Palais Offenbach

Europe 2011second batch 063Europe 2011second batch 075Something else we had yet to learn about Offenbach was where to find good local eateries and we were somewhat put off by the name of some of the food at the supremarket and  Christmas markets such as  “Super Dickman.”  (The mind boggles but there we have it…) Opting for something safer, we purchased some simple bread rolls from the Supermarket, (it’s always good to check out the local’s food ) and found some delicious pastries as well, which were more than satisfying. The German bakery treats were to become so familiar to us and indeed part of our permanent body shape for the next 3 weeks and hopefully not part of our body shape for three years. They are sooo good!!!Come nighttime, we dined at the hotel restaurant and the prices, once again, I have to say were moderate, compared to Australia. I had a delicious prawn pasta dish, seen below, in its triumphal glory and Heidi had a bolognaise that would have easily fed 6 people!!!
Travellers tip: If you are used to having still water with your meals, then beware, in Germany you have to specially request still water and pay for it, or they will provide mineral water in a bottle for you, again at a price.If you just ask for ‘water’, they will give you the version with bubbles, or ‘gas’, as they say. In other words, sparkling mineral water. You have to ask for ‘still vand’, or ‘still water’. Perhaps because it is much colder in Germany than at home, noone seems to drink still tap water here.  You can see our requested ‘water’ in the background of this picture, where we learnt this lesson very quickly. Water was something we pondered about on our first night in Germany.

Searching for the illusive Squirrel