A Travellerspoint blog

March 2010

Oslo After-thoughts

sunny
View Europe 2010 on Khandilee's travel map.

There are several things that I had thought about during my Oslo trip and I forgot to put them into the blog. Here are just a few thoughts and observations from my 3 days in Oslo.

- I think the children are born with ski's on their feet. It seemed that those old enough to walk were either carrying ski's or their parents were carrying them for them. I saw a few of them skiing at the Vigeland Sculpture park and many more on the Metro and trams.

- There were an inordinate amount of people with disabilities. ie Blind, deaf, and downs syndrome. No one looked at them differently and they blended well with the general populous. Many of them (not the blind) were carrying skis!

- The Norwegians are beautiful people. Not super skinny (like some European cultures). Just beautiful....

- The is nothing that I found that was 'typical' Norwegian food.....maybe someone could enlighten me?

- The beer in Oslo isn't near as good as it is in Prague! And it isn't near as cheap!

- Oslo is very much a multi-cultural city. Oddly enough, was the number of Haitians that I observed.

- There is a large homeless population. This surprised me due to the extremity of the weather. I was told by Phillip (truck driver at the hotel), that there is a huge Heroin problem in Oslo. The only thing I could find with a quick google search was from 2002

- There is no fear of kidnapping in Oslo! I saw babies outside bakeries, alone down an isle in the store and a multitude of other places with mom and dad off doing their business. Scary! I am not the only one to have noticed this; see HERE

- No one except me looked cold!!

Last thought....I can't wait to get back to Norway in the summer and explore some of the smaller towns and the coast!

Posted by Khandilee 08:58 Archived in Norway Comments (2)

You must rejoice in life....

sunny 26 °F
View Europe 2010 on Khandilee's travel map.

...every single day, Do not wait until it is past until discovering that it was good! Do not place your happiness in the days to come. The older we get, the more we feel that the enjoyment of the moment is a state of grace, a Golden Gift. Marie Curie

I found this quote on a postcard today and it sums up my feelings totally.

It's been a good trip to Oslo. Had a good time on the MS Innvik last night. Enjoyed a couple of beers with some locals and non-locals. I did call it an early night though as the headaches are horrid. I think it's the cold, or maybe I am trying to come down with something but everytime I step out side, my head begins to throb.

I managed to get some sunset pics from the Opera House. The pictures really dont do it justice. It was very pretty. CIMG3282.jpg CIMG3259.jpg
CIMG3258.jpg CIMG3270.jpg

Yesterday (day 2), I put off leaving in the morning watching the fog roll off the bay. CIMG3284.jpgWhen I finally headed out, I wandered around town and browsed in the shops and stores a bit. I made my way out to Vigeland sculpture park and took my time exploring and pondering on the statues. There was a brief moment that tears came to my eyes....I'm not certain why, but the sculptures are very moving. The vision of the human connection was very powerful for me. I managed to get a few photos before my battery died:

CIMG3310.jpg CIMG3307.jpg
CIMG3302.jpg CIMG3300.jpg
CIMG3297.jpg

I found a great little bakery and enjoyed a wonderful apple/walnut muffin mid-day. It's important in Oslo in March to take frequent breaks for coffee to warm yourself up. At least, that's my excuse!

I was determined to spend some money and did a little more shopping in the shops. Unfortunately, I came out empty handed. Perhaps this is actually fortunate!

I enjoyed great conversation and a couple of overpriced beers (along with a salad) at a cute local bar, The Broker. I am horrible and can't for the life of me remember the name of the man I was chatting with....

Today (day 3)

I enjoyed breakfast conversation with a Belgian. He had lots of advice for exploring Norway (in warmer weather). He lives part time here in Oslo and the other part in Brussels. A trucker by trade and like the rest of those that I have met during this trip, very friendly.

I wandered around a bit more, actually hoping to do some shopping since I was unsuccessful yesterday....only to find out that it's the same in Norway as it is in Germany....EVERYTHING is closed on Sundays! So, I just meandered around until I was too cold and found my way back to the MS Innvik for some internet time. I did manage to find the little bakery from yesterday for another muffin!

I think I am Oslo (ed) out for now....

PS: Additional pics in the gallery.

Posted by Khandilee 05:10 Archived in Norway Comments (1)

Day One Oslo Pictures

Check out my public album for pics of Day one. Sorry, I am tired and not going to go back and put them into the blog....

https://www.travellerspoint.com/gallery/users/khandilee/countries/Norway/

Gnite all....

Posted by Khandilee 15:19 Archived in Norway Comments (0)

The Land of Fjords ~ Norway

sunny 19 °F
View Europe 2010 on Khandilee's travel map.

So I landed in Oslo, Norway....

The first thing that struck me is the fact that the airport is about the size of South Bend! If your not familar with SB...it's TINY. As we were getting ready to land, I realized that I had chosen my seat poorly. You see, on RyanAir there are no assigned seats and I thought that I needed to sleep so chose a windowless seat. It worked out great as I slept like a baby on the plane but as we were flying low over the Fjords getting ready to land, I realized that I was not able to see the beauty that was floating below me. Sad....

It's cold here. Yep, it is. No....really, I mean it...it's cold! It's a good thing that the sun is shining or I think I would freeze in place. I guess it really isn't that bad. Walking around Oslo today my nose and ears felt as though I were going to suffer from frostbite. I think I stopped about 20 times for coffee just to warm up. I'm goin gto have to find a better way to get warm as a cup of coffee here is about 25 Krone = $4.22 usd !!

Let's back up to yesterday. I was watching the scenery on the bus (in between naps) from the airport into Oslo and my first thoughts were that it looks a lot like what I would think that Alaska would look like. Hills covered in snow with rock walls along the roads, small and large farm-houses dotted across the countryside. It seemed very remote. It took about an hour and 45 minutes to get into town from the airport. Somehow, I thought that I read somewhere that it was only 45 minutes away...oh well, better make certain that I give myself plenty of time to get back to the airport on Sunday. No time to worry about that right now...

We passed my boat/hostel on the bus on the way to Central Station. I tried as hard as I could to keep the direction in my mind but with all the turning and such, by the time we got to CS, I could not for the life of me figure out which way to the boat! I knew that I was close and I should have simply asked but I was stuborn (and tired) and just grabbed a taxi outside the station. Of course, my taxi driver didn't speak any English so I was trying to explain in child-speak where I wanted to go. All I really would have had to say was...take me across the street! Literally! The boat/hostel was RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET!!! Ok, I am not going to beat myself up over the amount paid to get across the street...and I'm not telling you how much either! Lesson learned, but I was tired and at that moment, the cost was well worth it.

After I got checked in, I headed out to get something to eat. I realized that other than a croissant at the airport, I hadn't eaten since about midnight.... Where did I go? To Central Station! There is always food at the station and it was close. I don't know if it was because I was tired or starving but the Turkish Kabob that I had was quite tasty.

There is a wonder view from the MS Innvik (the boat/hostel/theater) where I am staying. I am right on the water and right across from me is the Opera House as well as the Castle. At night, they are both lit up and simply beautiful. Hope to get some pictures tonight to share.

Today, I wandered around lost for most of the day (starting to be a theme for my travels). I think I got a good lay-out of the city. Figured out the Metro. I saw the Royal Palace and wasn't all impressed. The people here are friendly, but not overly outgoing with strangers. I walked the boardwalk at Aker Bridge and had lunch at a place called Albertine Cafe and Bar. I enjoyed a bowl of fish soup full of fish, clams and shrimp. Very tasty. Oh...side note: The bread here is wonderful!!

I'm back at the boat now for some warming up. Enjoying some hot coffee (free) and internet. This evening, I am going to climb to the top of the Opera house for (hopefully) some great photo op's. Then a totally non-touristy activity...I am going to the theater to see Shutter Island. I have been wanting to see it since I saw it advertised way back in October before I left the states and it's playing at the theater here. It's supposed to be in English with Norwegian sub-titles (we'll see).

Tomorrow I am planning to be a complete tourist! Going to take a tour...yes, me...taking a tour! Planning to visit Vigeland Sculpture Park, Holmenkollen & Viking Ship Museum.

Posted by Khandilee 07:36 Archived in Norway Comments (10)

Pulling out of a mindset of Sludge in Prague

sunny
View Europe 2010 on Khandilee's travel map.

This is what I feel like I am trying to do. Trying to keep the gray sky from turning my mind and thoughts gray. If you read my last post, you'll know that I have been suffering from a bit of feeling 'down'. I had decided to put an end to it and get out to explore, regardless of the weather.

I talked another civilian RN into taking a spur of the moment trip with me. Where? How about Prague? It's only 5 hour drive away and we have a 3 day weekend to do it in. Now, this sounds like a lot of time but in reality it isn't. You will see below that 3 days (when working nights) is a horribly short time to travel and explore a city. I am still trying to convince the scheduler at work of this....

Lets run a quick time-line:

0730 We both get off work and head to my place to meet and drop off the extra car and pick up Aco.
0845 Coffee is had (couldn't start the day without it), clothes are changed, car is packed, Aco is rounded up and we are off to pick up the rental car.

0910 Arrive at car rental desk. Wait in line, pick up keys and receive instructions on return and obtaining a gas card. (Gas card 'must' be obtained in order to fuel the car ~ in Germany only ~ at the American base prices). This is extremely important due to the price of gas on the economy here. It's over $6/gallon here in Germany and I have no idea what the price might be in Czech Republic. Off we go...

1010 Arrive at Vogelweh base. This is the base that is closest to my apartment where we will drop the other car due to the fact that you CAN NOT park your car at the car rental place on Ramstein Base. Who has ever rented a car at a place that won't allow you to park your personal vehicle for the duration of the rental? Not me! Never....already frustrated that we have to drive back to my place to drop off the other car before we can hit the road toward Prague.
l
So we are at Vogelweh, after dropping Switzer's car at my place. First stop is the ATM, yes...we both forgot to get some Euro and although we will be spending on the Czech currency, it's always good to have Euro. Especially since we are traveling through Germany to get there.

Now onto the gas station to get the Gas card. No coffee in the coffee machine at the station. Getting more aggravated. I'm getting tired! Woke up at 3pm yesterday and still have more errands then a 5 hour drive to an unfamiliar city and exploring to do....

Stand in line for said Gas card....

Teller informs me that I can't get card for rental. I have to go to the security office to get the card then I have to come back here to get it loaded with funds. Uggggghhhhh!!!
CIMG3223.jpg

Off to the security office. On arrival, the window has the blinds closed. Not certain if we are in the right place we stalk a passerby and ask. Yeah, right place...just pick up the phone on the wall. Oh, right! The phone (that I didn't see). Thanks. Phone picked up and I asked about getting a Gas card. The answer went something like this "yes, this is the right place....but we are closed now......on duty days we are open after 4pm.....on non duty days we are open at ???......but it's a duty day and we aren't open.....you have to go to Ramstien.....to the security bldg num.........." FUCK IT! I am SO DONE! Yes, that's exactly how I felt at this point. I had the piece of paper that told me that I could get this done at Vogelweh and that's why I came here because I hate trying to navigate the base at Ramstein and I had to come back this way to my house to drop off the car anyway. So I ranted and bitched for about 10 minutes to Switzer (who pleasantly listened), then we hit the road....nearly 11am now.
CIMG3071.jpg
As it turns out, you really don't need to get a card for a rental. Oh, yeah you probably 'should' get one but no one asks in the economy to see the registration and make certain that you are gassing the car that is on the card. Why should anyone care anyway? Gas is Gas. Does it matter what car you are gassing? Well, obviously someone thinks so. Let's just say that I know you can use your card but I can't discuss how I paid for MY gas on the economy!

It's pushing 6pm when we finally get to the hotel, checked in and to our room. It's been a long day and we are both exhausted. But...we are in a new city and don't want to totally waste the evening. We have no Krona on us so we head to the Metro station to use the cash machine. Finding it without difficulty about 10 min walk from the hotel. Very convenient. Next item on agenda? FOOD! I am starving....and I really want to try out the Czech Beer that I have read so much about.

Not really wanting to venture into the city we look around the local area and find a restaurant/bar about a block away from the Metro. It's a cute little place and we end up sharing the far end of a table with some locals. It looks like a local place. We are the only English speakers here. I think there might be others that are tourists, many languages are being spoken. The waiter brings Switzer a dark brew and myself a medium brew. I don't know the names but they are both WONDERFUL. I'm certainly not a beer connoisseur but these are the easiest drinking beer I have ever tasted (the dark was especially good).

After looking over the menu for quite some time, we finally decided on eats. I ordered 'Mother-in-laws Breath' or something like that. It was potato pancake's with some sort of white cheese in the middle and fried.....Wonderful tasting with the side of sauerkraut. Switzer got a steak that was unfortunately, a little on the tough side. The local couple at the other end of our table took great delight in watching my reaction to the food when It was delivered and tasted. They were smiling and giggling...weird? I didn't get any pics...didn't want to embarrass Switzer too much! A couple of beers were had then it was back to the hotel for an early turn in due to exhaustion. Man, I am getting old!

I think we slept for about 10 hours.....I don't remember anything except having to get up around 0200 to take Aco out to potty. (poor girl, I have got to find a sitter for her).

We started out early the next morning and spent the entire day exploring, mostly wandering around lost and gawking at the architecture. Street food was considered as there were multiple stands set up in the town square.
CIMG3114.jpg
But it was early and we resisted since we were still full from the hotel breakfast. Lunch was Nachos and quesadilla at a little bar alongside more Czech beer. Not very original for Czech food but it was good and filling and the beer a delight...again (although the service a bit poor).

I think we got to see most of the main tourist sites:

Prague Castle
CIMG3143.jpgCIMG3145.jpgDSCN2548.jpgDSCN2547.jpgDSCN2551.jpg

Of course with all this beauty, I felt that it wouldn't be complete without a statue of me and there was an open space for just such a statue:
DSCN2552.jpg

Charles Bridge: This was full of people and half of it was blocked with scaffolding. It was much prettier at night and I got a shot of the full moon as well. The street performer was fun to watch and I also have a video that's pretty cute. I have to get back for a Marionette show sometime.
DSCN2583.jpg
CIMG3188.jpgCIMG3179.jpgCIMG3176.jpg

Old Town Square and Misc Buildings and views and such:

DSCN2535.jpgDSCN2513.jpg

I took my time picking out select postcards to mail out. If you didn't get one this time, maybe I'll get you next time. Make sure that you have given me your address though or you'll never get one! haha

DSCN2511.jpg

The Jewish Quarter: We saw the graveyard completly surrounded with fencing and were unable to figure out how to get into it. I got a couple of pics from the gated door, but nothing up close. It would have been fun/interesting to have been able to explore this a little more up close.
DSCN2531.jpgCIMG3124.jpg

I don't think that I can go anywhere with another person without them taking a picture of me with the map trying to find my way....
DSCN2573.jpg

The Powder Gate: This was one of the first sights that we came across and set the mood for the trip.
CIMG3108.jpgDSCN2507.jpg

The Horologe (Astronomical Clock): We took some great pics here but didn't see it hit the hour and get to experience the figures moving at the top of the hour.
CIMG3168.jpg

Now for the not-so-touristy type stuff. These were the sights that I will probably remember the most. There were the man-hole covers that were quite unique.

CIMG3116.jpgCIMG3110.jpg

Then we searched out the Graffiti Wall

CIMG3217.jpgCIMG3216.jpgCIMG3215.jpgCIMG3214.jpgCIMG3210.jpgCIMG3209.jpgCIMG3204.jpgCIMG3203.jpgCIMG3202.jpgCIMG3199.jpgCIMG3198.jpg

Just before we found the Graffiti wall, we ran across the Love locks. I think my favorite is the one with a yellow ribbon....

CIMG3221.jpgCIMG3197.jpg

There was an underground tour that we had hoped to get to but timing wasn't on our side. I'm sure that there are many more things that we could/should have seen but overall, it was a good trip. The weather (although still cool) was wonderful with the sun shining most of the time and we were greeted with a full moon after dark.

Another local bar was found for dinner/drinks and we enjoyed the gallivanting of a group of Englishmen out on the town for the weekend. They were put in their place when a couple of girls they were flirting with suddenly decided to start making out. We all got quite a laugh out of that....

Here is a pic of Switzer and I at the bridge....
CIMG3134.jpg
Self photos make me look like a dork, but we had a great time and can't wait for the next adventure!!

Posted by Khandilee 08:16 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged women Comments (5)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 5) Page [1]