Bret Goes to Oslo
From Stockholm I boarded a 6-hour train to Oslo, Norway. I only spent one full day in Oslo, but in hindsight I wish I would have spent more. Despite being ultra pricey (a Big Mac is $18 USD), Oslo is an extremely lovely city filled with rivers, peaceful bays, beautiful people, and lush green parks.
Once I arrived, I thankfully only had a five or so minute walk to my hostel. Like everything in Norway, hostels are extremely expensive, and this hostel was no exception. For a six bedroom dorm, HostelWorld, my booking app for the iPhone, wanted $64 per night! Obviously, it is expensive to stay in downtown Oslo, and of course, I could have stayed further outside of town for less; maybe $40 to $50 per night. But public transportation in Oslo is expensive, and after doing the math, I realized that I would have lost the savings in transportation costs. Still I was fed up with HostelWorld’s prices, so I decided to search elsewhere. On Booking.com I found the same room, listed as a ‘male dormitory’ for $50 so I booked that. Booking on a different site sort of caused me to have a minor panic attack. Had the prices on Booking.com always been so much lower than HostelWorld’s?
Turns out, they weren’t. Booking.com put me in the twelve bed all male dorm… fantastic. Still despite sharing a room with twelve other males, I was quite relieved to find out that I wasn’t getting ripped off for my entire trip. But still… it was a twelve person MALE dorm. Hello to a night of hell!
The first disturbance occurred at 2 am. Two gentlemen came in with loaded bags and suitcases. Instead of getting ready in the dark like considerate people do, these two morons turned on the lights. For thirty minutes, I and the other sleepers were showered with white florescent lighting. That passed but thirty minutes later another guy came in. He didn’t turn the lights on, but got into the bed next to me. He had severe asthma and sounded as if he had just run a marathon. I asked him several times if he was okay. When he wasn’t breathing heavy and finally asleep, he was snoring. To top things off, he put his clothes in a plastic bag and used that as a pillow.
Plastic bag pillow guy… I need to add that to my list of people you don’t want in your hostel.
Lastly, the guy to my left was also a snorer. I think I slept three hours that night. I awoke myself the next morning at 8 am and immediately went downstairs and asked for an upgrade to the six bedroom dorm. I didn’t care how much it was going to cost me. Surprising, they upgraded me to a six bedroom dorm, free of charge.
After my ‘free’ breakfast, I packed my things and headed to get coffee with Maddie, ten minutes north of the city. I meant Maddie through the Courchsurfing App. For those of you who do not know, Couchsurfing is hospitality exchange website. It is designed for poor backpackers like myself who need a place to stay for free. You build a profile on it, and upon traveling to foreign cities, you send local hosts a message with a request to stay at their apartment. If your a good fit, they accept, and you literally end up sleeping on their couch. It also works in the opposite direction. When you are not traveling, you can host travelers from all around the world. It is a brilliant app.
I had sent Maddie a message earlier that week, but unfortunately, they were unable to host me because they didn’t have the space. Still, because we are both travelers and had a lot in common via our profiles, she asked if I wanted to join her for coffee. Meeting the locals is always fun, so of course, I said yes. I met Maddie at a local cafe, and from the moment we met, Maddie and I acted as if we were old friends.
Maddie, along with her two other roommates, are from Sweden and are currently living in Norway. Like me, they also love to travel. To finance their traveling passions, they all work in Norway. While Norway is more expensive than Sweden, you make a lot more money in Norway. In fact, it is common for many Swedes to come to Norway just for work. Also during our coffee date, I learned that they didn’t have any room because at that moment they were three girls sharing a one bedroom apartment. Maddie along with a friend shared a bed in the main bedroom. The other roommate was on a bed in den. ammed right next to this bed was the couch for Couch Surfers.
Upon learning about this living arrangement, all I could think about was Collin’s trip to America in the film, ‘Love Actually.’ For those of you who haven’t seen this film – the clip is here. Scroll to 2:39. God I’m awful.
Despite these space limitations, I still didn’t see any problem…
We ended up chatting for an hour and a half before we took a brief walk around Oslo. Our three hour conversation ended when Maddie had to go to work. I guess we got a long pretty well because by the end of the conversation, she offered for me to sleep on their couch for my remaining night in Oslo. Unfortunately, I had already booked my hostel and had to decline the request. But I did need to do laundry, and laundry was $20 in the hostel. Thankfully, Maddie was kind enough to let me do my laundry in her apartment free of charge! We planned to meet the following morning.
I spent the afternoon doing what I usually do – walking. From 1 until 7 I walked. I saw the castle, some churches, some famous park, Norwegian architecture, a Viking museum, and Embassy Row. I ended my walk at this peninsula connected to downtown Oslo via a ferry. I had no cash on me to get back via the ferry, and the walk around would have taken me another two hours. Looking like a homeless man pays off, and the first mate on the ferry took pity on me by offering me a free ride.
That evening I went to this Kebab place where I watched the Brazil v. Germany soccer match. I was dead tired from the night before and passed out early. The following morning I awoke early and headed to Maddie’s to do my laundry. I didn’t have much time because at noon I had to catch a train to Bergen, a coastal city west of Oslo. Luckily my laundry didn’t take long because apparently in Norway, they don’t have dryers. Wet clothes in my bag didn’t bother me because wet clean clothes for free are a hundred times better that dry clothes for $20. While doing laundry Maddie and I went for another walk. During this time, I also met one of her other roommates. As an amusement to myself, I also hacked into their Wifi router with my phone and changed their network name to ‘BretistheBest.’ Childish I know, but at least they won’t forget me! Sadly noon quickly approached, I left their house and made my way to the station. I soon was on a slow train to Bergen.