For the first time in 8 years, at the weekend I was back in Norway, the country I consider to be my spiritual home. It was a whistle stop trip though – my delayed flight arrived 2 hours late on Friday evening, and I was back at the airport before 11 on Sunday morning. I took the airport bus into Oslo city centre – it left within minutes of me getting on the bus and was a clean and quick trip. Free wifi on the bus, and regular updates on the monitors on the bus meant I knew when I’d be getting into the city.
A short walk through unfamiliar streets and I was at the quayside waiting for a ferry across the fjord. It’s a commuter service which runs every hour. What a way to enjoy the views of the city, sitting outside in the glorious sunshine, the only downside being the smell of the diesel engines pushing us across the sea.
The bus service at the other side is timed to meet the ferry, and my parents were there too. Another quick and easy trip on the bus and we were at our destination.
Saturday morning brought a leisurely breakfast then a trip back by bus and ferry into Oslo to do some shopping, then back across the fjord to my aunt and uncle’s before heading off to the reason I was there in the first place: my parents’ Golden wedding party, part two.
We’d had part one in Scotland the week before, with family and friends gathering for a while on the Sunday afternoon, and part two was something similar but for the Norwegian contingent. Buffet dinner and drinks in a bar / restaurant at the edge of Oslo fjord, with all manner of boats going past while the sun made its lazy transit, bathing us in glorious light all afternoon and well into the evening. A final bus trip for the day and time for bed.
Sunday was more or less a repeat of the Friday, but in reverse and with no delays to the flight. I have to say that the cleanliness and efficiency of the public transport in Norway was a notable improvement on my experiences here in the UK – at least from a timekeeping point of view. Services were coordinated so that a delay to e.g. the ferry meant that the buses wouldn’t leave till it came in. For an “expensive” country, which Norway is renowned to be, the 50 minute trip from the airport on the bus was about £12, and the bus / ferry combined at the other end was about £3.50. Not bad at all. Ok, the beer was £6.65 for a half litre, or £5.23 for 400ml, but there wasn’t exactly time for a lot of that, and the prices aren’t that far off “London prices” for beer these days.
The visit was way too short, but did re-emphasise to me how much I love Norway and that I need to go back soon, and then often after that. Who knows, maybe my very rusty Norwegian language skills will improve and I’ll move on from just asking if people speak English, or responding in English when asked a question in Norwegian: that would be a desirable outcome!