Sweden and Norway

So this weekend is the last weekend of school, and I decided to do my most-anticipated trip of the entire year. And WOW was it fun.

A completely solo weekend of 4 days and 3 cities – Stockholm, Trondheim, and Oslo – with countless hours of train time and travelling between them, but so, so worth it.

Also, side note: I’m so glad I bought the Eurail Pass. Without it, this weekend would have been around $986.

I spent around $100, with hostels and train reservations included.

But first, let me start off with Wednesday night. So after classes (and before my finals on Thursday), a group of us (well, most of the UP Salzburgers) decided to go to a showing of Handel’s Messiah. It was good – definitely not my favorite, but it was incredibly long. However, it was SO worth it because it was a goodbye to Gundi, our music teacher, who is retiring from the UP Salzburg program after decades of teaching there. She’s the sweetest lady ever and she’s kinda like our Center grandma (she calls herself that too!). Anyways, at the Messiah, we all got dressed up and listened for a little over 3 hours, then said our goodbyes to Gundi and gave her hugs. Unfortunately she won’t be at our barbecue, but I know I’ll be back to Salzburg in the near future, so she said to contact her.

Anyways, on Thursday, we took our metaphysics and fine arts finals – they went well, or at least I hope. That’s all for that.

Unfortunately though, at some point on Thursday – I think when I was going down the stairs and I slid – I pulled or strained my Achilles’ tendon. So there’s some background for this weekend.

On Friday, I woke up early to hop on a train to Vienna. As I was getting off the train in Vienna, I realized just how screwed up my ankle was – it hurt insanely bad with every step I took. So, with a few little rest breaks as I walked, I made it to the plane. And as we were about to take off – we were on the runway, the captain came over the PA and announced that there was an issue with the right engine, bad enough for the plane to not fly, so we had to wait about 30/45 minutes while a team of engineers and mechanics and technicians inspected the engine. Thankfully though, they couldn’t figure out anything wrong enough to stop the plane from flying, so we headed to Stockholm without any further issues.

I got into Stockholm and immediately realized how expensive everything there was – a bus (the cheapest option) to downtown was $12. Regardless, I had to get downtown to catch a train to Trondheim, so I bit the bullet and hopped on.

When I got to the Stockholm Centralstasjon, I only had a few hours, but my ankle was in so much pain that I didn’t have much desire to walk around and explore, unfortunately. However, I did get out of the train station and walked a little ways away to a bridge where I could see some of the city.

I knew I’d be back to Stockholm on Monday, so I wasn’t too worried about not getting to see much.

Anyways, I headed back to the train station and went to the store to pick up some bread, meat, and cheese – it was nothing special; just some Vollkornbrot, parmesan cheese, and little salami rolls. I’ll include a picture later on.

With that, I called my dad and talked to him for a little while, then hopped on the 11 hour train to Åre.

The train was surprisingly nice – I forgot that I actually missed night trains. One of the other guys on the train was from Belgium, and he saw me using my Eurail Pass, so he hopped down from his bed (one up and across the room), and came up and excitedly asked me if I was using a Eurail Pass. Turns out, he was using Interrail (the European citizen equivalent). He asked what I was doing – I explained that I studied in Austria, and turns out he spoke German, because he asked me whether I can, so we talked in German for a little while. He was travelling up to Åre to visit some childhood friends, which I thought was pretty cool. Anyways, after our short little talk, we both headed to sleep, and I woke up in the morning, then hopped off in Åre.

I only had 20 minutes between my train to Åre and the one leaving for Storlien, my next leg of the train, so I headed to the bathroom in the train station to change into new clothes and to brush my teeth/mat down my hair.

From Åre, I headed onto the next train, to Storlien, which was still in Sweden. There wasn’t a lot to do there – a single platform, and pretty much only snow surrounding anything. However, little did I know, the Swedish Royal Family spends their Easters there, so they might have even been there at the same time as I was, as I was there the day before Easter. Anyways, while there, I boarded my next train, to Trondheim.

This train was incredibly beautiful. In fact, all of the trains this weekend were. The Swedish and Norwegian countrysides are absolutely stunning. I didn’t take any pictures of this train ride from Storlien to Trondheim, but I took quite a few videos, which I’ll include in the video when I’m done with it.

The funny part though, was that there was a guy across the aisle from me who was doing exactly the same thing I was – I had seen him on the earlier trains, but didn’t realize it until this one – and he was eating the same food as me (down to the brand of Vollkornbrot), and he was using Eurail as well. It was quite a coincidence, and I think both of us realized it.

Anyways, later in the morning, I got into Trondheim. It was such a weird feeling – I know that my dad’s family wasn’t from Trondheim, but the fact that they were from Norway and that I was now in Norway was oddly powerful. I felt very connected to the country itself, just simply through my ancestry. It makes me really, really want to go back and learn more about my heritage.

Anyways, because my ankle was hurting, I still didn’t get to explore Trondheim as much as I would have liked to. However, I did get a chance to walk around – I ate another sandwich down by the river, then walked around for awhile. I headed to a little area by the bay, then walked downtown – it reminded me a lot of San Luis Obispo in the way it felt. I headed to the Old Town Bridge (built in the 1600s!), then headed even further downtown to see the main shopping center, where I relaxed for awhile and ate some frozen yoghurt. This area was super crowded, but the people were so friendly! I met a girl who looked EXACTLY like one of my friends from UP, and she was super nice! It was a really good way to spend the short time I had in Trondheim – incredibly relaxing, even though my ankle hurt.

Also, a fun fact – Trondheim is over 1000 years old, and it was the capital of Norway during the Viking Age! It was really cool to be in a place with such a long history, but a history that had to do with my own family. In that way, it was different than other cities, for example Rome, but it was SUPER cool regardless.

From Trondheim, I took a bus and then a train to Oslo. The train from Trondheim to Oslo is considered one of the most scenic and beautiful in Europe, if not the world. And I definitely see why. It was phenomenally beautiful. The Norwegian countryside is truly something else. However, as it was Easter weekend, on a popular train route, all of the seats were reserved, and it was a 7+ hour trip, so I had to switch seats and stand for quite awhile on a bad ankle. Thankfully, the ticket guy warned me at the start that all of the seats would be taken at some point, but then when all of them were taken, he found one seat in the very back that the person with the reservation either got off early or didn’t show up, because it was the ONLY seat open, and he told me to take the seat so I could sit. It was a really kind gesture, and I thanked him profusely for it.

Anyways, the train ride was gorgeous. I saw more waterfalls in probably 10 minutes of that trip than I’d ever seen in my life.

It was nothing short of incredible.

After the wonderfully beautiful train ride, I ended up in Oslo at around 10:00 pm. I went to my hostel to check in – the cheapest one that was relatively close to the train station – and the people working it were very friendly. The hostel itself, however, wasn’t anything special. I went up to my room, linens in hand (you had to pay extra for sheets, which were required), and went to my bed (every person in the room is assigned a bed), only to find a couple sleeping in my bed, and the woman flipped me off because I turned my light on to see what was in my bed. So I headed to reception, and they ended up giving me a new room, and apologized profusely and said they’d talk to the woman about it.

Anyways, the new room was alright – no issues – and I passed out. It was nice to get some actual sleep in a bed (and to SHOWER in the morning!).

In the morning, I checked out of my hostel fairly early to explore Oslo.

I started out the day by first somewhat wandering aimlessly. I saw signs posted to check out certain landmarks, so I followed them. That led to me first going up to the old Norwegian fortresses, which overlooked the bay:

Up at the fortress, I ate lunch. I was the only person there, and it was incredibly quiet and peaceful – not a great meal, but a fantastic view of the city and the bay. Also, this is what I meant by my meal was nothing special – literally just bread, sausages, and cheese – pretty gross actually, but it was cheap, and it was food. This is what I ate the ENTIRE weekend:

From there, I headed down to the City Hall, which is very close to the Nobel Peace Center. Unfortunately, I didn’t go in, because it was sorta expensive to get in.

From there, I headed more downtown, to the government district.

If you remember, Oslo was the site of a bombing in 2011 by a white supremacist, xenophobic, ultra-nationalist terrorist. He blew up a van rigged with explosives next to the Prime Minister’s Office, killing 8 people, before heading to Utøya, where he launched a second attack, targeting teenagers who were the children of liberal politicians. As I walked through the government sector, I passed an abandoned bus stop and a newspaper panel, which I found interesting and inspected further. Turns out its last use was on 22 July 2011 (the day of the attack) and they decided to keep the shattered newspaper stand – along with the bus stop – completely untouched. The newspaper panel was directly across the street from the van bomb (hence the shattered glass), and the bus stop was behind the Office of the Prime Minister.

There was also a memorial to the children that were killed – this hit me incredibly hard, because they were barely older than I was at the time, and it was targeting children for their parents’ policies. It was absolutely horrifying – I still remember the attack, because my family was in Hawaii and my brother loved Norway. However, the memorial was beautiful and very well-done.

It’s been 8 years since the attack, but the damage from the bomb is still quite visible. I went to the back of the PM’s office building and there’s still construction going on, and many of the surrounding buildings’ faces were torn off by the explosion, or burnt in fire, and replaced with wooden panels later on. The site where the bomb was detonated was still visible, as was the parking structure next to it, and it was shocking to see how much damage was done – the entire side of the building (a skyscraper), on BOTH the front and the back, was covered in sheets, as was the building directly across the street from the bomb. It was incredibly sad to see that Norway is still dealing with the effects of a bomb – that lasted a second – 8 years later.

I sat around here and thought for a long time about the victims – how young they were, how they were just doing something out of interest for politics – and how it could have just as easily been me in a similar situation. It was a pretty somber way to spend the afternoon, but needed. It definitely made me grateful for what I have and the fact that I am simply alive.

After this, I headed to the train station. I stopped by the main plaza by the train station and then headed to the Oslo Opera House, where I lounged in the sun for a little while.

I ended up passing this street art exhibition – a triangular structure draped with a ton of shirts.

The area that it was in was really cool – it was a lot of these triangular structures, right next to the water, and there were bars, restaurants, live music, and even a free sauna in them. It was a really cool area, and I wish I was in Oslo a little longer so that I could have checked it out more.

From Oslo, I headed back to Stockholm, where I arrived in the evening. I ended up buying a candy bar, which ended up being like a combination of raspberry jelly, chocolate truffle, and marzipan – it’s called “Troika.” It was absolutely delicious – but a weird combination nonetheless. However, it was one of the best candy bars I’ve ever tasted!

I arrived to late for checkin, so I emailed the hostel prior to let them know this, so they gave me access to a night door and said I’d just check in in the morning. I got to my room, and it was only one other person in there, and she was fast asleep, so I didn’t have to worry about waking anyone up by putting on sheets and whatnot.

The hostel was really, really cool – it had a list of free amenities – free pasta, a free sauna, free coffee and tea, free boardgames, and free iceskates for local rinks – it felt more like an apartment complex than a hostel, and it was really cool. The people were all very friendly and helpful, and it had a really cool kinda retro vibe to it:

In the morning, I checked out – or at least, I tried to. Someone else had claimed to have been me (I was the only person set to do early checkout/late checkin), and since my debit card was already in their system, I was charged for his night’s stay. However, they didn’t double-charge me, which was nice, but someone else got a free night’s stay off of my payment. Oh well.

Anyways, from the hostel, I headed to Old Town. It was really cool – a lot of winding streets, cool alleyways, and beautiful architecture:

From there, I headed to the Royal Palace. Fun fact, the King and Queen of Sweden! They can regularly be seen around town – getting coffee, eating out, etc.; they even meet with regular people and have conversations! Yes, the same Royal Family that may have been up north while I was there. Things came full circle.

A fun fact, because I don’t have anywhere else to put it in this post – Swedish (and Norwegian) are fairly similar to German! For example, the German “Schatzkammer” (or treasury) is the Swedish “Skattkammaren.” There was a lot that I could understand, but at the same time, they’re fairly different. Some other fun Swedish words are “Hej” (pronounced “Hey” – really threw me off at first), which is “Hello,” and my personal favorite, “Hjälp” (pronounced yelp or yell), which means “Help.”

Anyways, from the Palace, I wandered around town some more – mostly down the main shopping street in the city. It was really crowded and lively, which was pretty fun. It ended up with me going up to an observatory that overlooked some of the city, but unfortunately trees were blocking my view. Here are some pictures from the market street and the observatory:

From the observatory, I headed back to the train station, then out to the airport, where I caught a plane back to Vienna. On the plane, I ended up meeting a woman from Virginia who’d been living in Vienna for 14 years – she would speak English to her kids, who would reply in German, and her husband spoke German to them, while they would respond in English. It was a really cool dynamic. She ended up moving to Vienna with no knowledge of German (but now she speaks it fluently) when she worked with a series of paper companies. Her twin children, Victor and Hugo, were born in Abu Dhabi, then moved to Sweden, then to Vienna, then to France for a period of time, then to Vienna again. They’re fluent in English, German, and French – and they’re only 8. The kids were talking to me about history – from Rome, to the Vikings, to the Hapsburgs – and spoke to me in German for a little bit as well. Really funny kids, and they loved me, and I was kinda their “step in babysitter” for the parents. Anyways, we parted ways, the parents thanked me (they also asked if “it gets any better” in regards to twins and triplets, since I told them I’m a triplet, which I said it does) – and they wished me a good rest of my time in Austria.

And with that, I headed back to Salzburg.

And that was my last trip of the school year! So much fun, and a great way to end a fantastic year.

I’m really sad to be leaving Salzburg – I think I’m the only person in the Center who will miss it – but I’ll have a post about this later on.

What’s in the future – not only for me, but for this blog?

Well, I’m travelling for a month, solo, across Europe. So there’ll be a MULTITUDE of blog posts regarding that. I’m SUPER pumped for it, and this weekend in Norway and Sweden only made me more excited. Furthermore, I’m going to Taiwan in the summer, so I’ll have a post of that. Since I want to do road trips during the school year back in Portland, I think I’m going to renew my website for another year or two, especially considering I want to do these fairly often, as well as doing graduate work out in Germany or Austria. So I’ve got a lot of use in this blog still. I’m not too worried. This isn’t the last post, and not even the last post from this school year!

The song is “Palisade” by Pinegrove!

Well, that’s all for now, I guess.

But it’s not the end!

Med kärlek från Sverige, Med kjærlighet fra Norge, und Mit Liebe aus beide Schweden und Norwegen,

Cal

Phrases:

Swedish: “Hjälp” = Norwegian: “Hjelp” = German: “Hilfe” = English: “Help”

SONG:

“Interlude” by Milmine. I’ll be using this in a video soon. Just wait and see 🙂

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