Day 1: Our Next Great Adventure

It is already 00:30 am, Saturday,  June 4th.  You would think that after a long and not so un-stressful school year that we would have the sense to take a few days rest, but not so this sometimes not-so-sane duet.   Instead we are in KLIA (that is Kuala Lumpur International Airport) at the end of yet another runway (not the posing type) inside a Malaysian Airlines 777 headed for Istanbul.     We are in the air not 30 minutes when down the aisle comes the cart full of food.   Nothing like eating dinner at 1:00 am.  Ten hours and some odd minutes later we are in the Istanbul Airport.   You can tell that Turkey would be a great place for an adventure because at the transfer desk there are 20+ people doing the job of 8.   In my mind I am back in Brazil because everyone knows it is not about the work and the task but about the socializing.   So what do you in a Turkish airport waiting for your next flight?   Of course you know. You shop for turkish delight.  Debby does.  Succeeds.  And then onto Oslo.  That’s right Oslo, Norway.

Myth #1 about Norwegians:  They are all really quiet and subdued.

Ok, before I get into dispelling the quiet myth,  one thing that is so impressive about Norwegian trains is that you can set your clock by them.  So we are on the 13:08 train from Oslo airport to the central station downtown, a ride that takes about 25 minutes.   The train pulls in about 13:04 and some seconds.  By the time we put our luggage in, find a seat, I have just enough time to look at my watch.  I say to Debby, “let’s see if the train leaves at exactly 13:08.   At 13:07 and 55 seconds I am eying the start and then when the watch hits 8, the train begins to move.   We are definitely not in Cambodia!!!

Camilla meets us at the train station.  Camilla is the daughter of our long time friends Liv and Michael Vitols, who I happened to meet in the office of my great mentor, Dr. Daniel Jordan, in the fall of 1980.  Liv and Michael had not yet found a place to live or stay so I invited them to our home, a small two bedroom apartment in Vista, California.  After a week with us they rented an apartment two doors down.    Since that wondrous time together, we have only seen each other 3 times. Once in Canada, another in Brazil, and then in Norway.    Seeing Camilla at the station reminds me that life is not about work.  Its about the friends you meet along the way and the connections you make.

Ok back to myth #1 about Norwegians.  As we are riding the bus to where we will stay the night, it seems like every Norwegian in the country is out on the street wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts.  I am sure that no one in the whole country is indoors.  The temperature is only 20C rather freezing for us from Malaysia where the lowest low is 23 C on a cold night with 90% humidity.   After a short nap to try to deal with jet lag, we are off on a city tour, walking.

Here are the nice quiet Norwegians!!!  That’s right sitting downtown in their beanbag chairs.

Two Norwegians at a local restaurant.   The adventurous one on the right just ordered King Crab for the first time.

This is not where we are staying, but somebody famous stayed here.  Well a lot of famous people have stayed here because this is where everyone stays who receives the Nobel Peace Prize.  Ok we didn’t win this year, but we should have after the year we have been through.  Anyway,  you guessed it. Obama was here!!

In case you didn’t know.   Norway has a king.  His name is Harold and this is where he lives and these are his royal guards.    His line only began in 1905 or thereabouts.   Before the British had given Norway to Sweden during the Napoleonic Wars because at that time Norway was together with Denmark,  but the Brits attacked the Danish fleet and captured it.   As a reward for helping them defeat Napoleon they decided to give Norway to Sweden, something that the Norwegians never fully accepted.  Such is the way of the world at times.

House of Peace:  You have to love a country that gives out medals for peace instead of war. This is where they do it.

So by the time we got home it was 10:00 pm.  The sun had not quite set and across the way from our apartment was a party with Norwegians in their short sleeves.  I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to find the bed, but as is the case, with my type of jet lag, I wake up at 3:30ish.   The party is still going on with Norwegians in short sleeves.  The temp is now only 13 C.  An hour later I go back to bed. By 6:00 am, you guessed it the party was still going on.  I am up for the remainder.  So much for the quiet Norwegian myth.

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