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The Box up the Stairs, Part Six: Stockholm and Norway

August 3, 2009

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I remember how excited I was to see Stockholm, which is all I saw of Sweden, and parts of Norway, and now I see slides from 1981 that, most unfortunately, invoke few recollections. I remember Stockholm being surrounded by water, and that I saw the Wasa, a seventeenth-century Viking ship, in a stage of restoration. I recall meeting a very sweet young couple on the train who invited me home to stay with the young wife’s grandmother in Kristiansand, Norway. At this kind woman’s home, I represented my country by causing both the shower and the washing machine to flood. I could not begin to explain how it happened, only that I was terribly sorry, and that, no, I would not like any fish, thank you.

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I arrived in Oslo on a Monday when the Münch museum was closed. I have an acquired knack for showing up when things I want to do are closed. When I left Kristiansand on the train for Basel, I encountered an unanticipated layover. I don’t recall the logistics, but there is a switch off from the train to some sort of ferry across to Denmark. At that point, some sort of misconception occurred that Aalborg, Denmark was an actual destination. I recall having to walk from the ferry dock to the train station. It was quite dark, as it was two o’clock in the morning in October in Scandinavia. The train station, unfortunately, was closed until 5:00 AM.

I was trying to think what I could possibly do for the next three hours, in the middle of the night, in a town I couldn’t see, when two fellows I had talked with briefly on the boat hailed me. They knew I’d be taking the train, and they had already learned the station was closed and came back to find me. One of the fellows was a young NATO linguistics officer in uniform. They had found a bar that was open until 5 AM, and the owner said we could stay there if we bought one drink between us. It sounded like a better idea than driving around in a cab until the train station opened. We went to the bar, and I had a shot of Bonnie Prince Charlie Drambuie. The NATO officer was German and spoke perfect American and British English. The other guy was a Dane who aspired to get off welfare and become a purveyor of marijuana. I’m glad Mr. NATO was in his epaulets, because the local Aalborg clientele looked like a fairly tough crowd.

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3 Comments
  1. Laura permalink
    August 4, 2009 2:10 pm

    How awkward, having plumbing issues at a stranger’s house. At least it wasn’t something like a toilet clog or overflow. :p That was quite an inconvenient layover…I would have been glad to see the NATO officer too.

    Is being closed on Monday a European thing? If so, Atlanta is exquisitely European. The in-laws hopped from landmark to museum to kangaroo farm (yes) on their visit here, searching for something open on Monday. I think they just went back to the hotel pool.

  2. August 4, 2009 3:14 pm

    Being closed on Mondays is a European and a pseudo-sophisticated American city thing to make up for being open Sundays. Fortunately, Asian restaurants ignore the phenomenon everywhere I’ve ever lived or visited.

  3. Jane permalink
    August 5, 2009 6:50 am

    So many hospitable and helpful people along the way…the same happened to me when I was in Japan in the early 70’s. The people bent over backwards to help me, sometimes even escorting me to the section of the train station I needed to find. I love your pictures! It’s the only way I shall see those parts of the world. Keep on trekking…..

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