Friday, June 18, 2010

Scandinavia Days: Day 2

It’s a strange thing to feel as though you don’t belong to any time zone.  I woke at five this morning after going to bed at one, after sleeping through much of yesterday.  At that hour the only thing to do is watch music videos until it’s considered a reasonable time to go exercise.

One of my favorite ways to get to know a city is to travel it on foot.  This morning we started by walking to the new opera house.   Behold – it is an impressive creation.  Marble, sandblasted metal, and the adjacent harbor soften its hard edges.  Just off the shore, there is a glass shipwreck of a boat, at once giving to and taking from the water.  Twenty minutes passed before I pulled myself from its shimmer. 

Perhaps the opera house’s most remarkable feature is that it’s almost entirely climbable – a highbrow jungle gym.  It slopes upward with indiscernible stairs and cobbled cement toward its roof, which doubles as a public observatory for the islands surrounding Oslo.  I love the contrast between the hospitality of the building and the reputation of the art it houses.    

After walking the structure, I ran the structure.  I had to.  Its texture begged no less.  I’ve been wearing Vibram’s and the cool articulation of the marble and concrete urged me to keep running – along the waterfront until I could go no further, then into the neighborhood streets passing parks and brownstones and churches.   The sensation of running nearly barefoot is intimate and kinesthetic.   I am notoriously horrible with directions –I get lost exiting a hotel elevator – but somehow this morning I made my way through a new city and back to the hotel without thought, as if intuitively guided.  I reasoned that the sensory experience of the “shoes” creates neural maps which bridges new ways of learning.  (*Cough* hippie *cough*.

Anyway, I returned to the hotel for a complimentary breakfast of tubed caviar and meatballs masquerading as potatoes.  (I donated the latter).  Afterwards we headed to the train station.  We waited for the train to Bergen for about a half an hour, or just long enough to realize that we were the youngest people in line.  I worried that we were leaving cosmopolitan Oslo for what would be basically the Branson of Norway, with Shoji and Yakov Smirnoff at the other end.  The seven-hour train ride from Oslo to Bergen is regarded as one of the best in the world, by people who decide those sorts of things.   The path snakes through bucolic country reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, through tundra and snowcapped hills and waterfalls and cerulean rapids.   It looked cold.  I stepped outside during one of the stops.  It was.  And when we finally ended in Bergen at 6 p.m., it was still cold.  So cold that when a guy walking up the street in front of us pulling his suitcase dropped his bag during a ridiculous gust, he told his luggage to f*ck off.  Cold makes people say angry things at lifeless objects. 

We are staying in a really cute, old apartment at the top of one of Bergen’s seventeen billion hills.  The person who rented us the flat must be from LA because she described the walk from the train station as “five minutes” when really, she meant twenty.  After unloading our stuff, we headed back out to find food.   You know what’s awesome?  Trying to follow Lonely Planet dinner recommendations in a country that apparently has never heard of a grid and also where you don’t speak the language so that street signs might as well be in Braille.  We walked for about three fights.   When we finally made it to Pygmalion, a veggie-friendly restaurant close to the local hostel, we parked ourselves at a table in the back and stole candles for warmth from other tables.  We enjoyed the beer. 

On the way back we stopped at 7-11 to get treats.  Getting treats is more fun when you know what you’re picking out.   I unwittingly ended up with some apple-flavored mineral water.  I don’t recommend. 

And now, I’m back at the apartment, having just finished watching England tie Algeria.  (Which reminds me:  watching World Cup in Europe is so much more fun than watching at home.  Last night when Greece beat Nigeria, the streets erupted with both of Greece’s goals!  Locals get wasted for countries that are marginally part of the EU.)  So I’m off to (hopefully) get a full night’s sleep.   I need to be well-rested for a day of sitting in cafes pretending I’m a tortured artist.


Holy cow -- I'm SO excited about our show at the OK Hotel July 1 - 31.  Opening night is July 1st.  It's gonna be one helluva hootenanny.  

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