This is the first entry in what will be a series chronicling my favorite travel experience of my life so far: a trip to visit Tim in Norway, where he is pursuing a Master's Degree in Marine Engineering. His spring break lined up with me finishing my instrument rating and needing a good break from flying a 172 under the hood.

A long day of traveling started on March 25th, when I boarded DL162 from MSP-AMS. It departed at 1930 local, and was right around 8 hours from wheels up to wheels down. I flew coach (duh), but it was some of the nicest service I've ever experienced on a commercial flight. My flight to Oslo was delayed which gave me a bit of time to explore the Amsterdam airport; I thought that it was pretty neat to imagine how diverse the nationalities of the crowd inside the airport were. The announcements never stopped, and everything was broadcast in what seemed like a dozen languages. Thankfully, all of the airline employees spoke great English. The flight into Oslo was pleasant largely because I lucked out and ended up with a row to myself. Tim had mentioned to keep an eye out the window on the approach, and I certainly don't regret following that advice: it was a really scenic approach to landing.

On board the A330 that took me from Minneapolis to Amsterdam. The wing in the picture is probably holding about 50,000-55,000 lbs of jet fuel.

On next E-190 that took me from Amsterdam to Oslo

Once arriving in Oslo, I tried to clear customs, but didn't need to because I had already done so in Amsterdam. After my dumb American brain figured out that you could switch the train ticket kiosks to English, life got a lot easier. I took the Flytoget train from the airport to Oslo Central Station where I met Tim after a long day of travel. It was great to see him, and it felt awesome to actually have my feet on the ground in Norway!

Outside of the train station, we were greeted with a vibrant street full of pedestrians, streetcars, and Teslas. Because of Norway's electric car subsidies, Teslas are insanely popular. In fact, Norway has a goal of having every new vehicle be electric by 2025 -- you simply won't be able to buy a car with an internal combustion engine. In the US, I've probably organically come across around 20 Teslas in my lifetime. In my brief stay in Norway, I easily saw well over 100.

Oslo also has tons of streetcars running -- somewhat reminiscent of Minneapolis before 1954, when it streetcars were a major method of transport around the city. There has been talk of bringing them back in some busy downtown areas, but that talk has been rifled with funding problems. Anyway -- the lesson is that Oslo does public transit pretty well!

I also noticed quickly that drivers tend to be very cautious around pedestrians. Overall, driving in Norway is a much more polite affair than it is stateside -- I'll get to this in a later entry.

Tim and I stayed in an Airbnb in Oslo for the first night of the trip. We walked up Karl Johans gate from the train station to get to the apartment, which was a really neat mainly pedestrian stretch of road. Tim shared some surprising local insights with me on the walk: TGI Fridays is considered gourmet, Norweigans love frozen pizzas, and there are an insane number of 7-Eleven storefronts.

I didn't take any photos of the apartment, but it was nice! We rented it from an Italian guy who was going to school in Oslo. We never saw him, but from the thesis he left out, it looked like he was studying meteorology. After dropping off all of my stuff in the apartment and putting on a fresh shirt, we headed out to explore Oslo on foot.

We walked around Akershus Fortress, which dates back to the 13th century. Like a lot of Europe, Norway is absolutely covered with historic buildings. It offered great views of the water & marine traffic that was out that day. We moved on to the Oslo Opera House, which is a breathtaking building. It's a bit weird, really cool looking, and distinctly Scandinavian -- these three characteristics can be found in a lot of the architecturally creative buildings throughout Norway. You can actually walk up the side of the Opera House, and stand on the roof. The views from up there are great, and the roof is sloped for easy climbing and descending. As you walk along the side of the building on ground level, you can see into creative spaces where people are working on props, costumes, & more for productions at the Opera House.

View from roof of Oslo Opera House
View from the roof of the Oslo Opera House

There is certainly no shortage of food in Oslo -- we grabbed dinner at MAMMA Pizza which was really good. An authentic Italian margarita pizza in Norway! As we made our way to a local grocery store to buy some basic breakfast fixings, Tim pointed out an incredibly ominous building with a dark stone exterior and tall, imposing fence. What was it? The United States embassy in Oslo. Oh, cool.

After we grabbed some breakfast and lunch fixings at the grocery store, we went back to the apartment and turned in for the night. I had been awake for quite some time at that point, so I fell asleep pretty fast. The next day, we did a bit more exploring of Oslo (which I won't detail here), and then hopped a train to the ├ůsker station.

After getting off the train, we picked up our camper van which was to be our home for the remainder of the trip. It was a manual transmission diesel van that I had quite a bit of fun driving. Although electric cars are on the rise in Norway, the cars driven by internal combustion engines are almost entirely manual transmission. The picture below is the cleanest it was for the entire trip!

That's where I'll end this entry in the series. I rambled a decent amount throughout this, but thanks for sticking it out and making it to the end. Until next time!

Camper van><br />
<em>Camper van that we rented & drove for the rest of the trip</em></center>
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Camper van that we rented & drove for the rest of the trip

Note: if you click on the Norway button below, you'll be able to easily see all of the entries that I've written in this series so far.

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