Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another Boring Trip Story: Oslo

I'd like to point out before I begin my next boring trip story that I intend to cover a massive amount of material in this particular entry but won't get to most of it. This is mainly due to the fact that I have a very short attention span. This is why I don't participate in staring contests or online poker tournaments. Well, I guess it's only one reason why I don't participate in staring contests or online poker tournaments. But I digress.

I left for my next trip at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning – so ungodly, in fact, that I must have blocked out the exact time. My good friends (three Americans and three Aussies) accompanied me on this journey, first to Arlanda Airport outside of Stockholm. We flew via Norwegian Airlines to Oslo, or rather, Oslo Airport, 50 km (too lazy for a mileage conversion) outside of the Norwegian Capital. After taking a bullet train to Oslo Central Station, we walked to our Hostel.

This first stroll through the streets confirmed something we had heard about Oslo. There are many beggars on its streets, probably because of the extremely high price of living in the city. I even resorted to eating McDonald's (for the third time in Europe: once in Uppsala, once in Copenhagen, and once in Oslo – I'm tryi
ng to limit it to once per country), where I somewhat happily spent $10, an ridiculous sum for such processed food. I have to admit, though, it did taste good.

Our hostel was in a rather rough part of town, which isn't saying much for Scandinavia. I never felt unsafe, but I didn't feel I should count my money on the streets. Then again, do I ever?

We met up with our Austrian, German, and fourth Aussie friends and headed to find food. After walking for miles, I decided to part with the group
, caused by an emotion I call "hunger-rage." You heard it here first. Anyway, three of the girls followed me – naturally – so we took our aforementioned trip to the home of the golden arches, then trudged to the National Art Museum, home to the paintings of Edvard Munch, artist of famous "The Scream" painting below.
The following day, an American friend and I headed to some more manly museums: The National Armed Forces Museum and the Norwegian Resistance museum. Basically, they were full of a lot of guns and stories of heroic people. The Armed Forces museum had some great displays of old army uniforms and weapons, while the Resistance museum catalogued the Norwegian resistance against the Nazi occupation in the early 1940s. That evening, Sunday, we had planned to go out but ended up hanging out in our hostel room, or maybe I should say we did not make it out. Read between those lines.

Monday morning, we, the gentlemen, headed to the Viking Ship museum, which I have to say was one of the best museum experiences of my life. They had three Viking ships, over a thousand years old, on display, two of which were perfectly intact. The museum also housed the remains of three ancient persons who had been buried with the ships, along with analysis of their lives and deaths. This museum made my trip.

We returned to the hostel Monday afternoon and thought of a funny prank to play on the girls. One of us had a half-full bottle of 50% (100-proof) Smirnoff vodka. We decided to replace the vodka with water – don't worry, the vodka was saved. The plan was to, when the girls returned, give him stick for not having finished his bottle (two of us already had). He would volunteer to drink it on the spot. We would pretend to give him all of our Norwegian currency in order to do so, and with much delay, he would 'chug' the entire bottle.

The plan was put into action, and the girls, and one guy, were all fooled immaculately, due to our wonderful acting. The protagonist in our plan pretended brilliantly to be hammered drunk, and the three of us stepped out for a cigarette break to determine the next course of action. We decided that we would return to the room, and he would lock himself in the bathroom and later exit acting completely normally. Incredibly, the girls did not pick up on this prank until we attempted to sleep that night at about 11:00, continually expressing amazement at how okay he was. A nine-hour prank.

We left on a train home the next morning, about a 7-hour journey. I was hit with a barrage of e-mails as soon as I turned on my computer – of course, most of them were fan mail for this blog.

For those of you who don't care about sports, you can stop reading. Thanks for your time.

Arsenal have been picking up the results lately, and it's nice to see. I watched the FA Cup Quarterfinal yesterday versus Hull City. It seemed like it was going to be the same-old new Arsenal, the one that cannot pick up results against the weakest teams. With Barmby's lucky goal, I got flashbacks of that infamous match in September, back when Phil Brown still had a beard. The second half was a massive improvement, and though Gallas's winner appeared to be offside, the Arsenal deserved their win and a date with Chelski in April's Semifinal.

Eboue and Song, two players who have appeared less-than-quality, have been playing well – Song especially. Arshavin is absolute quality, despite appearing to come from Santa's workshop. Fabregas will be back soon, but for now, I guess he'll just be spitting at assistant managers. If he's willing to spit for Arsenal, you know where his heart lies. Phil Brown and his ass-istant are tossers, anyhow. They whine more than infants.

As for Boston College basketball, it's nice to see they made the Big Dance once again after a year's absence. Credit Al Skinner for the brilliant work he is doing. I'd really compare him to Arséne Wenger, for finding the diamonds in the rough. For him to make the tournament so often at a non-perennial basketball powerhouse in a less-than-desirable location is fantastic.

It's funny to see them going against USC, a school for which I have such little athletic respect. Hopefully they'll be able to get it together to defeat the red-hot Pac-10 winners. I realize, by the way, that I am not a college basketball expert and that I should not be talking about something I know nothing about. But I'm going to do it anyway.

This may be the first year I can remember when I won't fill out a bracket. Given my placement in the world right now, there is hardly any enthusiasm for the sport, and I won't be able to watch because of the time difference.

Sorry for this massive case of "diarrhea of the mouth." I'll try to keep them shorter from now on. Amsterdam Friday...

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