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There are gypsies in Oslo!

Yesterday was pretty much taken over by travel. I had to be at Reykjavik City Hall at 9:00 to leave for the airport. I was picked up by a small bus that would wind its way through the narrow city streets picking up quite a few passengers to take us all to the bus station. At the bus station, we got on the larger bus that took us all to the airport. They were quite prompt and left at 9:31. We were told that the ride would take about 50 minutes, and we were pulling into the airport at 10:21.

It’s a good thing we were on time, because the line to check bags with Norwegian Air was quite long. It moved pretty quickly, though, and probably took about 30 minutes. Somehow, the security line was extremely short and quick! I had planned to buy lunch on the plane, because it seemed that they had some decent options. However, an announcement was made that our flight had “low catering,” so we should buy food in the airport to eat. I found a chef salad and a bar made of dates, rice crispies, butter, and chocolate.

Once again, I was in the front of the plane (aisle seat on the 1st row), because I paid a little extra for extra leg room. A guy asked if I would trade seats with him (middle seat in the 3rd row) so that he could sit by his girlfriend. Obviously, I had to disappoint him. However, the window seat in our row was available, so the couple got to sit together after all.

The flight was about 2.5 hours and completely uneventful. When we arrived at Oslo Airport, I was first off the plane, but when I got to the end of the ramp off the plane, the door was locked! I have no idea why it was locked, but it opened after a few minutes. This was a much busier airport than Reykjavik! On the way to baggage claim, just like in Reykjavik, you go through the duty free shop before you get your bag. Duty free is serious business in Skandinavia! From what I understand, it’s because taxes are so high on alcohol sales (and chocolate & perfume, I suppose).

My bag was ready for me soon after arriving at the carousel, and I found the express train to Oslo. In order to take the train, you simply swipe your credit card at the gate and press a button telling your destination. So simple! As I arrived at track 3, the train was leaving! However, the next one showed up in about 5 minutes. It was quite posh, and it had a charger for the phone! It was a nice 20 minute ride to Oslo with some beautiful views of the countryside.

My house in Oslo is described as “great room close to central station.” OK, sounds great! In the grand scheme of things, it is close–less than 2 K–but it’s mostly uphill. Also, it was drizzling occasionally. For a few minutes, I did not like Oslo! As I passed the Oslo Hospital, which Ole (my host) described as a church in his directions, a group of gypsy women were standing outside. One of them smiled at me, and I kept walking. This just brought back memories of when my computer was stolen in Prague–supposedly by gypsies. I’m sure they can’t get into Ole’s house as easily as they got into Hotel Kafka in Prague! I’m sure these are nice gypsies, anyway!

Once I found Ole’s apartment, I got my key from the lock box by the door, and helped myself to my room. It’s nice and simple with Ikea furniture, as one might expect. Basically, this apartment is two rooms separated by a kitchen and bathroom–a pretty nice layout, actually. Ole showed up a few minutes later and was very nice and happy to answer my questions. I told him the walk was farther than I expected but that the exercise was good, and I asked how to buy a bus ticket. He said I could do that at the grocery store.

After a bit of rest, I went down to the grocery store, where I bough eggs, plums, and spinach for breakfast, along with my bus ticket. I put the food away and went off to find the bus, which would take me to opera night at the Underwater Pub. Somehow I found out online that every Tuesday and Thursday, singers from the Oslo Opera and the opera school sing there. My walk to the bus stop was through a cemetery. The sun was coming out after a rainy day, so the light was great. I love how the good weather follows me!

I arrived at The Underwater Pub at around 8:15 and asked the bartender how it all works. He was very friendly and helpful and explained that they have menus from three takeout places, and at the upstairs bar, you can place an order for food from one of them. You pay them, they call, and the food is delivered to your table. That’s a great thing! I ordered Penang Curry, sat down at his bar, which had a great view of where the singers would be, and ordered a glass of wine, which was on tap there.

I thought the singing was supposed to begin around 8:15, but I must done my math wrong when translating from 24-hr time. That gave me time to eat my food, which was delicious! The guy had assured me that the chef at the Thai place was very serious about his food, and he was right. You could tell that the vegetables were beautifully julienned–and it tasted great!

Finally, at around 9:15 the singing started. A man, who I believe was the owner of the place, announced the singers and what they would be singing. All I understood was that I would be hearing ‘Questa o quella” by Verdi, as well as “Non so piu” and “In diesem heilgen Halle” by Mozart. Sounds good. The tenor started with “Questa o quella,” and he was fantastic. I really liked the way he sang–very simple and easy–which is saying a lot! I don’t usually enjoy tenors! The mezzo sang “Non so piu.” She was very good, although there was something odd about her voice, but she was a great actress. Then, the bass sang his aria, which was also very good. That was the end of that set. The break between sets is quite long, and I decided that I would stay for just one more so that I would get home before midnight. The second set was also very good. It was the same singers singing different arias. The mezzo sang an aria from Carmen, and the tenor sang some great aria that I do not know. I recorded about 10 seconds of it hoping someone can help me figure it out!

I got directions back to the apartment before I left. This time I took tram #18, which took my through what seemed to be some of the main parts of town. I made note of a few places I would like to visit. The tram dropped me off at Oslo Hospital. I walked by the gypsies again and made it safely home!

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