Welcome to Tjøme!

March 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

I arrived in Tjome on Friday after spending the day with Ola in Oslo. He and I covered all the major sights: the famous botanical gardens (whatever was above the snow at least), the Munch Museum (The Scream was back in its place), the new Opera House, King’s Castle and Parliament. The part of Oslo that exists outside of the “immigrant slums” is quite beautiful and enjoyable to walk through. We spent several hours traveling around, browsing through shops and stopping to take pictures of the sights. The best part of the experience was that I finally felt Ola was my cousin. We were able to joke around a lot and talk about different parts of our lives and thoughts. I’m really happy to reestablish these relationships. Life is short and family is one of the only constants we get. We might as well do all we can to ensure it remains that way.

We arrived back at his apartment and realized I had to catch the train to Tjome in only 45 minutes. After throwing our winter clothes back on, we flew down the stairs and out the door to catch the bus that ran by his house. Since I was taking the train to Tjome by myself, I had to leave two of my suitcases behind. This did not mean however that I only took a few things, but rather as much as I could possibly fit into my mid-sized suitcase and small carrier bag. The bus was extremely crowded, despite the fact that it was three buses connected in one. We jumped on the last cab and Ola stopped me when I went to pay, saying that no one checked and it didn’t matter.

The train station was overflowing with people and we were counting down to the last minute as we ran through the terminals to the platform. Ola lugged my overweight bag onto the train and then jumped off immediately as it began to move. Then I was alone again. I trekked through four narrow cabins, a more arduous experience than it was worth, as I slammed people with my bags and maneuvered through piles of suitcases, without any way of communicating an apology or need to get through. Finally, I found the first and only empty seat, coincidentally next to quite an attractive man. By then I was miserable, covered in sweat underneath my two ski jackets and nervous about how I was going to get my bag into the overhead compartment. I asked him if the seat was taken and he replied with a surprised expression that it wasn’t. I thanked him with relief and stopped to build up my strength to lift the bag. He offered to help me and I politely refused, my female American independence you might call it, and I joked that I would be fine as long as I didn’t drop it on him. I tried once unsuccessfully and he smiled and took it from me. I’m pretty sure there is nothing more awkward than starting small talk with a person, the conversation dying off, and you knowing you then have to spend a long period of time next to him without any escape. Though awkward, the ride was visually stunning and gave me a sense of peace and calm.

After an hour and a half, the train conductor announced Tonsberg as the next stop. I immediately got up to confront my 100 lb suitcase, since the attractive man had gotten off a few stops before me. I survived unscathed and jumped off onto the cobblestone dock to meet Vibeke. She hasn’t aged since the last time I saw her. I felt excited, but a little nervous about whether or not we would get along or have anything to talk about. One the long drive to her house, she said that all she wanted to do was light a fire and have a glass of red wine, a combination I wouldn’t contest. We had to stop by the market to pick up from fruit and meat. This one was much more similar to those in the U.S. and I felt a slight itch of homesickness.

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