PART 1 of the 4-part travelogue!
I settled on Oslo, the capital of Norway. Like a viking exploring the sea, I navigated the waters of this foreign city. By bicycle, train & bus, I explored the Scandinavian metropolis by visiting museums, meeting locals & searching for Turtle Power. While most of my travel adventures have been with my partner in crime (Jess), my trip to Norway will introduce you to a new character - and he is a character.
My host, my tour guide, my friend, an international man of melodies, meet Mathias Hatleskog Tjønn. The mustachioed gentleman is a happy-go-lucky Oslo-native with enough goodwill to make the crankiest Krang from Dimension X pop a smile. Mathias & I met during our years living in Brooklyn. We worked closely together on creative film projects, becoming strong pals in the process. When the prospect of visiting him in his homeland arose, I jumped at the opportunity.
My ride on Norwegian Air coasted over the Atlantic Ocean and brought me to Oslo in under 7 hours. From the airport, I hopped on the express train (Flytoget) and traveled to the Nationaltheatret stop, where my time with Mathias would begin. My cell phone was suppose to be able to make calls and send texts, but both weren't working. I hoped our backup plan to meet on the train platform would hold true. My trip was off to a nostalgic, but unrequested, start - a throwback to the days before mobile communication. I exited the express train with my fingers crossed. A soundtrack of Norwegian chatter buzzed in the background. I scanned the platform looking for Mathias, but my eyes were drawn to the signs and advertisements that hung around the station. None of them were in English. A funny feeling stirred and the realization hit.
I was the out-of-towner. The foreigner. The tourist. Man, did it feel good.
After hugs and high-fives were exchanged, Mathias embraced my status as a tourist. Whether as a team or off on my own, he made it a priority for me to see Oslo's best attractions. Wherever I find myself in the world, my travel itinerary is often the same - tourist hotspots, local eateries, outdoor activities & toys. Olso would be no different.
Sometimes a city's hidden gems aren't so hidden. One of the first spots I ventured to was the Oslo Opera. This architectural masterpiece is both visually cool and interactive. The angular building invites visitors to walk up its plaza-like levels and take in panoramic views of Oslo. I hiked my way up the structure and surveyed the city that would soon become very familiar to me. Instead of cherishing the setting sun and the colorful sky, one question loomed in my mind - would I discover any TMNT treasures in this foreign land?