Oslo Day One – Sticker Shock

screamHaving my mind wrapped around the expense of Norway, it still comes as a shock when you actually get and spend money. The ATM machine rejected my trusty Charles Schwab ATM card twice before it finally agreed to donate to our cause. Yes, I spend a lengthy time on the phone with them sharing my travel plans, but I also reduced my limit to $500 withdrawal in 24 hours. This was the catch. What I had asked for was over the limit.

We took the NSB train from the airport to the central train station downtown. Anne, our exchange host told us there were two trains, but the NSB was 50% cheaper than the other was, but is less frequent. The frequency difference was a matter of 10 minutes.

When we arrived at the station, Anne and her sister Tunde were there to greet us and take us to the apartment. However, our first agenda item was to get the Oslo Pass card at the tourism office. Neither sister was certain where it was. We found the office, took a number, and then shelled out $61 for my card and $40 for Ron’s card. The senior discount is only for over 67 years old. Tunde put our suitcase on her bicycle and walked the bike so she could talk with Ron along the way. Anne, Kat and I were walking ahead.

Oh, I forgot to mention our friend Kat, another American who lives in Budapest, joined us. This is our third trip traveling together; two of them have been home exchanges.

We are in Tunde’s apartment. Around the corner is a prison, police headquarters and Muslim mosque. Tunde told us to use any of the three as destinations if we use a taxi and they are not familiar with the street name.

One has to climb 75 steps to reach the apartment; there is no elevator! The apartment is lovely. A combined kitchen and living room area is quite spacious. A balcony adjoins this large room and the sunsets are phenomenal.

We have two bedrooms, so Kat has one and we the other. It is everything we could hope for and we are extremely comfortable here. It was a bit shocking to find there were seven of them going to our place. We are trying not to think about the laundry when we get home.

Asking the women for a cheap dinner option, they directed us to a Thai restaurant about 15 minutes away. It was relatively easy to find, but it was crowded. We had to ask a couple to move over one table for us to have a table for three. We each ordered a basic dinner with no appetizers and no desserts, only one beer each. Our bill for just to two of us came to $60. Under normal circumstances, I would have gagged, grabbed my heart and fell to the floor. I was prepared.

On the way home, we stopped at a 7-11, just like the American chains. Stocking the place with eggs, butter, milk, juice, and rolls set us back over $25. We bought the generic version of everything.

Fortunately, my psyche and our bank account were prepared. It is only until Sunday after all.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.