A cluster o’ Eurotrippins

Posted by jswt | Posted in Denmark - Copenhagen, Finland - Helsinki, Norway - Oslo, Sweden - Stockholm | Posted on 22-03-2013

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So I’m currently in Finland on a train from Helsinki to Turku, and I’m realizing that I’ve been horrendously neglectful in keeping my posts up to date, so this is going to be a quick run-through of the cities we’ve been visiting in the past 5 weeks: Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki.
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Oslo, exeunt…

Posted by jswt | Posted in Audio, General, Norway - Oslo | Posted on 10-10-2009

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Thursday: The sun was out, and it was another fine day in Oslo, and when I finished up my work around 2pm, I succumbed to the sway of one of my favorite bad influences: There’s a couple bikes in the hotel lobby that are available for use, and I figured that Dave’s blog makes hopping on a bike and riding across continents sound so easy that I would spill the metaphorical 2-wheeled 40oz in his honor, and go for a ride. I mean, I don’t know the rules of the road here, I’m not accustomed to pedestrian overload and unexpectedly windy streets, I haven’t been on a bike in traffic in a good 15 years… So with the mantra of “Safety Third” running through my head, I put on some headphones and pushed blindly out into traffic. It took some time to properly orient myself, figure out that riding on the rail lines wasn’t the smartest idea, and then just sorta relaxing and meshing into the ebb and flow, but I found a groove. It was a lot like driving in Cuba – there aren’t really rules, but it just works. North American drivers are domesticated and completely reliant on structure when it comes to their driving – without a sign telling them exactly what to do, they panic and lock up (see: round-abouts). Here, everyone’s awake – aware of what’s around them, looking over their shoulders because there could be something coming, totally swarming with bodies and cars and trains and busses and construction in tight little roadways and alleys… but everything just becomes a big circulatory system that pulses and works as a whole.

So I threw on a fantastic Prins Thomas swave disco/funk mix and pedaled across the better part of Oslo. Rode up the main downtown greenway to the palace in the centre of town, and then just kept going beyond through residential neighborhoods weaving and wandering semi-aimlessly until I came to Frogner park (aka: The Sculpture Park) Words don’t really do justice to the hundreds and hundreds of amazing sculptures that dot the park and spring up out of the landscape everywhere you turn. It reminded me a lot of burningman playa wanderings – just mosey’ing around on a bike from artwork to artwork, and chilling at each for a while.



Rode back to the hotel, grabbed some dinner (mmm – catering!), bashed my head on a few hours of frustrating work, and when Chris got home, it was quickly realized that we needed to get outa the hotel room and pour some beers down our necks. I’d come across mention of an Oktoberfest being put on at the university, so we randomly threw ourselves on a train that luckily went towards where we were heading, and tracked down the Thursday night warmup of the campus Oktoberfest party. Walking up, we thought there was some sort of football game going on, but it was just the sound immense noise coming from one of the beer tents (complete with lazers shooting up into the sky). Once in, we bought our tickets (norwegian translation = “bongs”… as in, I’d like to buy 10 bongs please!”), picked one of the 20 bars each featuring a different brewery’s selections, loaded up and plunked ourselves down at one of the big long tables in the main beer tent.

Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in university, and tho I wasn’t the only one over 30, the majority of the few thousand sloppy drunk messes climbing over and under tables and eachother were students in their early 20s. I have no idea how to speak or decypher Norwegian, but I believe the Ooom-Pah-Pah band kept playing their favorite national anthem called “Stand up, sing along, and drink more f’n beer, bitches!” (or maybe it was a remix). The band would step off every 2 minutes or so and the DJ would strike up the weirdest mix of german sing-songs, norwegian metal, happy hardcore rave anthems, and oddball english tunes (seriously: They played ‘We Are the World’ and the whole place turned into a happy lovey arms-around eachother to hold off the gravitational onslaught singalong). It was a zoo. A big, crazy, sloppy drunk, retardedly messy, and wonderfully fun zoo.

Again had it hammered home that… Europeans are just plain better than us. I mean, take a few thousand North American students, and plunk them shitfaced in a tent. They’d be able to sing along with the regional songs, but play them a Norwegian song, and they’d have stares as blind as mine were. But here, they all speak flawless Norwegian *and* understand english perfectly. I mean, as I was getting beer, one of the clusters of drunken Norse hipsters asked Chris where he was from, and then said in flawless english “I believe it was Daniel Adams who once said that America is like a petulant 5 year old, while Canada is more of a mature 35 year old woman”.

Friday was a really productive work day for me, and I managed to get all of the pieces of the system I’m working on completed, and all that’s really left is to make it purdy and tie it together for a launch (hopefully by late next week – woohah!). Had dinner at the venue again, as the food *kicks ass* and it’s a lot cheaper to eat there than get killed by Oslo prices. Came back to the room and chilled out till Chris got off and brought back C for a drink.

“A drink” ended up the 3 of us finishing off a bottle of really really really tasty spiced honey polish vodka, and while C said she needed to crash out, we’d livened up enough to need some adventure and went out in search of a sleazy fagpub, and drank $20 beers and Jagers until we stumbled back to the hotel via a random block-long John Denver singalong.

Today’s my last day here, so I’m going to head out and do some more wandering, but since Chris works late, am anticipating a chill night of packing and relaxing before my 7am flight home.

This leg’s been a slice. I learned how to balance fun and adventure with a real-life, work-enabling routine on the road. Got a real feel for 3 different cities in 2 countries. And most imporantly, managed to eat bacon at *every single breakfast since I’ve been here*.

Looking forward to coming back and hitting up Copenhagen in 2 weeks, I do gotta say.

As I wind down and start my packing for home, here’s a nice song (via Mickey Moniker) from Brian Eno called An Ending (Ascent), and some random shit 🙂

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Settling in…

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Norway - Oslo | Posted on 07-10-2009

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Yesterday was a day off for both of us, but it was rainy so instead of going out and seeing the city like we’d planned, we went for breakfast and then came back to the room and spent the day in bed watching movies while the day drizzled away outside.

Today was the first day I’ve felt I’ve really managed to fall into a proper life-routine, but it’s rocking now. Breakfast, a few hours of work, snuck out to enjoy the afternoon of what looks to be the last sunny day for a while: wandered around the harbour, watched the junkie-zoo, ended up at a castle/fortress, and then back for sunset on the roof of the harbour before coming back and finishing up all of my programming tasks for the day.

Had a moment at sunset that was kinda… neat. I was listening to one of my alltime favorite mixes and all of a sudden it just felt like everything in the world was perfectly on beat and I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and perfectly on track for whatever it is I’m heading towards. A nice glow inside to match the sunset on the outside.

Oslo-some!

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Norway - Oslo | Posted on 05-10-2009

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First off, holy *shit* is Oslo expensive.
Everyone warned me about it, but it’s clear now there’s a reason it’s been ranked Europe’s Most Expensive City.

Cost aside, the city is amazing… it’s kind of got a bit of a Vancouver vibe to it: a lot more laid back and casual than Finland, but still with a sophistication that dresses it up, and an intellect that makes it worth the conversation.

Slept in, grabbed a late breakfast, got some work done, and then had a fantastic wander. First off was harbourfront opera house, with it’s beautiful interactive architecture (you can walk right up it and all over the roof). Then we checked out the junkie zoo (this spot under a caged in pedestrian bridge where the junkies do their squirmy little dance while health workers shoot them up with clean needles). But that was as dank as the city got – the rest of it was fantastic and beautiful. Imagine a classic oldy worldy San Francisco with endless streets and crisscrossed laneways, each one it’s own adventure of unique shopping, cafes, venues, and styles/cultures. Ran into random pods of crew, had a fantastic lunch of duck in orange sauce with melon and mango, caught the changing of the guard at the palace, drooled over window shopping, celebrity spotted and just wandered aimlessly between caffeine chillouts on cafe patios under a clear blue sky.

Sitting back in the hotel room having a pear cider, watching the sun set behind a castle while reflections cast themselves across the nearly still water in the harbor.

So far, Oslo is happymaking.

Helsinki -> Oslo

Posted by jswt | Posted in Finland - Helsinki, General, Norway - Oslo | Posted on 04-10-2009

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Sitting at the Helsinki airport waiting for a plane to Oslo. Took until yesterday for us to realize that though Norway is in Europe, it’s not part of the European Union. Knowing is half the battle (and luckily not requiring and special visas is the other).

Standard issue Saturday for the most part – we both worked all day, packed and chilled out at night… I guess “weekends” are sorta variant when you’re organizing a schedule around the requirements of the entertainment industry. We’re both going to have Mon/Tues off (a midweek weekend!) to explore Oslo and settle in, so that should be interesting.

Feeling a little homesick today, as my trips are usually one week long and my brain’s already heading back to my bed at home, while my body’s headed to the land of Vikings… Sure it’ll change as soon as I get on this flight, and of course once I get home I’ll be bored and itchin to pop back out, but right now I miss my cat 😛