07 September 2007

all the tortoises in Athens

My oldest brother lived in Athens for some time, and he once wrote me a postcard telling me that there are lots of tortoises living there. This was to be my Fun Factoid Insider Information about the place for future cocktail party conversation. That's how I feel about all these random things I've learned so far about Norway. I've sampled from both rival sushi restaurants here, and my personal jury is still undecided as to whether Nippon Art or Alex Sushi comes away with the Best Ever prize for this city. I've learned that Norwegian floor drains are more thriftily designed than the Icelandic counterparts (why have two floor drains when you can have just one?) which sometimes causes inconvenience. In the first hotel I stayed at, the shower water flowed through a hole in the side of the shower stall, streamed halfway across the bathroom and through the only drain in the floor. Don't leave your socks on that floor!

I've learned about why shrimp from different shrimp boats can taste so different, what makes Telemark notable (other than the skiing technique) and where the Norwegian summer went this year. This information is stashed in some corner of my brain with Useless Things I Know, along with the location of the go-go club and related colorful characters down the street from where I last stayed, in the middle of downtown Oslo.

I've been there four times now and for some reason I just don't have a ton to say about it. Maybe it's the nature of work travel that limits your knowledge of a place to the flag that snaps outside the window being a different color. Maybe it's the odd mixture in the areas where I have been, the drug addicts mixed with the enchanting sorbet-colored 17th century buildings, the people walking the streets that resemble stretched-out versions of Icelanders (facial features are similar but everyone seems taller here) speaking Another Language, the "late night commercial activity" going on along these immaculate streets, the enchanting looking villages I've whizzed by so many times on the trains.

I just came back yesterday from yet another trip, again having seen almost nothing of the place. Maybe next time I'll make it north to visit my friend, but until then my experience will probably be more about the people I travel with and the work I do, rather than rambling through those temptingly rolling fields that spread below as I fly in and out.


tsduff said...

I love your comparisons now (that you live in Island) Icelanders vs. Other Languages...

We streamed an Icelandic radio station yesterday and enjoyed (although didn't understand it) listening to the melodic language being spoken. I would like to learn it one day.

ECS said...

tsduff: well, after a day's exposure to Norwegian, Icelandic starts to sound pretty familiar and comfortable.

There's an online course that's pretty good if you want to just mess around and play some games. You'll definitely learn something with it.