Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Friday, 10 June 2005

Hei from Norway

I am sitting in the hotel in Bergen Norway. I need to head to the conference start in an hour or so. I am hoping I can connect to the Internet at the conference because other wise I am going to have to spend R75 for one hour here at the hotel.

My main impression of Norway so far is EXPENSIVE!!!! The Krone is pretty much on par with the Rand, it was about R1:095Kr when I left, but things cost MUCH more here. In most cases 3-4 times what things costs in SA. Also some of the economies of scale don't make sense. For instance a 500ml coke costs 20Kr, while a 1.5l costs 28kr. Why would anyone buy the 500ml!? I have walked around and looked at shops and have battled to find anything to buy that we can't get at home and for much cheaper.

The town is very old and quaint and very pretty, it is very old fashioned though and is like living in another century... the inside of the department stores is modernish but everything outside is traditional.

I got here at 5pm last night. The flight was fine, and I was right on the wing in front of the
bulkhead, where there are only 2 seats. I got both to myself, so while there wasn't much sitting leg room, at least I could stretch out over the other seat and even mostly lie down, so I did get a little sleep. My bags were booked right through from Cape Town, so I had some time to relax at the airport in Amsterdam (Schipol) airport is quite nice, very big and flashy and everything is shouting BUY ME! I had to keep reminding myself that airports are NOT a good place to shop ;)

I settled on trying every perfume instead... might be why I had a raging headache for the rest of the day :/. I wanted to sit down and have some coffee or something but I had no currency at all, and though it would be silly to draw euros when Norway prefers Krone (some places here take Euros, but many have 'NO EUROS' signs by the door - it has something to do with trying to keep the Krone strong..). So I just walked around the airport and then sat and read my magazine - thinking I'd get another here - NOT. I have been looking at magazines here nearly all are Norwegian only a few are not and they all cost 50kr and more. Even the Norwegian equivalent of YOU magazine is 35Kr.
Anyway we got to Bergen airport at around 4pm yesterday, the airport is quite small.

There was no customs check or anything. I felt a little lost because the language is so different and in spoken form is unintelligible to me, although I can work out what most signs mean. I had no money so had to draw cash. The machine was all Norwegian as well, so that was a challenge. I drew 400Kr thinking that would last a few days at least. Then I thought I'd break one of the 200Kr bills so I'd have change for a taxi. So I got a 1.5l coke for 28Kr (I have discovered that you can get them from supermarkets for 14Kr which is better).
' So out I went to get a taxi. I asked the driver how much it would cost - 300Kr! Luckily I can claim it back. So my 400Kr wasn't going to go far at all. The taxi driver pointed out a petrol station, the price of petrol here is 10.2Kr. He said most of that is tax, and if the tax is taken of it would be around 3Kr - and we thought our petrol was expensive. The driver says he pays 38% tax on all his earnings and then everything in the shops has 20% tax on it too. He said a beer costs about 75Kr in a pub!

I am interested to know how much people earn here, because buying anything is not cheap.
The hotel is quite nice, but also very old so some things are a bit tatty and dated, it's quite smart on the whole though. After getting here yesterday I took a walk. The hotel is a few blocks from Bryygen. Which is a traditional part of town along a fish market next to the sea. Lots of tourist shops and troll dolls, Christmassy sweaters (think Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones' Diary), Mooses etc. I was going to get the kids something small, but even a pair of socks is 60Kr. The more other places I see the more I realise how absolutely amazing Thailand is on so many levels - I want to go back! The other thing I have noticed here is that people are quite rude. Actually it's not actually rude, it's just not considerate. People keept to themselves and seem to only think of themselves. No one really smiles at you and neither men nor women hold doors for each other. They simply take care of themselves and don't seem to consider anyone else.

This must be why people think SA is so friendly because I am used to smiling at every second person I see and holding doors, and having them held for me. There's just much more interaction in SA.
I decided that I didn't want a big meal last night, and didn't feel like sitting in a restaurant on my own, I also didn't want to be up too late so I went to a supermarket and got a yogurt and chocolate milk etc instead. I also found some 'magic beans' for the kids - you know those ones that flip over when on an incline? (I made some for a science project in std 4). It's cold outside, but not freezing. Pretty much like Cape Town weather at the moment with temps between 7-15 deg celcius - and then a little too warm inside. So you keep having to dress and undress... It's a bit annoying walking in and out of shops because after 2 minutes inside you start to sweat.

This morning I went out for a walk again. I walked all around and looked at a whole lot of shops. I tried all the perfumes again (will I never learn?) so now I smell like Cindy Crawford, Britney Spears, Naomi Campbell, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan and Dolce & Gabanna all at once.
I thought I'd see if I could find something for the kids, I went through and entire mall finding nothing that felt like something they would want or need or that seemed worth the price. I was expecting lego to be reasonably priced here as it comes from Denmark, but even that costs more here than back home. I was starting to think I would just get something at Amsterdam airport on the way back when I found some Boy Bratz dolls. They are actually pretty cool. They must be *last* season's ones because there are new expensive ones while these are marked down from 349Kr to 99Kr. They have a bunch of accessories and 2 sets of clothes, so they should be quite a lot of fun to dress and undress etc. I got one safari one and the other is a winter fun one. Should give them some fun and entertainment while I am in New Castle.

When I get back I am going to want to play with them!
This morning at breakfast I made up a sandwich for lunch. Rye Bread with mayo, Norwegian cheese, smoked salmon and smoked mackrel. I just ate it now and it was very yummy.
I have to be at the school for the start of the conference in a couple of hours. It turns out its about 3 blocks away - I walked past earlier, so that's no problem.