Building self-esteem in Oslo

Oslo might not be the best place for building tourist self-esteem. After two days in the city, here are a couple of signs:

Here’s something else bizarre… an important symbol for this city is the tiger:

I also learned that when a counter-serve restaurant offers you “potato with shrimp” that’s exactly what they deliver (for about $20):

I also learned about life in Sweden from the 40ish lady sitting next to me at the opera house (one act of Parsifal, which is more than enough for anyone). She was working as a “priest” (what we would call a “minister”) at a church outside of Stockholm during coronapanic. Her life and church continued without interruption. What about the Swedish limit of 50 for indoor gatherings that was imposed? “It did not apply to churches,” she responded. How many times had she put on a mask during two years of coronapanic in Sweden? “Zero.” Had she purchased a mask? “No.” What about on the Stockholm metro? Wasn’t it suggested? “You could wear a mask if you wanted to,” she replied, “and some people did, but I never did.”

One thing that I hadn’t appreciated about Europe is that China’s continued lockdown has substantially decluttered the demi-continent. 1.4 billion people have been removed from the international tourism pool because a resident of China who comes to Europe to look around would have to endure an onerous 14-day quarantine on returning (not a Massachusetts-style quarantine with daily trips to the “essential” marijuana store!).

Speaking of the opera house, here it is:

Note the ramp for walking up to the roof.

My first impression of Norway is that it is a great argument for the European welfare state form of government… so long as a country has a gushing fountain of oil cash and only a small number of low-skill immigrants so that the per-capita oil money remains significant. It seems as though there are dozens of neighborhoods that are great for hanging out with friends and family. Norwegians are out in pairs and larger groups enjoying the summer weather. Norway is not part of the EU and the country has retained a distinctive culture more so than France, Germany, or the UK. Despite the distinctively Norwegian-ness of everything, a higher percentage of people here speak good English than in a lot of U.S. cities. That means it is perfect for an American tourist wanting to see a European nation.

15 thoughts on “Building self-esteem in Oslo

  1. $20 for a potato and shrimp that looks like picked-up from $1.99/lb shoddy inner-city Chinese food salad bar for poor students that my fellow seafood affectionado Chinese immigrant student called “from a dead body”? Hardly an argument for oil-fountain – style of “socialism”.
    But I enjoy all the micro-aggression and truth – telling signs. If silence is violence that this is a intellect-nurturing WWII.

  2. Kiwipedia once said it was the only functioning welfare system where the welfare actually went to the proletariat instead of the insurance companies.

  3. I am curious to know how an American assesses the level of cultural differences between European countries (I assume you speak, French, German, and British English, given the strength of your opinion).

    • There is no need to speak French in Paris (though I did study French in what the Brits call “government school”) since the people with whom one deals are not generally French.

    • Phil, thus I am even more puzzled how you could make any assessment of the local culture.

    • That IS my assessment of the local culture of Paris: a city built by the French and now occupied by the non-French (many of whom have no affinity for anything French, but are there only because they didn’t like the place in which they formerly lived).

      Another way to put it would be that the local culture of Paris is non-local. That makes it less interesting for Americans because we have plenty of our own cities that lack local culture.

    • @PhilG: it sounds like you agree with the respected statesman who once famously said “Paris is no longer Paris”.

    • I have 3 family members who live in or around Paris. They immigrated back in late 1970’s from Syria. They all tell me that Paris is no longer what it used to be — non-French have taken over and the life style of Paris has changed. My parents visited them back in 2018 and they saw this first hand. This data “Demographics of Paris” [1] backs up my relatives and parents experience. Note that this data is from 2012 so expect to find even more non-French today.


  4. “government school” is not an expression that I have heard or read in my entire (89 year) life in Britain!

    • +1 for that.

      In Britain, free schools financed by local or national government are “state” schools; these days many are self-governing and called “academies” (similar to Charter schools, I think).

      The often old-established fee-paying schools are “public”, to distinguish them from a school whose entry might be limited to a particular landed estate, religious institution, or whatever: their “public” is any child with sufficiently rich parents who can pass the entrance exam, or perhaps have a relative who could. Nowadays a lot of hot money from around the world is being laundered into making posh young Brits out of foreign children.

      Also, Norway is not recommended for the impecunious liquor fiend.

  5. Whew! That potato and shirmp looks a little too: “not very good hospital food.”

    When you search for “Michelin Restaurant Norway” on YouTube there’s not much to see, which misleading, because for a country of about 5.5 million people they do have 48 in the Michelin Guide, more per capita than Sweden (72 but more than 10 million people.) Less than 1km from the opera house is a restaurant named “Code”, where you could have had what I’ll bet is a very nice lunch for around $45.

  6. When in Europe I like to think of prices in terms of beer. One Beer Monetary Unit is the price of a pint of local draft in a pub. Norway is the most expensive I’ve seen – a BMU is 100kr ($15cad). Next is Iceland at 1200kr ($12cad). Netherlands is €6 ($9cad). Switzerland is 6chf ($8cad). UK was £4-5 ($7-8cad) and as low as £2.65 in Glasgow (cheapest beer I have seen in Europe). Here in Vancouver a BMU is $8cad.

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