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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Tuesday, 21 August 2001
North Sea --> Oslo (Norway)

The automatic wake up call woke me up at 6.30 am. The build-in radio in my cabin announced that breakfast would be served at 6.45 and that the boat would arrive in Oslo around 7.30 am.
For me that was the call to have a shower and get ready and packed again for my first steps in Norway.

After the shower I wanted to get on the top deck to take a look on the current location.

The boat was already navigating through the fjord towards Oslo and on both sides of the boat I had a great view on the green grown coastline of Norway.

Did you know that if you would stretch out the complete coastline of Norway, you can go halfway around the world? It’s true, the amount of fjords make Norway have one of the longest coastline of the world.

I saw how the sun came up above the hills and how the water behind the boat glittered through the sudden morning sunlight.

Oslo sits at the head of the Oslofjord, an inlet of the Skagerrak canal I have just crossed by the boat.

Oslo is the oldest of the Scandinavian capitals, having been founded by King Harald Hardrada in 1050. After being levelled by fire in 1624, the city was rebuilt in brick and stone by King Christian IV, who renamed it Christiania - a name which stuck until 1925 when it reverted back to Oslo.

I waited in the line at the breakfast buffet to at least eat something before walking into Oslo.

The only reason that there was a line was because there was only one coffee and orange juice machine operating and one man was sitting behind the cash register and really took all time to count his money.

I had two bolls of bread with coffee from the small amount of money I took from my bankaccount and ate it while looking outside onto the beautiful green fjords.

At 7.30 I left my cabin as the boat had just docked at the Oslo port. When the gates opened I felt it as a tremendous achievement to have reached Norway. I never thought I’d arrive here that early in my long journey.

I passed all the busses and taxis, ready for a new load of tourists and Norwegian citizins, and walked in the the old town of Oslo.

Despite being Norway\\\\\\\'s largest city, Oslo is remarkably low-key. The city centre is a pleasant jumble of old and new architecture with an a lot of museums, parks and monuments. It seemed to me a remarkably easy city to get around, with a lot of interesting sights within walking distance in the city centre.

I was overwhelmed by the city’s beauty. I walked passed a cinema, here called Filmenhuse and noticed that the post office was dating from the early twenties.

Everything was closed at this time of the day and traffic was slowly getting busy in the centre.

I walked through a main shopping street with the usual international stores you’d see in every European main shopping streets, not even forgetting the burger giants.

I remembered how I was in Frederikshaven yesterday and it was for the first time in a long time since I had not seen a big yellow M on some historic building.

I am walking through Oslo in Norway and I still could not believe I really made it to this country.

At the end of the shopping street I ended up at a big green square. At my right I had a perfect view on the Royal Castle and at my left was the parliament building of Norway.

I also found Akersgate, which occurred to me that all the big Norwegian newspapers are basically located next to each other. If Fleet Street in Londen would still occupy the British mainstream media, I could have said that Akersgate is the Fleet Street of Norway.

I tried to read the newspaper pages placed on the outside windows, but Norwegian is even more difficult than Danish.

In Danish texts I manage to find some details that remind me of some German of common sounding Dutch words, but this was even more difficult.

It was at the Aftenposten newspaper that I got in contact with Morten Andersen, a reporter from the newsdesk. He noticed my backpack and my website on it and wanted to have an interview with me about my project.

He took me to a coffee bar around the corner and treated me on a cappucino as he interviewed me.

After the interview a photographer of Aftenposten took me around for a walk as he took pictures of me walking through Oslo. I had to pose for him at the Parliament building, walk towards him from the other side of a zebra crossing and show the URL on my jacket.

This is is always strange, just imagine how it looks if I walk a few times up and down a little lane in a busy park while a photographer is almost kneeled and clicking away with his camera. And I keep on smiling and the people passing by look awkward at this situation.

Morten Andersen told me that the article would be on the newspapers’ website within a few hours, just because it’s so interesting, he said.

I stayed in the lounge of Aftenposten for a while as they offered the free use of an internet computer there. I contacted my parents to tell them I had arrived safely in Norway.

Around 6 o’clock tonight I would be able to get to the apartment of my hostess of tonight. She had to work until 5pm.

For me that gave me a good reason to settle down in front of the parliament. The sun was getting warmer and warmer on me and with my backpack against by back I found a good position for a little nap around noon.

But I noticed that the lunch time had begun in the city which was now crowded and rushing. Nothing in comparisation with earlier this morning.

Young (and goodlooking) people sat down in the grass, eating their lunch or reading a book in the sun (why is every woman currently reading Bridget Jones’ Diary?).

And around one (I just could not close my eyes) it occurred to me that there was a growing audience at the entrance of the parliament.

Most of them were tourists and because of the group standing there, even more tourist joined in and wondered what would be so interesting to see at that moment.

So I became the tourist too and looked up the guarded entrance of the building and saw this black Volvo outside with a little blue flag on it.

“Must be somebody important,” I thought. I heard a German man behind me telling his little son about the person who was going to leave the building soon.

Kofi Anan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, was there!

And the police protection also increased by the minute. A heavily armed police van pulled up in front of the black Volvo and police motorbikers cleared the surrounding streets.

This was starting interesting. Suddenly everybody woke up as all engines were started and guards with protected clothing stepped out of the van, blocking most of the view on the Volvo. And when Mr. Anan had stepped into his car, the whole procession started to move.

Just as I clicked my camera on the black Volvo, it passed me, showing me a view on Kofi Anan, showing his ever recognizable smile and waving to the public he passed as they all flashed their cameras.

I had been only three feet away from him and I regret it that my camera did not take a shot of that certain moment.

When the procession was over and everything had left, the tourist crowd spread as nothing had happened.

I sat down in the grass again and that’s where I did doze off to Norwegian dreamland.

It was the sound of my mobile phone that shook me awake at 3 o’clock. On the other line I spoke with a man from P4, a Norwegian radio station.

He just read about my project on the Aftenposten website and was wondering if he could have an interview with me.

“Yes, that’s fine. Where should I go?” I asked.
“Do you know the parliament?”
“I am just sitting in front of it.”
“Then look left to the building next to the Grand Hotel and you’ll see the logo of P4 on the windows of the second floor.”
I saw it just above me.

P4 radio tracked me down and could have been watching down on my from the studio.

I got inside the building and met the reporter who recorded a short interview with me. I got a good chance to tell about the purpose of my website and how I travel around for free. And I could use some more invitations from Norway and Sweden. That I had absolutely no invitations from Sweden (next to over 200 in the UK and 800 in the United States), that became the joke in the interview.

Being eachothers neighbours, the Norwegian people always like to make fun of the Swedish. And of course, to them it was very typical that the Swedish were not so hospitable to me (yet) than the Norwegians.

After the recording of the interview, the nice people at P4 offered me to use one of their internet computers, so I could spent my time a bit more useful than relaxing in the city park.

The interview was aired at 5.50 and afterwards I headed to the east part of Oslo to the Jens Bjelkens Gate where I rang the doorbell of my hostess Marit Halse.

She welcomed in at the fourth floor of the apartment complex and I met her flatmate and her boyfriend.

Marit told me that she had also invited a reporter of the Oslo covering newspaper Dagsavisen, so just before dinner I met the man and his photographer.

I noticed that he was not such a good reporter as he knew about my website through the email Marit had sent him. But he had not seen it yet and interviewed me about it.

“So you do something with the internet? Tell me please.” And telling the complete story from scratch takes a lot of energy. Especially as he would not understand the impact of my project all over the world without seeing it.

“Do you eat spaghetti everywhere?” he asked during dinner, while the lady photographer permanently took pictures of us.

Marit’s boyfriend had to stay out of the picture as he does not live there. Strange reporters!

When I told the reporter that I travelled no-budget, I had to explain this to him in every little detail, because I know that if a person does not understand the purpose of my travelling on hospitality that he might think I am just a simple freeloader who uses people to get around; which is CERTAINLY NOT the issue!

It was strange to have dinner with the camera into my face, I felt there was absolutely no privacy for me as well as my current hosts.

Honestly it was very relieving when the newscrew had left the apartment. It was just too exhausting.

I mean every journalist would do some research on the person he interviews, shouldn’t they? Well, that’s what I have learned during six years of journalism!

The complete household of the apartment work at Opera, world wide know of the fastest internet browser, competing against the big and unstable Netscape and the ever upgrading Internet Explorer browsers.

And while talking about their jobs, there might be a little chance that Opera would mean something to my project in the future, but I’ll update you on that as soon as I know more.

At night Marit wanted to take me to an eclectic rock concert where she had put me on the guestlist.

But first we went to Marit’s boyfriend’s (such a shame, I totally forgot his name!) apartment to hook me on the internet and have me write and publish a previous report, which was really getting necessary again.

But when I finished reporting, uploading pictures and processing emails, Marit already heard that the doors to the concert had already closed and we decided to just visit a pub and have a few drinks there. It all sounded fine with me.

We took a taxi back home again where Marit made up the couch into my place to sleep for the night.

Know I’ll sleep on anything as long it is a little bit soft and as long as I can use a blanket.

As the night set in I looked at the orange lit sky.

I am sleeping in Oslo, still unbelievable after the first day…

Good night Oslo!

Ramon.




In the media today:

* Afterposten (Norwegian):
\\\\\\\"Jorden rundt uten å bruke en krone\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" (Guy travels around without any money);

* Radio interview on Radio P4 Hele Norge.



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