Coming home is a comfort, as I'm on period, exhausted, sick again, slightly feverish, with horrible-looking lips.
The trip to
Stockholm was rather short, from 8/1 to 11/1, not for pleasure, and not
perfectly pleasant. I cannot call Stockholm a favourite, the way I call Paris,
Roma, Amsterdam and Praha, and don't recommend travelling to Stockholm, nor any
Nordic city, especially in winter. Everything's too expensive. People in VN
find the US expensive, then Americans find Europe expensive, but Scandinavia is
more expensive than the rest of Europe, including the UK (and among
Scandinavian countries, Norway has higher costs of living than its neighbours
Sweden and Denmark, and is absurdly proud of it). And unless you're fond of
snow, skiing, aurora borealis and all such nonsense, don't ever come to this
part of Europe in winter, because the day ends at about 3 or 4pm and it gets
very dark, and it can be mortally cold. The temperature was surprisingly high
for a while in all of Scandinavia, above 0, but on 10/1 suddenly dropped below
0, accompanied by snow and winds. That is, I don't know how it is in Stockholm at
Christmas and New Year, because Scandinavians have the tradition of staying
home with families, not going out, in Norway there's hardly anything happening or any store open around those days, and Norwegians hardly
bother to decorate the streets. They took out those same white bells used
last year, for Karl Johans gata.
has its merits. Look back at my 1st sentences- is it indeed a comfort to get
back to Oslo? Oslo? Going out for dinner after the flight, I couldn't help
noticing all the differences, and all the things that made me dislike this
country. Stockholm, albeit not a favourite of mine, deserves to be the capital
of Scandinavia (self-proclaimed), or at least, is superior to Oslo in many
aspects. 1st, it's prettier with nicer architecture. Architecture is not
Norwegians' strength. 2nd, Stockholm has a larger city centre, with areas for
shopping, areas for entertainment, areas for culture, and other kinds of fun;
Oslo's city centre is a joke, from Oslo S to National theatre, and going
further away one feels like being in a town, and further, like being on the countryside.
Stockholm also seems to be more exciting. 3rd, Stockholm has greater diversity,
more options to choose from, whereas Oslo has only a couple of brands and store
chains, wherever one goes, whichever shopping mall one enters, one sees those
same names, unless one goes to a place like Paleet or Steen og Strøm, but in
such places the prices are impossible. It should also be noted that Norway and
Sweden sometimes look very similar because they have the same stores, but if
they're not American, they're very likely to be Swedish- Norwegians may just
call Swedes idiots, but use lots of Swedish products, such as Monki, Gina
Tricot, Björn Borg, H&M, Clas Ohlson, IKEA, Designtorget, Max Hamburgers...
4th, Stockholm has a more complex and impressive metro system, divided into
blue lines, green lines and red lines, running on different levels (as in Paris), if I'm not
mistaken; whereas Oslo's system is so simple that all 6 lines
converge, go through 6 same stops, on the same level- Tøyen, Grønland,
Jernbanetoget (Oslo S), Stortinget, Nationaltheatret and Majorstuen, and then
diverge. Stockholm metros, I think, are narrower but faster. 5th, Swedes, aware of how depressing winter can be, bother to decorate
the streets and the metro stations (google: Stockholm metro art) and other
things, and use colours to brighten the mood; whereas the dominant colours in
Norway, everywhere, are grey, black and red brown, and decorations in Norway
are so dull, ugly and monotonous that one feels as though they decorate stores
and streets not to beautify them, but as a duty, a must.
(As a matter of
fact, the aforementioned bells on Karl Johans gata are like this:
noticed as well that the article which had this photo was published in 11/2008:
http://www.nettavisen.no/okonomi/privat/article2425017.ece Which means that in
2013-2014 Norwegians used those same bells not only from last year, but from a
few years ago, perhaps even earlier than 2008-2009. Don't make me start on
their horrendous Christmas trees! Most of them are like this
The building in the background is the new opera house).
6th, not very
important, but noticeable anyway- Stockholm's airport and central station are
remarkably bigger and better.
Oslo brings me
delight only when I think of Kristiansand, or Grimstad, or Lillehammer, or
Tromsø..., perhaps Helsinki and Reykjavík. But out of Norway... Even Sweden's
much, much better and more fun.