Amsterdam to Oslo

I had to get to Oslo on some business and was so, so, soooo happily nestled in Acapulco it was tough to tear myself away, but I did it.

I flew through Mexico City to Cancun, staying for one night in Cancun where even just a few hours there reminded me why Cancun is the only place in Mexico I dislike. It really might as well be in Florida, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference. At the airport I had lunch before my flight. It cost $12 for lunch and I gave him the equivalent of $20 in Mexican Pesos. He blank-facedly asked me if I wanted change.

I looked up at him, looked down to the bill again, then looked up. Yes of course I want change you disgusting POS. Or do you desire I tip you 80% for your fine airport café waiting service??!! Yeesh. Then he asked me how much change I wanted. I was almost gleeful at this question now. “All of it,” I replied. He was noticeably very unhappy about this. Too bad. Shouldn’t have asked, dick.

He begrudgingly gave me my change in USD, further showing how American this enclave has become.

Anyway, after one night in Cancun I flew direct to Amsterdam where I saw an old friend. Amsterdam hasn’t changed since I was last there a year or two ago. The bars are still all gay bars as far as I am concerned. Anytime less than 10% of the crowd is women, that’s a gay bar. And all bars in Amsterdam are like that.

So I spent my two evenings there in the casino. In two brief evening sessions I won 1,000 Euros the first night and 2,000 Euros the second night. I played very well and the competition was pretty loose and they were not used to my aggressive style of play so I got lots of action as they figured I was always on the bluff. So, at least the majority of my trip was already paid for just after a few hours of poker.

Amsterdam is an interesting town, I will give it that much. It is very unique. And there are some things I like… especially how nearly everyone rides bikes, a far more healthy and happy mode of transport that automobiles. But for a man with a taste for the nightlife, Amsterdam is a disaster. It is best to spend a nice evening with friends over dinner before stopping in to a weed café for a puff or two and then either to the casino or home. It’s actually a lot like Vancouver, in that way… best to do dinner with friends than to bother going out trying to meet new people.

So I then moved on to Oslo. Ugh, Oslo.

As you can tell, already, I didn’t enjoy it much. Norway is a really small country in terms of population but it is actually one of the most well off countries in the world, per capita, thanks to plentiful offshore oil reserves.

The city… town really, of Oslo, is very small. I was there in August and it was rainy, cold, dark, dank and depressing.

The people/tourists who go there all seem to be outdoorsy types. Content to sip on a coffee at a street café and hit the sack early to venture out to the museums and fjords.

One backpacking American girl who I spoke briefly with regaled me on all the sights she had seen. “Today I saw a church that has unique architecture, it has a slanted roof!�. I tried hard not to yawn or let my eyes glaze over too much. Or to point out that everything she is saying is word for word from her Lonely Planet, isn’t it. She clutched her lonely planet as though it was her lord and savior. She then told me that, “tomorrow I am going to see xxx fjord. It is supposed to be the biggest in the world!�. I tried to feign excitement. The biggest? Really? Wow. I then asked her what is a fjord anyway. Isn’t it just sort of like an inlet? And if so, at what point, when a fjord is big, does it not become a fjord and is, just basically, the ocean.

She clenched her teeth. I had blown her mind. She began rifling through her Lonely Planet to find the answer to my question as I walked off into the drisly Oslo evening.

I wasn’t there over the weekend, but judging by the weekdays, I can’t imagine it is anything special. On the only evening I went out I asked the waiter where is a good spot to go. “There’s Andy’s Pub. Andy’s Pub is always good. And TGIFâ€?. TGIF I asked? “Thank God Its Fridaysâ€?, the American chain restaurant, he replied. I couldn’t help but let my eyes roll back into my skull.

Andy’s Pub had 15 people in it. 14 guys and 1 lady bartender. Again, if the percentages are less than 10% girls, that’s a gay bar. We then went to TGIFridays… it was actually better than Andy’s Pub, but only in relative terms. In real terms they are both depressing.

So, there really isn’t much in Oslo of interest. It is a very northern (on the same latitude as the Yukon) small, cold, boring place. There are some cute girls around and I actually got some eye contact from some… they were probably surprised to see a non-gay guy.

To add to the horribleness, Oslo just may be the most expensive city I’ve ever been to. If not, it is darn close to London and Moscow for most expensive. I took a 5 block, 2 minute taxi ride. The meter showed $18. I already was irked at that, but then he hit the ‘stop’ button and it added in the 25% sales tax. Yes, TWENTY FIVE PERCENT sales tax?!? It instantly jumped up to $25. For a two minute taxi ride! The same ride would cost $4 in Vancouver and $0.80 in Bangkok. And don’t get me started on whether I’d rather be in Oslo or Bangkok!

Plus, Oslo really has hardly any hotels and so, naturally, during the ‘busy’ summer season EVERY single hotel was full. It was so bad that one night, after calling and going to more than half a dozen hotels I ended up having to stay at a hostel in a 6-people shared room!!! They told me it was a ‘mixed’ room (meaning girls and boys) which was the only hope I had for a decent evening but, of course, I had 5 guys from Sweden, or somewhere, in my room. Funnily, they were all friends, traveling together and I was the only other person in the room. When we woke up in the morning all the money from one of the guys wallets was missing. Obviously they all peered over at me. I just gave them the, “hey, don’t look at me, I hate Oslo and hate this place and I even hate you guys but I’m not here pickpocketing backpackers!� look. It turned out someone had broken into a lot of rooms that night and stole stuff so the heat went off me. Super. Nice town.

If there was one saving grace, and I am scraping for blue linings here, there are actually a fair amount of Thai girls in Oslo. I’ve seen quite a few Norwegians in Thailand and I CANNOT BLAME THEM ONE BIT for going there, but I figure a lot of them must take Thai girls back, considering there are no girls here, that I saw.

Actually I did see a few cute girls. They are all blonde here and all have white, white skin… but some of them are really good looking. If there is one good thing I can say about how people look here, it is their eyes. Everyone has glowing blue or emerald eyes. Other than that, the only hope for girls here is that there is quite a large population of African girls. I actually ended up with a girl from Togo on my one night out. My first Togan! Togoan? Ah who cares.

I got to the point where I nearly snapped and almost drove direct to the airport and took the next flight out but my jet lag hit and I ended up staying at an airport hotel for the night.

I just woke up and found a flight in one hour to Tallinn, Estonia. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Estonia. But, and this I can almost guarantee, sight unseen…. There is NO WAY it can be WORSE than Oslo.

Get me outta here!