I needed to get home from West Africa through Europe, and Norway seemed like an excellent stopover place. God knows London and its airport are no place to change flights, and my photography friend Mike Reiter wanted to drag me to the end of the world in Svalbard. Instead he convinced two of our engaged friends to join us, Maya and Maya’s Mike, and they traveled around Norway before we all met up in Oslo for New years. I have a wonderful Norwegian friend, a specialist in all things viking and Old Norse, so we stayed with her for 3 days to celebrate the arrival of 2014.
I spent the first night with her trying to explain my new Californian friends that would be overtaking her apartment, and almost peed myself jumping up and down in excitement when I knew they’d arrived downstairs. We drank terrible Senegalese alcohol as I did my best to convince them that Africa was a wonderful place, despite my horrible tales, and ate like kings and queens with home-cooked meals while the rest of Oslo shut down for the holidays.
We took a midnight stroll on New Years eve, trying our best to avoid being hit by stray fireworks at midnight, and watched the city (literally) explode at 12 am. We were jealous of all the people around us lighting up sparklers, but still too preoccupied ducking from nearby firework launching, and popped a few bottles of carbonated something to ring in the new year. We walked home the long way, doing shimmy dances to warm up, and tried avoiding being criminalized for disorderly public behavior (we may or may not have urinated on public property a.k.a. the grave yard a a government building). Maya tried to scare Mike away from the grave yard with ghost warnings, but what can you do? You gotta go when you gotta go.
New Years day was also spent walking around, a little more sober, but just as mischievously. After we reached the Opera house, nightfall had already fallen, but it was charming to see the empty streets and Akershus fortress lit up by only street lights. We weren’t lucky enough to see any northern lights, but we were lucky enough to spend the first hours of 2014 singing karaoke in the kitchen of Liv’s Philipino neighbours.
Me and Mike didnt make it to Svalbard, but we did make it to the arctic circle and frolicked around Kirkenes and the Russian-Norwegian border with huskies and snow hotels. We’ll be going to Svalbard next February to stay at the Ship in the Ice hotel, but first we’ll meet in California for Maya and Maya’s Mike’s wedding. It’ll be just as merry there, but alot warmer and brighter!