travel diary [norway - tønsberg & horten]

23.04.2009 - Thursday's ramblings

whiskey tastes best at 8am. but i think it unnecessary for the checkout woman to ask me if i'll be drinking any of the beers now, or if she should seal them all. only in denmark. fuck it, i should have told her, and give me the rum as well. yeah, back on morgan's spiced again. already. things can only get better from here on out.

i'm just hoping for coffee on the plane. ours is the tiny one with a propeller (i wasn't warned about this). although the ceiling might be higher than the one we took to england, where jolle had to duck the whole time whilst boarding. and it's noisey too, sitting right by the propellers. but nice, free breakfast and all that (not that i can eat it). coffee that looks like coke. and the seats have built in ash trays.

and apparently we're about to land, but through my porthole all i can see is water and the occasional miniture island. when the sea level rises and destroys this coast it will be such a shame. which reads like the most insincere thing i ever did write.

so we're hanging at the airport for about an hour before we realise the bus stop is 3km down the road. the wait was pleasant though. it's a beautiful day and the norwegians are singing. even the kerosone tinged walk from the plane was luscious. we weren't about to walk 3km, and we can't afford a taxi in this country, so we take the train route instead. that's when kenneth makes the mistake of telling me how katrine thinks it's like the wildwest out here, and after that all i can see is little houses on the prairie.

we were discussing how norwegians keep themselves to themselves. how they're not necesserily rude, just not willing to acknowledge your existence. but on the train, after i was telling kenneth about combating hotlinking, "sorry but i couldn't help over hearing your conversation". it would seem to contradict everything we were saying earlier, except it turns out he's from iceland originally and is here to buy a car. that's about as stupid as going to norway to buy a guitar, but still.

once in tønsberg we drop our luggage off with kenneth's dad and i'm treated to the full tour of norway's oldest city (all i need now is sweden's and i've collected them all). our first stop is the tower on the hill, whatever that is about. some old castle ruins and a story about people eating their boots before finally surrendering and promptly over-eating themselves to death. i ate my cardamon tinted pastry and was satisfied.

the rest of the city isn't quite so interesting. the old firestation is now an english pub called "big ben", possibly because it looks something like westminster. it might ruin the nice cobbled square if it wasn't for the huge inflatable mammoth standing close by. but it's not a large city and we've soon run out of things to see. maybe it's small because you have to excavate for old city ruins before butchering away building on a piece of land, this would make it hard/expensive to gentrify, as you can't know what's hiding beneath the soil before buying the land.

we took refuge in kenneth's favourite cafe, sitting pretty just slightly out of the centre and offering some genuinely decent coffee at a reasonable price. it's verging on hipster trendy, but i can see through that. and the other english guys talking their dreadful english make me feel less of an asshole - at least i'm not that bad.

you know what, in light of norway being a non-secular state, the whole black metal church burning thing makes much more sense.

24.04.2009 - Friday's ramblings

i wake up at half seven and it's a bit like waking up in heaven. i'm lying in a cloud. the bed feels soft and doughy. the rooflight is open a crack and the room's full of fresh spring air and lightness. it's like when i woke up in grilly's place, except i'm not dehydrated and exhausted and the view here is incredible. the house sits on a rocky base that rises gently up to form the "garden". there are no boundaries or fences, just dead lichen and trees surviving with very little soil. there's not a cloud in the sky and there's silence. you lose, london.

i'm such an asshole for not bringing my camera. i wanted to not worry about it, just enjoy the views without the need to reproduce them in 2D. and i've been uninspired recently, so it's good to get the urge back. but still, bringing the camera would have been worth it just for the coastline. yesterday we drove out to "verdens ende" (the worlds end), which i'm guessing is a good example of norway's fractal coast. although i bet it all just looks the same anyway, stretches of bulbous rock worn down under 3km of ice, which is about as slow and violent as it gets. glacial tearing.

the drive was fun too. listening to some tunes, making me feel like i was 17 again.

and for dinner we prepared a substantial pair of curries, proper fried poppadoms and all.

actually it's a bit like staying at a hotel here. or a health spa or something. the bathroom is shiny and pristine, straight out of a catalogue (but not). and the shower is incredible. it looks like some kind of futuristic regeneration booth. i feel cleaner than i've ever felt before (i was going to say "since the day i was born", but back then i was covered in vaginal fluid and and afterbirth, etc). it has side jets and a mist function. luckily the house was empty when i showered so no one could hear me laughing maniacally.

breakfast was also a picture. two slices of rye bread, scambled eggs on top of one and cheese on the other (no, i'm not non-dairy in norway) - jarlsberg and a chunk of goats cheese. there was an avocado half in one corner, salted and balsamic vinegared, and mange tout in the other. on the side there was a fruit salad consisting of apple, kiwi and sharron fruit. we ate all this on the back patio in the glorious sunshine. breakfast was truly won.

we bummed around and soon enough it was time to hit up horten, armed with freshly burnt audo discs and utter excitement. this is how you buy a guitar. it was the perfect experience, even after spoiling the unveiling of the guitar by sneaking into the guitar shop yesterday and checking them out early. ronnie showed us his workshop, grinders and lathes or whatever, and some prototypes for his future guitars. random guitar parts lie strewn across every table and chair, and my future guitar is lying on his workbench looking sexy, shiny and pampered. when i tell him i was considering the red as well, since it's also extremely hot, he explains that i couldn't have a red one until tomorrow, as he wont sell them without the hours of fine tuning that he puts into every guitar. he even demonstrates to us all the mistakes they make in the factory and how he fixes them. he is a perfectionist and true professional (because y'know, i know these things). incidentally, i think he hasn't sold as many of the red ones as they're not featured on his site and the photos of it on the internet are rubbish. it's a shame because he wont be making as many red ones in future. i should probably try and explain these theories to him.

so of course i instantly got guitar shy and couldn't play anything. and it took us over an hour of chatting shop before i finally realised it was the blue guitar that was for me. it was the one that had stolen my heart and i couldn't leave without it. just look at it, sitting there snug amongst the plush purple lining of my guitar case.

to celebrate we went for waffles (cardamon again) and coffee in the mall (the only place we could find). norwegian shopping centres all look the same, maybe it's the angles, i don't know, but there's something that differentiates them from other malls all over the world. and i absolutely don't need to work out what that is.

25.04.2009 - Saturday's ramblings

what is it with my waking up at half seven every morning? even when i only got to bed at half four. it's fine though, i can lie here and stare at my beautiful new guitar (not to labour the point or anything). and there are faint notes of vanilla on my palate. that'll be the spiced rum. yeah, yesterday must have been perfect.

returning to kenneth's parent's we were presented with wine (are we celebrating my guitar? no? why not?) and relax in the sun. then his sister and her man arrive for dinner, along with two dogs (they have a total of four - "four males and one female" he said, but i don't think anyone else noticed). we drink champagne and then a bottle of 1993 margaux. they like their wine here, they keep it in the basement in a special environmentally controlled wine fridge. it's really something. dinner is vegeburgers with potato salad and brocolli, followed by strawberries, sorbet and icecream.

afterwards we're driven to kristian and tone's house. it was generous of them to give us a lift, but i couldn't eject myself from the dog stink car quick enough (they did apologise on behalf of the dogs, and of course i'm not complaining). so we drank some beers and talked about guitars, with a sleak jazzmaster (red with a tortoise shell scratch plate) and a chunky sunburst les paul hanging on the wall. along with the sg we brought them from denmark, this house probably has the best small collection of guitars in scandinavia. all these guitars, but the best conversation was about the autonomous submarines one of kenneth's friends builds for mapping the sea bed. i want one. for squid battles. anyway.

i'm having a lot of fun in the supermarket. eating free fruit samples, telling the anti-narcotics fundraisers i'm very pro-drugs. not believing the racist mokka choclates (chocolate shaped coffee beans). or the geisha rice. viking milk. the foiled wrapped potatoes for baking. the smash bar (which i had to have, despite it being completely redundant since we bought a bag of smash as well). smash is amazing. not even in america do they coat deep fried salty corn snacks in chocolate.

26.04.2009 - Sunday morning's ramblings

every morning i'm woken by the delicious and wonderous smell of baking cakes. it's almost too idyllic.

yesterday was taken easy. why rush when we can chill and look at my guitar? relaxing in the sun, out on the patio. we played with some old cameras, browsed some inherited records, then the summer flavoured outdoors were beckoning - the open trees and scrubs behind the house, so off we went exploring. except for kenneth this isn't at all exploring, this is where he grew up. this was his playground. these trees and rocks that are perfect for climbing. as backyards go it's the best. this could be your kingdom.

during the war the nazis had come up here and blown a number of large and interconnected tunnels deep into the rocky hillside, so obviously that's where we our walk lead us. these days the cages are bricked up with large breeze blocks, but you can still get access in some places, smell the nazi sweat. unfortunately we came unprepared, we could only walk a few meters inside without a torch, so we left feeling somewhat defeated.

further up the hill there's more nazi handiwork, in the shape of an old cannon installation come bunker. what once supported a cannon that fired projectiles 55km out to sea is now the ultimate venue. an all concrete two meter deep circular moshpit surrounds the severely truncated cone 'stage' and is backed by a nice solid graffiti'd wall. fill it with 150 gasmask clad crazy fuckers and you'd have the best gig/music video of all time. the rim of the compound would be lined by speakers, it would be beautiful. this photo is of a different but identical fort:

dinner was leftovers. and then we had to rush out of the house as the parents were having a wine party. we had our own party to go to, it being both kenneth's and his friends birthday. so last night was another fun and drunken evening, stumbling home full of beer and rum. we made good of the 22 cans we'd brought from denmark and also tried some of the better norwegian beers. beers with an aromatic taste ("smaken er aromatisk"). the aass beer wins.

we all win. tønsberg is one non-stop party town.

27.04.2009 - Sunday Evening's ramblings

it was my last morning, and my last chance to fully experience the futuristic extremo-shower. so i nearly drown myself, but it's still beautiful stepping out onto the veranda all so clean and fresh, the sun burning fake freckles under the waterdroplets still clinging to my skin. and also since it's our last morning we treat ourselves to a traditional norwegian breakfast - pizza. one thing i've learnt in the last few weeks is that the grandiose pizza is norway's national dish. 5% of norwegian families eat grandiose pizza on christmas day. and even better, they don't even do a vegetarian option (we settled for a lesser but similar brand). it's crazy though, because the meat isn't even meat, it's "pizzameat" and 40% (or something) soya-based. you could make them all vegetarian and the meat guzzling norwegians wouldn't even notice. we finished our pizza off with cheesecake (homemade, left over from the american themed wine party the previous night). it was a breakfast of champions.

back to the caves, this time armed with torches and headlights. the main entrance is a large pit hollowed out of the hillside, those crazy germans knew how to excavate. there's four or five different entrances, all bricked up, but a few of them are easily passable. inside the air is pleasantly cool, they're expansive and surprisingly clean. the only litter is the occasional crate, the shot-up rusted oil drum, and tealights placed along the walls at regular intervals. someone had a beautiful party down here, and they left hardly any trace. the tunnels branch and weave a little, and at one point when doubling back we were shocked to find a junction we'd previously missed. another area opens out into a larger cavern area, with a much smaller passage leading off further into the hill. sure it looks a little dangerous but we couldn't exactly turn back. when we finally emerge back into the sun we're trapped in a gouge with steep cliffs a couple of meters up in either direction. we scamble through the trees (which must only be about 65 years old) and up one side and soon we're back on the road. hurray for the nazis, they sure knew how to have fun.

then one more party, i'm almost tired of parties. tønsberg is one non-stop party town. wait, didn't i write that already? so i meet all of the family, all the family. i feel slightly in the way and not a little awkward, and if only it wouldn't have been a massive insult i'd have removed myself and hidden away upstairs. but i try to be polite and look attentive and involved. i enjoy the vege sausages and norwegian potato wrap things. katrine has trained this family well, they even have non-meat cutting boards.

straight from the party and we're now in the airport, patiently waiting. at check-in they made me pay 20euros for the musical instrument, which they've never done before. but kenneth didn't have to pay, because his guitar case was full of rocks. apparently it's an insurance thing, which doesn't exactly fill me with confidence, that they have to charge you so they don't have to be careful with your luggage. i didn't argue though, because kenneth's parents were flying us on their airmiles, and it was a small cost ontop of the actual guitar. we had fun going through security, we were the only people there, so it's only fair the guards have their fun. i was beeping for no reasons, and kenneth's camera bag contained a couple of objects strongly resembling a gun and a bullet. brilliant.

drinking vile airport coffee, spending the norwegian. i got nothing else left to say.

except i want a bed. and the view is incredible out of the window coming into copenhagen at night. and the dog on the aeroplane was very cute. and very well behaved. and why put chicken in the springrolls? we all know it's not real chicken anyway.

were not wasting paper [or grammar]
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