New Nordic Cuisine

August 2015

Seems like every other restaurant on the Strøget is a shawarma joint. I counted at least a dozen, especially near the university. They must be secretly filming Iron Man 4 in Copenhagen. Robert Downey Jr. is always posting about shawarma on Facebook. It’s the only explanation.

Until I saw The Avengers on television last year, I’d never heard of shawarma. Perhaps it’s becoming what falafels and doner kebabs have been in Europe — a sign of growing ethnic diversity coupled with a need for quick and cheap eats. It’s probably not a threat to the open-faced sandwich, though.

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Highlights: Norway

July-August 2015

Laundry day in Oslo. Eight days in Norway have left me with dirty clothes and smelly hiking shoes. I’m holed up in the Laundromat Cafe in Oslo, just opposite the Bislett Stadium where Sebastian Coe set a world record in the mile run when I was in high school.

Your clothes take a beating in a country like Norway, what with the weather and outdoor activities. I’ve been rained on, waded through muddy water, climbed to a precarious waterfall overlook, driven, boated, trained, ferried, bused, and slept in a hostel. The least I can do is leave this place smelling pleasant.

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A Note to Shannon (Re: Heights)

Hardangervidda, Norway
August 2015

As I’m having these thoughts, I’m sitting on the edge of a treacherous cliff overlooking the Udurfossen waterfall. I’m sick to my stomach and my heart is about to jump out of my chest. I feel this force trying to propel me off this ledge. The ten seconds it takes for the camera timer to snap my picture seems like an hour. But I’m sitting here. I’m enjoying the view.

Like you, I’m terrified of heights. Conversely, I’m also a compulsive climber. If there’s something to climb on, or over, I’m going to climb it. The only time I didn’t climb something, Uxmal’s Pyramid of the Magician in Mexico, I regretted it. I still regret it.

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Eidfjord, Norway
August 2015

I thought I’d never get lost. In this first smartphone-enabled trip, it has been too easy to know where I’m going. So this morning as I drive through outer Bergen on my way to route 7, it is almost a relief when I miss my turn.

The detour takes me a half hour out of my way, but everything goes smoothly once I retrace my steps to the correct turn-off. Route 7 is the Hardanger National Tourist Route, one of many such routes the Norwegian government has developed to encourage travel in its rural areas. The winding highway runs mostly along the northern shore of Hardangerfjord, Norway’s fruit-growing region.

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A Brief Encounter

Bergen, Norway
August 2015

A prostitute spoke to me tonight as I was rounding a street corner in the center of town. It was just after sunset. She was a brunette, of medium height, wearing a short skirt and leather jacket. She was probably in her twenties.

“Hello,” she said in English. “Where are you going?”

“I’m just walking,” I replied.

“Do you want to go with me?” she inquired.

I was beginning to think prostitutes weren’t that into me anymore.