TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! Today’s entry will come in two parts, mostly because the train is long, I am bored and writing gives me something to do. The journey is very long – 8 ½ hours including an hour stop between trains, we had to make one change. We left our room this morning, our last trek into Oslo, with time for a last sit at our (well, my humans’, there is water involved) favourite places. We also discovered this gigantic building known as Havnelageret, its function unknown. Despite rigorous Internet searches I'm still not entirely sure what it's giant walls contain, other than that it is a commercial building, 11 floors tall with foundations 20 metres deep. It was completed in 1921 at which point it was the largest concrete building in Europe and its fourth floor used as an air raid shelter during World War II (my thanks to Wikipedia). Pretty impressive, one must admit.
We boarded the 1 o’clock train from Oslo to Gothenburg, Sweden. As we journeyed across the border in the world’s hottest train (the air conditioning was broken and the windows didn’t open – I call that a design flaw), the hills, trees and city buildings gave way to much flatter open farmland. We saw more red, purple and yellow painted wood-clad houses and fewer trees. Most of the journey had that dreaded water known as the sea next to us (luckily the side furthest from our seats) but occasionally the evil stuff would come over our side and I would be surrounded. Not even slowly roasting was enough to make me want to get near the wet stuff.
Anyway, four hours of baked train later, we arrived in Gothenburg. What an achievement! My humans might have their shortcomings, namely their insistence on spending considerable amounts of time near water, but they have got us by train to another country. I do not give praise lightly but well done, Charlie and Jack. Though please note, this will be the only praise I shall bestow upon you, I can’t have you getting above yourselves and suggesting I should walk. After all, you’ve made one inter-rail journey, the rest must be easy!
Well, I’ve got distracted. I blame the train, hotter than that hell-hole factory in Vietnam – no I wasn’t going to mention Vietnam.
Right, Gothenburg. By the time we had got out the station and made sure we were back so as not to miss the next train, we only got to spend half an hour in this city.
In some ways, it had its similarities to Oslo, big buildings, scary trams, a river, parks, but this city was older and had a rather worrying lack of pedestrian crossings, unlike Oslo where the stripy things were everywhere.
My humans sat down to admire the view in a park under a shady tree. After the blazes of that train, I would have quite liked this but would they let me enjoy it? No, these evil humans had to sit by the river, didn’t they?
Well, after that it was back to the station and our next train, Gothenburg to Copenhagen. One short delay and some slight confusion as to whether we were actually on the right train later, we were off. The Sweden that is rolling past us as I (well, Charlie) write is green, still mostly flat, but a few more trees have returned. Some of the buildings are similar to those in Norway, but now there’s some more brick thrown in too, the difference subtle enough to let us know we’re firmly in a different country now.
And there’s some whirly things. What the blazes are they? (Sorry, still cooling down from the last train).
Oh, Charlie informs me they are wind turbines that make green electricity. I didn’t think wind or electricity were green, more a blue colour for the former and a crackly white-yellow for the latter.
Well, either way, I think that sums up the day so far, I will continue today’s entry when we arrive at the room this evening.
Part II – broken air con and water were the least of my worries! Basically, as soon as I caught you up to speed on leaving Gothenburg, things started to go wrong. There was a technical fault with the train (I don’t really know…) which meant it ran slower than normal and so we became late. So late, in fact, the train decided to terminate in Malmö and not carry on to Copenhagen.
This resulted in us getting off in Lund and catching a different train into Copenhagen – luckily we didn’t have to wait too long. There were some nice old buildings opposite the station which almost (but definitely didn’t) make up for the pain in my backside our train caused me.
The train from Lund ran on time so all was going well finally. Charlie and Jack have been talking all day about a bridge into Denmark (that’s where Copenhagen is). That’s good news, I like bridges.
I do not like this bridge, it is over water. Fortunately I survived the big scary bridge and after our unplanned second stop in Sweden, we have eventually arrived in Denmark. Only, we had missed our direct bus to our room for the night so this meant taking a train to the next station (Nørreport) – which was late – and running for another bus.
Copenhagen seems nice enough, although older than Oslo. Very dark as well, although we did arrive at 10pm so I should probably assume this is not always the case. At least it actually gets properly dark here, unlike Oslo’s 24 hour summer sunlight which was weird yet strangely endearing.
The room is nice but it is too dark for me to see out the window (my favourite pastime) and someone has put a lot of planty things and some blinds in the way. It is like they are making it purposely difficult for cats to look outside. Anyway, I suspect I’ll get my humans to take a picture of the view in the morning.
We’ll be exploring Copenhagen and then getting another long train to Berlin tomorrow.
Until then, Chesh.
Greetings, humans! Oh, what a day! I lament, wiping a weary paw across my forehead, as once again I am sitting in my favourite spot, overlooking Oslo from our room. As promised, it was another walking filled day. For the second time, my humans made the trek downhill into the city, first stop was a souvenir shop and then it was onto lunch – that might give you some idea as to the timings of my humans’ day if they can only make it in to the city in time for lunch. The lazy sods!
Lunch was at the Funky Fresh Café as recommended by our host and looked delicious. I can only assume it tasted good too as I wasn’t offered any – the rudeness of some people!
Anyway, my humans (but not I) tucked into an amaranth burger with paprika potato wedges, green pesto and coleslaw. As if that wasn’t enough to deny me, they then went back for a taster plate of ‘cheese’cakes. I'm not sure what the non-dairy alternative they used was, but the flavours were mango, chocolate and coffee, blueberry and strawberry. Again I wasn’t offered any and they even remembered the food selfie, of the cheesecakes anyway. We also learnt that at this café, or perhaps Norway in general, a scone is not those cake-bread things with raisins in. No, they contain oats and cocoa powder, almost a cross between an oat cookie and a non-gooey brownie. There was a sample pot of these at the till which my humans tried. Apparently they tasted good, fruity, chocolatey and oaty, but definitely not like any scone they've ever eaten before!
Lunch over, the walk started to follow the Aker River. Sacre bleu! Mon dieu et mon droit! Water! For endless, endless miles – these people are killing me! And to make matters worse, there were waterfalls, oh the agony. At least there were some nice buildings to look at along the way, more ducks and a handful of bizarre birds Charlie and Jack have taken to calling crow-pigeons that have so far evaded capture on film. I’m not too fussed with what they are, but I would like to chase them. Anyway, there was a wonderful view of Oslo, looking back down the hill from the top of the largest waterfall I have ever seen.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough water for one lifetime, they decided they would walk all the way back along the river on the other side which somehow involved us getting even closer to the waterfall. There was a strange little shack built over the waterfall (what are humans thinking?). This bit was particularly horrible as whilst my humans took pictures, we were sprayed with water from the fall.
We then reached (and crossed) a slightly wobbly bridge which my humans (mostly Charlie) insisted on wobbling even more. I am currently pondering whether my humans can be deemed of sound mind and if they are really appropriate guardians to take me on this trip.
Finally we left the river and went off to explore the old streets of Damstredet og Telthusbakken (og is Norwegian for and). These houses were made some of wood and some of brick and mortar. They are some of the new style of houses built after the Great Fire of Oslo, and marked the start of vertical building and a different layout to reduce fire-spread. According to the information board anyway, to me they didn’t seem particularly vertical. We then took a break in a park on another hill overlooking Oslo (we could see all the way back to the station) and a back view of Damstredet.
On leaving the park all appeared to be going well, but then, great Scott! We’re back on the river! Luckily this didn’t last too long and we ended up in the Botanical Gardens surrounding the Natural History Museums of Zoology and Geography (or perhaps it was Geology), which were closed it being 25 minutes after the closing time of 4 o’clock when we arrived.
Never mind, we wandered around the gardens instead where my humans played a long and rather pointless game of Name that Plant. Stupid as there was a name tag on every plant.
And then, oh this is too much, they took me to another river, this time in the gardens, just when I thought I was safe. What do they take me for? One is not a Turkish Van! Luckily I was distracted from the water by an opportunity to pose with Charlie’s very stylish sunglasses (see the picture of me from the first post of this blog).
Fortunately, we escaped the water and the gardens not long after this and made the final slog back up the hill to our room. This time our host’s ginger cat deigned to interact with Charlie and Jack, and we took the opportunity for some pictures together.
The humans started packing after dinner – yes, we’re leaving Oslo tomorrow. Sad times, I will miss this place, it has been a revelation, so very green, so very hilly and so very beautiful.
Oslo is a stunning city as I have mentioned on several occasions. It is so modern, so clean and full of wonderful surprises – one of which was a deficiency of streetlights, but that’s probably because, in the summer at least, it never really gets dark here. Sunset has been around 10:30 PM, sunrise around 4:00 AM, but in between there’s still plenty of light to see quite a lot. Another surprise was the lack of old buildings (see my very accurate and informative lesson on the Great Fire of Oslo) and how, despite this being the capital city, it seems so laid back and not busy, never empty but just not crowded either. I really will be sad to leave here and hope I get the opportunity to return one day.
Our next stop is Copenhagen (that’s the capital of Denmark) and one can only hope these deranged humans stay away from water.
Greetings humans! Day 2's Tail comes to you once again from Oslo. As with last night, my ‘mewsings’ (I promise that will be the only cat related pun) are written as I sit looking out over Oslo city. As promised last night, we did indeed go places, eat food and walked a lot!
After walking back into the city (and discovering a very steep staircase-based shortcut) we stumbled upon some old ruins. Basically, due to a fire in Oslo in 1624, most of the city was burnt down and the area rebuilt closer to the Akershus fortress (more on this later) meaning there were very few old buildings. These ruins are what little remains. Next to them was this stunning yellow neo-gothic bishop’s residence built in 1883 and a whole row of brightly coloured houses behind it.
For political reasons (probably), Oslo was temporarily renamed Christiania after the king following the fire, became Kristiania in 1877 but now of course it is back to good old Oslo, a fantastic name, I rather think.
As a result of the Great Fire of Oslo, as I like to think of it, many of the buildings here are quite modern and there is a lot of construction going on. The cranes are huge, reaching to the tops of tower blocks and building many wondrous new things (including a giant public library of which I heartily approve).
Despite all this modern post-Fire stuff, we were reminded of Oslo’s past by the chance discovery of a monument to Harold Hardrade of Battle of Hastings fame.
After these adventures, we set off in search of dinner, we found (after getting slightly lost and resorting to the SatNav) three interesting vegan cafés, one of which was closed, but my humans eventually made up their minds as to where they would come back to for dinner. I didn’t mind getting lost, it was a great opportunity to check out the city – and we found a nice park which we returned to for lunch, near to the royal residence (whatever that might be).
My humans now re-energised, we continued walking, next stop Akershus Fortress, via some more interesting buildings and the harbour at the end of the fjord. Get me away from this wet stuff, humans, you are perilously within 500 feet, back up! Ok, we arrived at the fortress without any major water related incidences. There was more hill-work involved – the humans will be fit by the end of this! We found an old (ish) building and some buildings built to look old and then found some stunning views down from the fortress to the city and the fjord (once again getting much too close to that dangerous water).
There were some old cannons at the fortress which I very much enjoyed sitting on. We sat and looked at the views for a while before wandering around the fortress, found some ducks and stopped by a fountain. More water, what is wrong with you humans?! Next up was the opera house on the water edge where we could walk on the roof (I have no idea…) and experience some more views of the city and the fjord.
My humans then took me out to dinner at Nordvegan, the café we checked out earlier before lunch. Dinner consisted of vegetable balls in breadcrumbs, a potato and vegan cheese wrap and enchiladas, although for reasons known only to the chefs, the enchilada contained pasta like a lasagne instead of the standard tortilla wrap. Who knows, maybe that’s a Norwegian thing? Well, either way, this was followed by a luxuriant gooey chocolate tart with a date and nut crust and a chocolate and almond protein ball. Luckily we were spared food selfies… but only because my humans forgot and I decided not to remind them.
Next was a leisurely walk back through Oslo which contained more ducks (good) and more water (bad). Another park was involved and some ruins, more remnants of the Great Fire of Oslo. We also discovered some interesting architecture in the form of buildings that looked like escalators (my humans liked it, I was rather confused).
On arriving back at the room, we met our host's cat although he decided to ignore the humans. I’m not surprised, after all us cats come when we can be bothered, not when you humans make kissy noises and click at us. We are not dogs! He looked rather comfy under a car, why would he want to say hello? But a black and white cat who lived downstairs did come and talk to us. This was, of course, because she wanted letting in, the timely arrival of my humans provided her perfect opportunity to make use of Homo sapien’s most useful feature, opposable thumbs.
Well, that pretty much sums up today, tomorrow you can expect more walking in Oslo, see you then.
(Information about the Great Fire of Oslo courtesy of the Visit Oslo website - https://www.visitoslo.com/en/articles/history/)
Greetings humans! Our first day! Today’s Tail comes to you from a wonderful room in a purple house at the top of a very steep hill which my humans so kindly carried me up in the blistering heat. Now as I sit at the window looking over Norway’s capital city of Oslo, I shall relate to you the day’s events which brought me here.
I was rudely awakened at the crack of 5:30AM by my wonderfully considerate humans, the final additions were made to our (well, my humans’) luggage, and the bags were weighed using a rather questionable weighing device. We piled into the car, ready to go and then… oh, wait a minute (or five), yep Jack forgot those little red booky things humans need to travel the world (unlike me, I am free and without hindrance to travel where I please – just not Vietnam, don’t take me back there).
Anyway, portpass found, everybody in the car again. I thought we were meant to be going by train and who’s this extra human we’ve acquired? Ah, yes, that’s Jack’s dad here to drive us to the train. So, we’re in the car, broom broom, etc. etc. Off we go, oh no, not again traffic jam this time.
Right, one detour later, we arrived at the train place. Lots of security, people with guns, ahh, a sniffer dog, who let that in? Giant bags dropped off… er… somewhere, security time, I went through an X-ray scanner, bet that was a surprise for whoever saw that – surprise my insides are made of fluff!
Now, time to board our first train. Hang on a minute, this is a very short train (from my limited experience), and why are we walking up steps to get on it?
The train sat still for a long time, moved a bit, stopped, started going very fast, started taking off. This is not a train! I repeat, this is not a train! There has been a terrible mistake this is a plane! I have been duped!
No one told me I would be expected to journey in one of these flying death traps – it’s not touching the ground, I’m a cat, birds go in my stomach, not the other way round! Get me out of here, what were these humans thinking? This is like the plane from Vietnam, it had better not last that long (oh, I forgot, I wasn’t going to talk about Vietnam). If I wasn’t a cuddly toy, my claws would be putting in some serious overtime, digging out of this thing if I have to.
Oh, actually the view is quite nice, I can see some tiny houses, it must be a model village or something. There’s also a lot of trees, mountains and fjords, we’re definitely over Norway now.
Touch down at Oslo Airport. Well, that was quite fun, honestly I don’t know why some people make such a fuss out of flying.
Norway is here, we have arrived in Oslo, well, technically the airport near Oslo. Hallo! That’s Norwegian, y’know. With baggage reclaimed we escaped Gardermoen Lufthavn (airport) and got onto a train. This looks much more like a train, it’s long and on tracks and… yes… it hasn’t taken off. I have now been on a train.
Oslo Central Station (or Sentralstasjon if you prefer) is where we got off, now we’re actually in Oslo. There’s lots of trees and construction work and these things called trams that are basically half bus-half train and have a bendy bit in the middle – very interesting.
The station is right near the water, a little too close if you ask me, there was a huge cargo ship loading up – we watched this and many other urban delights from a bench outside the station where we had lunch and took the opportunity for a photoshoot – I looked stunning as always.
After that, we made our way out of the city and up the previously mentioned very, very steep and long, tiring hill to our room. On the way we stopped for a rest (and more photos) in a little woods – I needed a break from all that resting in the bag while my humans carried me up the hill.
Here, we took the opportunity to learn some Norwegian as my humans had rather neglected to learn a single word before they came here. We learnt the basics; hallo (hello), adjø (goodbye), vær sär sill (please) and takk (thanks) as well as the ever useful luftputebåt min er full av äl (my hovercraft is full of eels) – you never know when you might need it.
Language lesson over, we finished the climb up the very, very big hill and found our room which is on the top floor of a big purple house where our host for the next few days lives with two cats and assorted other humans.
The views from this room are fantastic with a choice of two – West or North ish. From the west, there is a superb view back down the road and we can see all the way to the ocean, well a fjord, but there’s a big boat in it. From the north window, we can see back to Oslo and beyond. The roads are well lined with trees, the houses and spatterings of tower blocks are all post-1880s and clad in a whole range of colours. From both windows the view ends with pine-coated mountains and as we are basically on our own mountain, Oslo sits snuggly into a valley.
I could go on about the view all day, but I won’t. Let’s talk about some human things – it was very hot and sunny and my humans visited a supermarket (called Rema 1000) to trade green paper for food with which to make dinner. There’s a Buddha statue in the room whom I may make friends with.
Tune in again tomorrow for exciting stories as we go to places and eat food and walk a lot!
Until next time folks,