Sven was kind enough to put me up for my first week in Oslo. Old friends from Ethiopia days, we've traveled together plenty before. His top-floor apartment, just a short walk from downtown, became my retreat until heading north. Aside from our Jotunheimen trek, Sven introduced Oslo's quaint city center, constituting a dozen blocks of turn-of-the-century, art nouveau high-rises filled with a mix of hotels, H&Ms and fast food chains. Later, he pedaled both of us on his bike to an outlying beach, complete with a diving board jutting out of the rocks. For sharing the same latitude as southern Greenland, the water was surprisingly warm. Not quite Italy, but easily swimmable.

In my few summer days in Oslo I caught up with old friends met around the world. Along with Christina (Addis), I checked out the Vigeland Park's giant stone stacks of grotesquely piled children and thick-set women. With Ty (Cairo) I walked the grounds of Akershus Castle, dating back to the late 13th century and overlooking the fancy new harbor. I also spent a few nights out with Timmy and his international crew of Poles, Swedes, Brits and fellow-Aussies. Timmy and I met in a grimy Bombay dormitory last spring. He's since made a comfortable new life for himself in Scandinavia, worlds away from the squalor in which we'd met. Not a bad place to live, Oslo.

Returning from the North, I slept on his couch for my last night in Norway, waking up just in time to catch my south-bound flight out of Torp.

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