It’s Saturday, I’m Leaving Stockholm, & Oslo Is On My Mind

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Singer Michael Buble made the song Georgia On My Mind, a great standard written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, and long known as a classic song of singer Ray Charles, from the 1960’s, – popular once more.

Georgia, Georgia
The whole day through

Just an old sweet song
Keeps that Georgia on my mind

James Taylor did the same thing with his own composition Carolina In My Mind which first appeared in Taylor’s debut album in 1968.

In my mind I’m going to Carolina. Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind? Yes, I’m going to Carolina in my mind.

And Willie Nelson made the song Always on My Mind into an evergreen. His version in 1982 won a Grammy Award.

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Maybe I didn’t love you
Quite as often as I could have
And maybe I didn’t treat you
Quite as good as I should have
If I made you feel second best
Girl I’m sorry I was blind

You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

The above are all about feelings and places, songs, song writers, and the singers of those songs. I am none of the above. I am just a traveler.

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On Saturday, March 14th, a little more than a week ago, I had the city of Oslo, Norway on my mind.

Probably because it was the destination printed on my railroad ticket. I would be leaving Stockholm Central Station, Sweden, on the 51 Train at 8:06 in the morning. I had wanted to take the high-speed SJ-se (above) a faster and newer train, but it would make for Gothenburg where I would have to change trains with about a half hour wait. Fact is, despite an older and far less sexy a train (below),

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I got a faster travel time and a far shorter route – in exchange for giving up the gleaming steel of the SJ-se for the still fast but plainer looking train. I also gave up the wi-fi.

On the other hand I got a guy next to me who boarded the train in Katrineholm, about two hours southwest of Stockholm, and slept straight through to Lillestrom, a Oslo suburb. There was no extra charge for his snoring.

Any way the train trip was scheduled for 5 hours and 44 minutes, and because of a short delay near Charlottenburg, near the Norwegian border, the trip took six hours. The first class seat was comfortable, and did have a power outlet for my laptop – but other wise the trip was rather dull. You don’t pass through any places with breathtaking vistas, or mountain views. Nor do you cross any bridges high over a deep gorge. This is not to say that there weren’t any bridges – but they just weren’t remarkable. I saw mostly farm lands, deep forests, about two or three rivers, and some small towns including Karlstad where one of the victims mentioned in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was killed.

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So we pulled into Oslo S aka Oslo Sentralstasjon shortly past two PM. I had already done my homework and knew that I needed to take a tram – a modern-day version of the old trolley cars to Olaf Ryess Plass in Grunerlokka – an older neighborhood, now much improved, and increasingly popular section of town, that was now more expensive than it had been say twenty years ago.

I learned from a Rick Steves video that the Tourist info building was just outside the station and I would recognize it from the larger than life-sized statue of a tiger that guarded the whole plaza, and the tourist and travelers information center (labeled Ruter #) was on the ground floor of a clock tower within sight of the tiger.

Sure enough – that is exactly how I found it.

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I got my self three 24 hour travel cards. You can buy an all inclusive 7-Day Card for a whole lot more money which also includes admissions to Oslo’s Museums. But the 24 hour card pays for it self if you make at least three trips a day. Any more than that is the bonus.That is aside from not having to buy individual rides. They even thrown in a small and lightweight card holder so you can find the card in your pocket quickly.

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The cards have information embedded in them and their clocks begin or are activated only after you have placed the card against a scanner on the trams. Speaking of the trams – I had trouble finding the street, a few blocks away from the train station where I would pick up a ride on either the 11, 12 or 13 tram heading north. While I couldn’t find the street, I did find the tram tracks.

Does this tram go to Olaf Ryess Plass? I asked the driver. Yeah, hop on, he said. Less than 12 minutes later, the Olaf Ryess Plass stop came into view.

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I got down from the tram with my parka, wool hat and scarf, I looked like any other Norwegian traveler with luggage. At the corner was Gruner Gate, or in English – Gruner Street.

Tram Stop at Olaf Ryess Plass and Gruners Gate

Tram Stop at Olaf Ryess Plass and Gruner Gate in warmer weather – ditto below

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I already knew that at the far end of this block which faced the northern end of Olaf Ryess Plass, a small park in the neighborhood, I would see the Villa Paradise Pizza Restaurant. From there it was just one block further west on Gruner Gate, I’d then turn into Steenstrup Gate. The Apartment House would be a block and a third of a block further up Steenstrup Gate. In short, a five-minute walk from getting off the tram.

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The second buildin on your right. You can't see the Penthouse from this angle. but it there. The actual fifth floor, unseen or not.

The second building on your right. You can’t see the Penthouse from this angle. but it’s there. The actual fifth floor exists, even though you can’t see it in this photo..

I rang the street door buzzer, and a voice said, Is that you Michael?. I replied that it was, and she said, I’ll be right down to let you in. About three minutes passed and the street door opened inward. A woman stepped up and said, Hi, I’m Grethe – glad to meet you.

I had arrived!!

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