I’m actually writing this in the morning of Day 3.
Yesterday I woke up at 5am and quietly packed my bags in the darkness of Anker Hostel in Oslo. My roommates didn’t stir. I ate a coffee-bar and wandered into the sleeping city of Oslo.
I had a ticket departing from OSL at 10:05 AM. My bags are heavy: A full 70L backpack and less-full 25L bookbag. I think they weigh a combined 60lbs or so.
I pay 180 Norwegian Krone for the express train to OSL. That’s like $22. Everything in Norway is ridiculously expensive. The evening before I spent $30 on a burger and fries. Not a fancy burger and fries. Just a regular bar-style burger.
Anyway, I get to the airport and get through security around 7am. I spend the next couple hours coding on a client project. My plane is delayed 20 minutes. The airport only gives me 2 hours of internet, and it doesn’t work on my phone.
The flight is great. I sit next to a couple that needs to use the bathroom a lot, and I’m in the aisle seat. They wake me up at least twice to go to the lavatory.
We land in Munich a bit before 1pm.
I take an expensive (maybe $12?) train from the airport to the Moosach station which is about a mile from The Tent.
What is The Tent, you ask?
The Tent is an incredible piece of property maintained as a civic institution for young travelers. We’re talking something like 3 or 4 acres of buildings, tents, and open campground.
Yeah, it’s beautiful.
Anyway. I get to the Moosach station with 60+lbs of gear. It is at least 85ºF. I’m wearing a denim jacket, like an asshole. The one mile walk through the München suburb is not highly enjoyable.
You might think from my tone that travel is not always fun and games. And that is true. We have a very romantic image of travel. I’m guilty of this. We talk a lot about the personal growth, cultural learning, and discovery. It might seem like that’s all that happens when you go abroad.
In fact, most of solo travel is a lonely process of problem solving:
Where am I going? What does this sign say? Where do I check in? Why is this old man in a loincloth hovering over me in the dark?
That last one happened to me on a beach in India. Story for another day I think.
I get to The Tent drenched in sweat and relieved to have not gotten lost. It’s not like I have cell service to use the GPS on my phone. I have to download maps and rely on WiFi for location data. It’s pretty effective actually.
Of course, you have to pay at check-in. Of course they only take cash.
Of course, they’re kind enough to let me set up my tent before venturing off to find an ATM.
I find a good spot and set up my two-person, four-season Alpine tent:
I hate following instructions, so this is the first time I’d set up the tent. It was easier than I expected, which I am grateful for. You can see from the brown grass and shade that I did this in the scorching heat.
I find an ATM at a nearby hospital and take out €200.
I pay €99 for a 7-day campground reservation and €25 deposit. Then I settle in and code. I have a beer €2 which is the cheapest thing I’ve bought in Europe.
Dinner is calf liver and onions from Poseidon, a greek restaurant where no one speaks English. They give me a free shot of Schnapps and a huge beer. The liver is sizeable, like three times the size of what you’d get at Ma Maison in Boston. It’s not as well-prepared. They grilled it. I always fry my liver. It’s pretty good though, served with rice in a tomato sauce. They also give me a wilty salad that I drench in oil and vinegar and salt.
Contrary to popular opinion, I sometimes have a hard time making friends. Since I got to The Tent I’ve made two friends. An Austrian man named Martin. He just left this morning for Prague.
Now, I’m sitting across from an Australian woman named Cherise. She’s in town for Oktoberfest. Meeting a friend. Hails from Zanzibar. I used to yell “ZANZIBAR!” at my dogs to make them go away. I never knew it was a real place.
Here are some things I’ve noticed about Germany in my first day:
- Everyone smokes cigarettes. I’m going to die of secondhand smoke.
- The airport has an indoor pod made of glass where people can smoke.
- The airport also has nap pods, which is awesome.
- It’s cheaper than Norway.