Back to Norway and good riddance to driving

After 3 weeks in Atlanta, Diana’s mom is doing much better thanks to lots of rest, the incredible care of her medical team, family and a couple of granddaughters that snuck in for a few visits to hospital. She’s got a long road ahead of her, but her progress has been amazing, and I’m hopeful we’ll see her in Norway this spring.

Yesterday, we started our long trek back to Oslo, which is an alternating series of trips on plans and buses, and got back this afternoon. This was the first time in 4 visits to the Oslo airport that we were able to leave with all our luggage—no lost suitcases or forgotten strollers. And we were able to bring a few more “necessities” back with us this time, like measuring cups and spoons, a vegetable peeler, and an Apple TV.

It again was such a treat to have the Flybussen bus roll up to the last bus stop and know we are just a few flights of stairs away from our apartment—this will never get old, and I’ve just got to find a way to make sure the next place I live (or retire) is right next to a public transportation nexus.

Now that it’s mid-August, our town feels way more alive than it did back in mid July when I would sometimes find myself alone in the grocery store on an afternoon around 4pm. I guess it must be true that Norwegians that the month of July off on vacation.

While I was in Atlanta, I managed to put close to 1000 miles on my sister in-law’s mini-van shuttling kids to a great lego and coding camp I found, and really found myself completely sucked back the horrors of living in a car-opolis. Whether it was having to check three different apps to figure out the fastest way to camp, being both thankful and sad that my kids could be so easily sucked into the backseat DVD player as we drove 30 minutes to camp, searching for parking every time I went somewhere, dealing with a rock that shattered the window and required a $500 repair, there’s just very little I find fun anymore about driving, even if my sister in law has the coolest minivan around (Thanks Julie!). I just find myself being stressed and noticing how the entire city and and beyond must designed around a vehicle first way of life in order to support a car-centric lifestyle.

My travel time in Norway is so different—it’s clear that our town and just about everywhere we go is designed around people. There’s a giant tunnel that routes traffic under our town, making the main street through our town quieter than some of the residential streets in my in-laws neighborhood back in Atlanta. I’ve never seen a traffic jam in Norway, and the automatically collected tolls nearly every highway around Oslo and pay parking must have a lot to do with that—let people who use cars pay for the externalities they cause, and make fast, efficient and affordable public transportation available. It’s hard to overstate how much of an effect this has on the feeling of a place.

The next week is a busy one for us, and really the last of the summer. Maddie and Ada have school orientation on Monday, and we have some great friends (yea Gilheanys!) visiting Oslo for a few days this week, and this weekend, we’ll do the Norway in a Nutshell tour that seems to be a must do on every visitor’s itinerary.

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