30 May 2007

who's Oslo are we talking about?

I just read this travel review about Oslo...

Well... what can I say? I'm amused? Confused? Was he actually in the same city I've been living in for the past decade? All a bit over the top, methinks...

Anyway, here are some excerpts from the article I found particularly amusing... and my comments...
Like his fellow crewmen, he looked like a male model in a construction worker outfit.

Uh, please tell me where these model-construction workers are because I have yet to see any. The contruction workers I see are oldish, uglyish, and Polish... (and they barely speak Norwegian, let alone English)...

All of the other patrons were fit, tall, and fashionably dressed, with impossibly high cheekbones. Three-quarters of them were blond. Think for a moment of the kind of crowd you see swarming around an all-you-can-eat buffet in Las Vegas, and then imagine the extreme opposite.

Again, probably "right place at the right time" combined with the fact that the particular restaurant he visited is a bit more for the "beautiful people" rather than "your regular average Norwegian," who may not be (OK, is not) as fit and tall and fashionable and blond as the writer has seen. I wonder what he would have written had he visited, say, Asylet. Or Ivars Kro. The "typical Norwegian" does not go to Solsiden...

A glass of house white costs $12, a package of muffin mix at the supermarket $6. I even found a store that was selling dish towels—nice dish towels, but dish towels all the same—for $47. Each.

I'm not sure where he found dish towels for 47 bucks (282 NOK), but whoever is dumbass enough to pay that much for a fucking dishtowel gets what he/she deserves. Like getting ripped off. You can probably get them for 1/10th that price at IKEA, for fuck's sake... (OK - I had to look it up - you can get a dishtowel for 5 NOK at IKEA...

I don't know anything about the price of muffin mix though, as I don't buy that kind of crap, but you can actually get a glass of wine for less than 72 NOK many places.

For one thing, Norwegians don't spend all their time talking about real estate.

Has he talked to many Norwegians?

Laura and I spent our last twenty-four hours in Oslo living the ultimate Norwegian day. In the morning, we walked up and down Bygdøy Allé—the main street in an upscale part of town with the amusing name of Frogner—drooling over the storefront displays of custom kitchens. (No one does kitchens like the Scandinavians, not even the Italians.)

For lunch, we grabbed a baguette with seafood salad and smoked salmon, then walked through Frogner's leafy streets to the Artesia Spa, which was also designed by Snøhetta. Laura had a facial. I had a massage and afterward sat in the steam room (which was all white marble and right angles) before proceeding to the sauna. I poured successive ladles of water onto the hot rocks, dunked myself in the cold-water tub, and headed to the pool. It had an infinity edge, and beyond it, projected onto the wall, was a film depicting underwater life. The effect was eerie and womblike, and highly relaxing.

We continued on to Grünerløkka, which everyone had told us was the new and hip part of Oslo—until we actually got there and were informed that Grünerløkka is over and that the real action is now in Grønland.

This is the ultimate Norwegian day? That's news to me. It sounds more to me like having a posh day on the town, something that you can do in most other big cities, but, whatever...

There was a three-bedroom flat with maple floors and a clean white kitchen. That one, I thought, and pondered the joy of purchasing a home in a land where European appliances come standard.


Oslo is exquisitely clean and safe.

Again... huh? He wrote about Grünerløkka and Grønland, but did he really look around? Or is the amount of garbage on the streets of Oslo less than what he's used to? Perhaps he was also in Madrid recently, where the sidewalks that are used as both an ashtray and a deposit for dog shit. Anything after that must seem "clean"...

As for safety, I wonder if he and his precious Laura heard of all the violent rapes that had been going on for a while. Or about the gang wars. Probably not...

well isn't that lovely?

I hope nobody got infected... yuck. I also hope that this guy didn't know he was infected before getting on both flights. Because if he did know, you then have the question of to what extent he was actually planning on infecting others and then all the bioterrorism FUD... just what we all need... (NOT)

US in TB flight infection warning
US health officials have quarantined a man who may have exposed passengers on board two trans-Atlantic flights to a dangerous form of tuberculosis.

Officials say crew and passengers on the same flights, from Atlanta to Paris and from Prague to Montreal this month, should be checked for the infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified the illness as "extensively drug-resistant TB".

It is the first such federal quarantine order to be issued in over 44 years.

The last such order was issued in 1963, to quarantine a patient with smallpox, according to the CDC.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that usually attacks the lungs. It is spread through the air and can lead to symptoms such as chest pain and coughing up blood.

There were an estimated 1.6 million deaths from TB in 2005, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

'At risk'

The infected man travelled from Atlanta to Paris on 12 May on Air France flight 385. He returned to the North America on CSA flight 104 from Prague to Montreal on 24 May.

He continued his journey in the US by car and is now under quarantine in hospital, according to the WHO.

CDC officials said the man was potentially infectious during this period and are recommending that crew members and passengers on board the same flights seek medical attention.

"We want to make sure that we have done everything we possibly can to identify people who could be at risk," said Dr Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC.

TB is rare in the US. Last year there were 13,767 recorded cases or 4.6 cases per 100,000 Americans.

About 1.2% of cases in the US are "multidrug-resistant", and can withstand antibiotics commonly used to treat the illness, according to CDC statistics.

The "extensively drug-resistant" TB is more dangerous. Medical treatment can cost $500,000 (£250,000) or more, CDC officials say.

24 May 2007

misunderstanding local culture...

Naked US tourist shocks German city
BERLIN (Reuters) - A naked American tourist raised eyebrows when he went for a walk through a German city and told police he thought this was acceptable behavior in Germany.

"We have been having unusually hot weather here lately but, all the same, we can't have this," a spokesman for police in the southern city of Nuremberg said Tuesday. "The man said he thought walking around naked was tolerated in Germany."

Many Germans enjoy nude sunbathing which is allowed in public parks. The 41-year-old was carrying his clothes in a bag when police stopped him Monday evening after complaints from pedestrians.

The tourist was not under the influence of drugs, said police. They made him get dressed and pay a 200 euro ($269) deposit pending his investigation for indecent behavior.

sometimes you have to wonder...

I found this amusing make your own warning labels site and started speculating about the real reason for the dumbass liquids ban...

21 May 2007

well, that sucked...

We got back home from Madrid very late last night. It was probably the suckiest last day of a trip anyone could possibly have...

Madrid Barajas International Airport has taken the honor of acheiving first place on my least favorite airports list. What a dump of an airport. No sense order whatsoever, and you had to struggle to find anyone who could speak at least two complete sentences of decent English. This is an international airport with heavy traffic, mind you, not some small town in the middle of nowhere, where the inhabitants have never gone further than 5 km from their own homes. They're doing a lot of fixing-up there, and OK, fine. But they couldn't even manage to keep at least one proper restaurant/café open (and we (at least I) hadn't had a proper meal since breakfast). At least when Oslo Airport was being reconstructed, they managed to keep a café up and running. And we eventually did find some cafés at another terminal (nobody pointed us out to those when we asked if there was anyplace where we could get food). The food was substandard though. Quite shocking when you're in a country that likes to pride itself on its cuisine...

The only positive thing about the place was the nice lady at the tax-free gourmet food shop where I bought some chorizo and manchego cheese. She fed me with samples of chorizo and ham and cheese and even gave me a free chocolate bar because I bought so much stuff there :-)

Getting back to Oslo wasn't that much better... there were lots of flights that came in at the same time as ours... too many people, too little space, we were the only ones going through the red zone as usual - there was a nice bottleneck at the green zone hahaha, random checks and all. But for the first time since I can remember, we were actually within quota. We were sure we were over...

Anyway, and then the train ride into town... a train overstuffed with people and luggage. We got on at the last few seconds, and people inside were just standing there like a bunch of retards, not moving when the train staff was yelling at them to make way for the last passengers. And my being hit in the back and nearly twisting my ankle from being shoved by the stupid bitch as she was trying to stuff me into the train because of the idiots who were too dumbstruck to move. Sheesh...

Oh, the trip was nice, but very exhausting (mostly because of the extreme heat)... I could use some more sleep but I have to be at work... blah... proper trip report will come eventually...

14 May 2007

St. Lucia Wetland Park is no longer...

...it is now called iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System
Date: 13 May 2007
Title: New name for SA's first World Heritage site

By Bongani Mlangeni; tel: (012) 314 2404

South Africa's first World Heritage Site, the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, has been renamed in an effort to give the park a name that better reflects its unique identity and sense of place.

The new name is iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk announced on Sunday.

"We are delighted to have a new name that will take the park into the future.

"This will be integrated with the launch later this year of our new branding linked to specific marketing, advertising and public relations activities," said Minister van Schalkwyk.

The name has been approved by the National Cabinet and was gazetted this past Friday in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act and will be effective from the 01 November 2007.

He added that the 220 000 hectare Wetland Park had outgrown the name of St Lucia, linked to the town and lake of the same name.

The consolidated boundaries of the park now include a third of the length of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, and destinations such as Kosi Bay, Lake Sibaya, Sodwana Bay and uMkhuze Game Reserve.

"In the broad consultations throughout the past two years it was clear that there was overwhelming support to change the name.

"It was widely accepted that the description of Wetland Park be retained and be linked with a descriptive indigenous word," the minister said.

The park has improved its infrastructure and increased a number of species in the game resulting in economic growth.

According to the department there's a significant growth in tourism beds in the region including a 60 percent growth in the number of establishments as a direct result of the development in the park and marketing value added through its World Heritage status. - BuaNews