Tuesday 14 December 1999


Pic of the day: Trains, trains everywhere! Even on the front of my first Harry Potter book. It is great, though I suspect I have found out the main plot at page 59. Time will show. It is a children's book, sort of, but more enjoyable for it. This is the kind of book I would have liked to write myself. (I've been told that my style of fiction lends itself well to children's books. I don't think this applies equally to my diary. Parental guidance recommended, or at least a dictionary.)

Trains of thought

Off and bought tickets for the train trip to Oslo and back. Costs a bundle (ca $115) but there's no ad hoc rebates to be had in the holiday season. I still could have had a rebate if I had the frequent railer card, but it costs very nearly what I would save in one year, and there is some paperwork hassle applying for it.

Today was the first time they asked for my name and phone number when I bought my ticket and reservation and paid on the spot. They usually do that only if I call in a reservation beforehand. Perhaps the guy was just inexperienced with the system, or perhaps they want to have a list to see who is missing if the train crashes. The ferry that sank outside the west coast did not have such a list, so we don't know for absolutely sure that there didn't drown some more people who nobody is missing. There's always a fine line between legitimate concern and snooping on people's private life.

The train to Oslo goes December 22nd, which would land me in Oslo at about the same time as Superwoman. Yeah, I know it sounds desperate, but then again we really need the next day for shopping. And I should return on 27th (my birthday!) in the evening. The millenium phase on our computer system starts the 29th, and I usually am sick one day after I return home from Christmas. (Often otherwise too. Her family have meals incessantly, and I try to keep up with them. Many of the meals involve dead animals, popularly known as "meat", which I am quite out of practice with. This fall/winter I have eaten at least one burger a week, so perhaps my digestion will be better prepared. Then again, I've been sick quite a few times already.)


Last time I sat down at McDonalds with a McFeast (beefy burger with raw vegetables) I marvelled at all the young people eating there. The guests were almost exclusively young people, students and below. And they were all slim, or in some cases thin or skinny. There were like two chubby people (grownups) and a slightly overweight me. Even of us three, none were disturbingly obese. The chubbiest one worked there. Probably they don't throw away all the burgers that are left over when the shop closes. Then again, the Asian girls that work there are slim and trim. And they are most of the staff. Perhaps Asian girls don't like burgers (that would explain why the one lone Norwegian was a bit stuffed) or perhaps it's against their religion or something.

I still hope that Burger King will see fit to establish an outlet here in Kristiansand. Not a bad word about McDonalds, but it is pretty near full there. Since some people (like me) turn back if the room seems nearly full, there would probably not be that much fewer customers for McDonalds if there was a Burger King. And also, Burger King's "whoppers" taste better, in my humble opinion. They may not be quite as healthy, but it is not like people eat three meals a day (or even a week, I guess) at these places.


At Oslo Central, there is a very handily placed Burger King just by the central nexus in the great hall. Even so, there is usually room for a hungry traveller, as some of their customers just take the burger and run. There's a whole gallery upstairs, with lots of tables and a nice view over the great hall. An island of near quiet in the bustle that is the heart of our capital. From here, arteries and veins of communication spread throughout the city, the district, and much of the country. People mill around like ants, only prettier. I use to sit down there with a burger and my laptop. Hopefully I will remember to bring my digicam next time.


I love trains. I grew up in a ragged province on the west coast where trains were not applicable. Some wild engineers had once upon a time built a railway line in the south eastern corner of the province, and it is still a tourist attraction, as one of the steepest railroads around. In fact, it goes like a corkscrew through the mountain, when it's not balancing precariously on the edge of the deep chasm. If you're rich and you come to Norway, make sure to visit it. I'd say it is even more mandatory than the railway station in Hell, also a Norwegian piece of railway history.

Modern Norwegian railways are less daring, but the recent introduction of the "Signatur" trains have brought a new and self-confident smile to the faces of the employees at NSB, the Norwegian State Railways. "Cheaper than plane" commented the clerk when I paid for my tickets (and at this time of the year he was probably right). "And just as fast" he added. That's not much of an overstatement, especially in winter. Oslo's airport, Gardermoen, is not too reliable in winter. Snow or supercooled rain can more or less put it out of play for hours. I hear that it is among the better airports in Europe. I think this says a lot about Europe.

The new trains are fast and comfortable, taking you from town center to town center. They are also stylish and modern. For instance you are now supplied with electricity for your portable computer, though there is no Internet access yet. :) But I'll report further if I get there, hopefully bringing my digicam. The train to Oslo on 22nd is the old type, but I have time enough. Even if I've finished my Harry Potter books by then, I probably have something else to read. Or I may sleep most of the time. I'm almost famous for that. I fall asleep very easily on train, bus or in a car. Actually, almost anywhere there's not Internet access or a good computer game, and sometimes even then! This evening, for instance, I fell asleep in front of my computer and slept for almost half an hour. Now posting in panic.

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