Monday, July 25, 2011

The sad truth is that nothing is the same.

I'll preface this post by saying that I was lucky enough to spend a week in Norway in 2005. I was taking tourism marketing classes abroad outside of London when a few friends and I decided to visit my extended family in Oslo and another little coastal town.

Oddly enough, the day after classes started in London on July 5, 2005, the city erupted in a terrorist attack of its own. I wrote a little about that here and also wrote a column when I was still in college about it, in The Plainsman. I'm going to post the clip as soon as I find it.

Aside from Norway being an obscenely cheap flight on Ryan Air, and the lovely family I had to visit there, another big draw to visiting the city was its relative safety. With London and Madrid both experiencing devastating attacks within a year of each other, Scandinavia seemed blissfully off the grid. And it was - absolutely lovely.

We went sailing in beautiful weather to different spots on the coast. We stayed up until midnight with with brightly lit skies and went sailing in the middle of the night. We ate seafood stew and amazing cheese and caught up with relatives. One of the absolute highlights of my trip was visiting downtown Oslo. My cousins - aside from looking like European royalty - were incredibly welcoming hosts. They took us all over - we saw the government buildings that were attacked Friday, the national museum, the royal palace and lots of gorgeous parks and green spaces with the most amazing public sculptures.

I hate that this happened in Oslo. Just like I hate that it happened in NYC and London and Madrid. Regardless of whether it's Norway's Oklahoma City (which it clearly was) or Norway's 9/11, the fact still remains that we live in trying times. No country is immune and no population is safe. It's a bit of a dark thought, but true nonetheless. Norway, I am thinking of you and remembering the amazing experience I had.

I hate it that there are so many bitterly opposing (and alarmingly drastic) opinions at play there - and in so many places, in Europe, here, everywhere... I hate it that this happened to your beautiful country, and mostly, I hope that this doesn't change the overall open, accepting nature of your people.

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