I was excited for the opportunity to see another relative that I have been in contact with, but never actually met. While Petter and I were having lunch, he received a phone call from Aud, my third cousin, who lives in Oslo. She would like to meet us, and has invited us to join she and her friends during the walk through downtown Oslo in memory of the tragic attacks on the community last Friday.
First of all, if the news at home makes Oslo sound like a "war zone" of sorts, please don't believe it for a moment. The city is very much alive. People are out and about the city, and the streets are bustling.
We took the bus and metro (subway) downtown, both packed with people- many carrying bouquets of flowers. When we emerged from the Metro to ground level, the streets were already filled with people.
We met Aud at a cafe near where the march was set to begin. It was great to finally get to meet her, and to meet some of her friends. Very nice people.
By this time the streets were really filling, so we made our way to an area near where the march was to begin that would commence through downtown and end at Oslo Domkirken. Standing shoulder to shoulder, in the distance we could faintly hear the prime minister addressing the people of Norway and the world. Everyone was holding flowers that they held high. Word soon came that the planned march had been called off due to too many people, but the crowds marched anyway.
The streets were packed, I did my best to keep with people that I knew, and fortunately they kept track of me too.. As far as I could see in front or behind me was a sea of people. Some estimates indicate there were 150,000 people, while others closer to 200,000.
It was an absolutely amazing experience. Many that I met seemed apologetic that this incident was in some way degrading my experience of Norway. In actuality, the opportunity to share this moment with the people of Oslo is a time I will never forget.