In Oslo, Safe & Sound

“I think there’s been a bombing in Oslo,” Rachel said as she walked out of a souvenir shop in central Norway.  We had left Oslo Friday morning for a tour of the fjords and had just finished the ferry portion.  “You sure?”  I asked.  “Well, there were a lot of ambulances on the television at the square we were at last night; and I saw the words ‘bomb’ and ‘Oslo.”  We got on the bus to our next train and heard some people talking about it as word spread and families started calling everyone we were with.  There had been a bombing in Oslo, but we didn’t know anything beyond that.  We hopped on the train to Bergen and didn’t think too much about it with hopes that everyone back in Oslo was alright.

As we got on the sleeper train around midnight, I was able to pull up The New York Times and it said that there were 16 dead.  That’s when I learned that someone had gone to the Labour Party camp’s island and started shorting random campers.  I felt sick in my stomach.  The train pulled away from the station and the internet was gone.  Rachel was already asleep in the bed above me.

We arrived back in Oslo at 6:30 AM, we saw the papers and they said that 80 were dead with some horrifying pictures, but the papers were in Norwegian.  I felt more sick to my stomach.  We went to our hotel to pick up our bags and sat on the couch for our first internet access since Thursday night.  People who knew we were in Oslo had sent concerned messages.  As we were working on our e-mails, a man from China came down and turned on the news.  When he saw that the new count was 80 people dead, he looked at me and in broken English asked, “80 people dead?”  “Yes,” I said.  “Nooo!” he said along with pain in his eyes and frustrated noises.

After breakfast, we started walking to our couchsurfing host Alf’s place to catch some extra sleep, which took us right by where the bombing happened in Oslo.  Our hotel was only a quarter mile away.  We got to the main street and looked to our left where the parliament building was just a hundred feet away and the palace for the royal family was at the end of the street.  We had sat in the front yard of the parliament building and walked up to the palace on Thursday.  Now there was police tape around the parliament building with eight military guards with automatic weapons, the front yard was closed, and there were military vehicles parked blocking the street up to the palace.

As we turned down the street where the bombing took place, there was more police tape and more military guards with automatic weapons.  And as we made our way around the military blockade, we passed military guard after military guard and building with broken glass after building with broken glass.  After surveying all of this, I had to thank God that half the city is out of town on vacation.

Video of Road Barricade and Man Breaking Out Glass:

Rachel and I are safe and sound, but please keep Oslo and Norway in your prayers.

7 Responses to “In Oslo, Safe & Sound”

  1. Helen Quiring July 23, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Whew! I had not expected all this to happen while you were in Norway! Thanks for your detailed account of events from your (great blogger) point of view.
    The first I heard of the bombing was a post on FB from my Swedish friend bemoaning CNN’s slow coverage of the event on Friday morning. I immediately went to the notes I had written about your trip plan. I read with relief for July 22 that you planned to be on a train looking at fiords which sounded a lot better than the plan for July 20 which was simply Oslo.
    Thanks for reassuring us so quickly with your e-mail. Love, Mom

    • RTQ July 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

      Thanks mom.

  2. Graham July 23, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    I heard about this from CNN right before we were boarding our plane from Chicago to Madrid and immediately thought of you and Rachel. So glad you are safe! Of course this is terrible news and I had not had a chance to get internet until just now. They thought the count was 16 when we boarded in Chicago but reading your post that has apparently gone up. :( Not good at all.

    • RTQ July 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

      Thanks Graham. Appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I’m praying for a safe and good trip for you all.

      RTQ

  3. Kristen McGregory July 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Robert and Rachel SO Happy to hear you are safe. What a trajegy and so very hard it must be for yall to have returned and seen the place you had just been at in that state. Prayers for you both in safe travels and FUN Wonderful Memories as you continue on your trip!!!

    • RTQ July 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

      Thanks Kristen. Great to hear from you. I hope you are well!

      RTQ

Trackbacks/Pingbacks:

  1. We got a little bored on the airplane | Graham Brenna - July 23, 2011

    […] for answers. My first thought was of my friend Robert Quiring who is traveling in Norway this week. Read his blog post for a up close and personal account of his close call. He was at the building that was bombed just the day before! I thank God he and his friend are safe […]

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