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Travel stories and tips from Norway. What do the latest employment numbers mean?.

I’m in Norway bicycling for six days with my son, Michael. We’re clients of a travel company called Backroads. We’ve been with them before and biked through Austria, Slovenia, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Croatia and the Czech Republic. Backroads is great because their tour guides pick the prettiest places to bike, and the quaintest places to stay.

Traveling to Norway involves airports and planes. That means crowds, delays, and cancelled flights. Two rules: Don’t check luggage. Expect delays. Tight connections are not wise.

Our KLM/Delta flight to Amsterdam left an hour+ late because the incoming flight was late. Take early morning flights.

I’m writing this sitting somewhere remote in the Amsterdam airport waiting for a space to park our plane so we can get on a bus that will take us to the airport. Yes, as bus. A quaint touch in one of Europe’s biggest airports.

We’re meant to board a connecting flight to Oslo in several nano-seconds. I have my fingers crossed. You can’t get direct flights to Oslo because Norway is tiny — five and a half million people.

The Wi-Fi didn’t work on our KLM/Delta flight. Which was annoying since we were sitting in pricey business class. The KLM lie-flat beds are too narrow, but could be designed to be much wide, and hence more comfortable. I’d hate to be one of those “big” people I see  in airports.

We ran about half a mile from our “gate” to Passport Control which we didn’t need, since we going onto Oslo, but they stamped our passport, checked that we were not terrorists and then we ran another half a mile to the gate for Oslo. There was no “gate,” just another bus filling up with people huffing and puffing from their run.

No sweat, the bus sat there, waiting on more stragglers. We could have spared the energy.

I suggested to our bus driver that we had a plane to catch and would he hurry, please. He told me to be quiet. He said if I didn’t, he would call the police and I’d never be allowed into Amsterdam again. One of my fellow passengers told me “This wasn’t a normal welcome to Amsterdam.”

Amsterdam Airport is called Schiphol. I don’t know how to pronounce it, either. Schiphol is one ginormous building. That means it will take you an hour to get to your connecting gate. There is no train and there are no people carriers.

On the flight to Oslo, the stewardess gave me a “Casual Carrot” drink. Was it healthy? I asked.

She replied, “It is meant to be healthy. That’s why it tastes so awful.” The Casual Carrot is a combination of carrot, pumpkin (?) and mango.”

Oslo is an hour and a bit from Amsterdam.

Oslo airport is the perfect airport. Modern, clean, small, handleable and sporting two fast trains to the city. We caught the cheaper one, which everybody and their uncle seemed to prefer. It took 45 minutes to get to downtown for $12. It’s amazing being on a train which makes so little noise and has such great views of the gorgeous Norwegian countryside.

Since I’m no good at predicting where stocks are going, I think I’ll try for travel writer. I’d never be short of funny, gruesome stories.

The major problem with being a travel writer is there are so few places left to travel to: Russia, Belarus, Egypt, China, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Hungary, Burma. All these places are now ruled by a dictator who randomly locks up people they don’t like.

I’m not big on democracy, since I could run the place better if I were king. Since that’s unlikely to happen any time soon, I’d rather opt for the chaotic insanity of democracy. Not only reporters. But also normal people — like the people in Moscow who carried blank signs at a demonstrations.

Oslo is a surprise

The city fathers figured they were bypassed by tourists. They figured a world class museum would do it. Boy, were they right. In June they opened the brand-new National Museum. It’s not New York’s Met, but it’s huge.

You could easily spend a week there and not see a fifth of what they got. They have 47,000 pieces, including Edward Munch’s Scream:

and  plenty of his other paintings. Munch is Norwegian. They’ve also got room full of trolls. My favorite:

Norway is amazing

Tiny, but rich with oil, fishing and great infrastructure. My favorite new project is a tunnel for ships and ferries which they’re building.

 For more, click here.

Urgent Travel Tips

+ All flights are late. If you check your bags, they won’t make it. All I hear on this trip is gruesome stories of lost luggage. Some for days. Some for weeks.

+ Label your phone and your laptop with your name, address and phone number. The TSA does not want your stuff. Thousands of phones and laptops are left behind each day at airport security checks.

If you yours and it has your name on it, they will page you over the airport’s public address system — as happened to my extremely grateful son. He got his laptop back which he left in the x-ray machine.

+ When you get there, ask your hotel for a bigger room. They’ve always got a bigger one, for a few dollars upgrade charge. Bargain on that charge.

+ Staying more than day, check AirBnb.

+ Drink water. Lots of it. Or you’ll cramp like I’ve been doing.

Don’t do stupid

+ If you get on Donald Trump’s mailing list, you” never get off. You will receive 25 begging emails a day. I received four just while I was writing this blog.

+ If you gave money to a Democratic politician, you will receive begging emails from many different candidates, most of whom you don’t know.

+ If you give your correct iPhone mobile number to vendor, you will be bombarded with text messages cents off coupons for things you definitely don’t need. You’ll never get off their list. Every day I receive “A link for today’s private investment meeting.” I’ll be pitched sure-fire real estate deal. I don’t know how I got on that list. And I don’t know how to get off it.

Covid is as contagious as ever

Kids in outside day camp are getting covid. A recent inside wedding infected 85% of the guests. I don’t make this up. Wear a mask indoors. This is the best one:

It’s called a Kimberly-Clark PROFESSIONAL N95 Pouch Respirator (53358), NIOSH-Approved. I like it because it doesn’t fog my glasses. Click here.

How long does it take?

The first time: Two hours.

The second time: Five minutes.

Employment booms

528,000 jobs were created, versus 250,000 expected. You could argue that all those unexpected jobs mean the economy is booming. Hence no recession.

You could also argue these were workers taking second jobs to make ends meet (because of the inflation)  not new workers entering the labor force.

Or you could argue it’s a statistical mistake having to do with seasonable adjustments they make to the numbers.

The Fed has thought the labor market is tight, hence producing higher wages and inflation. But
all those new jobs means inflation is maybe ebbing. Maybe the next Fed rate increase will be 25 basis points, not the expected 75 points. And that will be good for stocks.

One month’s report doesn’t make a trend.

I wouldn’t go crazy buying equities. Caution is the word of the day.

Two lovely thoughts

See you soon. — Harry Newton