Monday, June 23, 2008

Duty Free Rush in Oslo

The first thing I noticed upon landing in Oslo was the entire interior of the airport was made of wood. The second thing I noticed was that the duty free store was next to the baggage claim. And I, my husband, and a crazy French woman were the only ones next to the luggage belt.

"I go to Trondheim," said the French woman to us, like we should care. She showed us her ticket.

"That's nice," we said politely.

"But do I get my bag here? Why is no one here?"

We stared back at the duty free store that the passengers on our plane were now raiding like teenagers that had just turned 21.

"They're all at duty free," I pointed out to the woman.

I turned to my husband, wondering if we too were missing something by not rushing into the duty free store. I had never seen a duty free store location near a baggage claim, so it was a bizarre sight to see Norwegian citizens grabbing wines and beers like there was no tomorrow in Oslo. But I didn't have any Norwegian currency yet and I didn't see an ATM in the entire space. So the duty free was obviously only for the Norwegians. And no one else. It was very bizarre.

When departing Norway from Bergen 10 days later, my husband examined the duty free store now that we knew a bit more about Norway. Basically, the reason is this. In a grocery store, a six pack of beer costs 160 Kroner (over 30 USD). In the duty free store, the same six pack costs 40 Kroner (8 USD). That is how much tax is on alcohol in Norway. Now all the mad rush and location of the duty free store in Oslo (as well as the high consumption of free wine on our flight) made complete sense. Cheers to that.

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