As the autumn starts rolling in here, let me present you the summer feeling of one colorful neighborhood of Oslo. As long as it seems natural, that is: before it starts raining away or snowing :)) Welcome to Grønland (the same name as the country of Greenland in Norwegian, but this one is in the centre of Oslo).
Why colorful? First, there are truly many colors here – house painting, fruit and veggies in the immigrants’ shops, clothes in shop windows. The second reason is that the word “colorful” (fargerik) in Norwegian stands also for “multicultural”. And there is no other neighborhood in Oslo where cultures are mixed with such intensity as in Grønland.
Grønland is a super sentral neighborhood, starting just behind the central station. But it used to have a bad fame because of its ghetto-like character. For many years Grønland has been a neighborhood of numerous immigrants’ shops where people would come to from the whole city, ethnical cafes and restaurants, many cultural clubs and unions, some mosques (three in one neighborhood), and a lot of non-Western looking people hanging out on the streets.
Lately, the statistics have shown that actually 70% percent of Grønland population are Norwegians, so why does it look so… non-Norwegian? Well, the housing prices went up pressing up people to buy flats in other areas, while cultural clubs, cafes and shops stayed. And so, many of those hanging out on the streets and around mosques don’t live here but come exactly for this – to hang around and meet people.
I have lived in three addresses in Grønland and have never had any bad experience. Actually, I felt safer here than at the wealthy outskirts of the city. Because here there are always people on the street, even in 3am when you are coming back from a party. While on the outskirts I experienced someone trying to get into my window while I was sleeping (in the wealthy areas the bands used to rob houses). So after that incident it didn’t feel so nice to stay alone in a huge house while the family left for vacations.
Grønland is not to everyone’s taste, but I like it! I used to live in the flat with the view of two skyscrapers (while there were not so many tall buildings in Oslo). On of them is Radisson hotel (on the photo below). The river Akerselva gets into the fjord here, covered by the stone. On the river I found a “wooden boat union”, the shield pronouncing it so. I have never gone down to the water, but this time I did and found some nice views, boats and playful reflections.
It seems that the city politicians have made some attempts to lift this neighborhood. The Vaterland park has got garden pots and boxes, cheerful flags and chess field and figures.
I already mentioned about this trend in Oslo: garden boxes around the city. In this park there are many of them, and I went around checking the content. Mostly, tomatoes, peppers, squash and some beans. I wonder who does the harvesting here? :))
You can walk a nice walk by the river, starting from Grønland, up to Grunerløkka and further all the way up to the woods in the North. In Grønland there are some new office buildings, playing up against trees and water.
I used to have mixed feelings about Grønland during my first years of living in Oslo. Yes, it is bustling and full of life, but I felt very self-conscious there like everyone was staring at me. After having lived there in several places, I changed my attitude. It was a nice experience, and though I prefer Grunerløkka now, I still like to get back to Grønland, to go to its hidden Teaterplassen, the Theatre square, to drink coffee in its atmosphere, to eat in the restaurants of Grønland and just walk its streets.
Recently I’ve read a negative report about Grønland in some Russian girl’s Instagram in Oslo – who actually never set her foot in Grønland. And it made me annoyed and sad. How can you pass on bad stereotypes, saying that it is dangerous, full of immigrants, drug addicts and alcoholics – if you yourself never cared to check how it is? I mean, we are free to like or not to like some places – but giving them a bad reputation without even seeing them is just stupid. So here is my contribution to the positive image of Grønland, if you want to call it so :)). It is a very interesting part of Oslo, unpredictable (in a good sense), lively and full of potential (as the super-modern neighborhood of Bjørvika is just behind it).
Exploring against stereotyping, that is my way! Are there some areas in your city that remind you of Grønland? Any neighborhoods whose charm is different than the rest of the city?