It takes only three days to be away – that I come back as a total Oslo patriot. I suddenly discover this: I love this city. I am even surprised. With all the sadness and hardships I had to experience here, with all my negative reports about Oslo – here I am, calling it one of my favorite cities. Well, hello!
Last weekend saw us driving to Bergen. 500 km over the mountain, as they say it here. In any other country 500 km is a fast, boring and anonymous ride on the motorway. Not in Norway. No way in Norway. Here it takes 8 hours. Yes, 8 hours of roads through villages with funny names (and speed limit of 40 km/h). Up on the mountain plateau, Hardangervidda, which is also a national park. Beaten by the rains, down through many tunnels, along the fjords, next to waterfalls, sharp rocks and rocky rivers. Mysterious and breathtaking landscapes.
Here I understand why the notion of humble (ydmyk) is so popular in this culture. Living between these high mountains, dangerous rocks, deep waters and dark rains – how does it feel to be a human? Well, humble. Where would the arrogance come from when you are reminded every day about how tiny you are. This is the Norwegian nature at its best. It is not about bunnies and flowers here. At times it can even feel overwhelming.
Want a quick recipe for life? If you feel bored in one place – move. If you want to discover how amazing your place can be – move. If you want to start noticing again all the beauty of your old place – move.
Since we started moving plans for real, Oslo has become so amazing to me. I can just walk without my headphones now, listening to the people talking, to the singing notes of everyday Norwegian. Listening to the fountains and dogs barking. Noticing all the small things that make this place beautiful. Lights in the dark autumn evening. Hipster shop signs. Friends smiling to each other. City bikes. Blue trams. Bars and cafes of my neighborhood.
The more I realize that moving is for real, the more I come to see the things I will miss. I think so. But there is one thing I will not miss. Or will I?
I have started telling the story of us planning to sell our flat. Now let me present the results of our hard work (cleaning, fixing and painting). I especially enjoyed the part of being a stylist :)) I got use for all my Scandinavian inspiration and went for the modern color scheme of light pink and eucalyptus green with some black and white details. Let’s see how it turned out to be!
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).
We have engaged ourselves in the time and energy consuming project: selling our flat. Who has been through this once? Raise up your hand 🙂 We just have started and already Carles, my man, is sighing with exhaustion: “Cannot we just sell it just the way it is? Like in Spain?”
In Spain they seem to make little fuss out of selling a property. Wherever we go, we always stop by the property agencies and study the announcements that hang in their windows. So it seems that in Spain they just walk into a flat, just as it is, take some photos (with the bad mobile camera) – often dark, full of messy details, clothes hanging to dry, dishes in the sink and all – and paste them into their announcement.
After Norwegian experience of buying/selling a flat, this attitude makes us laugh. Lousy photos, the process of selling can take up a year, series of of visitors over time coming to see the flat. Those visits quite unfussy too, the owners show the place just as it is, without fixing it or hiding the clutter. The method, almost opposite to the Norwegian way. So how do they do it in Norway?
Some months ago I saw a lovely post about the old signs in France. Lover of all things French and pretty vintage, I made myself a promise to go on a photowalk in Oslo and search for the old signs. Somehow I had an idea in my mind that the old signs of my neighborhood Grunerløkka were to be preserved and protected. Quickly I had to find out that either the rules have changed – or I remembered the wrong facts 🙂 There were no old signs – well, just a couple of them.
But I was already eager to set my lens focused on signs – and so I collected all the signs I considered worthy :)) They all are to be found in this hipster, relaxed, trendy neighborhood of Oslo – called Grunerløkka (where I happen – and am happy – to live). It used to be a cheap scary area which went through gentrification some years ago and now it is both cool and expensive to move in here. It used to be a place of many independent shops, bars and cafes, but now they give way to the bigger store chains and coffee houses. So some signs you see here can be unique and some are quite international. Now let’s walk – and follow the signs!
Where to find summer in the city? There are parks and botanical gardens, there are promenades by the sea and walks along the river. Some cities have beaches, some have lakes. Oslo is lucky to have both: lakes, beaches and the waterfront by the fjord. But I want to share with you my secret place, the hidden jewel of this city – kolonihage, i.e. colonial garden.
There are several of them around Oslo, well hidden and not visited by others than their users. I have discovered two and am totally swept by this idea. One kolonihage lies not far from my home and this spring I went there on the photo hunt. It was during the long weekend in late May when many left the city, and so it was quite and peaceful. The weather was warm and friendly, and made it perfect for tranquil walks around the gardens. Join me on this tour of early summer idyll!