This is one very natural question I get from my friends. I would ask it too. “Do you miss Oslo?” And it would be more polite to answer that yes, of course, I miss some parts, but how can be I honest then? If my sincere reaction is: “Miss what? Snow, icy sidewalks, that long dark period of year called winter? Empty streets, lonely evenings, gray skies and gray faces?” Well, it is different for everyone, but this is the first thought that comes to MY mind. So nope, I don’t miss it, I just can’t :))
In the end, it is all not about finding the perfect place – since it doesn’t exist. But to find the place that is right for you. Your place under the sun. There are people who would love the introverted culture of Norway, who miss this chance to spend long days and weeks alone, without anyone asking them a question. I just don’t happen to be that person. So I am not able to appreciate it either. I am more of the Southern soul, who loves a spontaneous dinner date, a chat with the the neighbor and the cashier man in supermarket. So I found my right place. Even after some weeks here I felt more at home than after years in Norway. There is nothing right or wrong with any of these places. It is just that some are more like you, and some are less.
I may not be the first person who came up with this title. But I haven’t seen it before – so I use it 🙂 Devoting this post to my favorite neighborhood in the whole Oslo (and, let’s be honest, in the whole of Norway). Grunerløkka which we locals call shortly and affectionately “Løkka”.
It is interesting, how we talk about a thing, using the same word – but we have different meanings behind it. And still we think that we are talking about one and the same thing! Take October, for example.
I say October and we think about different things, maybe. Some say, pumpkins and Halloween, some say, rains and hygge. Somewhere in the Mediterranean they still go to the beach in October. While here, in Norway, it feels like a Barcelonian winter: chilly and wet.
October has arrived and I definitely feel it. There is no slight glide like between August and September. When it is still all late summer/early autumn, with blurry borders like the tree shadows in the morning light. October is more distinct. It is getting dark around 8pm and we all know for sure: winter is coming, and darkness is coming. It is getting cold, and we pull out our warm jackets and solid scarfs. There is no more wardrobe flirting that September does: one day – light leather jacket, another – no jacket at all. October doesn’t fool around. Jackets and coats, please.
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?
You can start throwing your tomatoes at me – but I will go and say this thing: I am happy it is autumn already!
I am not one of those blogger babes who start talking about the cozy knitwear, pleated scarfs and pumpkin spice latte with the first days of September. But living so long in Norway has turned me into a true Scandinavian, I notice :)). And all the Norwegian girls I hear sigh together: “It is getting more autumn like, oh so nice! Ja ja, mm.” Yes, I am one of those who pulls out my favorite sweater and starts wearing it with everything (like a kid). And seeing gloomy skies can mean a sudden dive of the mood (just the hormones, I explain to myself) – but it also means no need to run out, but a chance to open my favorite fashion blog, or just any blog, to find that cardigan and socks, and the cookies hidden somewhere in the kitchen.
I know that in some weeks I will regret this enthusiasm. When the autumn sets in for real, with winds and rains, with gloomy skies and wet shoes – I will pronounce some f-words and wish it were all summer again. But so far, I want to embrace autumn like my sister.