The Signs of Oslo

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!

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In the Northern Gardens

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!

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Oslove: Italian Inspiration

I continue sharing my love for Oslo and its neighborhoods (you can see other posts in these series through the tag “barrios” in my blog). Today I want to share a pretty neighborhood of St. Hanshaugen which seems to be inspired by Italian cities, especially by Rome. I see it in the classical forms of facades, roundness of arches and buildings, in the cascade of stairs and the color palette.

So join me for the summer photowalk through this neighborhood and let me know if it gives you the same reminiscence.

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Oslove: Everything That Moves

I came from Rome with postcards of everything, inspired throughout to my fingertips. Among other things I shared was my collection of Everything That Moves. I don’t know how, but looking through my older photos of Oslo brought me to a simple insight: Oslo has no less postcard-worthy bikes, scooters and small cars. Isn’t it strange that you have to travel to a new place – so that the treasures of your own place can be discovered by you anew?

We get so used to the same town, the same streets. So we travel to break away from the routine. And traveling away seems not only to provide such a break – but also to bring a new inspiration that can be found on the same old streets. Interesting!

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Scandi Style: Your Favorite Thing

Once in Ukraine I bought a bread with the name “Danish bread”. I am sure, there was nothing Danish about it, the producers just wanted to give it a fancy name. I was a student back then, just 20 years old, who had never travelled outside of Ukraine, except to Russia. The name of the bread made me wonder: “What do I know about Denmark? And Scandinavia?” I tried to make a mental list in my head. And was always messing up the capitals (“Oslo is the capital of Finland, and Helsinki – of Sweden?”). Ok, so Denmark is easy. It’s Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid and H. C. Andersen. Sweden is Astrid Lindgren and Pippi Longstocking (I was a literature student and it was easier to name books than IKEA. I had no idea about IKEA then). Norway? Ok, fjords. And Finland – just sauna and that’s it?

I still remember the kind of hunger I felt – hunger to fill in my blanks about that part of the world. I had no idea then that I could end up living in Scandinavia. And those blanks would be filled, with overflow actually 🙂 Already as a child, I had loved Scandinavian fairytales, Moomin trolls by Tove Jansson, H.C. Andersen – and I wonder if this could be a secret reason why I came to live here in the North, though I have never dreamt about it explicitly. Maybe, it was my subconscious dream 🙂

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A Blooming Festival of Spring

The spring in Norway seems to be the most unpredictable of seasons. One day you wear a winter jacket, the next day you sit in the park with only a bikini on. So it looks like both people and nature try to make the most of it and catch every opportunity. For people – to enjoy life, for nature – to bloom. It is unbelievable how much comes up in such a short time. Wasn’t it all white and cold here just a couple of months ago, lasting like forever? And now everything that can bloom – blooms. The nature seems to be in a hurry like it knows that the season is short 🙂

In spring we all become botanists and a huge interest for nature wakes up in everyone owning a mobile camera. People stream to the parks and gardens, take the photos of cherry trees in blossom and tulips, either available in fields or modest patches. My favorite place to observe the season changes is the botanical garden of Oslo. However, it is not only I who remembers it these days. On a nice sunny day there are crowds wanting to take a pic of that alley with white and pink blossoming trees. I came on a Sunday evening and there were still enthusiasts waiting in line to take a photo. So I stayed in a shade and took photos of some shy blue flowers. Why, they deserve admiration too. Will you join me on my natural explorer walk through the garden?

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Norway in Red, White and Blue

And it is 17th of May again! A day when Norwegians say to each other “Gratulerer med dagen!” (Congratulations on the day!). An only day in the year when they become extremely social, talking and smiling to strangers, starting easily a small talk. When it is ok to start the day drinking champagne and then put on your best dress or a suit or a national costume – and get in crowds on the streets, laughing and cheering. It is Norway’s national day, a birthday of the country, as they like to put it. Hip hip hurray!

Schoolchildren march to the main street where they will parade in front of the royal palace and wink to the royal family. Adults march later, after the 17. mai frokost (17th of May’s breakfast), some holding beer or a wineglass in their hand. The numerous musical corps play famous national songs. One of them is called “Norway in red, white and blue”, where there is this line: “It is you, it is you, dear Norway! We will clothe you in red, white and blue”. This looks like the official color theme of this month, and I gladly follow it 🙂 Here is my color report of the day, and the month, and some celebration. Join me (no champagne glass needed)!

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