Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On the Streets of Oslo:

Walking through the streets of Oslo: Nordic. And the capital of Norway; a city sited on the Oslofjord; a gem of intrigue nearly suffocated by creeks, streams, and trees, at a very high longitude, in Scandinavia. The Aerselva River runs from North to South, toward the Oslofjord, through the city, winding here and there, before it ducks underground, hidden from site, and passes below Oslo Central Station. It has historically–but no longer strictly so–served as the dividing line between Oslo West, and Oslo East; those with money, and those without. Today the river is home to many cultural institutions, schools, and places to wine and dine–including a very fun new indoor market. Newly paved paths line the river, making a stroll delightful indeed. So it was a city divided by capital. But today the city's changing. The capital that built the city, it should be noted, was held by gentlemen who lived in the mid to late nineteenth century, who were all highly invested in the local timber industry. Which brings me to the trees. For a city whose population is less than two million–metropolitan area, that is–it certainly is spread out; Oslo is everywhere. It tentacles out, up, and into the forests that surround the city proper; access to, into, through, and around which is made easier by sidewalks, roads, bike paths, and very importantly–trams. Weaving through the city’s streets; trams keep this small-to-mid sized wonderful ensemble of people, spaces, and places abuzz with energy. They link the misaligned components of city together; overcoming its topography. The high longitude leads way to copious amounts of soft-golden sunlight that sits low on the horizon, late into the night–sometimes seeming to never set at all–during spring and summer; while during autumn and winter, Oslo is submerged into darkness; and that darkness can be cozy if navigated correctly–with boots and gloves, and scarves and jackets, and candles, and excellent red wine near roaring fires on hearths, wine or hot chocolate mug in hand. But when the city’s in full bloom, as it was when I was there, it sparkles with colors and the sounds of splashing water. The Norwegian Royal Palace, so near to the university and art museum, is perched on a hill in the Western portion of the center; it welcomes all who venture to travel so North. Brick from industry, combined with pastel-hued colored houses–many of which seem to resemble wedding cakes, so ample is their, often white Victorian-Neo-Classical architectural trim; both categories of buildings were mostly constructed during the mid to late nineteenth century, and they compose the city’s characteristically local architecture and design–wood being abundant in the equation, too. Parks dot the city here and there, and the East, near and around the area of Grünerløkka, was and is especially enticing–it's abuzz with energy that’s now brimming the neighborhood full, and so it's spilling over and into the nearby neighborhoods, and streets, and specifically those around Sofienbergparken. Oslo's current Renaissance–like Amsterdam's–can be found in its East.