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Norway: vices, virtues and paranoia in Oslo

Jeg er tilbake: I’m back. After one year in Italy, my beloved homeland, I’m back to Norway.

The 15th January I landed in a city all the norwegians have described me as a chaotic, busy, strangely populated, cold and hostile: Oslo.
And Oslo precisely is the subject of this post: Oslo fakta, first impressions.

While I walk down the road, I understand what people in Bergen and Stavanger, my previous cities, think about the capital: Oslo is bigger, streets are wider, more cars on the way, more people on the bus, everything costs more . I insist: EVERYTHING COSTS MORE.

But you find out there are many parks, a fjord with 40 islands and beautiful forests reachable by metro (here called T-bane). You can find the truly norwegian spirit in Oslo , it just hides between modern and multicultural, but is still there.

OSLO FAKT 1: Many norwegians don’t like the capital: too big, too modern, few tradition. Next week the Institute of Design will host a photography exhibition on this theme: “Stakkars oss som bor i Oslo” (poor us, living in Oslo). Two bloggers collected pictures of the more suggestive corners in the neighbourhoods and in the surroundings of the city. Many of the norwegians who criticize the capital, they say, has never been to Oslo or has seen only the main road.

Oslo airport was as silent as everyplace I’ve been in Norway, I could hear the sound of my trolley wheels rolling on the parquet floor. Around me, a tidy crowd of people coming from every corner of the globe: tourists walking side by side with southern european immigrants and second generations, born there thousand of chilometers from their parents land. It is in Oslo that the most part of foreigners searching for a job arrives, it is here that are the higher number of job available: from waiters to engeneers, the capital is always looking for workers.

OSLO FAKT 2: requirements to be hired in Norway are getting stricter: even jobs that  asked for a basic language level before,now ask  for norskprøve 3 certificate. What is it? It is another post, coming soon!

This hasn’t been a snowy winter (already). Ski lovers have been very upset, but local newspaper gained a strong topic to talk about for weeks: the wind, the ice and, since last Monday, the snow. They call it Disney snow. Why? Mainly because it is a name you remember and then because it is that kind of  soft and thin snow, not thicky, that comes down slowly like in cartoons.

OSLO FAKT 3: norwegian newspaper love to talk about the weather, readers share their pictures on real time, sun and warm win a large space on the first page (not so often, then). Newspaper in Oslo likes to talk also about bad weather, especially when it is happening somewhere else, like on the west coast.

Streets turning into ice skating ring can be very funny, if you watch them with your feet on a safe position. Many people cannot handle the Frozen version of sidewalks and walking like a penguin is sometimes not enough to avoid dramatic tumbler.

I have seen two spectacular falls in less then one hour: first, a girl wearing gym shoes, who decided to twich like a leopard to catch the bus leaving in that right moment. It left, she stayed few seconds on the ground. Second one, a cyclist, carrying four big shoppers on his bike. Stay on the bike track was too easy, he chose a shortcut across a previous parking turned into an ice mirror. He, the bags, the bike: everything explodes after few seconds. A poor guy reached him, skating on his feet to check on the cyclist.

OSLO FAKT 4: the sidewalks in the city centre, where most of the traffic concentrates, are warmed: no ice, thanks. I would suggest to extend this clever idea to the hill hosting the Royal Palace: it is not so steep, but ice turns it into a dangerous challenge. It isn’t enough to spread red gravel to ensure subjects safety. I will write to the king: can you please turn the heat on, your Majesty?

Picture from: Stakkars oss som bor i Oslo

Picture from: Stakkars oss som bor i Oslo


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