Okay, so Oslo
This whole trip was made possible by Maud of Maud's Garn
and the kind folks at the Tveita Strikkefestival [knitting festival], and completely and totally facilitated and enabled by Theresa
. Now, Theresa and I have been online friends since before there was a Knitty, but we never had a chance to be in the same country before now. So not only was I excited to see Norway and spread the Tuscany love, but I was totally psyched to meet Theresa.
First thing we noticed about Oslo is that there were leaves on the sidewalk. In fall, leaves to walk and skoosh your feet through, and nobody had taken that pleasure away from us. We liked this very much.
We spent much of the trip wandering and walking, taking the Trikk [streetcar] whenever possible. The subway, unlike in other cities, didn't seem so useful for downtown navigation; instead, you take the Trikk
or the buses.
SHOCK: in Oslo, you simply enter the bus, subway platform or trikk without having to show your transit pass, unless you have a single-fare ticket. We each had a week's transit pass, so we just got on and off whenever we wanted. There were signs warning of surprise spot-checks to make sure everyone had a valid fare, but we never saw one happen and we would have liked to. We did see a driver stop his Trikk in the middle of a street to tell a passenger in the back that his headphones were making too much noise [you know that leaking-out of sound that headphones do?] and he had to turn it down. From these two things, we clearly understood that you don't mess about with the rules in Oslo. It's understood that you are to behave, and so people do.
Unlike other trips where we were able to figure out the local deal and go with the flow, in Oslo, it took us about five days to get our environmental bearings. Not which way is south, but what's normal, what to expect, what to do to fit in. The people of Oslo, except for the cranky people behind the counter at the mini-market, were funny, kind, nice and really helpful to tourists, when you engaged in conversation with them. But on the street, there's little-to-no eye contact and people are quiet when they're out in public. If the people are loud, they're tourists.
That is, we learned, until the weekend comes. Friday night, all bets are off and people let loose. Saturday morning, I got on the T-bane [subway] to go to Tveita to teach my last class and walked past a group of gentlemen who clearly hadn't been to bed that night and smelled like it. Saturday night, there was bonified party-screaming outside our window. And then Sunday, it was back to quiet, serene tidyness. None of this is criticism, just observation. We've travelled to a few countries [by no means a lot -- so far, France and Italy, plus a little of the Caribbean] and this was the first time we'd ever felt so foreign in a foreign place.
So yeah, a little culture shock. Theresa had a copy of this book, Brown Cheese, Please
. It's about Norway and Norwegians, written by an Australian who now lives there, and it explains what we experienced really well. We bought our own copy. :-)
FREAKOUT: the food. We just didn't get it. The coffee and pastries were beautiful, but chopped celery in spaghetti sauce? Mayonnaise-y shrimp salad on your hot dog? Um, no thank you.
The knitting classes were a blast, though it was highly intimidating teaching some of the women who I'm sure know more about knitting than I ever will. It's in the blood in Norway. But we all enjoyed ourselves, and Tuscanies were building on needles all around me. I had the privilege of meeting Annemor Sundbø
, an amazing woman who bought a mill and ended up discovering centuries of Norwegian knitting traditions in the rag piles that came with it. You must read her books
AMUSEMENT: I was the only non-continental knitter in the whole country, it seemed. Every single knitter I met knit continental -- not combination, nothing else. So people were fascinated watching me do my efficient throw [I call it the flick] English/American style knitting.
I bought little yarn in Norway, understandably. It's almost all wool, and the stuff that isn't is stuff I can get at home. [My rule when travelling is to buy what I can't get at home.] This was Theresa and I browsing at Norges Husflidslag
[which I thought was called Husfliden. I'm so embarrassed. :-)] I can't convey how cool this place was. Supplies for knitting, weaving, every other needlecraft, traditional Norwegian sweaters, regional costumes, housewares. Just a really, really cool place that I could have gone mental in for twice as long as we spent there. Thankfully, we left before too much damage was done, but I did get two small cones of linen to do something with later. And a really huge stitch holder that could likely hold an entire sweater front's worth of stitches. I also got to buy a few woolly presents for a friends and live vicariously through them.
Eden, I think I found the same earrings you bought -- and of course I bought them, too! From Juhl's Silver Gallery
, which had tons of stuff I could have happily brought home with me.
And then there's Theresa. I said I was sure I'd be sad to leave without her, and I was right. She was a hoot, a fabulous hostess [making sure we saw the coolest things in Oslo, getting our transit passes for us, and countless other things], and a great friend. Happily, we got to stay with her and her husband the last two nights. We watched Kopps
and almost peed our pants laughing. Theresa made sure we tasted traditional Norwegian foods, and we really liked the mooseburgers! I could live without the brown cheese and the hvalbiff, though.
On our own, we got to Holmenkollen
, the site of the 1952 Winter Olympic games, via T-bane, all by ourselves [so proud]. Hub got in the ski jump simulator and loved it. I watched from outside. Hey, someone had to take the pictures!
But I'd have to say the sightseeing highlight was the day Theresa took us to Vigeland Park
, which I've heavily documented in my Flickr album
. It was a deeply grey day, without rain, and very cool. We walked through the park, captivated by the sculptures, each one designed by Gustav Vigeland. 212 sculptures in bronze and granite, plus the gorgeous iron gates. We walked, took pictures, listened to the accordionist playing French love songs [seriously] and soaked it all in.
So there you go. A week in Oslo, summed up as best I can. It was astounding, confounding, stunning, warm, and most definitely koselig
[which is sort of pronounced "koosh-e-le"]. You know that feeling when it's cold outside, and you come in, cheeks red, light a fire in the fireplace or fill your living room with candlelight, snuggle into the couch and feel supremely cozy? That's koselig
, and more than anything, I love Norway because they have a word for it.
Labels: knitting community, travel