More of Oslo 2005
A few more highlights from the city of Opera
We have now been here for a few months. We have watched winter disappear, and summer completely bypass spring. So it is time for another gallery.
Around the city
- Cars in Oslo are not as common as in many other cities. Most people use either trams, busses, or bikes. They even have city bikes, that you can rent from automated dispensers, cycle to wherever you want within the city, and hook them into another dispenser ready for the next person. Anyway, that is irrelevant. I wanted to show you this car we walked past. Why? Why not!
- They go all out for their artwork here, with jetpack pilots flying over the bridges, large bronze animals planted in the parks, and this extreme example of being burried alive.
- Sorry, I could not resist. While waiting in vain for Moose to arrive for a walk (at 08:00), I saw these two sleeping in the most unusual position in the bus station. If this is you, please forgive me, it warmed my ... er ... heart, to see you ;)
- Don't ask what it is, it is very mundane, and it would only spoil it for you. But the way the light passed through it, and reflected on each curve, just caught my eye.
- Reflections of life. Or something artsy to that effect.
- A raincloud over Grünerløkka. In case you didn't know, it rains in Norway, just as much as back home in Wales. In Bergen, it rains even more. What else did you think was responsible for all the trees, lakes, rivers and fjords? They can't all be due to glaciers, you know.
- The metal Mozilla monster. A piece of burnt-out junk. Literally. Looks nice though.
- I felt odd taking pictures inside a shop, but I just had to show you this. "Price wars"?! Just so you know, 150 Norwegian Kroner is approximately equivalent to £12 ($/€17). If this is a war, imagine the normal cost. Now knock it up a bit. And add on the 25% tax. It is surprising to me just how many people here are honest and actually buy their music legally.
- The town hall. I think. Pity it is so ugly. Many of the buildings in Oslo are beautifully done, with detailed ornamentation over their facades. Something you do not see at home.
- The town hall is surrounded by an amphitheatre of buildings. I would love to be able to take a picture upwards so you could see the buildings encircling a beautiful blue sky, but trying to piece together a two dimensional panorama is not my idea of fun, so you will have to live with this.
- Spikersuppa. This holds a special place in my heart. When we first came to Oslo in January, this was an ice rink, with people in their knitted sweaters, skating with their children. We walked down the pavement at night time, hand in hand, watching snowflakes gently fall past the streetlights. This was where I decided that I could live here. What other city would welcome me with snow?
- In the middle of the water is an island complete with elk.
- Best foot forward... Any closer, and he'll be in the drink... </joke:bad>
- Josie trying to do the same.
- Not sure why, but this camera hates focusing on ducklings. At least it got this one OK - ish.
- Despite the water being half a metre deep, this cyclist with over-inflated tyres defies gravity, and cycles effortlessly across the surface. Two children look on in amazement, petrified in disbelief.
- Not sure who this is, but he is preserved here for one reason only, because of Moose's comment; "you can see why people in his line of work always had grey hair".
- Stortinget, the Norwegian houses of parliament. A little understated compared with the grandure of those in grubby old London, but considering the fact that Oslo is only about the same size as Cardiff, Stortinget is appropriately modest. The park is typical for Oslo (and other Norwegian cities). As soon as there is the promise of sunshine - or in other words, whenever it is not raining or snowing, all parks, fields and open areas will be littered with Norwegians, just sitting, talking, and enjoying life. With their disposable barbecues. How often do you see that at home?
- A plant "pot" at Stortinget. Of course, I may be wrong, but I thought that plants would normally be growing from the inside.
- A stone (obviously) lion. I just liked the way the sun caught the edges of it, contrast so heavily with the shadows.
- And the other lion, with the sun setting slowly behind it.
- Tram lines in the recently renovated cobbled street beside Spikersuppa.
- Rådhus plassen, beside Akershus fort. When Oslo has a concert, they just use whatever open area they can find, and put a stage on it. This one sits right beside the tram tracks, so the crowd has to do a synchronised shuffle whener a tram arrives.
- Unusual to see this sort of dancing outside the ghettos of USA. They were actually a lot better than this shows, but this guy kept getting in the way of my pictures, so I had to settle for this.
- Nationaltheatret - national theatre to us, in case you couldn't guess. A little more elaborate than our own feeble theatre.
- Sunset over Nationaltheatret.
- Slottsparken, looking very different to how it appeared during our first visit to Oslo.
More of the river
The same river as before, but now heading downstream through the city.
On a walk through the city, the sky was particularly interesting, with insane cloud formations everywhere. I decided to share with you a few of my many pictures.
May 17th is the Norwegian independence day - like 4th July in USA - when the Norwegians celebrate their independence from Denmark in 1814. This year was the 100th anniversary of the separation from Sweden (when Norway truly became an independent nation - though it struggled to maintain that during the Second World War), and was a perfect sunny day. We went to watch the main childrens' parade in Oslo centre, as recommended by all the locals.
- The parade began with the royal guard rifle display and band. The rifle display was fairly impressive, throwing rifles fitted with bayonets so they spiralled over the heads of the other guards - point downwards (!) - to be caught by others. I wondered how many times they had to practice that before they got it right. And how many times did they make mistakes, not throwing them quite high enough. I was holding my camera above my head to take pictures, to try to avoid the thousands of others who lined the streets. Sadly there were still too many of them for the camera to see properly over them, and I could not get any good pictures of the rifle displays.
- It is a tradition. After finishing high school in Norway (aged 19), the students all don a hat and a pair of brightly coloured trousers, that they will get signed, attach badges to, and not wash for a month or so. They are actually dungarees, but fashion dictates that the shoulder straps should never be worn over the shoulders. Known as the Russ (roos to us Brits), these students have the task of finding weird things to do, and doing them. They can generally be convinced to do anything, as long as it is strange enough, and when drunk, the cute ones can even be persuaded to perform a strip tease for a lucky, iron faced, royal guard (can't they Haavard?). In this particular case, they are handing out fake business cards to the children, who collect them. The cards should contain weird fake titles, descriptions, and job information.
- Then the parade starts for real. Wave after wave after wave. A group of flag bearers, a band, then rows and rows of children, held together with ribbons and waving flags. Repeat for 3 hours. Solid. 3 whole hours. They make their way to the palace/"castle" (slott), where they march past the royal family. Apparently they like their royal family here. What a novelty.
- The end of the parade. We had been watching it for over 2 hours by now, so we decided to see what the other end looked like, where they were all queueing, waiting for their turn to start walking in the parade. It looked like this.
- Bunad. The national dress of Norway. Complete with sunglasses. About half of the women watching the parade were wearing these dresses. They are incredibly expensive, many over 25'000 NOK (£2000 or $/€3000), and are often given to young women as part of their confirmation ceremony. They are generally too expensive to replace. The ornamental broaches are also very expensive, and would be given as presents when a woman reaches one of the important ages; 16, 18, or 21.
- Women are not the only ones with Bunads. There is also the male version. Generally, these are not so elaborate, more like a smart suit with a fancy shirt or tie, but occasionally there are some very fine examples like this one.
- The Sami tribes of Lapland also have their own style of dress. Unlike the Norwegian dress, the Sami dress does not have shoulder straps, and is usually brightly coloured.
- Slightly out of place, but this is a friend of ours from Alaska, wearing a Norwegian bunad, using an eskimo yoyo.
As part of the celebrations, there was a music festival across the city (or country). Each park or plass had its own stage set up, where roaming bands would travel from plass to plass to play gigs.
- The miserable weather was unfortunate. This is the closest plass to us, complete with diminished band, and diminished audience.
- We caught the packed tram to the city centre instead. People shuffled around, trying to get to the doors in time to get off at their stop.
- At the cathedral in the city centre, a fancy car turned up for a wedding. Well, at least they would not need to pay for a band at the reception.
- We found a perfect little stage on Elm Street by the rock cafe, and spent several hours having quality music blasting at us. First was this punk band.
- This sort of music attracts an odd sort of croud. This guy had an anti-nazi badge on his hat. Unusually pleasent considering the normal attire of rock enthusiasts. But that says it all about Oslo.
- A short break between bands, and it was time for the second one. A more generic rock band this time.
- This drummer was entertaining to watch. Spent most of the gig looking like this.
- A small child. Can't think who she must be. In any case, she was entertaining the crouds of goths, standing in the rain, splashing in her puddle.
- And now the third band - seriously heavy metal. The guy sounded so calm and cheerful in between songs - an interesting contrast to the voice he used to ... er ... sing ... them.
- I never made a very good goth myself, but I have always liked to see the costumes they wear. Not so keen on the pearcings, but the clothes are something else. This is a fantastic example of a quadruple layered dress, set off beautifully by the bag, and other adornments. It was still raining, and everywhere around us, dark makeup, hoods, bedraggled hair, capes, stockings and chains, all nodding along to the music. My people.
No, not moose. Moose! The one from Poland. Knows CSS better than you know how to breath. Knows how to take stunning pictures. Spends weeks in the mountains, with little more than a boulder for shelter. Yeah. That Moose.
I am not normally one for graveyards, but I like this one. It is more like a park than a graveyard, each stone is carefully maintained, and the grass is neatly trimmed and watered.
Oslo is the furthest north I have ever lived. And it is very different. Now that summer is here, there is no night. It gets dark around midnight, and light again at 02:00. Even when it is dark, it is not that dark. The streetlights turn on, but they are not needed. The sky is still bright enough for you to see.
The longer days also mean that there is not enough time for the air to cool down at night. So much for Norway being cold - it is always warm in summer. When we first got here, almost every resteraunt and cafe had candles burning outside to show that they were open. People having parties did the same. Now it is so light these are ineffective, so they will not be used again until winter.
It is getting harder to sleep. We have been sleeping only a few hours each night, and from the sound of it, Moose has been sleeping only about once every two nights.