Thursday, July 13, 2017

Last Day in Norway - In Which We Roam the Neighbourhoods, and Must Say Goodbye to Europe. (We’re Already Pining For The Fjords…)


It’s fair to say that I have been known to judge a city on the quality of its thrift shops. In the UK, thrift shops have replaced regular shops and in the smaller towns and cities it is actually ridiculous how many thrift or ‘charity’ shops one sees in a city block. Here in Oslo I hadn’t seen any and was getting a bit judgy about that, until today when we walked for what felt like hours to the neighbourhood of Grunerlokka, (or something like that- I’m sure I’ve got it wrong but Norwegian is so confusing with all its different forms for nouns).

On our way there, we came across a cemetery.


I spent a few moments wondering if it was a thing here in Norway to adorn your grave with a bust of yourself like this fellow, who looks quite upset about the whole dying thing (I also don’t know why he isn’t wearing a shirt).


Anyway, just as I was going off about him, Terra said ‘Hey is that Edvard Munch’s grave?” Actually, she said ‘Edward’ but I knew what she meant. And indeed it was:


He looks quite a bit happier than his cemetery mate, and nothing like the subject of his famous painting, The Scream:

The Scream

This painting is meant to be a statement on man’s anxiety represented in nature, or something like that, but I like to think it was the result of an extended phone session with Shaw after his email went down.

Anyway, we didn’t get to see the actual painting (or any of them – there are numerous versions) but that was OK. None of us were up to an extended museum visit where one must vie for space with any number of selfie-stick toting bus tour tourists who are on a schedule that gives them exactly 7.4 minutes in front the The Scream before they must get back on the bus and show proof of having taken the required 67 pictures in front of said item of art, typically while holding their hands in an extended peace sign.

After paying our respects we carried on through the cemetery and emerged into a very quaint old neighborhood full of smaller wooden buildings some of which were built around this reflecting pool which we stood around and admired for some time.




The buildings got cuter and cuter until I felt like I was back in Bradford-on-Avon, except there were no village drunks out and about to entertain me.


We had read Grunerlokka was a great place to find independent businesses and also vintage stores full of Norwegian hipsters. In my mind there is a definite difference between vintage and thrift, and I would say this neighbourhood was more vintage. In fact, I almost wondered if I had stumbled onto a chain of vintage stores, they were all that similar. It seems that Puma t-shirts circa 1990 are a hot item here and there were racks and racks of them. Disappointing when all you want is a Norwegian Death Metal t-shirt.

Still we spent a happy couple of hours browsing and shopping and I, for one, was very happy not to see an H&M anywhere in sight.

This joy was short lived however when I learned that the girls were hoping to make it back to the ‘main’ shopping area before everything closed. So we headed out back towards town, me chanting in my head ‘No H&M, No H&M’. The neighbourhood was still charming until, after a few minutes, we crossed the tracks (actually it was a canal) and found ourselves in a rougher neighbourhood with homeless people sleeping on the streets and drug users shooting up in dark corners.


We also spotted our first Norwegian chavs up to no good on a street corner. Or at least that’s what I thought from afar but when I got closer they were actually quite polite and moved out the way with out insulting us. That would not have happened with proper English chavs.


Not really, Norway, not really. But ‘A’ for effort. So cute!

For a change, it started raining as we came back in to town so I dragged everyone in to the Cathedral for a quick look. It was beautiful:


I could have stayed in there for the rest of the afternoon but I think napping in the pews is probably frowned upon so it was back out in to the fray. I would like very much to tell you that I didn’t go to into H&M that afternoon but that would not be true. Fortunately, it was short lived pain as I think the girls sensed that I was going to lose my shit if it took too long. We walked back to our guesthouse in the rain, picked up dinner along the way, and spent the rest of the evening packing for the trip home.

For some reason, months ago, I had thought that it would be fine to fly Oslo – Paris on SAS (Such Awful Service) Airlines, wait in Paris 6 hours, fly Paris to Montreal (7.5hrs), run through airport to catch flight to Vancouver (5.5hrs) and then wait 2 hours for 15 minute flight to Victoria. We were up at 4:30am on Tuesday, and crawled into bed 1:30am on Wednesday, 30 hours later. The one redeeming feature of the trip home was that they did not serve Chicken in a Blood Sauce with Pasta Dots. I’m not sure what it was they served, and in fact I defy anyone to actually identify any of the ingredients.  At a certain point however all desire for food vanishes and sleep becomes the only thing you need. I think they do that by design, but that’s another blog post…

So that’s a wrap on the trip, folks. Thanks to my travelling companions Travis, Zoe and Terra for an exceptional time and thanks to you all for coming along for the ride.




  1. thanks a bunch Jane, I so enjoyed another journey blog by you...almost as good as going with you. Hope you catch up on your sleep
    PS a few transparents fell from the tree today, not many there but maybe enough for one or two pies soon.xoxosusan

  2. Marvelous!! You're so perceptive and witty, and wonderful with teencreatures.