Dear Oslo, It would had never crossed my mind that you would be such a carefree, easygoing and unhurried city. The image I had of you was not the most flattering one. A rather dull character with very boring buildings that would do not have any stories to share with the strangers. I am not certain how I had arrived to such a conclusion about you.
Maybe because I had not really met anyone who had talked about you with yearning passion. In fact people seem to be rather indifferent after visiting you. All they pretty much said how expensive you are, perhaps the most expensive place on Earth and I am not saying they are wrong. But there is so much more to you, my Oslo.
I had booked my flights in April to see my friend, Ragnhild whom I met in Swaziland. She had visited Helsinki frequently after graduation and told me it was about that I came to her in Norway, so when flights for fifty euros appeared, I acted. I was excited to meet her again, after almost a year but for you I held no expectations. Well, besides you being expensive.
The very first night we had drinks in her beautiful apartment’s balcony overlooking the exclusive residential borough of Frogner that boasts with majestic buildings that even Paris is jealous of. One need no map just to wander around the streets and absorb the royal sentiment evaporating from the walls. While talking, reminiscing the past and wondering the future, the sun took over the shift and let the night go to sleep.
We laughed, thinking how amazing to share such a connection despite not having seen each other for so long or even kept in touch. And then out of the nowhere she said we should go to a park, she called it Naked People’s Park and we should go now, as it was sunny and then there would be one less item to see during the too short weekend I was in your arms, my Oslo.
Call me ignorant, my Oslo but I honestly did not have any idea about you so I had absolutely no clue where she taking me to. I thought she was kidding when she said the park embraces various sculptures of bare men, women and children. But no. She was not joking.
Frognerparken and Gustav Vigeland’s installation is perhaps one of the oddest things I have ever seen in my life. And I am pretty sure it is not because of the period of the day we were there, actually I think the whole situation definitely added something unique to experiencing the park’s spectral ambience.
Lighting up a cigarette and sitting next to the fountain, overlooking the massive line of mesmerisingly haunting sculptures in the hushing stillness, I thought to myself what a strange place it was. Ragnhild, her head on my lap, told me that typically Frognerparken is crowded with tourists, so it is never this quiet and deserted. I could not, and still cannot, imagine what it must be like with all the sound, disturbance and vividness because at that time the gigantic park devoted oneself fully to us. And so did we to her.
After a few hours of sleep back at her place she decided to give me a proper tour of you. Lush green really loves to cuddle with you, my Oslo. I thought Frogner would be an exception as the elite requires their trees, but vivid birches and oaks were on guard all over the place. I could go on listing all the sights I saw: vibrantly neoclassical law faculty buildings, functionalist lover of Oslo City Hall that has the privilege to host the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony or the humble Royal Palace who is so beautiful with her modesty. Although I did not know anything about them before my friend showed them to me, but one can read about them all in all tourist guides. They were aesthetic, but frankly nothing special.
At the end of our tour we arrived to the Opera House and it was the first time since the wee-hour stroll at Frognerparken I felt something particular. I had never seen such a strange structure. The exterior of building is covered in white granite and carrara marble, extraordinary materials to use in this side of the world. The leaning roof rises from the corner of the Oslo Fjord up to the top of the opera, creating this wishful plaza that invites pedestrians to enjoy panoramic view of you.
Not only it is odd to walk on such a thing, the feeling of stumbling on the top of something like Opera is quite unusual, but the building wholeheartedly holds tightly in one’s arms the skaters who are unable to hide their love for her. I did not expect to see a combination of opera and skating anywhere in the world, and if I had, you would had been the last city that I would had considered to allow such an eerie love.
After seeing you from the top of the Opera house, my friend took me to these piers nearby and I was stunned to see so many people just sitting there, sunbathing and jumping to the Oslofjord for a refreshing swim. It was — once again — an odd but pleasing sensation. Untroubled and jovial people making the most out of a sunny Saturday morning in the urban setting; behind you have the Opera House, on the right Sørenga with some construction work, in front a few islands, on left Bjørvika some buildings without (much) construction and here you had three piers, all crowded with people who love life.
It is not easy for me to relax and just take a moment to empty my head, but when I sat at Sukkerbiten next to the piers with a platter of most delicious prawns, aioli and homemade bread, I was in a blissful stage. My friend and I sat there three to four hours. Sometimes talking. Other times relishing the comforting silence. Occasionally looking at the happiness swimming the ever-mesmering Oslofjord. I felt good. Without an interruption of a single thought.
That night, it was an another eventful evening with my dear friend, as always.
You know the feeling where you enter your local bus that takes you to the place where you dance away yourself on a Saturday moon o’clock, and all you hear are drunken people making as much sense as you would, had you been as jolly. And all you feel is annoyed. That was what I experience, my Oslo. At the moment I would had never expected the night you gave us.
In the bus this man, very merry, offered us drinks but we politely refused to our surprise and immediately started talking to each other how old we have become. Then he noticed my bracelets painted with rainbows and asked me if I was just wearing them to support the case or if I was gay. He got so excited after he discovered the answer to his question and wanted to take us to a place that I absolutely need to see before leaving you. My friend did not know the place so he offered to take us there,
and that is how you organised a night to remember.
The guy was a straight chief in about his mid-thirties who was celebrating with you because had just gotten a promotion at this job. Not only that a few weeks before he had become a father, and he was over the moon about life. He lived close-by to the bar he wanted us to see, so it was no problem for him to take a longer route to show us the place. He told us about his daughter, offered champagne that we now politely accepted, we laughed and for those twenty minutes we had the pleasure to get to know each other. When we arrived to the club, my friend and I asked him to stay with us, but despite quite enjoying the night under your care, he wanted to go back to his daughter and wife.
When we departed, we were no strangers. Perhaps we were not friends either. But it is a connection. Maybe drunken one, but it does not diminish its value. We humans, regardless of nothing and everything, have the ability, you know… Bond? I am not sure how to say it. Do you know what I mean, Oslo?
Anyhow you know how the rest of night goes, and I am quite certain that I would not need to explain you all the things that happened. It was a fun night, and thank you for all the handsome Norwegian men. Also talking to a skater, and watching my friend among other people swim in the fjord at 4am was quite an experience, I must say. You surpassed all the expectations I had of you, my Oslo. You crazy beautiful city.
Even most people have been so amazed to hear how fondly I talk about you. Of course, even I had to mention how expensive a burger costs because you know, it is true, dear, how ridiculous the prices are. But I remembered to tell them everything else, the things that matter the most.
I had such a wonderful time with you, and I cannot wait to visit you again. Next summer. I promise.