oslo // day 3

This morning I attend a guided tour of Oslo’s Parliament. Finished in 1966, the building has no particular style, both on the outside and in. The two main session halls, however, are rather nice rooms, and I do learn two very interesting facts. For one, the King is not allowed in the Parliament while the members are in session. This tradition persists in order to symbolize the separation of power between royalty and Parliament. In addition, I learn why jackets are banned from the building: one year, an unsatisfied Parliament visitor unleashed a live pigeon into the room, creating panic in the room. The pigeon was shot, but remained stuck atop the room’s massive chandelier, bleeding on whatever was below it. So it makes perfect sense that, since then, visitors are kindly asked to leave all outerwear in the cloakroom.

After that, more shopping!
  • Tronsmo - One of the city’s last independent bookstores. A favorite of locals and, unexpectedly, Allen Ginsberg! In fact, the shop (most likely as a tribute to this poet), has an entire section of books dedicated to the beat generation. There, I find a rare find: Peter Orlovsky’s writings (I believe it’s still not even available on Amazon). There are also great art books, and a quirkier section in which I find the adorable Darcy the Flying Hedgehog and the hilariously accurate Social Guide Book to Norway.
  • Fuglen - A calm and cozy 1950's-style coffeeshop with a real jukebox.
  • designtorget - Home accessories and cool objects.
  • Jazz Bare - A jazz-lover’s dream spot: vinyls and CD’s downstairs, jazz lounge upstairs. I hear they have good performers and nice food up there as well.
  • Sant Kremmerhuset - My notes read “lovely cheap things”. I’ll leave it at that.
  • Fjallraven - I know it’s Swedish, not Norwegian, but the window display attracted me inside. The shop has Fjallraven bags, raincoats and wallets in all the colors you could wish for, and in models I have never seen before in the US. The prices, though, are nothing new.
  • Tiger - A CD and vinyl store focused on the metal and hard rock styles. I feel slightly out of my element in there, but there is luckily also a small pop/alternative section for us non-headbangers. There are free CD’s out front, so I happily grab one!

I then take a break at W.B. Samson, a bakery-café that locals apparently consider to be one of the best in Oslo. My hot chocolate is decadent and dark - it’s one of the best I’ve had in a while. I accompany it with a fluffy Rosinboller, a traditional Norwegian raisin bread. Miam.

After this delightful snack I walk out to Middelalderparken, Oslo’s ‘Medieval Park’. There, I find the ruins of St. Clement's Church, St. Mary's Church and the former Royal Estate. They’re really just a pile of rocks, but hey, that’s what ruins are. I’m also a little lost, but a charming couple of locals gives me directions to the Ekeberg Park. I climb up a pretty steep path, which leads me to the top of the park. From there, I get a fantastic view of the entire city, and despite the cloudy weather, it’s still a great sight. The park is famous for its feminist sculpture installations, which are a true delight to walk through. My personal favorites are Louise Bourgeois’s The Couple, which hangs from a tree in the middle of a clearing, Lynn Chadwick’s Ace of Diamonds and Hilde Maehlum’s Konkavt Ansikt. On my way down from Ekeberg, I snap an awkward selfie at the exact spot where Munch was inspired to make his iconic painting The Scream.

On my way back downtown, I linger about what looks like Oslo’s financial district, a group of contemporary office buildings that’s just real-life architecture porn. I then take the beautiful, modern Bjørvika Bridge, which crosses over the railway.

Walking along Stranden, I end up in the midst of festivities currently taking place in celebration of Turban Day. Random, but cool. I venture inside House of Oslo, an interior design heaven of a mall. It indeed contains an Illums Bolighus, as well as Raun, which really reminds me of the Conran Shop we used to have on First Ave back home.

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