We headed to Oslo early October, hoping for some seasonal weather and trying not to utter the word “snow” to each other. The city, that I have not seen since my student days, and that was completely new to Carl, did not disappoint. As always, I steered us clear of the touristy, or just simply predictable (sorry, no Viking Museum this time) and booked us in a hotel in Grünerløkka part of town. Adapted old industrial district, with a bohemian flair, with parks and small town feel main squares (reminded me of Poland a bit), it stole my heart instantly. The city is perfectly walkable, it took only 20 minutes to reach the hotel on foot from the main train station, which is connected to the airport by a fast and frequent train. And then it all begun, just on the other side of the small but raging river (where else do you get waterfalls and white water in the middle of the city, if not in Norway), lay the coffee paradise: Tim Wendelboe.
We walked around the block before we located the tiny and unassuming coffee shop, but once you step inside, it has almost electrifying intensity. I happily delegated the coffee ordering choices to Carl, and focused on taking photos, watching him chat with baristas, compare notes on gear, techniques and generally soak up the convivial, yet very focused atmosphere. We returned here 3 times…
That afternoon, wandering further through our neighborhood, we discovered super friendly, and beautifully stocked, bike shop Krankenhaus. We left with staff recommendations for places to see and places to eat (record shops are usually a given!). It turned out, that what became one of my favorite spots on Oslo, was on the hill on the other side of our hotel. A little road called Telthusbakken, was captured in Edward Munch’s painting in 1880 (still visible those days from his apartment across the river, just down the road from Tim Wendelboe. Quite steep and lined with wooden houses (some with matching roses still in bloom), let to even more magic. As if one painting was opening the door to another setting, like theatre. The area is called St. Haushaugen, and if you climb the winding paths in the park to the top, there is a splendid sunset view and the shimmering waters of the Oslo fjord.
It is impossible to ignore the Oslo Opera house and the modern architecture around, but if you carefully craft your itinerary, you will end up in the historic medieval part of town (although with a modern backdrop), mostly well preserved ruins, but enough to get the imagination going exploring stories of kings, Vikings, and the medieval drama: St. Clemens’ Church and St Hallvard’s Cathedral. Much better than any museum!
Before I sing my praises of our hotel, Scandic Vulkan, let me make it clear that this is not a sponsored post! I just truly enjoyed the stay here, and I find it to be an incredible value for money. So was the hotel breakfast with freshly baked bread from Handwerk Oslo next door, and the best natural wood table (those photo backgrounds!).
As always, there were things and places I wish I had more time to do and visit. One purely magical moment occurred when emerging from yet another “almost got lost” escapade (my favorite), we turned the corner and run into Jannicke Krakvik in front of her (old location) store, locking it up, actually. In a split second I remembered the article I carefully tore out of the NYT Magazine this spring about Kollekted by Frama. You can read the article here.
Truly one of those “it was mean to be moments”, so when she returned momentarily to the store, I mustered all my courage to say hello and introduce myself and say how much I admired her and Alessandro’s design style and the business. I missed the opening of the new location by just one day, it turned out. So I must return one day to Grünerløkka to visit the new location of one of the most inspiring businesses these days.