lørdag 6. august 2011

What I like about Oslo

Since I´m soon leaving Oslo and Norway for Estonia, I figured it was time to write a blog entry about the city where I´ve been living for two years now. Although it is not my favourite place on earth, there are definitely things that I really like about Oslo, especially when you compare with other towns or places in Norway.

Central Jam-e-Mosque
Architecturally I especially like the blue mosque in the Grønland district, the Central Jam-e-Mosque World Islamic Mission. Not especially old, it is one of the few new buildings that have enriched Oslo architecturally. Sadly, it is tucked away from the main streets, meaning not that many people sees it. On the other hand, that has given me the possibility to sit in front of it on a bench enjoying a cup of take-away coffee or chai latte with soy milk in the sunshine without too much disturbance. Not all Norwegians are happy with "new" faiths that establish praying houses or religious buildings or centers in Oslo or any other place. However, if there was no freedom to do so, I would like Norway less. Also, architecturally, the beautiful details and color of this mosque adds something to a city lacking any abundity of baroque, details and color. Not far from here is my Buddhist association.

Opera building
I actually also like the new opera building, built with Italian white marble. Although controversial since it´s built with public money, also here I think we must be able to separate between politics and architecture. When thinking about the fact that it´s a modern building, it is actually quite nice. Even though I haven´t spent so much time walking on the roof as I could (you can walk on the roof, that´s part of the point), and the drug addicts and/or homeless lying under the bridge leading to the opera can add sadness to the scenery, I´m glad some modern architecture can appeal to my tastes.

I like the foreign ministry, which should also be known for more details than most other buildings in town. Not so much mentioned as the royal castle, parliament or perhaps the opera house, it is in my opinion way nicer. On the other hand, it stands out because it is different from the rest of the city centre, and might not have stood out in Budapest or Prague.

I have my favourite places to eat. When returning to Vilnius, where I lived one year, I try to revisit my favourite restaurants. I think this will also be the case with Oslo. Sadly, lots of the restaurants are branded and do not exactly serve gourmet food. On the other hand, the city is bejewelled with Indian restaurants. Anyone who knows me, will also know how much I appreciate Indian food. My very favourite restaurant though, is the Ethiopian Red Sea Star. I love the food, I love the interior of the restaurant, and the people working there are possibly some of the nicest in the service industry in Oslo. Then there is the cheap Indian Punjab Tandoori on Grønland where they know what dishes I prefer.


Even though the best thing about Oslo is the certain amount of tolerance common to most Western capitals, the second best thing is the proximity to nature. On the picture to the left is Burudvann, my favourite lake near Oslo. Here it is quite easy to catch fish, also bream, which is not common in Norway. There are also lakes accessible by metro or city bus, even though the shores of these are more crowded.

What I think I will not miss about Norway is the fear of receiving hateful comments on blog entries like this one, because I openly confess I find a mosque beautiful.

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