Sunday, June 10, 2007

from Oslo, Norway: heat wave

People who hate the hot summers of the south, think of the Scandinavian peninsula as a breath of fresh, cool air. The highest temps hover in the sixties and the nights are crisp. Too crisp, sometimes. Pack a sweater. A jacket, gloves maybe. It’s a nippy land.

This week in June, you would have been fine with a sundress and sandals.

Yesterday’s six hour train ride to Oslo was brutal. Without air conditioning and with only two tiny slits at either end permitting fresh air, the car quickly heated up to a nice, steady broil.

And, even though the entire week we have been experiencing sunny days and high temps (in the eighties), people refuse to process this. It is so incongruous, so completely at odds with our perception of how it ought to be that we continue to pack that sweater, just in case. I look at the passengers, with tucked in shirts, long pants and thick socks and I think – take it off, all of it, you’re making me sweat just looking at you!

The conductor suggests that we all exit at the next station. It’s a three minute pause. Get some fresh air – he tells us. We do. The platform is hot. We stumble back inside and close the window curtains. Forget the stunning view. Survival trumps view.

But ask the Norwegians and they grin at the wonderfulness of it all (expect those working in the heat traps). Yes, isn’t it nice?

These people are sun deprived. Welcome, sun. Mmmm, more is good. Keep laying it on.

Sunday in Oslo.

We walk down to the pier, through the castle park, up the main street, tracing the steps now not of Grieg, but of Ibsen and Munch (Ibsen, the pampered, adored writer, Munch the looker, the haunted painter).

Endless walking. Past the the port, the palace, to the food fair (refreshed by Norwegian cloudberry ice cream), up the old Oslo blocks, collapsing finally in a warm hotel room because, you know, this country doesn’t need air conditioning.

I hate too much air conditioning and so I am not the complainer now. And who would want to complain anyway. The day of sun (or is it that it’s Sunday?) brings out every last Oslovian. Endless people watching opportunities.

A sample of the sights and tastes – of a Sunday in Oslo:

Oslofjord: castles and ships

revealing, listening - with a sweater, just in case

cool statues, cool fountains, cool people

fast food

a cigarette break

food fest

a path with a view

café life

old Oslo


in the evening sun: enjoying one daughter, missing the other