Like Hamburg, Oslo is a city that is closely connected to nature and water, the latter being especially pronounced. We could see the Akerselva river threading its way forward and it was along it that we set off on a new walk through the district Grünerløkka. Trees were still bare, but you could feel spring waiting just around the corner, and it was easy to imagine masses of green foliage among new apartment blocks and older buildings with graffiti on their walls. Contrasts along the Akerselva are a fact, and just like in the rest of Oslo, they seem natural, a fact you quickly accept and like. Nothing feels pushed out, intimidating or forced.
The sound of rushing water as the Akerselva squeezes in to a narrow brook dashing over rocks or a full-grown waterfall is a constant companion during the walk.
Joggers and parents with prams stroll everywhere, including construction sites, which somehow don’t obstruct, either the view or the walking process. It’s almost like the construction itself is polite – a regular part of Oslo’s developing urban landscape. Building doesn’t cut through nature in the city, it’s happening around it. The area around Akerselva used to be an industrial hub, with factories and mills which are now filled with new offices and companies, but the ultimately arresting architecture remains, as Grünerløkka has expanded to become much more than a working class district.
Along the way you can walk over to the Mathallen, a food market hall. The first of its kind in Norway, it’s a former factory that now houses various shops selling delicious Norwegian food, which we, unfortunately, surveyed with full bellies.
After quite a bit of walking uphill we approached the Hønse-Lovisas hus, dark red, small, charming and typically Norwegian. My friend had told me about it before we set off and we gratefully did justice to their waffles with jam and cream, while sitting outside in the sun and watching this waterfall, yet another example of the natural and the urban working well together.
After four hours of walking, my excitement about discovering Oslo further was only mounting. I also brought back my first sunburn of the year, conveniently spread over my face. Pack the sunscreen.