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Stockholm and the road to Oslo

Last year was such a flurry of visits, trips, events and work that I effectively stopped blogging somewhere in September, due to the overly high amounts of doing.

So, please do bear with me, and cast your mind back to mid October last year, when the sky was blue, and the Swedish air was filled with the delicate scent of herring, onions and dill:

A very very long time ago, a friend (Bonnie) told me, that if I were to ever visit Stockholm then it was very important to go to Nystekt Stromming- a small fish carvan on the southern edge of the Gamla Stan area.

And so I do.

In fact, here’s me eating some tasty fish on toast in 2014 when my ex and I went to meet our Aussie friend Simon on his way to or from a job interview:

…Here’s a photo from a short stopover in the city with my ex and some other Aussie friends back in 2016:

And here’s one with my mum from 2018:

It’s important that people have traditions in their lives.

This time around, I was visiting Stockholm for a conference on the topic of Climate Change and Health- a last minute discovery that ended up being one of the most useful conferences of the year.

Luckily, the fish shop was halfway between the train station and my hotel, and it was a nice enough day to walk.

I was pretty exhausted when I arrived, and didn’t have much time to explore the city again throughout the week due to heavy conferencing.

But I did discover this beauty, which is effectively Sweden’s answer to the almond croissant:

Except instead of day old croissants, you use day old cinnamon scrolls.

Thank you Brod and Salt, I am forever in your debt and also my cholesterol is proably several points higher.

I also managed a quick drink at Lucy’s Flower Shop, taking what I felt was a particularly Scandinavian ‘Birch and Raspberry’.

Final remarks to the fact that the area I was staying in – while way up on a hill- was pretty cool. And so was the two-people band and the sustainably-sourced conference dinner. (I also managed to sit with a bunch of women who were doctors in South Africa, and it was fascinating to hear about their life and work).

The next day, with the coference ended, it was time to travel again.

I decided that instead of spending the day travelling back home, I’d spend it travelling ‘sort of in the right direction back towards home’.

The thing is, I’ve been to Stockholm a couple of times now, as evidenced by the number of fish eaten.

And (while acknolwegeing that this is probably a bit of a douchy thing to say), I didn’t feel like spending more time there, but did morally object to the idea of flying somewhere for work without getting a few extra personal days added onto the end of the work commitments in order to maximise my overall joy.

And So, I devised a plan to head west (To London of Bust!) by train. First to Oslo, and later to Bergen. In an ideal world, it would have been possible to get a boat out of Bergen and hit land somewhere in the far North of the UK, before gradually working my way down to the big city. As it turns out cheap air travel killed my dream and the Ferry from Bergen to Newcastle has not been running since 2008 (although there are now apparently plans to bring it back for 2026!!). So I had to fly from Bergen.

But still. Three cities for the price ( plus*coughcough very expensive train tickets and accomodation*) of one.

And so, at an ungodly hour of the morning I woke up, tottered to the train station, and boarded the Oslo Express.

Big Shout out to the Views, and to the brilliant seat design which allowed the Tiger (my self-sewn backpack) to travel safely by my side.

I opened my laptop, did a tonne of work. And then, just like that- plus or minus six hours- I was in Oslo.

With a whole new kind of Tiger.

I checked into my hotel, did some more work, and then went for a bit of an explore.

First, some lunch in a hipster foodhall (I took something cheap that claimed it was a specifically Oslo-ian stew. It was fine)…..

… and then some proper walks to discover the city.

Big Hoorah to the people choosing to go swimming on such a chilly day! At least there were saunas nearby to warm up in afterwards.

Also of special note:

The famous hand-shaped fountain of Christiania Torv in the Kvadraturen region. Then hand is supposed to represent Christian IV- a Danish/Norwegian King pointing to THE SPOT where the city should be rebuilt after a great fire in 1634.

Apparently the first hand was built of wood and subsequently also burnt down.

The City Hall, aka- where they Nobel Peace Prize is handed out each year in December.

Sami protests outside Stortinget – The Parliament. Unsurprisingly, it seems that the government had broken some promises made to the Sami people.

After my walk I wandered around a bit trying to avoid the slight dampness of the season.

I also tried the famous Norwegian Kvikk Lunsj (which, yeah- it’s just a KitKat- sorry)

…. and decided to not buy something that is was clearly made using the livers of small blonde children:

Because being in Norway pretty much means mandatorily eating fish, I headed to the Mathallen for dinner, and found myself an incredible seafood stew, and also managed to to much down on a tasty but weirdly fluffy fish cake.

Oh Yeah, and because I’m now really really fancy, I also went to Himkok.

Which, first of all. Apart from the name, it must be noted that this is the symbol:

My friends, I dare you to not think PENIS.

I had the sea buckthorn cocktail (aka sandorn to the Germans), because it felt like a nice unique flavour and was sold to me as a fairly sour fruity cocktail.

It tasted exactly like Fanta, which I was not super pleased with.

Which well, I probably should have read up on:

From this interview: “One of the drinks is called Sea Buckthorn which features Himkok’s Sea Buckthorn Distillate, Cointreau and orange water kefir, St. Halvard [a Norwegian liqueur), strawberry and rhubarb wine and apple and grape acidities. It’s garnished with a piece of Kvikk Lunsj [Norwegian chocolate]. What we wanted to mimic with this one is a Norwegian drink called Solo – it’s like Fanta and very embroidered into Norwegian culture. Our cocktail is a Highball as we wanted to recreate those soda memories that Norwegians have from childhood. I mean, I still drink it – lots of people do, it’s one of those drinks you have, particularly during Easter holidays. It’s very fresh, very orange, very vibrant.”

So basically Norwegian Fanta garnished with Norwegian KitKat.

In any case, the bar had a cool enough vibe, and it was fun to be fancy. Plus, it’s nice to click on links at a much later date and learn about the art associated with the drinks, designed by Eline Dragesund in collaboration with the bar.

Anyway! Cheers to a first time in Oslo!!

10-14 October, 2023

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