Oslo – feeding your Norwegian soul in Grünerløkka

I’m half Norwegian on my mum’s side, so I’ve been to Oslo several times, most often as a child but also once or twice as an adult. The last time was back in 2006 (I think) and involved a big night out with my cousins resulting in some very cloudy memories! On this occasion however (late August 2018) my brother Dan and I rented an AirBnB rather than staying with my auntie and uncle out in the suburbs, so we had the opportunity to wander at will and get to know the city centre a bit better.

Our flat was on Trondheimsveien on the eastern edge of Grunnerlokka, a Bohemian student area about twenty minutes’ walk north of the centre. This put us within striking distance of the centre of town but near also lots of hip locations to our west which is where we headed on our first evening. You’ll find everywhere I mention, and many other places that we didn’t get to, on my map of Oslo here. There’s a map of Grünerløkka here.

After dropping our bags, our first stop was Syverkiosken at 45b Maridalsveien, one of the few remaining kiosks selling Pølser (hotdogs) a typical Norwegian streetfood. In Olso and Østfold people prefer boiled wieners, Vienna-style hotdogs, whereas fried, German-style bratwurst are more popular in the west of Norway. Once there were many kiosks but sadly they are disappearing rapidly due to direct competition from petrol stations and convenience stores, as well as the onslaught of kebab shops and other kinds of readily available fast food. Pølser will never disappear completely though as they remain the go-to snack at home. For most Norwegians they are the ultimate comfort food, a taste of pure nostalgia, and they are eaten everywhere, at any time, for any occasion (weddings, football matches, barbecues, bonfires, midnight snacks).

Dan and I usually have to settle for the inferior Swedish variety on our sporadic visits to Ikea so this was a special treat. You can tell the ones at Syverkiosken are the real deal by their ‘knekk’, that is, the sound they make when snapped.

You get the choice of having them in a bread roll or with a Lompe, a thick potato pancake, which is unique to Norway in sausage culture. My brother went for the ‘Classic’ hotdog in a bun (with Rekesalat (a prawn and mayo based salad), fried onions and liberal dashes of mustard and ketchup). I went for the ‘Special’ made with Jalapenosalat (a chilli version of rekesalat minus the prawns) as I’d never tried it (B) and with a lompe enveloping the whole (A). Video here. To complete the reliving of our childhood memories, we washed it down with Solo, a very popular Norwegian oranegade.

After this we went for a stroll down Markeveien on the hunt for some classic Scandinavian design homewares but unfortunately many of the vintage shops had closed by the time we got there (6pm).

We came across a few nice old buildings along the way.

On our walks we tried to take in as many street art spots as possible, the most interesting being the area around the junction of Brennerveien and Ingens Gata, a very cool little spot with an outdoor bar by the Akers river. A popular underground nightclub called Blå is also here.

At 9c Brennerveien there’s a great mural called ‘Crocodile’ (2012) by Phlegm, a street artist from my hometown Sheffield.

Sadly it was partly obscured by a large van but you get the idea.

He has another mural called ‘Elysium’ (2017) at 28 Christian Krohgs Gate.

More hipster vibes in the district of Vulkan next…

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