Been a few weeks back in Oslo now; finding it a mix of the familiar and the forgotten.
When I first landed at the beginning of March everywhere was snow and ice yet still perfectly functional (take note, Heathrow Airport). Oslo was in the middle of hosting the World Nordic Skiing Championships and the pride, patriotism and party atmosphere were palpable. The stretch between the parliament building and the National Theatre hosted amongst other things: numerous ice sculptures, food, trade and souvenir stalls, a set for live television broadcasts and a stage for major live music performances. For my sins, I did not follow progress closely enough to know the final scores but I know that Norway won quite a few gold medals.
Once the skiing was over Oslo reverted to being the much quieter city that still manages to surprise me. The relative lack of hustle and bustle here seems all the more unusual having just spent two years in a far more provincial location that conversely seemed much more lively. This has to be the most laid back capital I have yet experienced.
The length and depth of the last winter may have contributed to quiet. Record low temperatures were recorded in various parts of the country and Oslo saw over five months of snow. Thankfully the thaw set in here last week and as if to emphasise the fact this last weekend was a feast of sun and blue skies. Cherished cars and molly-coddled motorcycles all suddenly appeared on the streets like emerging butterflies. I have never seen so many different models of Corvette in one day.
It has been grey clouds, wind and rain all day today but spirits remain high. The fjord remains unfrozen, the street-sweepers are clearing the grit away and days continue to lengthen. Spring is here.