Archive for September, 2006

Down and Out in Toulouse and Oslo

Rådhuset, Oslo After being completely flushed away by heavy rain last week, from the streets of Toulouse, M. and I now find ourselves in the city of Oslo. She has to work, I get to play. Or at least to wander around the city a little. Disappointed by the (walking) distance from the hotel to the Munch Museum, but also pleasantly surprised by the radiant, sunny weather (although the sun doesn’t seem to reach much higher than in Holland on a midwinter’s day–it does make you very aware the you’re closer to the pole), I decided to change plans and explore the city center and the harbour. So I walked round, all the way down Universitatsgata, which eventually leads to a strange looking, huge red brick building with two towers, called Rådhuset (town hall), behind which you’ll find the waterfront: a little fish-auction where fresh fish (I’m assuming it’s fresh) is being sold directly off the fisherboats, and a long quay winding along Aker Brygge, which appears to be Oslo’s Port Vell, with restaurants and shops on one side, and yaughts and ferries on the other.

Aker Brygge, Oslo There’s a smell of seawater, shrimps and diesel oil; shrieks from the seagulls flying around; creaking of boats on the gentle waves; sharp light of the sun low on the horizon; a murmur of the Norwegian language that creaks much like the boats do; and of course the constants sound of rippling water. There’s an old looking seagull, lying near the edge of the quay, looking out over the water, bathing in the sun, with a tired look on its face; it won’t budge however close I get. Is it near its end, waiting to die, reminiscing over the days when it would fly around freely over this harbour, hunting for fish, scavenging for people’s leftovers?

Carcassonne By Night A french-speaking couple walks by. It’s only four days ago that we left France after a two-week holiday, the car boot stacked with wine, driving all the way home from Carcassonne (where we stayed) in one day to have some more preparation time for Oslo. You can only travel so much, it seems, before you start getting enough of it–and it seems that M. is certainly reaching that point (she did four more trips this summer). What an impressive city, Carcassonne. Very touristy of course, but you can hardly blame the city for that. Carcassonne is a city in the south of France, some 200 km north of Barcelona. It was originally built as a walled city in the Middle Ages, then eroded away in the centuries after, because its walls weren’t up against newer methods of warfare (like explosives and catapults). In the 19th century, a French architect decided to restore the old city to its former glory, rebuilding the walls where necessary, as well as the coned roofs on the towers–and filling in some of the details using his own imagination. Which is of course always the danger of restoring things: you’ll be tempted to rebuild them “as they were”, being under the illusion that you end up with the original thing.

2006-09-20. No responses.