Monday, 26 March 2012

Oslo a go-go

My doubts about my visit to Oslo were quickly allayed by being in Oslo. The first few days of meetings were a little dry, but with enough interesting presentations, and more importantly enough opportunity to meet the people doing interesting things, to keep my attention. In between, I managed to get out to see a little of the town, principally in the evenings.

Monday night I went down to the harbour for dinner with a couple of other people from the conference, which drove home both the expense but also the appeal of the Oslo waterfront.

Tuesday we had a dinner at a cultural museum on the curiously-named presque-île of Bygdøy, a strange affair whose central feature was the passing around the room of a bowl of beer, from which everyone drank.

Wednesday night found us at what seemed to be Norway's national construction industry awards night, an incredibly kitch affair with what could only be characterised as "cock rock", each category's nominees being ushered in by "We are the Champions" or similar. As it happened, this was the only English used for the night, and the combination of kitch music, plentiful wine, and the complete incomprehensibility of the dialogue made for a pretty good time at our table.

Friday saw an end to the official conference proceedings, leaving me to my own devices for a few days. I had arranged to stay with Franck and his family, and he also invited me in to SINTEF to give a presentation on Friday morning. I cobbled something together, and had a good time discussing the mix of MDE and BIM with Franck, Arnor and others in their group. In the afternoon, at Franck's recommendation, I took a T-bane to its terminus at Frognerseteren, high up in the hills above the harbour.

I imagine that in years less warm than this, there would have been more people up there using it as a base for cross-country skiing, as there were a handful of pretty little trails radiating out away from the train platform. Despite the facts that (a) the warm weather had made the trails simultaneously less than ideal for both skiing and walking, and (b) I was wearing town shoes rather than skis or even hiking boots, I was determined to see some scenery, and set out down a trail in the general direction of the appealingly named Tryvannstua. I wandered pretty randomly, to be honest, and learnt a lot about types of snow, specifically which types of glistening snow were slippery, or were likely to admit my wholly inappropriate shoes to wholly uncomfortable depths. In the end, I called a halt to proceedings and did an about-face what must have been only a few hundred metres short of Tryvannstua, but not having attained my randomly selected destination did not take away from my enjoyment of the surroundings. I suspect that had I been there a month earlier, on skis, or a month later, with leaves on the trees and flowers on the ground, it would have been more pleasant, but after a week in meeting rooms staring out windows, I certainly appreciated being outdoors.

On the way down the hill I stopped at Holmenkollen, site of Oslo's skijump, likely built for a long-past Winter Olympics, but looking a little forlorn without its coating of snow. Next door there was a track set up for some sort of nordic skiing sprint event, with lots of people walking around preparing TV gear, ticket offices and the like for the finals on the Saturday, while what I presume were the lesser skiers went down the hill attempting to qualify.

Friday night, Saturday and Sunday morning I spent with Franck, Valentine and their son Sacha, much as I did on my visit there last year. I really like hanging out with their little family, even if at times I feel like a bit of a third wheel, when Sacha plays up (I suspect sometimes for my benefit), or when real life just takes a hand. I hope that one day I'll be able to return the favour with some of my European friends, and share my life in Australia with them as well.

No comments: