Friday, April 8, 2011

The artsy and shady side of Oslo

I was in Oslo earlier this week for a conference. I gave the hour and a half plenary session talk entirely in Norwegian which felt good.

We stayed at the Radisson BLU hotel near to the train station in the heart of Oslo. I looped around the wrong side of the train station and was approached three times by scary people making offers. "Speed eller dope?" and other propositions with vocabulary I hadn't heard before but could guess at the meaning. I hadn't seen this side of Norway before!

The hotel is next to the Spektrum, a big theater home to the glitziest shows. The Eurovision competition was held there a couple of years ago. There's all kind of interesting brickwork on the building which I had fun studying, and plenty of other artworks in the area.

Close by is also a pleasant street of residences and grocery stores called Grønland. There are several circus statues of clowns and a monkey. A large plaque in front of one of the clown statues announces this location as the first meeting place for the Salvation Army in 1888. What the Salvation Army has to do with clowns is a mystery to me.

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