The man walked on to the Norwegian Air flight from JFK to Oslo, guitar slung over his back, long, wild hair, head-to-toe denim, piercings galore. He reached his row, occupied by an elderly, conservatively-dressed couple and himself. “Yes,” he said with a grin and a chuckle, “I am the guy sitting next to you.”
I observed this scene from a few rows over, and as I continued watching people board the plane, it occurred to me that there were a lot of people similar to that man on the flight. Was this indicative of Oslo as a whole, I wondered? Would it be filled to the brim with creative, quirky types? Or by some fluke had they all just wound up on my flight?
While I wouldn’t say Oslo was solely hipster rockstars a la the man who boarded my flight, it was definitely home to a very cool energy. Some of the city was touristy and sedate, sure, but there were also pockets that gave me strong Brooklyn and Berlin vibes. Chief among these Brenneriveien, a street in Oslo’s Grünerløkka neighborhood. The area, filled with old, unused industrial buildings has been transformed into a street art paradise by local art students. I visited twice (once on my food tour and once solo), and each time left inspired and energized.
The abundance of street art in Oslo surprised, and it’s no wonder: when I think of Norway, and Scandinavia at large, some of the first things that come to mind are tidiness and efficiency. However, creativity is alive and well, too, if only you step off the beaten path to find it.