I have been exploring Vestre Aker to find the heart of this bydel. It seems to be a bydel obsessed with skiing. If you plan to visit a café in one of these areas check the website for the seasonal hours. Some places act as ski lodges and draw more business in the winter months. I am aware that it is now officially summer, but I visited parts of the bydel back when there was still snow on the ground. The ski jump at Holmenkollen is an Oslo landmark that can be seen from most of the city. I think many people would think of it as the heart of Vestre Aker if not the heart of the whole city. Skiing is important to Norwegians. There is a saying that goes, “Nordmenn er født med ski på beina” which translates to “Norwegians are born with skis on their feet”. Ouch, right? Also if you bring up skiing to any Norwegian they are legally required to inform you that the word “ski” comes from Norwegian and they invented skiing and there is a town not far from Oslo called Ski. Luckily for my non-athletic, cold-intolerant self, my husband is not ski mad.
Tucked away in a corner of Røa I ran into a place called Miso Café. I was with a friend and we walked around for quite a while trying to find a place to sit at a chain café. (By the way, if you are open to joining me on one of these field trips or you have a suggestion of somewhere that I should visit just let me know via Facebook or Instagram). Just before we became exhausted we passed by Miso and decided to give it a try. We found they had a Korean/Norwegian menu which I am determined to go back and try. On that day we had very nice coffee drinks and the service was exceptional. Røa seems to be mostly a residential area and I don’t know anyone who lives there so didn’t venture to far from the T-banestasjon and shopping centre. I would nominate Miso Café as the heart of Røa, but not go as far as to place it as the heart of the entire Vestre Aker bydel.
Instagram photos from Røa and Miso Café
Another contender would be the Emanuel Vigeland’s museum. Creepy, a little bit weird, but also very cool. If you know anything at all about Oslo you will have heard of Vigeland’s older and more famous brother, Gustav. If you visit me I will definitely take you to Frognerparken where Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures decorate the whole park. (More on this in the forthcoming bydel Frogner blog.) Little brother Vigeland was so sour about living in his brother’s shadow his whole life that he made his own mausoleum. After he died, he was cremated, and his ashes were placed in an urn over the very low framed door as per his wishes. This is specifically so that all who enter his final resting place must bow to him as they come in. The mausoleum is decorated with pictures and murals on every surface. (I can’t stop thinking about Ashley Simpson’s song, “Shadow”. Don’t you dare judge my taste in music based on this admission! I was going through a lot in 2004.) The sound inside the mausoleum is dense, it’s very hard to describe it. The staff there ask visitors not to speak inside. If you promise not to tell anyone, I will admit that once inside I waited until there was no one left except my husband and myself and I made a little peep to see what happened. I would definitely recommend visiting, but even so I wouldn’t call this the heart of Vestre Aker. The heart can’t be in a resting place for a dead person. That would be depressing.
Now to announce the place where the heart of Vestre Aker is in my estimation: I have to go with Korketrekkeren, which translates to the Corskscrew. This is a sled track which was formerly used for bob sleigh and the luge in the Olympics and is now used recreationally. I am a big chicken and was super nervous about sledding, but I did it for the good of the project. If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen a video of me on the verge of tears while going downhill and losing control a little bit. Afterwards I pretended to my family who are originally Jamaican (they are also very aware that I am the least athletic member of the family) that I had chanelled my inner Jamaican bobsled team member, made famous in the Disney film, Cool Runnings. Korketrekkeren is place with a lot of life. We were among the few people who didn’t bring children with them. This activity is perfect for a family fun day on a Sunday. Flying down a hill at speed causes screaming. Good screaming, the happy children kind of screaming. To get to the beginning of the track, get off at Frognerseteren T-bane stop. Take a short walk to the sled rental hut (helmets are included). After sledding all the way down, we took the tube from Midstuen and sledded down again. After the second time we returned to Frognerseteren to return the sleds and then had lunch at the beautiful Frognerseteren cafe/restaurant.
The poem this time is inspired by Korketrekkeren.
Melis på toppen av en kake
er ikke nødvendig
Det er bare gøy og søtt,
for moro skyld
Fordi lyden av barn som skriker av glede
er den beste lyden i verden
Og noen ganger må vi huske
å bli barnslige, barnlige
Throughout 2017 poet and blogger Leeanne Stoddart will travel around Oslo searching for the heart of each borough. She will write blogs, take photos, and write poetry from each place she visits. You can trace the journey here, and follow @hverbydelharethjerte on Instagram. The blog posts will be in English, whilst the poetry is in Norwegian.