Saturday, October 22, 2005

Quaint things about Oslo

Tea lights

  1. Candles outside shops. Some shops have them all year round but usually this is a winter thing. Shop keepers trying their best to set fire not only to their own premises but to everyone passing by. Occasionally there will be a really serious gas or paraffin fired blazing torch. You need to keep your wits about you if you want to avoid a singed bum! It is a delightful sight on a dark winter afternoon.
  2. Candles everywhere. To light the long winter nights and even the long summer days you find candles and tea lights everywhere particularly on your table in bars cafes and restaurants. I think it is a delightful touch particularly on the dim winter days.
  3. Shops do not put their Christmas decorations up until beginning of December. Unlike the UK where Christmas starts at the begriming of October!
  4. The all year round Cafe culture. In the winter Cafes and Bars supply blankets to cover your knees if you want to sit out side. You can't beet drinking a cold beer when it´s -10C with a warm blanket wrapped around your knees.
  5. You get the best Cafe Mocha in Oslo cafes.
  6. Norway is NO SMOKING. You have no idea how delightful it is to watch Liverpool spanking Chelsea (well you can dream) in an Oslo city centre bar which is smoke FREE. The smokers are very well trained and nip outside for a quick drag at regular intervals and top the nicotine at half time. The only problem is during the summer months when non smokers want to sit outside. This is a chance for the smokers to get their own back by blowing smoke in your face!
  7. Ethnic food shops, particularly Greengrocers. Oslo and its environs are well supplied with corner shops and ethnic establishments of all sorts. Some of the best are the Greengrocers one of the best of these are the Sultan shops, they sell a vast range of fresh fruit and veg and other exotic merchandise.
  8. You can check the salary of your neighbours or any other Norwegian citizen, including the King on line. Oh, that means the King can check your salary as wel of course. How democratic is that.
  9. Craft Bread. It is a standing joke that Norwegians only eat stale bread. It is true that an average Norwegian loaf can last the best part of a week and has a similar consistency at the end as at the start. But there must be more Kraft Bakeries around Oslo than there are Boulangeries in Paris. We have enjoyed some of the most delicious fresh bread ever. The biggest problem is most of the loaves look the same. One of our favourites breads is Gulrotbrod (Carrot bread) apart from being very tasty it has the advantage of not turning into a brick within 24 hrs.
  10. Limited choices in Norwegian supermarkets. Oslo has lots of small and medium size supermarkets but as far as I am aware there is nothing to match the size of even an average size Tesco store. There is a raging controversy that four companies control the main supermarket chains in Norway and they are accused of restricting choice by charging placement premiums for stocking products in prominent positions. The result is that some manufacturers are refusing to cooperate, Procter & Gamble for instance have refused to supply disposable nappies. There is also a policy of stocking home produced products for example Norway grows all their own strawberries, can you believe that. All down to poly tunnels and cheap electricity apparently. Nice strawberries though!

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