Why I love living in Barcelona. Because on any given evening I can walk out of the house with camera in hand, stroll aimlessly and feel inspired. And feel exploring. And feel love.
Last week I went out for a stroll to a neighborhood, not far from mine, called Sant Andreu. Sant Andreu looks like a little pueblo, a village of its own. And it is has the truth in it, because it used to be a separate village before being integrated in the city of Barcelona. Sant Andreu is full of narrow streets shaded by orange trees, cobblestone walks and sweet little houses. But this text is not going to be about it. Neither the photos (well, some are but not exclusively).
Walking in those narrow streets, I breathed in and realized that the air I breathe in – is love. The love for a place. Barcelona at that moment reminded me of three places I love so much: Kiev, Malaga and Rovinj.
Even though I am a color lover and always prefer to search for color, there was a day when I got attracted to all black-and-white and couldn’t stop finding it everywhere. You know this thing, when you turn your attention to something particular – and then you keep on seeing it everywhere, don’t you?
So I decided that since there was so much black-and-white in my view, then that will it be. Here is what I found on that particular day. It was in October, so yes, it is totally non-representative of how Oslo is right now in terms of light (though there is even more black and white in it now :))
I may not be the first person who came up with this title. But I haven’t seen it before – so I use it 🙂 Devoting this post to my favorite neighborhood in the whole Oslo (and, let’s be honest, in the whole of Norway). Grunerløkka which we locals call shortly and affectionately “Løkka”.
Good news for collectors who want to lead a more minimalistic lifestyle. I am that one. I love collecting things but the life lately is giving me lessons of minimalism. Yesterday I discovered this: going on a photo hunt and finding items that match my search theme can give the same good feeling as when I do lucky shopping. It is not always about things, but about that happy hormone shooting through my brain. Maybe, it is the same mechanism – the joy of the collector’s reward :))
Yesterday I was on the color hunt and I hope to share my findings here soon. Today I want to share my collection of numbers gathered around Oslo. This is a feature of such collections – I want to display them. Luckily, the blog can be that spot. So, no more words – just numbers!
As the autumn starts rolling in here, let me present you the summer feeling of one colorful neighborhood of Oslo. As long as it seems natural, that is: before it starts raining away or snowing :)) Welcome to Grønland (the same name as the country of Greenland in Norwegian, but this one is in the centre of Oslo).
Some months ago I saw a lovely post about the old signs in France. Lover of all things French and pretty vintage, I made myself a promise to go on a photowalk in Oslo and search for the old signs. Somehow I had an idea in my mind that the old signs of my neighborhood Grunerløkka were to be preserved and protected. Quickly I had to find out that either the rules have changed – or I remembered the wrong facts 🙂 There were no old signs – well, just a couple of them.
But I was already eager to set my lens focused on signs – and so I collected all the signs I considered worthy :)) They all are to be found in this hipster, relaxed, trendy neighborhood of Oslo – called Grunerløkka (where I happen – and am happy – to live). It used to be a cheap scary area which went through gentrification some years ago and now it is both cool and expensive to move in here. It used to be a place of many independent shops, bars and cafes, but now they give way to the bigger store chains and coffee houses. So some signs you see here can be unique and some are quite international. Now let’s walk – and follow the signs!
Where to find summer in the city? There are parks and botanical gardens, there are promenades by the sea and walks along the river. Some cities have beaches, some have lakes. Oslo is lucky to have both: lakes, beaches and the waterfront by the fjord. But I want to share with you my secret place, the hidden jewel of this city – kolonihage, i.e. colonial garden.
There are several of them around Oslo, well hidden and not visited by others than their users. I have discovered two and am totally swept by this idea. One kolonihage lies not far from my home and this spring I went there on the photo hunt. It was during the long weekend in late May when many left the city, and so it was quite and peaceful. The weather was warm and friendly, and made it perfect for tranquil walks around the gardens. Join me on this tour of early summer idyll!
I continue sharing my love for Oslo and its neighborhoods (you can see other posts in these series through the tag “barrios” in my blog). Today I want to share a pretty neighborhood of St. Hanshaugen which seems to be inspired by Italian cities, especially by Rome. I see it in the classical forms of facades, roundness of arches and buildings, in the cascade of stairs and the color palette.
So join me for the summer photowalk through this neighborhood and let me know if it gives you the same reminiscence.
Once in Ukraine I bought a bread with the name “Danish bread”. I am sure, there was nothing Danish about it, the producers just wanted to give it a fancy name. I was a student back then, just 20 years old, who had never travelled outside of Ukraine, except to Russia. The name of the bread made me wonder: “What do I know about Denmark? And Scandinavia?” I tried to make a mental list in my head. And was always messing up the capitals (“Oslo is the capital of Finland, and Helsinki – of Sweden?”). Ok, so Denmark is easy. It’s Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid and H. C. Andersen. Sweden is Astrid Lindgren and Pippi Longstocking (I was a literature student and it was easier to name books than IKEA. I had no idea about IKEA then). Norway? Ok, fjords. And Finland – just sauna and that’s it?
I still remember the kind of hunger I felt – hunger to fill in my blanks about that part of the world. I had no idea then that I could end up living in Scandinavia. And those blanks would be filled, with overflow actually 🙂 Already as a child, I had loved Scandinavian fairytales, Moomin trolls by Tove Jansson, H.C. Andersen – and I wonder if this could be a secret reason why I came to live here in the North, though I have never dreamt about it explicitly. Maybe, it was my subconscious dream 🙂
Once, when I was working as a substitute teacher, in the beginning of my teacher career here, we took our second-graders to the local woods. To look for the spring signs. It was officially the subject of the class. To look for the first flowers, buds and bees, to listen to the birds. On return the kids had to fill out the form: “what have you seen and what have you heard?” The science teacher had warned them: “Don’t write “I have seen everything”, it is not interesting. Write what exactly you saw and what you heard (like birds)”. The smartest (or laziest) of them all wrote, of course, in their funny second-grader’s handwriting: “I have seen everything”. While others drew battle scenes from their fantasies. An early lesson on mindfulness. Failed? (Succeeded?)
I have caught myself in a pattern: every spring I go to the botanical garden. To look for the spring signs. After the long winter it feels like coming back to life. And when I see the first flowers, usually they come before the buds, I cheer like in some celebration: “It is spring again! The life has won again! We have survived this winter!” I guess, these emotions would not be understood by the inhabitants of the warmer countries where the season change is not so visible or not so important. But here in the North, where the country is covered in snow and ice for some five months, seeing the first signs of life is like waking up from the dead. For me it is an emotional thing. It seems that in the places where winters are long and harsh, the people are more keen to the change of seasons and are joyful about the spring arrival like no one else.