I’m writing to you from Oslo, the beautiful capital of Norway. Although it’s a bit chillier here than I expected, I’m enjoying connecting with my fellow innovators at Oslo Innovation Week, the largest innovation convention in Europe. There are over 50 events happening across the capital, and the event draws entrepreneurs, investors, and developers. Last year Innovation Week had over 6,000 people from a variety of sectors. I’m looking forward to attending an event today called Celebrating Female Entrepreneurship & Creativity. Should be a nice event discussing women in innovation, specifically within the Northern European landscape.
Below is a guide with some fun facts and interesting sites if you find yourself in Oslo.
Basics: Oslo has a population of 638,500. In 2013 Oslo tied with the Australian city of Melbourne as the fourth most expensive city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)’s Worldwide Cost of Living study.
Name: No one knows exactly where the name Oslo came from. Os can mean a range of hills, a ridge, or a reference to a Norse god, and Lo may mean a field. Oslo can then mean a “field of gods” or “the field below the hill.”
History: One of the oldest capitals in Europe, Oslo was originally settled in Viking times, at around 1000AD.
Geography: Norway is known for its fjords. A fjord is a deep, narrow and elongated sea with steep land on three sides. The Oslofjord has 40 islands.
Weather: The average temperature in Oslo in summer is 16°C (68F) and in winter its -4C (24.8F). Right now it’s 8C (46F) outside!
Did you know: Oslo is the home of the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded on December 10th every year at Oslo City Hall. The last time a Norwegian won the Prize was Fridtjof Nansen in 1922, for his work in aiding the millions in Russia struggling against famine.
Fame: Henrik Johan Ibsen, the famous 19th century playwright known as the father of realism, was born in Norway. He is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare, with major works including Brand, An Enemy of the People, A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, Ghosts, and The Master Builder.
Art: One of the most famous works of modern art, The Scream, was painted by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. Three of the four versions of the painting can be found in Oslo: a painted version at the National Gallery, and a painted and pastel version at the Edvard Munch Museum.
Being the art nerd that I am, I found the spot where Munch painted this scene (A quick Google search showed others who had done the same thing and had written out the directions). For those of you who wish to re-live The Scream moment, it’s along a road called Valhallveien on a hill overlooking the center of Oslo.
I wasn’t kidding when I said that I’m an art nerd.
Language: koselig (koo-she-leh) literally means “cozy.” But the word is actually an important cultural term that represents a type of Norwegian utopia. It means that everybody is warm and safe, everyone is on equal terms, and everyone has what they need at any particular moment.
Architecture: Barcode, one of the most protested building projects in Oslo, consists of a row of new multi-purpose high-rise buildings. Tenants of the buildings include PriceWaterHouseCoopers and Deloitte.
Right across the street is the home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet and the national opera theatre in Norway. The Oslo Opera House is an architectural marvel, designed by renowned architecture firm Snøhetta. The white marble and sloping design at the endge of the Oslofjord gives the allusion of being on a glacier, sliding down on some snow.
Food: I fell in love with the typical Norwegian open faced sandwiches, which consists of a dark, dense bread and topped with butter, cheese, some sort of meat or fish topping, cucumber for some crunch, and Norwegian remoulade, which is like a mayonnaise with a special kick. I also had some of the best Hot Pot I’ve ever had – I never would have thought I would find such good Asian food in Scandinavia!
Coffee: This one’s for the coffee fanatics: Tim Wendelboe, an espresso bar and coffee training center, is considered to be the best coffee in Norway. Having tried it myself, I have to say the coffee is pretty darn delicious. The foam in my cappuccino was perfection. Tim himself was the World Barista Champion in 2004.
Drink: Alcohol is quite expensive in Norway, with a glass of beer averaging at $11 and a bottle of wine at a restaurant averages at $46. But Norwegians still enjoy going out and having a drink or two. I came across this great spot called Kulturhuset near the center of Oslo. A coffee shop by day, this bar dims its lights at night as young Norwegians turn off their laptops for the day and begin playing shuffleboard while catching up with friends.
And always be sure to say takk, which means thank you!
Hadet bra (goodbye)!
This article also appears on Women’s iLab to inspire the next generation of female leaders.