The Pride and the Piknik

I got sunburnt in Oslo;  but I have a good excuse.

As Henrik left to set up for his event in the morning, he swiped the sunblock off the shelf.

“Who put’s sunblock on for 23 degrees?” I tease. “In South Africa we don’t even get excited for the sun below twenty.” Eight hours later I’m standing in front of the mirror admiring my red marks.

The morning started off with an interesting little adventure into the dungeon of the flat complex I’m staying. It felt like a horror film. The walls were stripped of paint, weird sounds drifted down the stairs, and there was no form of life in the basement. But I had a mission: to dry and do all the laundry.

Apart from the scary setting, I came to another barrier: everything is in Norwegian! After three hours of trial and error, the washing was done and I was ready to set off. I finally had an excuse to wear my skirt and crop top. I had my food and camera packed for the festival, and my plan was to go to Oslo’s Pride Parade on the way.

Pride Parade

I set off at a walk. At first I glanced around nervously, I was not sure weather my wardrobe choice was wise or silly. But as I drew closer to the city center I saw many others flaunting shorts, skirts and dresses and I relaxed a bit. It took me a while (half an hour) to find the central area where the Parade would take place as my GPS on my phone led me astray, but I eventually set myself up outside the Oslo Center.

The atmosphere was buzzing and contagious. People of all ages, shapes and sizes were present. From young kids, to grandparents, dogs, police and many more eager faces flocked to yesterday’s festivities. Watch the video below:

Even though everyone started in a good mood, there was a streak of anxiety in the air which I couldn’t place. By the end of the parade, everyone was beaming and rejoicing with each other. It was the first time I felt part of Oslo. We laughed, sang and danced with each other and smiles were contagious! What a perfect day for it too!

The Pride Parade stretched from 1pm until 2:30pm. Then it was time for me to head onto the next phase of festivities at Piknik in the Park. I set off smiling softly and enjoying the sunlight.

Navigating Norway

A quick word on trying to find your way in Oslo: it’s the most confusing thing I’ve ever done. For some reason the GPS consistently gets confused, saying that I start my journey in the right direction, then ten minutes later will decide ‘no, the other way was better’. It feels like I’m being led by a drunk friend.

Then, on top of that, it leads you on the longest possible detour to get from A to B. I had to travel 2.7km by bicycle from the Sentrum to Vigelandsparken, but somehow my journey there took forty minutes instead of ten! My GPS made me zigzag around streets whose names I couldn’t pronounce for ages! Then, we I finally reached the park, I had to cycle a kilometer further to park the bike at a station. It was exasperating. I kept cursing in Afrikaans at every wrong turn.

Piknik in the Park

When the sun’s out the guns really do come out. After my annoying and fruitless efforts to get to Vigelandsparken, I eventually made it. This park was dotted with the sculptures of one Gustav Vigelandt. As I meandered along the little gravel paths I weaved in between families playing football, groups of friends braaing, singles sun tanning. Everyone was soaking up every bit of sunlight they could.

After more confusion I stumbled through the entrance of the festival, tired, hungry and hot. I quickly found Henrik’s orange juice stand: Juice Tralla, only to find that I had no cash, so I had to track back a kilometer to draw money at an ATM. I reentered the park at 4:30pm and stood in a queue for the most delicious burger I could have asked for from Go Grilla, a local food truck. The atmosphere, the sun, the food… everything just came together so perfectly.

Unfortunately, do to their popularity, Juice Tralla was all sold out when I got there. But no matter, I had a good time with Henrik and his friend/co-juicer Martinius. It wasn’t until I leaned against the juice stand that I realised that I had gotten sunburnt. I glanced down at my arms and chest to see it was brightly flushed.

“Henrik, do you still have that sunblock on you?”

“Of course!” he said proudly, and whipped it out so I could apply it generously all over my body. Although it was close to 6pm the sun was high in the sky and I feared getting more burnt. Henrik left soon after so I joined another friend of his from school and we spent the evening chatting about travelling and studying. Apparently Copenhagen is the place to go so I put it on my map.

Just after 7pm Kins of Convenience came on: the real reason I came. I was introduced to them by Jonas and Marcus earlier this week and I have fallen in love with the chilled tunes. We swayed to the music as the two indie folk musicians took to the stage. They were clearly everyone’s favourite, and soon had everyone standing and clapping along.

It was the perfect end to a long day. It had finally cooled down a bit so I pulled on my denim shirt and headed home. I once again experienced frustration with the Bysykkel bike service, because the one station I found said there were no bikes available (even though there were three checked in). So I resigned to walking back the 3.5km to Henrik’s place where I could wash all the stickiness of the day off and get a good night’s sleep.

 

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