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Destination: you're leaving Oslo...with an original souvenir for your (stepmom) (troll)

It occasionally leaves a little skratch on my soul, yet comprehension accompanies it—the magnetic pull in Oslo shopping streets of plastic souvenir trolls manufactured on the other side of the planet, whimsical beanies with the Norwegian flag embroided on it, helmets bedecked with cow horns, and portions of Freja milk chocolate. You might find yourself in Oslo for just a day, pressed for time, and still desiring to procure a thoughtful and original souvenir for your malevolent stepmother in the optimistic anticipation that she might temper her unkindness in the future. Allow me to advise against it. Step-mothers, as a rule, remain unaltered. Therefore, reserve such considerate gestures for those genuinely warm-hearted stepmoms.

Now, you foresee the trajectory of this article. I shall impart three recommendations for mementoes that distinctly embody Norwegian essence, eschewing any association with the prolific production of plastic trolls. My aspiration extends to fostering connections between you, the reader, and the exceptionally talented local Norwegian artists and producers.

To commence, I direct your attention to Majorstuen—a sprawling district replete with dignified apartment blocks dating back to the late 19th century. Here, brandnew BMWs line the the sidewalkes. That's not due to the residents' lack of covered parking cellars but rather to the fact that covered parking is used for hibernating exclusive sports cars, sheltered from the terrors of snow and ice during winter. Teenagers meander the sidewalks with dangling Louis Vuitton bags, an acquisition incongruous with their presumably modest paper route earnings. Here you have it; a demographic snapshot of Majorstuen. Contrary to expectations, this locale does not embody an unpleasant milieu; quite the opposite. Abundant charming eateries, lunch spots, and Bogdstadveien, one of the nation's lengthiest shopping avenues, adorn the vicinity. Concealed in a secluded alley, distanced from the reverberating sports cars, lies a delightfully enchanting boutique: "Too Many Prints." Herein lies an extensive array of exceedingly original prints, frequently produced in limited quantities. Ranging from graphically stylised depictions of iconic city landmarks to abstract monochromatic compositions, the assortment caters to diverse tastes. My personal sojourn, embarked with the intention of finding a print for my new apartment, transpired over approximately 1.5 hours, marked by a perpetual grin. Regrettably, I departed empty-handed, paralysed by indecision. Too many prints! If Majorstuen seems a considerable distance, reconsider! Chances are, you're already in proximity to explore the imposing Frogner Park (that park replete with statues). So do pop by there and be amazed.

Subsequently, we venture towards a whimsical shop situated on the periphery of one of Oslo's most congenial neighbourhoods—Grunnerløkka, or colloquially referred to as 'Løkka.' Here, an assortment of amusing t-shirts, handmade soap, charming prints, hoodies, and more beckon. Moreover, Skaperverket nestles amidst an array of beguiling (vintage) stores, coffee establishments, and lunch venues. Half a century ago, it might strain credulity that this area was Oslo's most destitute and dodgy quarter, characterized by rampant poverty and pervasive public alcohol abuse. Such a scenario is almost unimaginable today, with the contemporary tableau featuring stylish dudes donning rolled-up beanies and complicated sneakers, sipping latte-frappe-drinketies-with-vegan-milk with an effortless and elegant nonchalance. Nevertheless, it undeniably stands as the city's most congenial neighbourhood, day and night.

Our final recommendation lies in proximity to Skaperverket—a fervent endorsement for the Sunday market at Blå. Beyond its association with ingeniously repurposed industrial heritage, the environs surrounding Blå warrant exploration. Crossing the bridge leads directly onto the terrace of Blå, a delightful spot for summertime repose with a refreshing pint in hand. This locale also hosts captivating concerts on occasion. However, Sundays bring forth a vibrant market experience. What awaits you here? Virtually everything. Superb ceramics, exquisite handcrafted items, soap, jewellery, gastronomic delights, (vintage) clothes, art—each item a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of Norwegian creatives. One could easily invest an hour here, if only to marvel at the impeccably attired visitors.

Should the desire for that plastic troll persist, you have my blessing. Nonetheless, my intent is to perhaps spark a desire for something else. Have fun and do share the contents of your suitcase with me...or the souveniers you're brining home. I'm curious (..and on Instagram).


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