Monday, July 7, 2008

I [heart] Oslo

"The minority is always right" from En Folkefiende by Henrik Ibsen

Oslo’s main street is named after a Swedish king, Karl Johan. He earned his keep as king from the swedes after he excelled in battles against all-time-favorite, little man Napoleon. In 1814 Norway became its own kingdom united with Sweden and with Karl Johan as king. Norway’s training wheels as a country came off in 1905 when we broke free, much to Sweden's current dismay. Strolling his street on my way to work one morning I noticed something that I’m sure has been there for years, but it’s new to me as I’m about 11 years behind my countrymen. The sidewalk is littered with quotes! And not just any quotes, words of wisdom from one of Norway’s late great men, Henrik Ibsen. They’re spread all the way from the King’s castle to the Parliament, as a reminder of who we are and were we came from. His quotes about life’s hardships with nationalistic undertones ring loud on a street he once walked every day for his coffee and chatter with fellow literary greats. Even now, more than 100 years after his death, he's still chattering up a storm on Karl Johan.