day one

Oslo | 0 degrees | fog

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on arriving in Oslo
at the airport – all pale wood and clean lines
along the windowed corridor
and emerging from the downward escalators
in small groups we hold up our passports
one by one
and later emerge to collect our baggage
but the handles stuck and I ruffle through
to find the damage
hobbling on and out onto the concourse
signs for trains, trains this way, tickets, which train express or what ?
machines for tickets
– in a queue
ticket purchased head to express train
it smoothly slides in view and on I get
through Oslo it glides, into country side
and towns – ghostly grey in the shrinking fog
there are screens with rolling news
in Paris they’ve stormed a flat and women
have blown themselves up
…how close – yet how far away.

on arrival in Oslo Sentralstasjon
am overheated in this fast and modern place
down the escalator and out
into the brittle chill air
ahead is the chic and whitely slanted opera house
about me are men dishevelled,
layered up for outdoor living
but to the left and right again
is the hostel
definitely not chic nor slanted
a man opens the door
handwritten signs point to recepsjon
up a load of spiralling stairs
a get a key, a dark red towel and linen
for the bed
up 2 more flights
past orange rag-rolled walls
a place once grand now carved up
to a room that smells of cold and dirt
a whole wall curves towards me
kind of puce-grey with shelves cut to shape
from floor to ceiling – empty
twin beds – gritty pale blue lino underfoot.

Leaving to explore
I head for Karl Johans Gate
the main drag
parliament, cathedral + theatres
can be seen from here
national gallery and marc jocobs
can be seen along the way
Det Kongelige Stottet
(a royal palace)
modest by Buck house standards
sits neat and tidy above of the city
looking out to sea.

lots of shops – could be in Eastbourne
but beggars and christmas lights
line the street.
A smallish church is in fact
Oslo Domkirke
nothing special on the outside
but once inside
the heat and smell of candles
fills the air
dark grey columns are encircled
by golden leaves
small chandeliers burn beneath
warm and patterned mosaic
ceiling – not sure what’s going on there
but comforting
the pews are painted green and gold
red and gold
the organ’s like one from a fairground

after pizza, whiskey and a read of
M. Wollstonecrafts’s letters from Norway
I sleep
despite the battered door
outside my room, with a sign that advises
‘all to lock their doors or look
what happens !’


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