[ May 2019 ] One of the benefits of Oslo Pass we bought in Oslo, Norway was that we could join the walking tours free of charge.
We joined ‘the river walk’ started at 2 pm on Sunday.
The walk started behind the Oslo central station and we walked up north along the Akerselva river.
Apart from us, 5 or 6 Norwegians, 2 Asian looking Australians, an American and a French joined the tour.
Our guide was Rihanna who has been doing this work for 19 years and she asked us “Can I explain things in English only?” and she did.
It seemed that no Norwegians have any difficulties for understanding English.
First, Rihanna outlined the history of Oslo.
The town started in the 11th century and most of the houses were wooden.
So every time they had a bad fire, they had to rebuild the town.
And they did that 17 times.
The worst fire happened in 1624 and the town was completely destroyed, so they moved the place to the west a little and rebuilt the town, that made it stable.
Along this river, there were many kinds of factories in the past and they threw their rubbish into the river, so the pollution was terrible.
There were brothels here, too.
Rihanna herself remembers that this area was smelly and dangerous during 1960s and 1970s.
After that, they started cleaning up the area and now there are some fish living in the river and the area along the river has become a good environment for people, too.
That was the main theme for the tour.
We walked under a reddish stone bridge called Ankerbrua made of local stones.
On the four corners of this bridge, there are statues of the characters of Norwegian fairly tales.
She said “To understand Norwegian history, the best way is reading Norwegian fairly tales“.
Norwegian fairly tales are not well known, are they?
Of course the country is full of forests, so there must be a lot of fairies living there.
After that, she pointed out some churches and factory buildings saying “Many of those buildings which escaped from being demolished are now cultural centres”.
And when we walked by a building which used to be a brewery, she talked about her own grandfather.
“He worked in a brewery which was at the upper stream of this Akerselva river for 40 years.
At the brewery, workers were allowed to drink beer as much as they wanted and they could even bring beer home.
So he was drunk all the time and violent, too, so the family did not like him and avoided him.
At last, the day of his retirement was coming and the family was not happy thinking this troublesome man would be at home from then on.
But on the day of retirement, he stopped drinking and he never drank again and became a different man.
And he said ‘The work at the brewery was so cruel that I could not help myself drinking all the time’.
Making the worker drunk and forcing them to work was the brewery owners strategy apparently.”
It was a sad story of a man who lost his prime 40 years, which could be a film, couldn’t it.