Sunday, November 16, 2014

A personal guide to Grünerlokka - a trendy, revamped
neighborhood in Oslo

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | |
Are you visiting Oslo or want to discover the most colorful district in the city?

Last year the Lonely Planet wrote about Grunerlokka - the previous ghetto neighborhood I grew up in 25 years ago. And now it's the trendiest place in Oslo - the place to hang-out and the place where young Norwegians elbow their way to get an apartment.

... Because the neighborhood has become so damn hip! ;-)
Sunday market at Grunerlokka and street art
The Sunday Market at Grunerlokka

First, a short trip down the memory lane

I lived in Grunerløkka from 1989-1998. At the beginning, there were almost no cafes, pubs or shops, the poor alcoholics and drug users roamed the streets - even during the day. Back then the neighborhood consisted of mainly working class people, including my parents who worked two jobs, if not three.
Me and my family lived in Grunerlokka in the early 90s

Grunerlokka was pretty lifeless at that time, and honestly a bit shitty. The only highlights of the district were the local library and a large grocery shop run by a Turkish family, and the abundance of cheap vegetables and fruits you could find there.

Before we moved out in 1998 I noticed some changes though, and that was the time the former factory district of Oslo, was transformed into a hip, trendy neighborhood.

More artists and musicians moved to the neighborhood, and apartments and backyards were revamped. The popular cafe Fru Hagen was opened in 1996 and three years later the tapas bar Delicatessen also joined the wave.

Today's Grunerlokka

Birkelunden park in Grunerlokka, Oslo
Birkelunden - popular park in the summer
© Andreios Belaza

Properties that stood empty 20 years ago have been replaced with Italian, American and Mexican restaurants, bakeries, hip cafes and art galleries.

Instead of the junkies and alcoholics, you'll find the hipsters strolling forth and back. The junkies are still there, but they've been pushed further down the district, closer to the Aker river.

One of my favorite coffee shops is the cute and inviting Retrolykke Coffee bar in Markveien 33. There's always a queue for the freshly served crispy waffles, and some people come here for the vintage products, displayed neatly on the shelves and the tiny vintage dress corner in the back of the coffee shop.

The city's only food hall is located in the neighborhood, and is called "Mathallen". From Tuesday to Sunday you can sample delicacies from Norwegian farmers, eat tapas like they do in Spain or stuff your face with vegetarian Thai food ;-)

Read: Eat organic and locally sourced food at Kontrast.

Review of the veggie burger at restaurant Dognvill in Oslo.

Now the neighborhood is filled with interior design shops, second-hand stores, vintage shops, and mainstream brand stores like Lindex, Carlings and TGR. Most of the stores are located in Markveien and Thorvald Meyers gate. We even have a Chillout Travel Center, that includes a travel shop and a cafe where you can plan the next backpacking trip!

Another favorite activity among Oslo citizens is visiting the Sunday markets, either at "Bla" or in Birkelunden park.
Cody Chestnut concert at the Park theater in Oslo
© Andreios Belaza

It gets pretty lively during the summer, as there are several events, parties and concerts. The parks are crawling with couples, hip families, and horny youngsters grilling sausages and hiding beer from the police ;-)

A highlight is the Park Theater ("Parkteatret") that used to be a cinema, but was turned into a cafe and also Grunerlokka's music concert arena in 2002. Cody Chestnutt and other indie artists have performed at the "theater", and it's the ultimate hang-out place for the city's hipsters, that's for sure.

Don't miss out on the second-hand and vintage shopping

If you want nice vintage clothes or antique furniture, you will find it at Grunerlokka. One of my favorite shops is Frøken Dianas salonger, run by two Norwegian actresses.

They specialize in vintage dresses and surprisingly, the prices are affordable compared to other vintage stores I've been to. You'll also find vintage leather bags, vintage belts and knitted sweaters. According to them they have garments, accessories and furniture from the 50s, 60s, 80s and even from the 1800s. A pretty impressive shop!
Outside Froken Dianas Salonger at Grunerlokka
Outside Froken Dianas Salonger
I just had to try this lovely blue dress with animal pattern (NOK 400), but unfortunately I'm too short to wear it. It looks like I don't have a waist! :-( It's too bad because I really loved the dress. I still dream about it (LOL)
Lovely blue vintage dress from Froken Dianas salonger in Oslo
Trying out a dress at Frøken Dianas salonger in Oslo

Another shop you definitely should check out it Velouria Vintage in Thorvald Meyers gate. The shop might seem overwhelming at first glance, but you can find vintage bargains if you spend some time here. They have a good selection of leather jackets, jumpers, Levi's jeans, knit pullovers and t-shirts, for both men and women.

A third shop you should stop by is Babel that specializes in designer brands like Ganni, Whyred, Isabel Marant, Cheap Monday and Marlene Birger.

At the back of the store, they sell second-hand designer clothes. Yep, you heard me! Designer clothes at a cheaper price :-)

A concept like this is an opportunity for people who want designer clothes, but can't afford it. Regular thrift stores receive used designer pieces, but the concept Babel has implemented specifically targets customers who only want designer clothes. It's there, and you don't have to look for it like you would in a thrift store.

How does it work?
You can deliver clothes you don't want to the store, under certain conditions (they're not exactly a thrift store where you can deliver any brand or non-brand).

When your garment is sold, a commission will be deducted (50%). If the garment is not sold, the store will return it to you. The piece of clothing you're handing in must be clean and ironed, and clothes from chain stores are not accepted.

Of course, Grunerlokka wouldn't be complete without a thrift store. Fretex Unika, a popular second-hand shop owned by the Norwegian Salvation Army, sells trendy second-hand clothes, accessories and also furniture.

Continue to read:
Flea market guide for newbies.

Read: What are the differences between second-hand and vintage

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