Oslo and Melbourne

Hej fra Oslo, 

    We often hear of Oslo and Melbourne topping the livability indices. (The same measures which have Dhaka at the bottom of the list!) What does Oslo have that others don’t? What criteria are included? And what are the relative weightings for the highly-subjective factors which allow them to arrive at such a list?

sculpture on the road

        Oslo is a thriving city on a spectacular waterway. Norway is clearly doing well. Only those who choose to live in poverty will be doing so in this place. Norwegians are presently enjoying abundance in a sophisticated and modern economy. They clearly enjoy the experience of living in a society that values intelligence and innovation.

Alesund on the west coast

      Norwegians may well be acutely cognisant of their history; more so than counterparts in other parts of the developed world where complacency has crept in. They are in fact not far removed from their own history, seeing many tangible reminders in the countryside with many buildings of characteristic stave construction still in use. Life must have been tough for the men and women eking out a living in the hills.

North and South Poles

I suppose it was a tough existence which prepared Roald Amundsen, the first to reach both North and South poles. Living in adversity prepares one well for a tough existence.

The hill farmers have largely come down from the hills these days but the uncomplaining nature of their existence has prepared them well as a people. The first elements of socialist ethos were evident in them there hills when the marginal land was divided in such a way as to spread the friable land equally among the settlers.

view from the top of the hill in Alesund

       Today, Norway is doing a lot of things well. Everything works efficiently. The countryside is immaculately tidy. The streetscapes are aesthetically pleasing and the rural country is green at this time of year, with flowers galore. Linda commented about the rural scene thus: “there’s nothing ratty”. The western coast is absolutely spectacular. The windward side is fjord country, with some stunning coastline and exquisite scenery.

We stayed in Alesund for just one day. And it was an understatement to say that Linda was a bit reluctant to leave that beautiful place. On the lee side of the high mountains, the vegetation changes to tundra and conifers but it is still enchanting and interesting.

lighthouse in the harbour, Alesund

      As a compassionate nation, Norway accepts many refugees. On a quick survey of the inhabitants – unscientific, granted – it would appear that they’ve taken more than their share. This includes a modicum of the world’s mad, bad and sad. The country seems to be absorbing the intake quite well, without suffering too many ill-effects. As a consequence, Oslo is becoming a much more cosmopolitan city.

sunshine hours?

         The livability index includes lots of different criteria measuring health care accessibility and standard, transport in and around the city – public and private, standard of living, safety and opportunities for cultural engagement. I don’t think sunshine hours is ever listed as a co-efficient. If it did, I reckon Melbourne might have them on that score.



Other photos from hereabouts

beautiful Norway
fjord country
beautiful Norway
Alesund peninsula from the lookout
in the other direction
fjord country
on the road to the coast

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