In Oslo, you can definitely tell the difference between the different parts of the city. Grønland has a completely different population, feel, smell and vibe than let’s say Holmenkollen. Karl Johan is a completely different street than Torggata. But even though the city is somewhat diverse, even though the hipster living in Grünerløkka would never admit being pretty damned similar to the more family-centric Storo population – he is, compared to the variety of cultures in San Francisco. Believe me, he is.
The thing about San Francisco is, you do not have to walk to across the whole town, from east to west or the opposite direction. In San Fran, you slowly stroll down the avenue, pretty comfortable and familiar with the neighborhood you’re in – and then you turn the corner – and BOOM! you’re in a completely different part of the world. Still shaken with the culture shock, you turn the next corner and PLING!, turn yet another corner and WHOOSH! It’s quite overwhelming.
The other day I walked from my place down to 20th and Bryant. A 20-block walk that took me around 40 minutes:
I start off crisscrossing between men in beautiful dresses and tiny little dogs in the magical Fairyland of Castro. Everybody smiling, shouting lovingly and being just generally content, I can not help smile too, passing through the colorful streets.
(For those of my readers does not know; the Castro area in San Francisco is the gay neighborhood of the gay capital of the world. I am straight and female, and thus constitute a tiny little minority. Mind you, I love fairies, so please, be not offended by the term! And it is truly colorful and cheery in the Castro, just as I imagine Fairyland to be, so I think it is a decent comparison.)
Leaving the Castro behind, I make my way down to Dolores park – an area I have yet to explore to the fullest, but that strikes me every time I pass by with a chill, laid-back air of “Hey- I’ve got all the time in the world – come on, sit down on the grass and do nothing together with me!”
Strolling down 18th street, crossing over to 19th, I pass by houses and apartments, a couple of cafes – your typical urban living. Still chill, but more of the “Hey, I’m at work right now, probably in a semi-important meeting, why don’t you just step by this weekend and we’ll go for a walk or grab a coffee?”
And BOOM! I turn the corner at Valencia, and I am surrounded by hipsters, bustling coffee places and second hand book stores. And a lot of good bars.
I turn the next corner and WHOOSH! I am in… Mexico?? The Mission: you won’t get very far without speaking a few phrases of spanish. But their taquerias is cheap and provides a decent meal!
Crossing over mission always makes me a bit upset. It’s not that bad a neighborhood – there’s definitely worse in this city – but the streets are definitely dirtier and there are more people sleeping on them here.
Four more blocks down, and what do you know? I am in Suburbia! Cozy houses, garage in every one of them, a yard sale on the corner, kids playing and laughing in the street.
And thus, on the corner of 20th and Bryant, I end my journey. Slightly dizzy. Puh.
Did I say Oslo was diverse?? I hereby withdraw that statement. With immediate effect.
COMMENTS FROM OLD BLOG:
Comment by Pål on November 10, 2009
Nice picture by the way, Anita! Hope you’re having fun in SF!
I resent the implication that I live in suburbia! Suburbia would NOT have a homeless lady squatting in front of your garage urinating. Or at least you hope she was urinating. Then again, I suppose it’s all relative. Compared to the Tenderloin, 20th and Mission might as well be the setting to the show Desperate Housewives. Oy.
II’m pretty sure Dolores park has its fair share of fairies too. They just happen to reside in the minds of the hippies who relax in said park enjoying the effects of various psychedelic drugs. Everywhere you look, fairies.
Comment by Søster! on November 11, 2009
I must admit i really like your blog! You write with such a Nit-Nit spirit that i can’t do anything else than smile You’re english is also very good and varied and … well, I obviously do’nt have the word to describe it, since I’m not THAT good in English… but maybe you get my point.
anyways, keep it up, I’ll try to remember to read every now and then