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It’s no Paris, but who says you can’t get jiggy in thermals? Words: Mark Robertson

slo. or ‘Oshlo‘ as the locals so silkily pronounce it.

may have a name that trips off the tongue. but it‘s

hardly renowned for its breathless entanglements. It‘s no mean feat getting jiggy when you can barely bend your arms. let alone whisk out a bunch of roses because you're so wrapped up in your thermals. Call it desperate. misguided or just plain foolish but it seems like a perverse kind of challenge to get the ‘l‘amour‘ out of Norway‘s petite capital.

It's easy to feel over-dressed in Norway: the locals are accustomed to the winter temperatures (from -l5°C to -5°C) and can still retain a sense of style without looking like Nanook of the north. Visitors therefore stand out a little. but happily the Norwegians (or Norweegies as I took great delight in renaming them) are not only fluent but willing English speakers and can direct you to all manner of romantic spots.

With its compact grid street layout. Oslo is oddly reminiscent of Glasgow. and while the influence of near neighbour Russia is still apparent in elements of the architecture. Oslo pokes its head proudly out from under its sizeable neighbour‘s shadow.

Norwegian food follows the northern European template of fish. red meat. fish. mild herbs. spices and fish. It might seem a tad stodgy at first glance but it‘s prepared with a suitable degree of love and attention. giving a sense of Scandinavian culinary tradition. Veggies may find it a chore at times. but the now-booming coffee shop circuit is making considerable inroads to redress the balance. For a carnivorous taste of Scandinavia. reindeer has to be sampled: a subtle. succulent cut usually dished up with a bony sauce. Intimate candle-lit restaurants are plentiful. Get good directions though it‘s not a place to spend an hour aimlessly wandering at night. for no reason other than the temperature.

Should you not wish to dine on these fine beasts of burden then make them your transport round town with a romantic

114 THE “81’ 13-27 Feb 2003

sleigh ride. More glamorous than an open top bus. you have no choice but to snuggle up while taking in the sights. The more energetic can head for the hills surrounding the city and join the locals in some winter sports: the local favourites are hiking and cross-country skiing. but every other snowbound activity is available. For a more cultured turn there's the Munch Museet. as ()Iso was home to expressionist painter Edvard Munch. and his masterwork ‘The Scream' is on display there.

Plan your time well if you‘re taking advantage of the bargain flights to Torp airport as it‘s two hours from the city centre. For a small city (the population is around half a million) there‘s plenty to see and do. With such cheap flights going begging. it‘s worth shelling out for another night‘s accommodation to make the trip worth your while.

If finances permit. stay at the beautiful five- star Radission SAS Plaza Hotel (www.radisson.com/oslono_plaza). As one of the tallest buildings in the city. the rooftop cocktail lounge provides a panoramic view of the city. from the expansive snow-capped hills in the north to the icy seas in the south.

Oslo invokes a perfect sense of calm. making it the ideal place for a blossoming romance. while the snow gives everything a serene. quiet feel that never quite covers up the air of modest sophistication.

OK. Paris might be warmer but how clichéd is that? Besides. with any luck you‘ll be kept warm by the love in your heart.

The List travelled to Oslo courtesy of Ryanair. Flights to Oslo start from £28. Click on www.ryanair.com to book now.

Finding ro nce in e Norweg an capital is 8 Scream

It seems like a perverse kind of challenge to get the l’amour out of Norway’s petite capital