I'm delighted to introduce yet another guest blogger here on Life in Norway, Chris Rock. Chris actually lives in the UK but has spent a lot of time in my new home of Oslo. He'll be writing primarily about Oslo, starting with a place I've become rather fond of recently, Bohemen. Welcome to the team, Chris!
I've been a semi regular visitor to the Norwegian Capital over the past 13 years or so – mainly to attend the world’s biggest youth football tournament, the Norway Cup, as a referee.
Our first year over there in 1999 was a voyage of discovery – finding our way around the city by means of their excellent public transport system, and part of this was to find decent places to spend the evenings chatting over a beer or two.
Our Welsh contingent recommended a small place to us they had found the previous night, tucked away at the top of a side street called Arbeidergata off the main street of Karl Johans Gate.
So the next night a group of us made the 15 minute trip on Tram number 18, from Sportsplassen up at Ekeberg to a stop called Tinghuset (which is outside of the Oslo Courthouse currently being used in the major trial of Anders Breivik).
We ended up standing outside on a small plaza in front of a pretty non-descript three floor building, housing a small nightclub type bar in the basement, and a Chinese restaurant on the top floor. The ground floor was fronted by a blue sign proclaiming “Bohemen – Sportspub Oslo”
So as we headed inside I got quite a treat – just about every bit of spare wall and the whole ceiling of this small place was covered in all kinds of football memorabilia – scarves, shirts and flags from multitudes of different clubs from all over the world and old framed photos of teams taken from football magazines. Add to that the place had about 8 or 9 different tv sets, all of which seemed to be showing a different game of football on each one. Basically – my type of pub!
The main bar is a horseshoe shaped installation taking up the main middle piece of the bar itself, selling the usual cheap Norwegian local pilsner, the regular Guinness taps were also in evidence. Add to that several large fridges filled with soft drinks, real ale, and other spirits. The beer tends to be fairly cheap as well – with cheaper prices in the daytime.
Therein started a love affair with the place. It turned out it was owned and run by members of the main Vålerenga Football Club’s fan group – the Klanen – cash from which goes towards putting on the massive Tifo displays you normally see at their League matches all over the country. After home matches the place is normally very busy as the home fans head back on the Underground for a beer and a debate over a few beers about events that afternoon. It has also been known for the manager and a few of the players to also frequent the place (having met our Jamaican ex-striker Luton Shelton there a few years back I can testify to this).
I have had many great nights in the place – from celebrating the club’s re-promotion back to the Premier Division in 2002 (which was also the first game I went to see in the country against Hødd on a particularly cold autumn afternoon), to celebrating the Cup win against Stabæk in 2008 with a 12-hour drinking session (1,400 kroner put behind the bar that night!), to participating in a couple of their Friday night quiz events (even managed to come 2nd in one with a couple of free pints the prize).
The usual crowd who are to be found in the place are welcoming, won't be afraid to talk about football and will make you feel like you’re a regular – even if it’s your first visit! I normally make it a regular port of call when I’m in the city.
So if you want a decent night out – and love your football – then this is the place to go…