Just after leaving school, I spent a year working in Oslo as an architectural assistant. It was my first trip overseas, and left me with great affection for the country, city and culture, so when I got the opportunity to go back for a few days after half a century, I accepted with alacrity.
At first, little seemed to have changed – apart from one or two obvious additions, such as a cluster of towers in the new CBD by the main station. The centre of the town is still a model of nineteenth-century planning, with the white and yellow neo-Classical royal palace terminating the west end of Karl Johans Gate, the elegant formal main esplanade. On the north side is the university, designed by a pupil of Schinkel; here too are most of the best of the old-fashioned shops, and the Grand Hotel, to which Ibsen tottered twice a day, regular as clockwork.