A Tail in Two Cities

A big part of writing a blog is to be allowed to come up with snappy headlines. I have read some of Dickens work. I couldn’t help myself.

My dog Kobolt is born in the former DDR and has spent half his life in Berlin and half in Oslo. I have lived about 6 years in Berlin and I think about 8 in Oslo. In German mythology a Kobold is something like a gnome or an elf, with a mischievous character and creator of strange events. Our Foxterrier fits the name perfectly. He’s very funny, a bit stubborn and very often up to no good, but always in a funny and harmless way. He is very gentle and friendly, but also full of energy. He makes me laugh many times a day. And he is also the main reason for my numerous walks, although I always used to walk around in the cities I’ve lived in. I’ve properly walked the streets of Bergen, Barcelona, Brussels, Boston, Berlin and Oslo, I guess because I find it ever fascinating to get to know the streets of the city I’m living in. Maybe I’m trying to sense the energy by walking the streets, I’m not sure. I only know I really enjoy it. 

Vulkan, Oslo. Just around the corner from Hendrix Ibsen

Vulkan, Oslo. Just around the corner from Hendrix Ibsen

Nikola Tesla, so I’ve heard, used to get great ideas when walking his dogs. For me, walking around the city with our without Kobolt is a very efficient way of cleansing my head and eventually think clearly. I get a similar effect when running, but then at the end of the run the mind is cleared of all thoughts and only breathing is left. The clear thinking then comes after the run. Since I spend so much time in coffee shops surrounded by life, noise and people, I get my coffee shop break by actually removing myself from my work space, which is the coffee shop (I work from my Mac, 90% of the time in one of my shops). If I need to make some bigger decisions, I always make them after a walk. I also get good ideas while walking, sometimes little things we need to fix, sometimes a bit larger things we need to change. 

Berlin.

Berlin.

I was lucky enough to buy the apartment I’m living in now back in 2004. Unfortunately, the Oslo housing market has gone apeshit lately, and centrally located apartments are now approaching 10.000 euro per m2. Some predict they will reach 15 in a few years. I really love my apartment. It has everything I need and more, and it’s located 300 meters from Hendrix Ibsen Junior. I’m thankful for the time I save by not having to commute to work, and the flexibility it gives me living so close to my shops. In fact, the top of the shop sign outside Junior can be seen from my apartment, if I bend out the window and look right. I think that is pretty cool. I normally wake up at 06.30 everyday, Junior opens at 07. I admit, I kinda did open Junior to get access to great coffee from 07 in the morning 3-4 minutes walk from my apartment.

In 2004 I wanted to study architecture. The school of Architecture is located in the building next to my apartment. I applied, but didn’t get accepted, so I started studying construction engineering. The plan was to finish a bachelor and then try to take a masters degree in architecture. But then many things got in the way, many things led to other things, and in 2015 I opened up Hendrix Ibsen at the Vulkan area, situated next to the school of Architecture, and about 500 meters away from my apartment. It’s all connected somehow. For the record, I never finished a degree in engineering, but I do have a bachelors degree in marketing and management. And I guess potentially a quarter of a masters degree in entrepreneurial management (called Gründerskolen in Norwegian). Throw in a year of history studies to add up to 6 years of higher education. I guess I like to study!

In the year 2000 I went to Berlin for the first time. I had spent about 6 months as an au pair in Baden Württemberg in 1999, so my German was pretty good, and I wanted to spend more time in Germany. It would, for various reasons, last 10 years before I managed to actually move to Berlin. For that was my reaction to my first visit to Berlin, I knew I needed to move there. Somehow I was also not in a rush, because I had a feeling Berlin would be the last stop. I had a feeling of coming home, I can’t really explain it better. In the years to follow I spent time in Grimstad, Bergen, Barcelona, Brussels, Boston and Oslo. Studying, working, living, partying, walking the streets. And except from in Norway drinking pretty bad coffee. In March 2010 I moved from Brussels to Berlin. And the rest, so they say, is history. 

Nordic Embassies Berlin. Norwegian man performing a Cowboy stretch. 

Nordic Embassies Berlin. Norwegian man performing a Cowboy stretch. 

I’m from a very small island village on the west coast of Norway. I think about 700 people live there. It’s a very friendly and idyllic place. I got a big chunk of my family living there. I think growing up there got me curious of the world, and even though I appreciate nature I prefer the big city life. 

For 2,5 years in 00-02 i was very fortunate to work for an IT start up company in Bergen called ICEsoft Technologies. That was a formative experience. I went to trips to CEBIT, to San Diego and all around Europe in business meetings. I was young and hungry and very enthusiastic. All good things come to an end, and I was left hanging in the fall of 2002. I think ever since, I have been searching for something similar. A cool job that gives a sense of meaning and purpose, while having fun at the same time. Hard fun. 

Oslo. 

Oslo. 

At some point the idea of having a job that would enable me to work both in Berlin and Oslo started to linger in the back of my mind. From 2006 I went frequently to Berlin, looking for something to do, a way to find a living there. 

Even though I’ve frequented coffee shops since 1997, I never thought I’d open up my own. Not until I met a Swedish dude in Brussels who had done just that, fall of 2009. I was then in talks with some friends in Berlin about opening up a café, but they ended up doing it before I was able to move to Berlin. I needed a little more time in Brussels to get to know the city. I had some streets to walk. 

I now live in Oslo and commute to Berlin about twice a month, sometimes day trips, sometimes I stay a night. Every time I’m in Berlin, visiting Oslo kaffebar, R/D or the Nordic Embassies and my great colleagues, I really miss living in Berlin. It’s this raw energy, this feeling that is unique to Berlin. Oslo is more established, though lots of cool things go down here as well. Especially in the fields of gastronomy and bar concepts. I think Oslo is fantastic, and I love living here. It is home. As is Berlin. I have two home cities, and I’ll always miss one of them. Sadly I can’t live in both cities simultaneously. But at least I now have work in both cities. And then there is a third city coming up, Glasgow. As in Berlin, Glasgow allows dogs in cafés. Oslo don’t. Kobolt is really looking forward to Glasgow, although he will miss Oslo, with all the parks along the river where we live. But new adventures are just too tempting to be left alone. New places to sniff out, new energies to be felt. 

I’m only on my second day of trying to spend less time online. I need to reshuffle the way I work, and I think Easter is a great occasion to do so. I’m looking to better structure my online time. But in the age of emails and instant communication this is a bit tricky. My aim is to be more efficient, so I can do more. More projects, more fun, more movement, more energy. I guess I need to fuel the need for getting stuff done. But first I’m going for a Kobolt walk, and then the ways of perception will be cleansed, and things will occur as they truly are. Cowabunga!