Wheeling Oslo – The River

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I verden er der mange floder som ikke er av vei’n.
Frankfurt ligger an der Oder, men ogsaa til dels am Main.
London skryter svært av Themsen, og den er jo bra.
Men om De nævner hele remsen, siger jeg endda:

Akerselva, du gamle og graa! Akerselva, dig holder jeg paa.
Selv om Donau er aldrig saa blaa, kan den i skjønhed aldrig dig naa.
Slike farver vist aldrig man saa, som hvor du munder ut paa skraa,
i den yndige duftende vraa mellem Nyland og H.A.H. –

I Berlin er Spree paa moden da naturligvis. I Paris er Seinefloden alles
kjælegris, Hamburg holder mest paa Elben, efter hvad der si’s.
Men jeg tror nok Akerselven vinder første pris.

At the start of the Akerselva walk in the area Frysja

A while ago I promised you a blog series called “The secrets of Oslo”. I didn’t do a very good job. But now I will try to compensate with one big secret divided into three parts. Because I had lived in Oslo for many years before I discovered one of its biggest and nicer secrets – the Akerselva river.

Akerselva is a river that divides Oslo in two both geographically, politically, socio economically, linguistically and in many more aspects. We are not that far away from London – talking about the East end and the West end. In a developed welfare state like Norway, it’s pretty crazy to learn that the life expectancy increases more than 10 years if you live in the West compared to the East of the country’s capital. And the river divides it…

The water in Akerselva comes from Maridalsvannet – a big lake North of Oslo.

But for hundreds of years, the Akerselva river divided the workers from the managers. And a lot of factories and businesses were dependent on the water coming from Maridalsvannet, which is also our main source of drinking water today. And everything from mills to factories producing paint, yeast, textile and radios have been dependent on Akerselva, running through Oslo. This is why you can still find a lot of old factory buildings along the river path. But most of them are filled with offices and cultural activities these days.

Old factory gates of Idun’s yeast factory

For many years Akerselva was known for being dirty, dangerous to walk along, with poor lighting and an active drug scene, especially in the Southern end. But things changed gradually. And nowadays the path along the river is one of the really nice places to go for a hike. I usually bring all my foreign visitors for a walk there and most of them think really enjoy it.

There are still some suspicious individuals in the Southern area Vaterland unfortunately. But the lighting is better and there are many people walking their dogs or taking a stroll along the river – making it a much safer area than it used to be.

The Vaterland area is still a bit fishy, but during daytime it’s no problem to walk here…

And the entire Akerselva is a really nice area for a hike – also for wheelchair users. In theory it’s possible to wheel the whole distance which stretches out for 8-9 kilometers from Maridalsvannet lake to the city centre by the Opera House in Bjørvika. If you have a manual chair you will need someone to push you or help you break. A power chair is no problem. If you have a whole day to spend, we recommend starting at the top with functioning breaks on your wheelchair…

If you want to walk the upper part of the river – Teknisk Museum can be a good place to start.

The path along the river does not go in a straight line and sometimes you have to choose between different paths on the right of left side of the river. You might even get lost and lose the river path completely. But this is part of the charm. Because you never know what you might discover with these choices. A nice park, a waterfall, a food court, a good coffee shop, an art piece, some new street art, your new favorite bar, a new area etc etc.

If it’s your first time – it can be smart to bring a guide. Either an actual person who knows the area.r You can also download the one made by the city itself called “Turguide Akerselva”. It’s very good and explains the history of the river in an easy way.

This art piece popped up by the river after the attack on Oslo July 22nd…

In my opinion Akerselva is a true treasure waiting to be discovered. And since the tourist buses hasn’t discovered it yet (our tourists are too lazy to walk) – it’s still considered a little bit off the beaten track.

Nydalens Compagnie was a textile factory established in 1845. Today it serves as an office building.

From Kjelsås
If you want to wander along the entire river you can take bus 54 from Oslo city centre to “Frysja” in Kjelsås. Then you are close to Brekkefossen (waterfall) and Brekkedammen (pond). Parts of this first area is pretty steep with smooth gravel paths or asphalt. The path is mostly suitable for a power chair or a very strong manual chair user.

You can also start from Gullhaug square in Nydalen (see photos below) or from the area Sagene. But more about that in a later blogpost.

These photos are taken at Nydalen Bryggeri & Spiseri situated by Gullhaug bridge, and it’s a good place for beer lovers with a very large selection of imported beers and their own microbrewery. The wheelchair accessible toilet used to look like this when the restaurant was called Bølgen & Moi, but I think they painted it over. Maybe just as well…

But joke aside. There are a lot of great places to eat and drink along the Akerselva river. These are some of our favorites:

So now you have some suggestions for places to have a pitstop along the route. We wish you a pleasant trip along the rest of the river!

Street art near Mathallen

Wheeling Málaga – The Hotel

Wheeling Oslo – The River II