Sunday, March 30, 2008
It was a quiet week here on the other side of the world. Kent went back to work and KJ to school. I went xcountry skiing three times, twice with KJ and once solo. One night we went for pizza with KJ's soccer team at Dolly Dimples which we think is a hilarious name for a pizza place. It is a chain over here and it was ok. The girls all had the kid buffet for 72 kroners ($14) We must be getting used to the price of things in Norway as Kent commented it was a pretty good deal. All the girls except KJ went to the ice cream buffet four times. KJ was amazed at how much they could put away.
Kent has started running with me. We are planning to get in shape for road biking when we get home. There are a couple rides in Portland we'd like to do. I'm also planning on running the Hood to Coast Relay the end of August. I guess I've mentioned this before and need to run farther... ugh! KJ's soccer games start in a couple weeks so we are all getting active.
Saturday evening Carolyn and family came over for dinner. It was a lot of fun. We haven't seen them in a while. It was our first time having dinner guests. I made some pretty tasty lasagna with KJ's help. We also made chocolate muffins.
It rained all weekend....reminding us of Portland. I'm sure it's raining there too, right guys? Sunday Kent and KJ went to the Mini Bottle Gallery. It was an interesting spot I found on some Oslo website and KJ really wanted to go. I guess it is a collection of all these bottles displayed at a museum type building which is also rented out for parties. Hmm? They both came home with mini bottles that were included with the price of admissions. They were both very impressed with the fancy bathrooms.
The exciting news of the week is that we are having visitors! Jennifer and David are coming April 12 until April 24. That means they will be here to celebrate Kayleigh's birthday April 15th. We are thrilled!
One more tidbit I forgot to mention. Kent talked our landlord into 2 cozy lounge chairs, a coat tree and a much improved reading lamp for our bedroom. Somehow we were able to get the chairs into our small apartment and they make things look more like home. Now we can really power lounge.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Tromso was a really fun little city. The population is around 60,000 with about 10,000 being students. There is a university there. Besides the main attraction of dogsledding and the Northern Lights we found a few other cool sights.
Tuesday morning we walked to the Polaria which is an Arctic museum with tons of fish and ocean life to see. First we made our way to see the seals perform for their 12:30 feeding. Kayleigh enjoyed it so much she wanted to stay for the 3:30 show.The building itself of super cool looking. It is in the shape of jagged ice and it is right close to the water. They also had a mini IMAX type theatre where we watched a scenic movie on life on the top of the world.
We stumbled upon a glass shop We were greeted by a man and woman. They asked us if we had ever seen glass being blown. Well we hadn't so we watched them. It was really interesting....more work than I imagined. The guy definitely was not Norwegian but from Seattle. He arrived only a week ago. He was planning on working at Blast for a year. I couldn't leave without buying a glass.
Tromso is very picturesque; I took so many pictures. It is right on the water and with the snow it was really beautiful. Our hotel was in the city center and you could walk everywhere. There was a pedestrian street with several cute shops. The library was even a neat looking building.
We did take a city bus to a history museum the second day. The Tromso Museum was located on the university campus. The museum had a large exhibit of the Sami, who are a group of people native to northern Norway with their own culture and language.
We ate hamburgers at the Bla Cafe (blue) We were told by a local to check the cafe out. It was college hang out that's for sure. We were craving burgers... we don't eat them much in Norway.
Kent and I both agreed that we'd return to Tromso someday. Maybe if KJ decides to take up dogsledding?
Saturday, March 22, 2008
We didn't know what to expect when we set out for an evening of dogsledding. We didn't receive much information other than the time we were leaving, dinner would be served and they would provide warm clothing.
As we walked to the bus, KJ informed us that she was going to pet all the dogs and she almost did. The ride was about 30 minutes and we were among a fun bunch who had been on a cruise from Bergen to Tromso. This was the last night of their trip. We were greeted by an enthusiastic, British woman named Helen. She had only been working with the dogs for one month. She was the happy host who introduced us to the dogs and then helped us into our Michelin man suits and boots. We then were paired up for the ride. Kent, KJ and I were all in one sled together. Our driver, Thomas had just completed the Finmark race which lasted 6 days and he finished 25 place. It was fun listening to him tell about the race. He and Kent had fun chatting. I was in the middle on the sleigh with KJ in front and Kent in the rear. They were keeping me nice and warm. It was really great fun..... I especially enjoyed watching KJ both during the ride, before and after. She was having the best time! There were around 240 dogs and we decided she pet at least half of them. After the ride we walked around all the doghouses. Each dog has their own little house and their names are on them. We had fun reading the names which included.... Tracy, Kara, Janis and Joplin. Rocky and Rambo to name a few. KJ even held one of the puppies.
After spending lots of time loving all the dogs we were led to the Sami tent for reindeer stew, hot coffee, (hot cocoa for KJ) and cake. We all sat around the fire in a circle while Helen served us dinner and educated us about dogsledding. Unfortunately it clouded over so we weren't able to view the northern lights.... maybe tomorrow night?
Tonight for sure the most fun we've had in Norway yet!!!!!!
After arriving in Tromso we got situated in our hotel and headed out for a walk. Our mission was to check out the world's most northern brewery called Mack. The concierge called the establishment to make sure they were open. It is Easter break and many places close early or aren't open. Mack was open 9 to 5. Hmm, beer for breakfast anyone? She told us they weren't open for tours over the holiday. Oh darn, I doubt if Mack could ever top Guinness.
We found Mack shortly before 5. Kent went straight to the bar and ordered two dark Christmas beers and an orange Fanta for KJ. The brewery was quiet except for a few regulars. The front had a couple huge polar bears (not real) and it looked like it would be a fun place in this college town.... no smoking too.
We enjoyed our beer and soda at the top of the world and even bought a pint glass. Off for some more exploring before everything closes.....How often does one drink a beer at the top of the world?
Friday, March 21, 2008
Our first visitor arrived a week ago Thursday. It appears that I am falling behind on the blog. We have been busy with vacation as it is Easter break in Norway and everyone is enjoying the holiday, even the Americans.
My friend Doerte, who I knew in Austin stopped by on her way back to Austin. We worked together at The Montessori Center for 3 years and our kids all went there too. She was in her hometown in Germany visiting her parents with her youngest daughter Pauline. Pauline will stay with her grandparents until June when Doerte and her 2 other daughters return to spend a couple months. Sounds like a fun plan plus they will get out of the Texas heat.
It was great to see her and so wonderful for her to come to Oslo. We had a super time. Here is a rundown of some of the pavement we covered over here....
- Enoteca Wine Bar.... Thursday evening Doerte and I went out for some red wine and a pizza. I've been wanting to check it out since Kent told me about it. We got a reservation (which one really needs at this small, cozy bar.) We chatted and believe me we didn't overeat... very pricey but tasty pizza. The wait person finally told us we had to leave as our table was reserve for another group. Hmm? I guess we'll have dessert when we get back to the apartment. Doerte brought a variety of delicious chocolate from Germany.
- After dropping KJ off at school Friday Doerte and I headed to the Vigeland Museum and the Oslo City Museum (both free until March 31) but they were closed until 11 am. Darn, we had to wait at the United Bakery until they opened. Both Doerte and I agree that the bakeries in Oslo are something else. After some coffee and boler (yummy warm rolls usually with raisins... they remind me of hot cross buns) we spent a little time at the museums. I won't mention since I've already blogged about them before.
- In the afternoon along with KJ we went on the trik to Karl Johan's Gate walked and shopped around. On the trik we saw the 2 American sisters and their mother. KJ has mentioned from school. I introduced myself and Doerte and we chatted for awhile and KJ got their phone number. The dad is the minister at the American Lutheran Church which is close to us. Maybe some new friends? We went to some stores including Norli, our favorite Norwegian bookstore. Doerte introduced me to a new store which I already forgot the name of but it reminds me of World Market at home only nicer. It wasn't horribly expensive either. We stopped at Seven Eleven to get KJ a sandwich and a fairtrade latte for Doerte and me. (I have to mention the coffee at Seven Eleven is good!) We also bought a loaf of the best bread at United Bakery on the way home.
Time to mention how fun it is to have a friend here. I never spent much time with Doerte outside of work. I think we are a lot alike, she's goofy and KJ also thinks she is very nice....
- Friday night I made dinner... we had Uncle Ben's in a jar Indian Curry with chicken veggies. It was actually not bad. We exposed Doerte to Gilmore Girls and Heroes (after KJ went to bed.... Heroes is scary)
- Saturday was for sightseeing... we got an early start and headed to the Bygdoy (barely) island. We started at the Viking Museum which was pretty cool looking at all the huge, old ships. Then we moved on to the Kon-Tiki Museum. I really enjoyed it. A famous Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl made 4 ships, one out of balsa wood, and 3 from reeds. He put together various international crews to see if he could cross the Indian, Atlantic and parts of the pacific oceans. After we stopped for a snack and some coffee. Kent and KJ headed home to read while I took Doerte to the Folk Museum. (This is the only museum we'd visited. We didn't have much time but I wanted to show Doerte the Stave church and different homes, cabins, buildings from the past. We stumbled upon a part I hadn't seen businesses from the past and other displays apartments from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It was neat. We took the bus back and met KJ and Kent. I was pooped! Kent made scampi and we drank yummy red wine from the vinmonopelet and ate chocolate. It was a great day.
- This morning Doerte and I took the train up to the Nordmarka and the Holmenkollen Ski Jump. We wanted to see snow and we saw a little. We met Kent and KJ at Baker Hansen (a bakeri); then onto the magic museum. It was fun and we saw a magic show. The museum is really a proud grand-father's front rooms of his apartment converted to a place of magic shows and memorabilia. His grand-daughter is the fourth generation of magicians in the family.
It was a great time with Doerte. Monday we are all off... Doerte back to Austin and we are off to Tromso for dogsledding and hopefully to see the Northern Lights.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Sunday morning we decided to head up to the Nordseter which is an area north of Lillehammer for xcountry skiing. It was a beautiful drive; the trees were all covered in snow. When we reached the top and found the lodge it was very hard to see and windy.We had to ask a local where exactly the lodge was because we needed wax for our skis.
We are figuring out that there is much to learn about xcountry skiing You need to have the right type of wax on your skis depending on the weather and the type of snow you will be skiing on. One needs to know how to apply the wax. There are different tools and sprays, etc. Kent is getting the hang of it. In Portland, I never worried about this with Dan's old skis, but now I have fancy Norwegian ones. We got the wax and slowly got everything ready. There was a little cafe in the lodge and it smelled wonderful. Someone was busy baking. We will be back later for some snacks I told KJ and Kent.
The mistake we made was asking a Norwegian in the shop what trail to try. We need to remember the Norwegians are born with these skinny wooden things strapped to their feet. The trail was groomed and the snow was hard and it was only KJ's second time ever on skinny skis. She did great but was very frustrated. The hard part is once you fall; you have to get up. We ended up doing a little bit of the trail, playing in the snow.... ie) making a snowman and having a snowball fight. While the snowballs were flying KJ's dad accidently hit her on the cheek with a snowball. Oops, she still wanted to keep going. We had some yummy hamemade cookies and rolls too before we headed back down.
While we were having our snack we met some Minnesotans, two men and a woman in their fifties. They were here to participate in various xcountry races. The gal did a 30 kilometer race that is very well known in Norway for women only. The men were doing a longer 50 kilometer race in a few days. Hmm, pretty impressive. Maybe I'll keep practicing, I told Kent and come back for it when I'm 50?!?
Before we left Lillehammer we made a quick stop at the Olympic Museum where the 1994 winter games were held. I needed some postcards.
All in all the weekend trip was a success and lots of fun.....
Monday, March 10, 2008
The first time I downhill skied I was 30. Kent and I went on a backcountry ski trip with two other couples. Kacia, Clark, Cindi and Jake who have all been on many ski trips together over the years. I really wanted to go on the trip and see what was so wonderful about it. Growing up in Colorado, Kent has been skiing since he was very young and has always loved it. While driving home yesterday from Lillehammer he counted all the places he's been skiing and I think he got up to 21?
The backcountry trip was where else, but Colorado. We were to meet our group outside of Ft. Collins where the guides we hired ran their business. Once they saw our Texas plates as we drove up and found out I had never skied before the second guide was added to our group. We didn't need him but I basically had my own instructor. It was a lot of fun. We lived in a yurt for 3 days, skied, ate, visited and I learned that skiing and being on the mountain is great fun!
I still haven't been skiing much but I really love the mountains and the way I feel on skis. I doubt if I'll ever get very fast or have the desire to go down black runs but I'm so happy I decided to learn. It has also been wonderful to do something Kent loves so much. It is great fun to watch KJ improve each time she puts on her skis. When we rented her gear at Hafjell, she finally got a pair of "fancy ski boots." I think her foot is now big enough for a women's size. Well, she really flew down the mountain in her "fancy ski boots."
Hafjell was fun. It had lots of runs that were good for me and KJ. Kent was happy to telemark with us. We rode on the gondola a couple times too. It was KJ's first time! The mountain seemed huge to me but I'm used to Ski Bowl. We skied all day with a short stop for lunch and I was pooped.
We are thinking about squeezing in one more ski day before it is too late. We'll see but we are already making plans for next winter at Ski Bowl.
We decided that we wanted to ski around Lillehammer several weeks ago. We even asked our Norwegian friend Kristin for some help with the logistics. The weekend we decided to go there was a huge women's cross country ski race. When I started my search for accommodations the only place available for both Friday and Saturday nights was the Lillehammer camping motel. I discovered the camping motel while surfing around glancing at tourist sites about Lillehammer. Looking at their website at the pictures of the rooms and the prices, I thought to myself.... great price and the rooms don't look bad either. They advertised warm homemade bread and coffee in the mornings too. I made a reservation for us and we got a room with 3 beds.
Kent rented a car for the weekend which ended up being a great idea plus the car was pretty inexpensive. We were suppose to get a small station wagon but that didn't happen. We ended up with the smallest car on the planet and receiving a small discount. Surprisingly, all of our stuff for the weekend fit in the tinymobile including all of our skis. After loading up we were off late Friday afternoon. Kent was great behind the wheel in Norway and he commented that he liked the tiny mobile. There was a lot of traffic but we finally made it out of Oslo. We arrived at the camping motel about 3 hours later and checked in. We discovered if you needed bedding there was an extra charge and that they only have bread and coffee in the summer when they are busier... bummer. I must have coffee in the morning.
The room wasn't as nice as the pictures but the kroners we were saving made it worth it. It was definitely like a camping motel room. We all had our own little cots that were actually pretty comfortable. The room had a TV, a stove top, lots of dishes, a sink, and a small fridge. The bathroom was kinda scary. The shower was part of it but it did have a curtain. It's a good thing there was a squeegy thing to mop the floor.
After unloading the car and making our beds, we went to find food. The only spot close by was called By The Way. It reminded us of The Cracker Barrel without the general store. After some pasta for KJ and Kent and a shrimp baguette sandwich for me we headed back to our luxurious room for a little GG and sleep. The next morning I made some breakfast which consisted of yummy bread brought from Oslo with Skippy peanutbutter (thanks Mom) and apples. We then threw on our ski stuff and headed to the gas station next to By the Way for a latte. Most convenience stores have coffee machines that make coffee any way you want it and it's not bad.
Off to ski at Hafjell.....
Thursday night proved to be a fun night out. It was a meeting of the wine appreciation club for the AWC Oslo. This was the first time they have met in a while so we were meeting to discuss the details of the group and of course drink wine.
Earlier that day I headed to my neighborhood Vinmonopolet to carefully pick out a bottle of wine to take with me.
Upon entering a friendly clerk asked, "do you need any help?" (First in Norsk of course.)
"I am looking for a nice bottle of red wine," I responded.
"You came to the right place," he said.
I jokingly remarked, "you mean the only place you can buy wine in Norway."
This is true. Wine and liquor can be bought from the Vinmonopolet, the state liquor and wine monopoly. Not only are the prices sky high but the selection is pretty limited. I searched for a while since I didn't want to be a cheapo and finally found a nice, somewhat reasonably priced Spanish Tempranillo.
The gathering was just what I needed. The group was small and friendly. Everyone either brought a bottle of wine to share or an appetizer. Our host, Pam has a great house including a wine cellar that she let us check out. Her husband's hobby is wine and by the looks of it I'd say he knows a lot about the stuff. (I really wish I had my camera to get a pic of the cellar) He also shared a few very nice bottles with us. We are hoping he will come to our next meeting and give us pointers on how to taste wine correctly.
We chatted, drank far too much vino and had lots of tasty snacks too. We also discussed some ideas for the club and how often we should meet. I enjoyed learning about how these women like being in Norway and finding out more about life so far away. Most of them have been here quite a while. I asked them silly questions like... Can you find jelly beans? Do you have to pay a million kroners to get your haircut? to name a few.
All in all it was a good time. I think wine club in Oslo will be lots of fun! Next time I'll have remember not to drink quite as much.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Yesterday Kayleigh and I were out for a little shopping. We also stopped for a treat and some reading at Baker Hansen. On the way home we saw the tiniest snowflakes falling from the sky. The weather report called for some snow and as we waited for the trik it started to come down a little more. By the time we got to our apartment it was snowing pretty hard. We ran inside to get our cameras so we could remember it actually did snow while we were living in Norway. (This was actually the second time.)
According to the English Norwegian newspaper I read online, February 2008 was the warmest its been since 1900. How can it snow when on average it's 6 degrees warmer than usual? I still get excited when it snows. There is something very beautiful and peaceful about it when it falls from the sky.
It was just a small amount of snow, it didn't stick and this morning the sun was shining brightly.
Tomorrow we are going to Lillehammer to ski and it is suppose to snow! I'm going to keep my fingers crossed because it sure would be fun to ski in the snow before spring is officially here.
Last Saturday My dad and I went to the Teknisk Museum. (This is a science and technology museum)
My favorite exhibit was the one with lots of water in it. We had to wear rainboots and we got a remote control boat to play with. There was also a little movie theatre showing a movie about how the ocean is going to rise. The ice is melting in the North and South Poles.
There was an exhibit where you could go into the future. It was cool. There was a bunch of ticking like you were traveling into the future. While we were in the future we watched a robot put a new heart into a person.
There was a phone room with numbers for other phones in the room so we could talk to other people. I hung up on them because they were speaking in Norsk and I couldn't understand them.
There were also old airplanes.
I had lots of fun and I know my dad did too.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Frigg is the name of the club basically like Rose City, our soccer club in Portland, only I think it is a lot larger.
We were warmly greeted by Isabelle, who also has a daughter on the team and by both coaches who also have daughters playing. This is just like at home as some parents step up and volunteer. I just happened to do this the summer we moved to Portland.... I was talked into being the coach! I knew nothing about soccer but I soon discovered the club desperately needed someone. It was actually a lot of fun.
Kent and I thought it was great. The girls were very interested and friendly to Kayleigh, the coach's daughter particularly. KJ commented on how smiley she was and that she said good bye to her 4 times. The girls just started learning English last year so they don't know much with this in mind it took Kayleigh a while to get into it.They scrimmaged quite a bit and did a fun game where the girls were split into 2 groups with 2 and 3 in each group. The held hands while they played which made them really have to work together.
While they were practicing Kent and I were chatting with Isabelle and another dad. It was really fun to be a fotball family again.
If the weather cooperates next week Speedy Frigg will practice outdoors. We shall see. The girls don't start playing games until April and the season goes until school ends which is the end of June. KJ will get her jersey in a couple weeks which Kent thinks will make an outstanding souvenir.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
We thought we'd be skiing a lot while living in Norway. Well after Kent and Kayleigh being sick off and on and loads of other excuses including lack of snow here, we went to Tryvann today. It was lots of fun! Tryavann is the closest ski park to Oslo; 30 minutes outside the city.... not bad.
We left the apartment somewhat early around 9 which is pretty good in Oslo on a Sunday morning. Things move slow on Sundays. We walked 15 minutes to the Majorstua subway stop which is the closest to us. (Kent even carried his skis and boots.) Fortunately the train was just about to leave so we hopped on. It was full of skiers, most of them being cross country. The ride is about 30 minutes. Once we got to our stop we went to a ski shop where we got tickets for the shuttle. It took us up the mountain about another mile. After renting ski gear for me and KJ we were finally ready to ski!
Tryvann is rather small so we covered a lot of territory and the day was glorious. I'm not an experienced skier but I love being on the mountain. Kent spent the day telemarking with us and giving us lots of pointers. No black diamonds for him today. The weather was mild enough to eat our sack lunches outside! We chatted with various foreigners: a family from Houston, a man from Venezuela, and few folks from England. I guess we foreigners like to ski here.
We were pretty pooped from our first official ski day in Norway. We are planning on a ski weekend in Lillehammer next weekend (just rented a car!) and over Easter break we will ski. This year we will spring ski.....better late than never!
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Late Friday afternoon we headed down to the city centre to meet for a winter walk. We read a flyer about these walks, which are guided walking tours around various areas of Oslo. We were intrigued so we thought we'd check it out and we weren't disappointed. Our tour guide, Hilde met us at the Z Club where we payed and received tickets for warm drinks after the walk. The only other person to join us was a young Australian who is spending a year working in Dublin. She came to Norway to see the Northern Lights. She went on the same trip that we are going to take in a few weeks to Tromso. How crazy is that?!
I really enjoyed the walk. Hilde shared a lot of history about the city and the buildings in the city centre. We made our way to The National Gallery to see some early masterpieces of Edvard Munch. He is the artist who painted The Scream. In fact there are 4 paintings of The Scream. In 1994 The Scream at the National Gallery was stolen the day the Olympics started in Lillehammer. The gallery was great. I always enjoy a good art museum and plan on returning. Plus it is free of charge. As we looked at Munch's paintings Hilde explained about them and told us all about Munch's life.
On the way out we stopped to look at some paintings by other Norwegian artists. Those Norwegians really know how to paint. We also took a quick peak in the gift shop.
We headed out into the cold night. Winter weather has returned and it was chilly. We wondered around the palace and viewed several statues. Hilde commented that Oslo likes their statues. She spoke about royalty and how Norway became independent after what seemed like forever!
Next we strolled to Henrik Ibsen's apartment. Ibsen was a famous playwright. His apartment which he lived in from 1895-1906 is located within walking distance to the National Theather. The museum curators have re-created his apartment as authentically as possible. Here he wrote 2 of his most famous plays.
On to the National Theatret, where many of Ibsen's plays were first performed and are still presented. The National Theatret inaugurated in 1899, is one of most in Europe.
Kent just commented that he wants to go see a play. We better start intensive Norwegian tomorrow. On our way to our final destination, the Grand Cafe Hilde pointed out some Ibsen quotes on the sidewalk that were.... inlaid metal. She translated them for us. I thought this was very clever.
Finally to our hot cocoa stop. The grand Cafe we were told was where Ibsen went everday at noon to drink his German beer and have a shot of schnops. This is the a very famous cafe in Scandanavia, where artists used to hangout. Lots of action took place here I thought as I warmed up and sipped my cocoa. We chatted for a while with the group. It was a beautiful cafe and a great evening! Even KJ had fun.....