Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Day After...

Usually when visitors leave I feel blue. Teresa and Dan returned Wednesday night much later than they originally planned because the tour boats aren't on the summer schedule yet. They arrived around 11 pm which is about my bedtime and they left for Amsterdam well before we were up Thursday morning. We chatted about Bergen and their fjord adventure. They had a wonderful time. They invited us to join them in Amsterdam so we'll see them Saturday. Maybe that is why I'm not sad about them leaving.
Today was an interesting day... A couple weeks ago I received a call from Jeannette, the gal who owns our apartment. She asked me if I'd like to be a model for her friend Pasqual, who is a hairstylist. He was looking for someone with short hair to cut and put stripes on. (She meant highlights) She thought of me because duh, I have short hair and she knows I don't work. He needed someone in the morning. I jumped at the chance to have a free haircut. My hair is driving me crazy and I can't afford a 600 kroner ($125) cut!
Unfortunately Pasqual called shortly after Jeannette and said he'd already found someone. He did say that he'd still like to cut my hair since I was so nice to offer to model. We had a difficult time communicating since he spoke only Norske and Italian and a little Spanish. I speak ENGLISH and some Spanish. When I hung up I really didn't think I'd hear from him again.
Well, last week his Swedish wife called who spoke English much better and wanted me to come that day. I was busy and really thought this time he'd give up trying to give some American a free haircut.
Today was my lucky day! He called again and the timing was good. Kent came home a little early from work for my 5 pm appointment. His salon was only a 15 minute walk from our apartment. On the walk I thought about my hair, it's finally getting a little longer at least to me. Do I really want it cut short again? Will I be able to explain that I only want a trim?
I asked Pasqual what he thought before he started cutting away.
He showed me a photo and said, "like this; it's very modern and French."
He went on explaining how heavy my hair is and that it needs life in it. I agreed. I haven't had a haircut since December except for Jennifer's trim.
It was fun. We chatted mostly in Spanish but he spoke a little English. Weird, that I had my haircut by an Italian and we're communicating in Spanish in Oslo! He cut a lot of my hair and was really wild with the scissors. I was a little concerned about the end result. After he finished cutting he used wax and lots of spray. The end result, very cute but short again. I guess I'm a short hair gal.
I had to zip out of the salon to meet Kent and KJ for her soccer game. I tried to give Pasqual a tip but he refused and gave me a big hug.
We met up with the team at the clubhouse and carpooled to the opponent's field. It was by a lake we xcountry skied at last winter which was pretty far. Frigg played great and won 5-3. KJ made another goal. Playing with the Norwegian girls has been super for her game. She is really improving!
The team and the parents are very friendly. When KJ made her goal everyone cheered her on and Benedicta ran to Kayleigh and held her hands and did a little dance with her. It was so cute. Benedicta is a powerhouse for Frigg; she is tiny and mighty. One game she had a bloody nose and kept on playing.
When we got home KJ took a couple pictures of me sporting my new doo. I'm going to wait to show off my new hair as the wind at the game got the best of my new style.
Heia Frigg!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Conquered The Rock

Sunday morning we set out for Stavanger on the west coast which is just under an hour by plane. Our destination: Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock).... Frommers says it's one of the most memorable hikes in this part of the world, through scenic fjord country with mountain landscapes as backdrops. The ultimate goal is the Pulpit rock with a vertical drop of 1,998 ft. over the stunningly blue Lysefjord.
Back to my story.... Once we reached the airport, got the rental car and T and D all checked into their hotel for the night, we reached the ferry. After a twenty minute ferry ride and a 30 minute drive, we reached the Preikestolen Lodge. Kent, KJ and I spent the night here. It was 4 pm when the receptionist at the lodge told us about the hail and snow on the rock and it would take us at least 4 hours to do the hike. We had a dinner reservation at 7:30. She agreed to have sausages and potato salad for us when we returned. Hmm, I thought to myself... what are we getting ourselves into? We came all the way to do the hike, so we all layered up and off we went.
As we started out most of the hikers were on the way down. There was such a variety of people; young, old, fit looking folks and not so fit looking ones. I was surprised at the footwear. How can you hike in canvas Converse?
I was also surprised at the weather; I wasn't cold? Throughout the hike the weather changed frequently. It did hail, snow and rain. None of the precipitation came down hard, so we didn't get very wet and none of us were cold. (Yes, I worry about warmth.)
I was concerned about how KJ would do. Her hiking has improved so much especially after last Sunday's hike but she had a big day yesterday (May 17, marching in the parade for 3 hours.) Her attitude about hiking is very positive. Kent and I are psyched about this since we want to do as much in the Nordmarka before we head home and to continue hiking in Oregon. We haven't done much and are loving it.
It was steep and rocky at the start. There were 3 hilly sections and the majority of the time we had a variety of rocks to climb. We saw waterfalls, flowers, and rainbows along the way. It was hard to keep from taking pictures.
Usually it is very windy but we lucked out. I guess hiking later in the day might have been an advantage. Kayleigh was doing sensational. We did take several short breaks along the way and had snacks. Teresa'a dark chocolate M&Ms came in handy. As we approached the rock it was very high. We could see mountains and the fjord... It was breathtaking. Once we set foot on the rock there were hardly any other people which was nice. We snapped more and more photos. It was absolutely stunning!
KJ repeatedly commented, "this is paper; it's a picture." Hmm, well it's the real thing sweetheart.
I thought being up so high was going to freak me out but I was wrong. I was fine; I guess it was too beautiful. Kent and Dan laid down on their tummies and looked over the edge. Kent even dangled his feet over the edge; what a daredevil.
On a side note: Teresa brought the travel section from The Oregonian. There is a weekly article about Oregonians traveling to distant places which includes a photo of your group holding the travel section. She thought our gang on the Pulpit Rock was a worthy destination. We have several good shots to send to our local paper. That will be fun.
I'm not going to go in detail about the descent although there was much to tell. KJ wounded her shin on a rock: but was fine. It's just as challenging going down as it is going up....
I was close to 9 pm and not dark (of course, it doesn't get dark until after 10 pm) when we got back to the lodge and had dinner. We were exhausted and very happy. We conquered the rock!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May 17; Part Two

After three hours of parading (KJ marching and D, T, K and I watching and shivering)
we went to Tiffani, a neighborhood favorite of ours for some warm drinks. It was fun and festive as not many cafes were open.
We headed home to regroup for the afternoon. KJ immediately changed and wrapped herself up in her comforter. The weather wasn't what we hoped for for in mid May but what do you expect in Norway??? I planned to be outside all day whooping it up with the locals.
Later in the afternoon we headed down around Karl Johan's Gate where T and D mentioned there was some traditional dance taking place. We missed it but we were just in time for the russtoget. (I think that's right?) All the kids who are graduating from high school are in a huge parade celebrating their hard work. Actually they've already been celebrating the whole month with barbecues and parties. The kids who are in year 13 wear a particular pair of overalls throughout the whole month of May. Most of them wear red for a general area of study but a few wear blue for business and green for environmental studies.
KJ found out from her buddies that all the younger kids collect cards from the seniors. The cards are the size of a business card and are the same color as their overalls. They usually have a picture of the person along with a little bit of humor. The little kids run up to the older kids whenever they see them in the street or the park and ask them for a russe card. KJ had a few before the parade but was shy to ask many big kids. During the parade she collected 62 more cards! She had a blast running around the parade asking for cards and finding them on the ground because the big kids were throwing them in the air. It was nuts but great fun!
We wondered around the city; it was great just to be among all the Norwegians on their big day. Teresa, Dan and Kent ended up at the new opera house which according to them is pretty cool. It opened in April and is very modern. They walked up on the roof where they had a great view...
KJ was pooped so we made our way home on the trik. The trik was even entertaining as we saw so many people partying everywhere! I was happy the weather improved in the afternoon. It was still rather chilly and I actually wore my down jacket! Crazy but that's me.
Later that evening the Chinese boys Jenn and Reyes came over to join us for shrimp, polser and lomper, and festive cake that Teresa and KJ made. Kent made the polser on the disposable grill that I bought at the market. (The Norwegians are big fans of these one time use grills. We see them at the park on warm days.)
We sure had a great time celebrating Norway's birthday. How often does your kid get to march in a Norwegian parade and wave at royalty???

May 17 Highlights of the Big Day in Norge Part One

My family and I have been anticipating May 17 for months. My father-in law David says it is the best day to be in Oslo. I think he might be right.
Kayleigh's teacher, Guro told us that May 17 is Norway's birthday. Everyone dresses nicely for the celebration. Many wear the bunader which is the Norwegian traditional dress. Each costume is unique depending what region in Norway you are from. They are beautiful!
Kayleigh marched in a parade with all the children in our area. Each school has their own banner and all the kids march with their school. Some schools even have bands. Since we happen to live in central Oslo, Kayleigh's barnetoget (kid parade) marched up Karl Johan's Gate (the main street up to the palace) around the palace where the king and queen wave to all the children. This parade happens to be the largest in all of Norway. Too bad the weather was dreadful.(It even snowed for short time.)
FYI.... Guro told KJ she'd need to wear a dress. This was not good news for my little tomboy. She had no dress in Oslo; well we took care of that and she looked very pretty.
Kent decided he was going to dress up in honor of Norway's birthday too. He mentioned that he brought both his new suits along and hasn't had the opportunity to wear them. When he saw the lovely weather in the morning he quickly changed his mind. His daughter wasn't going to let him off the hook and he put his suit on later in the evening when we had our own celebration. He cleans up pretty well, don't you think?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Teresa and Dan Arrive!

I never thought this day would arrive. Feeling very blue I remember venting to friends about my challenges of being many miles from home. Teresa told me to go out and have a latte and that they'd be here in the spring with an extra suitcase of whatever we requested.
Sure enough, last Wednesday evening they arrived with lots of fun goodies.
Teresa and Dan live in Portland too and are experienced travelers. Teresa traveled a lot in the past for work and the two really enjoy seeing the world.
We met them through our common friends Kacia and Clark before we even moved to Portland. Teresa became our realtor and helped us find our home while we were still in Austin.
T and D are great visitors. I'm glad I listened to her and went out for that latte....
Here's to friends and blueberry vodka!
(I guess Norway too)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day 2008 Won't Be Forgotten By This Mom

In Europe they celebrate Mother's Day sometime in February. I think we were the only ones celebrating on May 11. I'm all about special days for people whether it's their birthday or whatever type of day makes them happy. Get the picture.... So when I became a mom I got another spacial day.
Sunday was an outstanding day! Kayleigh and Kent got me flowers and a latte in the morning, while I lounged in my pjs. KJ also made me homemade flowers with a little help from her dad. We had my favorite scones and watched Gilmore Girls.
Today I wanted to hike. Kristian gave us a suggestion last night and e-mailed a map to Kent. (very nice) We got dressed, made some sandwiches and headed to our neighborhood subway stop. We'd start our hike at Frognerseteren, the same stop where we xcountry skied from just a couple months ago. We are in the Nordmarka. Frommer (the author of my guide book) calls it Oslo's playground. The forest goes on forever and there are tons of trails for quality hiking. We decided having a mountain bike here would be too much fun!
First we hiked to Skjennung Stua.(stua means place) It was a long way and I was a little sketchy about KJ. She hasn't hiked much and was out late last night. She did it and with no complaining. We did stop along the way to eat our PB sandwiches. At the stua not only were we on the side of a mountain with a great scenic view but we were at a bakery! We split some lemon and chocolate bread and also had some quiche. After a short rest and nourishment we continued another 8.5 K to the Sogns Van. (van means lake) The trails were a bit of everything... rocky, downhill, uphill, some of the trails were covered with tree roots. We hiked over some little creeks where pieces of wood were placed for you to walk over. During the second part of the hike we passed several stuas where hikers can stop and rest and get food. We finally reached the lake. I wish we had time to check it out but we had to find the train stop and head home. We hiked for about 6 hours and at least 9 miles which is a new record for KJ.
When we got home she went straight to the tub and Kent made us dinner. We're all happy and exhausted!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Boat Fun!

I decided Kayleigh will have to own a boat someday. She's only gone boating twice and loved it both times. Last summer on the Fourth of July Kent was in Europe so my friend Elizabeth invited KJ and me to spend the day with her family on their boat on the Columbia. It was a toasty fun time and Kayleigh even went tubing!
I grew up going to Lake Sacajawea every summer with my grandparents for a couple weeks. My sister and I had a great time hanging out on Grandpa John's speed boat along with all the fun things we did at the cabin.
Saturday Carolyn invited us to join her family for an evening on their sail boat. It was another glorious day as we climbed on the boat with food, drink, fishing equipment, fleece and sweat shirts in case it got cold. There were so many boats on the water at one point it was a bit of a log jam....a great time for boat watching. Kristian pulled the boat up to a little island so the kids could get out and explore. Kayleigh dragged both of us out with her along with Kai and Malin. Malin is 5 and is quite the trooper. She's just learned how to ride her bike and according to Carolyn she is pretty fearless.
All the boating and exploring makes a person rather hungry.. Carolyn brought shrimp for making shrimp sandwiches. We peeled the shrimp added a some mayo and along with the bread. (from Baker Hansen, just thought I'd mention) Delicious! I made peanut butter chocolate cookies to bring along. It was a very easy meal.
After we ate it was time to shove off and continue. We went around the fjord some more and the kids fished a little. Before we knew it the sun was slowly disappearing so we head back.
Not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening if you ask me.

A Victory For Frigg i Farta

Frigg Farta played their first match of the season defeating Hemming 13-3. I must say Frigg looked pretty darn good. A couple of KJ's team mates might be future Norwegian soccer stars by the way they played Thursday night. KJ had a fine game as well scoring a goal and playing some excellent defense. The game was a lot of fun at least for the home team which was Farta.

We look forward to the rest of the season. They have practices on Tuesdays and play games on Thursdays. The team has about 18 girls so they split them into 2 teams and each group plays a different team every week. The coaches switch the girls around so they get to play with everyone during the season.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lincoln Parken

One Saturday earlier this spring KJ and I stumbled across a statue of Abe Lincoln in Frogner Park which seemed rather unusual. Then I read the print on it which said... Presented To Norway By The People of North Dakota. I can see why North Dakotans might have a statue in honor of Norway since many of us have Scandinavian ancestry but why did they choose Abe Lincoln? If anyone has any knowledge of this I'd love to know. I guess I could do my own research. For now I'll just enjoy the statue in one of my favorite places to hang out in Oslo.

Great TIme With J and D

Time always seems to pass quickly when you're having fun. That was the case when we said good bye to Jennifer and David. They are easy and fun company to have around. We laugh a lot.
Jennifer has mentioned a few times since she's been home how much they enjoyed Norway. That is good to hear since they've both been here before. She also asked me in an e-mail if she could do like they do in Star Trek and beam herself back which I thought was very cute. All of this is nice to hear when you're so far away from your family and friends.

Norway in a Nutshell

We were greeted with another glorious morning in Bergen. After a hearty European breakfast we headed to the train station where we would start our Norway in a Nutshell journey. A short train ride to Voss and then we transfered to a bus and onto Gudvangen. We made photo stops along the way; the mountains were amazing. Once we got to Gudvangen we hopped on the boat and took a cruise to Flam. The criuse was very enjoyable taking in all the fjords and we even saw some porpoises. We sat inside and had lunch but it was warm enough to be outside too. Along the way, we made a stop to drink some sacred water which was quite an event.
The boat arrived in Flam where we'd have a very long layover which was the only negative part of Nutshell. There aren't as many trains scheduled in the spring and there isn't much happening in Flam. We should've gone for a hike but we were feeling lazy. We finally boarded the Flam Railway later in the afternoon for what we all agreed was well worth the wait in Flam. This ride is roughly 50 minutes and is a fantastic experience going through hairpin tunnels, stopping to view waterfalls and descending from a high mountain plateau. I've never been on a train ride like this one! We loved every minute.
We eventually reached Myrdal where we caught the train back to Oslo. People had told me about the Nutshell trip but it is hard to comprehend what it is all about until you do it. We usually aren't into doing tours but were very pleased with the whole Nutshell experience. It is a great way to see the beauty of Norway.