Hi everyone!! I have a visitor! My dad is here are and we are so glad! Of course it's pouring rain! It's actually breaking records for the rainiest July in history. Figures! But, we are making the most of it. We have visited Mount Floiyen, the Hanseatic Museum, the Fish Market in Bergen, a sightseeing 'train' that drives around Bergen, and various other activities in and around Bergen. Tomorrow we are going on the trip Norway in a Nutshell, which you can read more about at: http://www.norwaynutshell.com/default.asp We are hoping it doesn't pour rain, but it's such a great trip that we are taking our chances anyways.
Here are some pics of us out and about town. Pic #1: my dad arriving at the airport; standing downtown in front of the Bergen newspaper; the famous Bryggen houses; Ole Bull's fountain; jumping on the stones through the fountain; Grandpa and the girls with downtown Bergen behind them up on Floiyen; sitting quiety??? up on Floiyen waiting to go back down; Bergen from up on Floiyen; (second row) going back down the cable car; the girls with Grandpa downtown; me and my girls in the shopping gallery; a very cool viking ship we spotted while we driving around lost; the sightseeing train the girls have wanted to ride all summer!
Hi everyone. The final days are upon us, and I think all of our enthusiasm has left the building. It's been incredibly wet since we got back from vacation, but we are trying to make the most of it anyways. Yesterday and today the sun has finally peeked out, so yesterday we headed downtown, and today we are planning to go for a walk. All of us go a bit stir-crazy here in the apartment, so any excuse to get out works for us.
Monday we went downtown to the library on the bus, and met Farmor after work and had ice-cream together. The girls were pretty happy to use their Barbie umbrellas, and I was playing around with the color on the camera. Yesterday we went downtown and just walked around a bit. I got some pics of the yacht that was in Bergen. Totally, totally awesome. I would have paid to see what the inside looked like...judging from the outside...absolutely stunning would be my guess! The Bergen Tidende newspaper took pictures also, and they wrote up an article on it as well. It's in Norwegian, but you get more pics to see: http://www.bt.no/lokalt/article386630.ece We also bought some fresh cherries from the Fish Market, and the girls were so crazy about them that we are going to go to the grocery store today for more. I am glad to hear that they would prefer the cherries over more ice-cream!
We are still awaiting word if my dad will be coming over or not. Alf and my brother Joe are trying desperately and persistently to deal with the passport office, and last I heard, my dad might have to make a quick drive over to Chicago to the closest passport office and have it done personally. The girls are excited about all the things they want to show him!
We like the name of this boat!!!
On the bus...
Greetings everyone!! Sorry it's been so long since I have sat and updated...I have been on a wondrous adventure!!! Since I last wrote, we celebrated the 4th of July here with a good old fashioned, all-American BBQ over at Bridget and Trond's house. I do have pictures that I will try to get up for you to see...promise! The girl's finished barnehage last Friday, and it was a very hard moment for Elisabeth. I have promised her that we will visit them one more time before we actually leave Norway in August. It helped that we were setting out on a great adventure the next day, and she was excited for that...
The Great Trip to Southern Norway...
RT, a fellow engineer from Tech and one of our good friends, invited the girls and I to come visit this summer and go to his summer house in the southern part of Norway. (Some of you might remember him from our wedding...the really tall Norwegian with the Mustang...) I took him up on the offer and we left last Saturday in Beate's little SUV from Bergen. It's interesting driving down to the southern part of Norway from Bergen: one must take two ferries and actually drive the majority of the trip on a huge island. Along the route I took two different ferries, tunnels that actually went under the sea, and bridges that went over. The deepest tunnel actually was 233 meters under the sea. We stayed for one night at RT's house in Stavanger, and then drove the rest of way down to Ŭo, which is a little spot on the road right on the coast of the North Sea and about 40km from Kristiansand. There is where RT's family summer house lies. You can read more about the area at: http://www.sogneguiden.no/engelsk.asp
We had a great week of boating out on the sea, fishing, crabbing, hiking, island hopping, and badminton! The girls LOVED going out on the boat, and the faster, the better! They liked setting the crab traps, and both girls held the starfishes that came up with the traps. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that, since it was threatening rain and I didn't bring the camera...but even Elisabeth held one, once I coaxed her into it by holding her hand in my hand. I caught the biggest fish of the weekend...a 16-17" haddock (lyr fisk)! Of course, RT was actually the one who cast the line and removed it off the hook buy HEY!! I held the pole and I reeled it in, and darn it, this is MY fish story!! We also caught mackerel, and a fish that look like a mini sword fish called a garpike (horngjel fisk.) And fresh crabs! Way cool! We are bringing home crab shells for show and tell at school this fall! RT also took us out one evening to one of the outlying islands called Uv岼/span>, made a bonfire, and cooked hot dogs and fish that we caught on the ride out there. We also went on a blue berry (bl墦r) hike out in the woods, where we all picked wild blueberries, and then ate them with cream and sugar...mmmm....!!! We visited the cute, little seaside town of Mandal, where we luckily found our favorite Norwegian treat: soft is, or soft serve ice-cream!
My girls had a great time, and really enjoyed RT and his boys. My girls couldn't get enough of his youngest son! And due to his enthusiasm of all things pirate, my girls are now pretty insistent that they need a Kaptein Sabeltann sword and maybe a movie too. FYI: Kaptein Sabeltann, or Captain Sabertooth as he is called in English, is a well known pirate here in Norway. You can read more about him at http://www.captainsabertooth.com/
Over all, we had a great time, and we all three thank RT for allowing us to invade on his vacation. It was a lot of new experiences for all us, and I am glad we went. Tusen Takk Ragnar and gutter!!!
The Drive: the ferry crossings were very simple!! 1) pay...about $35 for each crossing 2) wait for next ferry to come along 3) hurry and drive once the gate on ferry opens 4) put the car in gear AND use the emergency brake (that was Alf's rule, not the ferry's rule...) 5) hurry up to the enclosed deck...not sure why everyone was in such a rush, but it was like a race to get out of your car and get upstairs 6) BE IN YOUR CAR WHEN THE FERRY DOCKS AGAIN!!! Alf warned me that it would be crazy when we got close to the ferry, and that people would be in a rush to get in line for the ferry...he was SO wrong...the real race is who will off the ferry first and be the lead car on the road, which I should add, was a two lane road the entire way...no four lane stuff...so if you were the first car, you lead the pack...if not, you follow the pack...people literally cut one another off to be the first off the ferry...Chicago drivers are POLITE compared to Norwegians getting off a ferry! The longest ferry trip is 40 minutes, and going south we ate our lunch; heading north back to Bergen, we bought ice-cream, which was a huge hit...the last two pictures are on the way back to Bergen: having lunch at a roadside stop, and my girls in back...
A Night in Stavanger: Since the drive down from Bergen was five hours, and the weather was not cooperative, we stayed the first night at RT's house. My girls were taking it all in, but as I wrote, they were enamored with RT's youngest son, Captain Jack as he called himself. He showed the girls his 'pirate ship,' or the swing set as we mistakenly called it. My girls loved the buoy...so much more fun than a boring seat swing that we have! I got some great pics of the kids playing...unfortunately, I didn't get any of the pirates that kept attacking!
South to Ŭo: We continued on to the summer cottage Sunday, which took about 3 or so hours. The weather cooperated right away, and the first order of business: get the boat in the water! All the kids were pretty excited to get out on the water, and although we didn't catch anything except a jellyfish, it was a glimpse of what we could expect in the upcoming week!
At the summer cottage: The house was quite old, and was actually built for RT's great grandmother. I seriously thought RT was teasing me about the no running water, outhouse, and having to walk 20 minutes to find electricity...only the last one was a joke...there was electricity, just no water. The outhouse was out in the barn...but it did accommodate two people at time...a convenience for one of the girls and I if needed...which we didn't..It just made it all the more an adventure, right? It went fine...the house was a short walk to the water and where the boat was docked, and with a cool little boat house! At the house there was plenty to do to keep busy...badminton and helping RT with trimming the fruit trees and washing clothes by hand and cutting wood...and of course, sword fighting! My girls quickly made one of the trees a clubhouse, and both liked climbing the trees too!
Daily Adventures: Everyday we managed to find something exciting to do. Lots of boat trips, with fishing and crabbing. One day we found a little inlet to an island with a dock and went exploring. Another day we went into the closest little town and looked around and found the ice-cream shop!
Brenne b嬠p堥n ع: Which translates to Bonfire on an island, which is exactly what we did! Late one afternoon, we boarded the boat and headed out to an island, fishing along the way. Guess who got a fish??? It wasn't that big, but it was the biggest fish I have ever caught, and it was a SEA FISH!!! I can now say I caught a fish in the North Sea!! RT actually made me hold the thing...a prospect I was NOT excited about, but he didn't let me argue......but I did it!! I dropped it like a hotcake when it moved, but I did NOT squeal like my girls did...I don't think I did, anyways...
We found a little inlet and headed towards the rocks. The plan was once we got close enough for me to jump, I would do so with the tie line to the boat and hold it steady while RT killed the engine. Great plan in theory...I made the jump, hit the slippery rock, and in I went, up to me knees...so much for gracefulness!!! Oh heck, it was summer time and at least I can say I was in the sea!! Once we tied up the boat nice and tight, because RT told us the worse part of island partying is when your boat gets loose and drifts away and your stuck with a boat about 400 yards out...we all went in search of driftwood. Karoline, in her searching, found a perfect conch shell, which RT told us is very difficult to find...and she was pretty proud of that! Once the bonfire was going, we cooked hot dogs over the flames, as well the fish we caught on the way to the island, minus my fish. That we saved, and incredibly, I forgot it with RT!! I hope it tasted good, RT!! Overall, the girls and I thought it was a really cool adventure, and for me, that was the highlight of the week!!
A blueberry hike in the woods: I had done a blueberry excursion with RT back in 2000, but it was still fun to do and a whole new adventure for my girls. We headed out with containers, rubber boots, long pants and sleeves to guard against mosquitoes and ticks, and off we went. The first thing we found was wild strawberries growing along the road, which we eagerly tasted right away. Then on to the blueberry picking. My girls were not that eager about eating them, and were fascinated that I had blue lips and a purple tongue from taste testing...but they were pretty eager to pick them. They got a little nervous when we didn't see RT and the boys, and both kept asking me if we should go find him, but they relaxed once we saw a pirate hat amongst the trees. When we sat down to eat them later that evening, they were both a bit skeptical until they spotted the sugar on the table. Then they dug right in! We ate them with fresh cream and a bit of sugar sprinkled on top, and they though it was funny that we all had purple mouths afterwards!
The last boat ride: We had great sun for the last boat ride, but unfortunately, not a single bite from the fish. But I did take some great pics of the cottages that are in the area. Quite a few were built out on islands, and the only way to get there is by boat. There was really nice places...probably with some great price tags!!! Karoline conked right out, but Elisabeth enjoyed every last minute on the boat...she is already mentioning how much she would like us to have a boat back in South Dakota!
Now, we are hanging out in Bergen while we wait to see if my dad comes to visit. He is having huge problems trying to get his passport, and has already had to reschedule his plane tickets. We are hoping he will be here by the 26th of July until the 3rd of August, which would give us a couple of days before Alf comes on the 8th. We are hoping to keep busy with taking the bus into town and hitting the library, going for walks, and visiting Farmor...and of course, PACKING!! Ugh, I am not looking forward to the packing part. I think I haven't bought that much, but I know once I start trying to fit everything into 8 suitcases, it will be a different story! What makes it even harder is Bridget and Trond and the boys are IN Michigan right now!! We are taking care of thier plants, and we hope they enjoy their time with family and friends...Hi guys!!!
I hope summer is going well for all of you, and we will be back in the States by the 15th of August. No idea when we will be in Rapid City, as we are flying into Detroit to visit family first. But school starts September 4th, so we will definitely be there by then!!