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Norway Trip

    May 2007  

31.05.07 Torsdag

Hello again...feeling a bit better, thanks to the miracle of drugs.  They were treating me for Strep throat again, but they are waiting for the actual results from the hospital.  I didn't really care about the diagnosis, I wanted something to get rid of the pain of swallowing.  I missed class again, but luckily there was no class on Monday because of a holiday, no class on Tuesday because the teacher was sick, and no class on Friday because the other teacher had no daycare due to all the barnehage's being closed.  Talk about luck...I only missed two days of school this week!  Bonus for me!

I am trying to catch up on some the pics I have taken over the last couple of weeks.  My birthday was last week and Bridget and Trond hosted a wonderful birthday party for me. Trond grilled up some GREAT tasting meat, and Bridget made some awesome American style potato salad and deviled eggs.  It was truly a taste of home...even better since I didn't have to do the dishes!  There was even lilacs on the table, giving off a great lilac smell...Both Trond's parents and brother came to the party, as well as Alf's mom too.  I had some great gifts and I thank Bridget's in-laws for the pretty necklace from Spain, and from Trond and Bridget, the Brann scarf, a cool Norwegian figurine, an awesome windbreaker and a beautiful pair of earrings that someday will go with a Voss bunad!  And the frosting on the cake: Bridget made a homemade bl롫e, which I really can't describe but it tastes like strawberry shortcake with whip cream! Mmmmm....


Pic 1: the banner that Trond made with no mention of me being 35; the colorful table!; the kid's table; me and my girls; all my booty!; the camera operator; best friends; the three horned party monster; Alf, via the computer at the party...

29.05.07  Tirsdag

Howdy folks!  Boy, how time can fly!  I didn't realize that it's been another week already, but it went so fast!  It wasn't that exciting, but it's just the usual daily life with two kids and all that has to be done.  I am feeling a bit under the weather, so bare with me...

School is going ok.  The language school runs on the same schedule as the public schools, and I will be finished on June 22.  I am kind of bummed...it's been nice going to class, learning and talking the language and having all my questions answered.  It's going to be tough to be at home.  I might have to randomly phone unsuspecting Norwegians just to keep the language skills going!  The girls will be finished with the barnehage July 9.  We hope to do some traveling, possibly down to the south of land and maybe, just maybe, my Dad will come visit and the girls can take Grandpa around to see Bergen and Norway! 

Last weekend we needed to get out of the apartment and get some exercise, so we decided to explore the area down the street from us called Kanadaskogen, or Canada woods.  I just can't get away from being a neighbor to Canada!  It was an overcast day but with no rain falling, there was Norwegians out and about hiking and enjoying the day and nature.  The girls had saved some Seigman gummy candy to eat, but it was a new flavor that was sour tasting, and it didn't go over so well.  But we enjoyed the fresh air like good Norwegian citizens...


I have lots more pics to send, but I am once again being treated for Strep Throat...although they are not sure if it is actually Strep.  No matter, I am pooped and tired and will update very soon...I promise...

17.05.07  Torsdag   Gratulerer med Dagen!  

Hipp-hurrah for Syttende Mai!!  Today was Norway's Independence Day!  It was absolutely perfect weather with just a tad too much chill in the air...but I am not complaining!  The sun was out in full force, and of all the times I have celebrated the 17th in Norway, this was by and far the BEST weather it have ever offered!  Wonderful sun with NO RAIN!!  Let the rain come now, we have had the 17th!

Celebrations here are nothing like what we have in the States.  It's a very formal day, with processions (parades) and speeches and formal clothes.  But the intent of the day remains the same the world over; enjoy yourself and have fun!  I really like the attitude and the focus on the children, with many schools and daycares featured in the parades, and schools everywhere having special events to let the kids celebrate.  Here in Bergen, the day starts off with canons booming at 7am and a parade of sorts with the graduating seniors going through town.  The big parade begins at 10:30am, and winds it's way through town in 3 separate processions.  Nothing is open except for bars and pubs (of course!) ice-cream and hot dog vendors, and lastly, the toy and balloon sellers. 

Our day started with breakfast at the apartment of fresh smoked salmon, different kinds of meat, bread, rolls, juice and cheese.  We talked to Alf via the webcam, and the girls and I all got dressed and ready to go.  The girls wore the little Norwegian dresses we bought a couple of years ago, and they are always excited to get to wear them.  We picked up my mother in law and drove to the shopping center in our neighborhood to catch the bus.  There were so many people waiting that we finally got on third bus to get to downtown.  I don't have exact numbers, but it had to anywhere between 20,000 to 50,000 people??!!  Walking was just about impossible...I held on to my girls' hands and didn't let go for nothing! We didn't even bother to try to find a spot along the parade route...it was probably 7-10 people deep at the curb, but we found a great spot of grass right in front of the theatre and heard it all.  The kids ran around and played, and the adults were busy enough with just trying to keep count of them!  Of course ice-cream was ate by all.  I learned a new bit of information last week in class: on 17th of May, children can eat as much ice-cream as they want!  It is very common for grandparents and family to give extra kroners (Norwegian money) to the kids for buying ice cream on that day, and the parents don't get to stop it!  And speaking of grandparents, Trond's mom and dad were very nice to us in that they bought big helium balloons for both my girls...Thank You very much to Lita and Svein!!

After the crowds downtown, we came back to the apartment and ate the traditional 17th May dinner: hot dogs, r�r쯳pan> (a special type of porridge served with butter, cinnamon and sugar,) pop and of course, ice-cream with cake!  The cake was a 'white lady' cake with almond paste, or marzipan, frosting on it...very good but very rich in flavor.  We didn't have the spekekj䬠dried sheep meat, with scrambled eggs, since that was all at my mother in laws, but we still ate the hot dogs and ice-cream!

We then headed out to the barnehage for the activities there.  There was 'fisketur' which is a game where the kids pay a couple of kroners and then take a 'fishing pole' with a bucket at the end and throw the bucket into the water, which is a tarp tied up so the kids can't see the other side and some one puts prizes in the bucket.  Very popular game in Norway.  We also tried a couple other games like guess the colors that will be picked on a big turning wheel and throw the 'rock' (beanbag) at the cans and see how many can be knocked over.  The activities were mainly for the kids in the barnehage and the school where the girls go every day.  We finished the day off with ice-cream...again...at home and pretty much by that time, my girls were totally wiped out!  Elisabeth was trying her hardest to convince me to go to the fireworks downtown that were start at 11:15pm, but needless to say, she was out for count asleep by 9pm!! 

It was a wonderful day, marred only by the fact that Alf wasn't with us today.  But we thought of him much all day and partied for him in spirit!   Hope you all had a wonderful day, whether you were celebrating for Norway or not!  Enjoy the pictures from our day, and if you want to see more from Bergen, check out the website for the Bergen Tidende newspaper:  http://www.bt.no/lokalt/bergen/article363151.ece.

  Here are shots from our breakfast this morning, and from downtown.  Absolutely beautiful weather! That's Karoline on the bus!

The 'white lady' cake from the day; and pics from the activities at the barnehage.  The last picture: sunset over L㴡ken on the 17th!


14.05.07 Mandag

Greetings one and all!  Another week ahead of us here in Norway, but definitely an exciting one!  First, let me tell about the weekend...

When reading about the great country of Norway, one usually reads about the great Hardanger fjord, and books and natives agree, the best time to see the fjord area is Spring, when all is in bloom.  And of course, I have seen quite a few pictures of all the fruit trees in full bloom, the mountain tops covered in snow and the deep blue waters shining in the Norwegian sun.  So, I am here and I figured, take the chance while the getting's good!  We had sun predicted for the weekend so off we were.  We left Saturday morning with picnic food packed, two kids eager for an adventure, a mother ready to do ANYTHING but stay in the apartment, and a mother in law who was up for *anything...within reason, of course!  Our first stop along the way was Evanger, because Elisabeth was getting carsick.  We sat out in the sun for a few minutes and got back on the road again.  We got to Voss about noon, so we parked the car, grabbed the picnic and headed out for a beautiful spot on the water.  The sun was shining, the water was sparkling...it was so nice!  After lunch we walked over to the beach area and threw rocks in the water and drew in the sand.  Then we all agreed that ice-cream would be good.  So we walked downtown Voss and found soft-is, which is similar to Dairy Queen.  We spent a couple of hours in all just in Voss. 

After Voss, we continued on our journey on a big loop over to the fjord.  We drove through Granvin, which my mother in law has roots in, as well as Ŭvik, which is where her parents had a cafe when she was young.  My mother in law also has ties to Voss, as it was here that she went to high school and her family hails from as well.  I stopped and got some great shots along the fjord, but sadly, the fruit trees were not what the pictures I had seen really were.  Of course, there are fruit trees, and they were in bloom, but they are in orchards up the mountain side of the fjord...not quite along the road.  In order to get the great shots that they have in the books, I would have needed to hike up the mountainside a bit to get the picture.  But, it was still awesome!  All the trees were budding, and the wildflowers were growing, and the snow was on tops of the mountains...it really was cool!  With my mother in law next to me in the car singing the Hardanger song (I think that's what she was singing!) all that was missing was the girls in bunads waving along the roadside...like the princesses at Disneyland during the final parade of the day!!  (Alf is going to laugh at that analogy...he'll claim it's so American!)

We stayed overnight at my mother in law's hytta, which is about an hour and half from Bergen (see April for more details.)  Then we got up again and we drove to Norheimsund, which has a really cool waterfall that you can actually walk behind.  I thought it was a bit strange for there being so many flags flying on Sunday, but it wasn't until we got to the waterfall that I realized why:  it was confirmation day in Norheimsund.  There were families all over in national dresses taking pictures of the confirmants in thier new bunads.  Now, for those of you who were at my wedding, you might remember my mother in law wearing her national dress, or bunad as it's called in Norwegian, from Voss.  Others reading this probably know what the national dress is, and for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, you can read more about them at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunad.  Apparently the waterfall is quite a popular place for getting pictures taken wearing the national dress.  Wikipedia doesn't mention it, but it is a big tradition to receive a bunad, when one is confirmed here in Norway. 

Anyways, the waterfall was fun, and when we were done, mother in law treated us to an ice cream and a hot dog before we set out on the road again to Bergen. And to really top of the weekend, Bridget and William came over last night after dinner for a good play outside before baths and bedtime.  Overall, a GREAT weekend. 

Now we are anxiously awaiting the 17th of May, Norway's Independence Day, and whether there will be rain or sun.  You can already guess what we are hoping for! 

Our picnic in Voss...awesome view, huh? The last picture is of Karoline's sand drawing of the Norwegian flag.  She did that all by herself!

Hardanger Fjord, with the sun shining! Being silly with Farmor at the hytta, or cottage...

Norheimsund...very cool!!  You can see in the second to last picture one of the confirmants in her new bunad...

09.05.07 Onsdag   

Happy Anniversary...to me!  Ok, maybe Alf too;)  Yep, 9 years down, ??? to go!  It's hard being here without him, but in a way, it's very special being in his 'town' where he hails from. Alf, Happy Day to you...want to go another year??

The rain has returned, sadly, to Bergen.  A couple of days with nothing but rain, but TODAY, the sun shines, which means, everybody is outside!  Of course, they go outside even in the rain, but they smile when the sun shines!  Things are looking very green here, and the flowers are gorgeous!  Everything is blooming, preparing for the 17. Mai.  One week to go!  For those of you who don't know, 17 Mai is Norway's Independence Day from Sweden.  It's very different from the State's Independence Day in that it's much more formal.  Not just in clothes but in activities as well.  There is parades all over the country, much like the US, but instead of bringing your favorite lawn chair and the beer cooler and wearing your favorite cut-off shorts and most comfyest t-shirt, here in Norway you pull out the suit and tie and dress shoes...and you WILL STAND during the parade.  (They are incredulous when an American, such as myself, comments about wanting a chair to sit on during the 3 hour parade...sheesh, of course I was JOKING!!!)  I will be honest, I haven't been anywhere else in Norway on the 17th except Bergen, so it may be different in other towns, but here there are a couple of certainties on the 17th:  a 7am parade in which all the graduating seniors, known as Russ, drive through Bergen with their RussMobiles (big red cars with HUGE stereo systems) and many are visibly intoxicated...Alf has dragged downtown only ONCE for that, and I wasn't to impressed; then big canons go off, which we could probably hear just as well sitting at his mother's house on the balcony; and then at 10am there is a couple hour parade.  Afterwards, if the weather is nice, people will mill around downtown, get some hot dogs and ice-cream, and congratulate one another on the day.  It is also common to go home again, possibly visiting friends and eat hot dogs, spekekj伯span> (dried sheep meat) and scrambled eggs, with r�r젼/span>which I can best describe as rice pudding with sour cream.  Sounds funky but with cinnamon and sugar on top...mmmmm...In the afternoon, many schools will have activities for the children, with little parades and games and ice-cream (notice the ice-cream theme!)  Then in the evening, downtown Bergen has fireworks at dusk.  So, that is what will be going on next Thursday for us.  I just keep hoping for SUN!!! 

The first picture is Elisabeth at the barnehage with her butterfly: Bergen is the sun today!  Everything is in bloom and oh so pretty!  The big ship is the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, which you can read all about on the Home Page under links, or at http://www.lehmkuhl.no/eng/.  One of these days I would LOVE to see that ship with all sails up!

01. 05.07  Tirsdag

Hip hurrah!  Today is first of May, which, as you know, is a holiday.  I did get to sleep in somewhat, or at least as much as one can with two kids up and going in a small apartment.  The weather was once again absolutely wonderful today!  Bright sunshine in the 60's - 70's, and nary a cloud in the sky.  The girls and I got the apartment cleaned up a bit in the morning, in case Farmor came to eat dinner with us, and then we headed over to her house to say 'Happy May Day!'  Being it was Labor Day, many houses had their flags flying, and with all the trees starting to bud and the flowers blooming, it was so pretty to see the flags flying.  So patriotic here!  Unfortunately Farmor wasn't up to going into town, but the girls and I did, we off we went.  I believe it is the same all over Europe, but there were parades today in town with unions and various groups carrying banners and signs favoring or protesting different subjects.  Some issues were better pay for part-time work; equal pay for all; say 'no' to Norway joining the European Union; and by and far, protesting against the war in Iraq.  I saw quite a few signs against the U.S. and President Bush...very uncomfortable to be a American in Europe today, I think. 

After we watched that for while, the girls and I moseyed around downtown and checked out the sights.  There were so many people out today because of the sun and the warm weather.  I am crossing my fingers that we get such fine weather for the 17th of May.  That is Norway's Independence Day, and it's much more a big to do that what we are accustomed to in America.  Anyways, we weren't down there for long before the smells of hot dogs and ice cream got the best of us, so we hiked back to the car and drove over to Farmor's for an awesome chicken on the grill dinner with potato salad and applesauce...how American is that???  And of course, ICE CREAM! 

From L to R: protesters against the war, in the second pic, you see a beautiful Sami dress, which are the native people from up North of the land; my girls downtown; playing in the sun on Farmor's terrase; a beautiful May day in Norway; I want the red house directly up from Farmor's hus...then I could go out on my deck and wave hello; trying to catch the wind; eating ice cream out in the sun with Farmor!

Tomorrow we are all back to the grind of barnehage and school, but the weather is supposed to continue all week.  The girls are so excited because I have already told them they don't need to wear tights!  I might even be nice enough to let them wear Capri pants!!