Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God Jul

This has been perhaps the most Christmas-y of holiday seasons for us thus far.  We've been covered in snow, and we've been to what seems like a gazillion Christmas markets.  

However, perhaps our greatest Christmas achievement has been this:

We met a reindeer!  Isn't he/she pretty?

And, contrary to popular belief (a.k.a. what Ken and I initially thought), this woman leading the reindeer is not dressed as an elf.  She's actually Sami, and dressed in a traditional costume.  The Sami are indigenous people who live in the very far north of Norway/Sweden/Finland.  Reindeer herding is part of their culture.  This woman apparently takes reindeer to various events, from what I could decipher from the Norwegian on her website.  Here, she just finished sticking her face in the reindeer's fur to warm up her face (also a conclusion Ken and I came to - or perhaps she was just showing it affection?)

 This reindeer hoopla took place in a little town called Bærum's Verk, northwest of Oslo.  It used to be an iron foundry, and now it has cute red buildings with art galleries and cafes in them.  It was also super cold here - hence the frozen creek above.  The moose burger stand at the farmers market here (no, we did not partake) actually had the ketchup and mustard bottles on a warming plate, so they didn't freeze.  That's cold.

Ken wandering amongst the pretty red buildings and the juletrær for sale.

Let's discuss the juletrær, shall we?

Normally, I love the look and scent of a huge, fluffy Christmas tree in the apartment.  At the end of November, Ken and I wondered where the heck to get a Christmas tree.  We figured Norway was the perfect place to score an evergreen.  And we heard rumors that stands pop up in the city (no car = no trip to the tree farm to cut one yourself).  But, apparently they don't sell trees until very close to Christmas here, so the stands near our apartment just started popping up about a week ago.  

So, we settled for a small potted tree at the end of November, and that will serve as a our Christmas tree (sustainable as well!)  No sense in paying who-knows-what for a tree and decorations, then dragging it up the block and three flights of spiral stairs, and later figuring out where to dispose of it (who even knows?) for only two weeks of enjoyment.  And we actually won't even be here on Christmas, so there's another reason to go cheap this year.  I think in terms of "I could be spending this scrilla on fun travel" now, since trips are so cheap.

Thus, we're off to London, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen for the next week.  Have I mentioned that this trip, including hotels in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, cost just a tidbit more than our usual two flights from Portland to Tulsa/Dallas for Christmas?  'Tis true.  We'll be sad to not be home for the holidays for the first time in our lives, of course.  But no need to sit at home and mope about it, eh?

I'll leave you with this week's Moment of Zen:

After some very short days, the winter solstice is upon us today.  Longer days from this point forward!  

And check out the June ahead of us.  Ahh...

Happy Holidays!