Monday, February 28, 2011

Vinter Mania

I wrote a post last week.  Then I decided to nit-pickedly edit the placement of a picture, accidentally deleting all of the text in the process.  Blogger autosaved one second later, and nothing was left.

So here we go with a new and improved post, about the king of all Norwegian cultural traditions:  skiing.

The Nordic World Ski Championships (a.k.a. Ski VM) are going on in Oslo right now, just outside of the city at an area with a ski jump and trails called Holmenkollen.

The ski jump is a huge, white behemoth that looms in the Oslo skyline, and we took a tour of it a couple of weeks ago.  It's pretty crazy to be at the top of this beast, looking down on Oslo and the fjord.

Can you imagine how it would feel sitting at the top, knowing you have to fly down this thing and look good doing it (let alone live to see your score)??

Oslofjord from the top.

Lucky to be up there on such a beautiful day.

Along with all the ski jazz, there's a lot of hoopla going on along the main street in Oslo, which is just a short walk from our apartment...

One of Norway's biggest claims to fame is the artist Edvard Munch (remember art history class?)  So they had a few Munch-inspired ice sculptures created to line the street.  They're pretty awesome.  And I've included a pic of the paintings as well, so you can compare...

Skrik (The Scream)

Aften på Karl Johan (Evening on Karl Johan) 
The sculptures are in the same area where the painting takes place.

Pikene på Broen (Girls on the Jetty)

There's your fancy art lesson for the day.  

Now moving on to more important Norwegian cultural matters, such as...


Little piece of heaven in my bemittened hand.  My eating whilst mittened skillz are pretty impressive these days.  

Did not partake of the moose, but I appreciate the signage.

Flags purchased.

No spring?  No problem.  Just freeze some live tulips in blocks of ice, and line the palace park walkways with them.  Instant spring for the tourists!  I think these are really beautiful.

One last notable event from the week was a fun night out with our fabulous fellow expats, who we absolutely love to hang with.  

Since it was 15F/-9C outside, our awesome Dutch friends, Robert and Esther, thought it would be a great idea to go to the Ice Bar.  If you aren't familiar with the Ice Bar, it's a bar.  Made of ice.  Where you wear ridiculous capes and mittens, and drink cocktails from ice cube glasses.  

It actually felt warmer inside of the ice bar than it did outside.  And it was pretty hilarious to see everyone walking around in capes, holding ice cube glasses.  Good times!

Too cold.

Robert and the ladies.

And the Moment of Zen for the week?

Oh, yes.  It's true.  Oslo's first Ben & Jerry's.  There isn't any Half Baked here, but there's Cookie Dough and Chocolate Fudge Brownie, separately.  The price of $5/30 NOK per scoop is actually a good thing, to keep me from making a daily trip...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Last Week: A Hodge Podge

Apparently, I was in a few different places last week: Portland, Amsterdam, Oslo.  The nine and a half hour flight from Portland to Amsterdam wasn't too shabby at all - got an entire row of four seats to myself!  With those four lovely seats, I got four hours of sleep...ahh.  Thank you, Dramamine and free red wine, for that beautiful slumber.  There were also some decent movies on the plane.  So two of those, and the sleep, passed the time well.

The trip to the U.S. really was so lovely, and much-needed.  But, I was also glad to get back to normal life here in Oslo (and my handsome husband).  And the icy, death-defying sidewalks...(how much longer does this winter jazz last??)

Anyway, moving on to the pics...

Got in some good farewell walks my last couple of days in Portland:

Pretty blooms in NW.

 To whoever walks around writing random stuff on sidewalks in P-town: thank you for the constant entertainment.

 More blooms. Thinking/hoping Oslo has a similar spring, only a couple (few?) months later...

 Sweet bike rack outside of Justa Pasta (which has the best spinach salad on earth...I'm not usually a salad person, but I'm like a moth to a flame when it comes to this little goody).

I usually despise graffiti, since it ruins otherwise nice buildings, bridges, etc.  However, when someone cleverly draws on a person (or animal) on a bus bench and/or poster advertisement, that's a different story.  I find it to be hilarious, always.  Sorry, Dove Lewis Animal Hospital, but this was too good to pass up.

Important: I'd like to give an extra special shout-out to my lovely friend Kate in Portland, who let me shack up at her apartment for my entire visit (also, shout-out to my awesome friends Josh and Laura, who let me slumber party at their house for a night and offered up their place as well).  Also, to all of my beautiful P-town friends I got to meet up with throughout the visit, thanks to all of you for a great time!

I suppose I must also add that I sang karaoke on my last Saturday night in Portland, in the form of a-ha's "Take on Me."  As a tribute to the great Kingdom of Norway.  Takk for the help hitting the high notes, Sam.

And that concludes my love affair with Portland for Winter 2011.

Did I mention how awesome it was that the cheapest ticket between Portland and Oslo included a six-hour layover in Amsterdam?  And that the middle of Amsterdam is just a quick train ride from the airport?  Because it was pretty awesome.  This is one layover I will never, ever complain about.

 'Twas sunny and beautiful in A-dam.  Took a really long walk around the city.  The only pic I took was at the flower market, though.   Ahh, well.

I made it back to Oslo late on Tuesday night of last week, a bit haggard from the journey, and ready to get to my apartment.  When my 50 lb/23 kilo rolling bag finally creaked around the luggage carousel, I heaved it off...only to find that the handle was broken and wouldn't pop up.  

Umm.  This would've been just fine, had a I not also had a 40 lb/18 kilo backpack to wear, and an additional 20 lb/9 kilo bag I planned to drag on top of the rolling bag.  Needless to say, the journey from airport to train to apartment was interesting (and ended with a $20/120 NOK cab ride for a 0.6 mi/1k journey, and a luggage drag up three flights of stairs).  

You like those conversions?  

I have some Oslo pics from our tour of the crazy Holmenkollen ski jump last weekend, but this has really turned into a doozie of a post.  So they will now come next week, in a post whose major theme will (shockingly!) be: snø.  As will every post of mine through perhaps the end of April...

Moment of Zen:
Happy.  Elated.  Overjoyed.  To have these products available for use in the kitchen (not at the same time, because that wouldn't be very tasty, would it?).  Grilled burgers in the 20F/-7C tropics on our balcony this week, then topped them with delish pickles for the first time in almost five months.  And I'm making homemade tortilla chips this weekend with this bag of masa goodness.  Mmm...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Good Times in T-town

I got to do something very rare during my U.S. trip, which was spend a whole week and a half with my family.  

Since moving from Tulsa to Portland in 2006, trips to see my family have been a four-hour minimum flight (always with a layover - they never came through with the direct Portland to Tulsa of which I always dreamed...) with a few days of rushed madness trying to see everyone, since I was always trying to take as little time off work as possible.  

So, for the first time since college, I got to spend some good quality time with everyone, no rushing.  And it was lovely.  I also got to check out some new restaurants and bars around Tulsa, and I was quite impressed with all the good new stuff going on in the city.  Keep it up, T-town.

Also, a special thanks goes out to my awesome Mom for this trip.  Thanks for everything!

Now for some Tulsa tidbits...

 Trip to the Tulsa Zoo with my Mom.

 Family pic after dinner - Dad, Uncle Rick, Mom, Rhonda, Bro, Walker, Aunt Leiloni.

 Tulsa Garden Center.

A walk on Riverside.  

 Sunset over the Arkansas River and pedestrian bridge.

Road trip to Woolaroc Park in Bartlesville.

He eats paper!  Way to go green, Buffo.

 Lots of real Buffos at Woolaroc (and it didn't look like their pen had been cleaned out in awhile...)

 Oklahoma countryside.  

Oh the snow...can't get away from it, eh?  I can't say I was happy or honored to be a part of the Snøklahoma Blizzard of 2011.  I was actually really sick for the two worst days of the blizzard, so I spent the time stuck in the house shivering under blankets.  If only I'd had my skis and snowshoes...I probably still would've stayed inside.  And a huge thanks goes out to my Uncle Rick for the ride to the airport so I could catch my flight back to Portland.  You're a lifesaver!

Now for the magical Moment of Zen (you know it has to be related to food...):

White queso at Señor Tequila.  Quite possibly the best substance in the world, ever.

Good ol' BBQ done right at Dink's in Bartlesville.  With gloooorious fried okra.  And kosher dill spears (oh how I've missed you, proper pickles...)

I now have a bottle of Dink's delicious sauce in my cabinet, awaiting a special BBQ dinner.  The odds of finding okra are ridiculously small, but one can always dream...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I'm back in the magical U.S. of A. for a few weeks, splitting the time between Portland and Tulsa.  Ken is working his fingers to the bone, and deserves mad cred for his ability to make it through busy seasons year after year.  

I decided to stay out of his way this year, and take advantage of the gift of time.  Thank you Ken, for this amazing gift.  You are wonderful, and I definitely owe you two years of freedom in return.

Okay, enough with the sappiness :)  Having only a few weeks at home, I've been focusing on soaking in the familiar rather than writing.  However, I'm currently covered in snow in Oklahoma (Midwest Snøpocalypse 2011!), so here are some pics from Portland last week.  I just realized there are no humans in these photos, but I promise I saw many of my beautiful friends' faces and loved every minute.   Thanks for a lovely time, PDXers!

 Rare blue skies in January at the Oregon coast.  Thankyouthankyouthankyou, Oregon.

 Still my favorite place in the world.

  Pretty sign of life in the middle of winter.

 Furry green steps.

 Furry green bricks.

 Washington Park on a beautiful day.

 Snowy Mt Hood from Washington Park.  Snowshoeing on Hood is usually one of our favorite wintertime activities.  However, I avoided snow like the plague this trip (other than the aforementioned piles of snow currently gracing OK...curses).  We'll see you in two years, Mt Hood.

 Another sign of life in the neighborhood.

Oooh the glorious Moments of Zen.  Words cannot describe my feelings of sheer joy when these goodies were placed on the table before me:

 Dungeness crab cakes at the coast.  Oh how I love you, little Dungeness crab.

Pine State biscuits with shiitake mushroom gravy.  Best.Breakfast.Ever.

I should be semi-ashamed of my food intake over the past two and a half weeks.  But actually, I'm not.  It's been glorious.  I've been running.  And I return to the land of the mystery meat shortly...