Friday, September 30, 2011

Three Days of P-town Glory

Occasionally flipping through my iPhone photos is one of my favorite activities.  If I know something special is going to happen, I lug around my big camera.  iPhone moments are spontaneous, and things that I really enjoyed and wanted to remember enough to pull out a phone and take a moment to snap a pic.  

While spending three weeks in the glorious U.S. of A. over the past month, I guess I wanted to remember everything I ate between visiting friends and family, and running 5,000 errands.  The amount of food photos I snapped is astounding.  Apparently absence really does make the heart grow fonder?

Here are the results from the first three days of the trip.  I'm now off to do some crunches and go for a run after reading this in its entirety...

A sunny greeting from Mt. Hood while flying into P-town.

Tex-Mex lunch with Kate at Casa del Matador right after she picked me up at the airport.  Margarita Monday afternoon - I like her way of thinking!

Stumptown makes the best chai latte on the planet.  Here I'm enjoying one at the Ace Hotel between downtown errands.

Watercolors, the cute little parakeet who lives in Oblation, my favorite card shop in the Pearl.  No, Watercolors is not food.

An Aviation g&t with JP at rontoms before dinner.

Chana masala, a mangorita, garlic naan, and jalapeño naan at Bombay Cricket Club with JP, LP, and K-Dogg.  Doesn't get much better than that!

Wow, so I went a little crazy on Day One, eh?  No regrets.  Moving on...

Passionfruit sorbetto from Alotto Gelato during a stroll down 23rd.  This was after lunch at Justa Pasta with my fun friend and former co-worker, Chad.  Justa Pasta makes the best spinach salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing.  It didn't stand a chance at lasting long enough for a pic.

Whole Foods.  I really can't tell you how much I miss shopping here.  Altogether, I'm guessing I was in a Whole Foods no less than seven times during my trip home (Portland, Boulder, and Tulsa locations).  In addition to buying things I actually needed, I walked the aisles and dreamed about what I'd cook if I had one in Norway.  Yes, that's a little odd. this photo didn't turn out to be very appetizing.  It's actually quite amusing.  This unfortunately-shaped item is a delicious fried pickle from Fire on the Mountain, accompanied by a chipotle sauce that's INcredible.

After dinner, Sam and Joe were informed of free vodka cocktails at Holocene.  Bonus: they were actually delish slushy cocktails called Yellow Snow.  I've mentioned them on the blog before, but Sam, Joe, Jon, Wes, and Jeremy are five cool guys in the band No Kind of Rider.  You should give them a listen.

By Day Three of erranding, I was at my wit's end (but still loving being in Portland, of course).  So, I turned to comfort food.  Biscuits and shiitake mushroom gravy with Elia at Pine State.  Yes.  Oh yes.

After eating a Pine State biscuit, you physically cannot eat for the next six hours.  Following the probation period, I grabbed a single taco at the cart across the street from my old office building to prepare for the nerve-fraying rush hour traffic on I-5 during an important errand across town.  The taco helped.

I absolutely LOVE that there's an Elephants Deli in the Portland airport.  I used to eat at the downtown Elephants at least once per week during my lunch break.  Just before boarding my flight to Denver, I enjoyed a delish wrap at the airport location.  Then, in true Portland fashion, I cleared my own table and complied with the comprehensive recycling station requests.  Love my little green, granola city.

I don't think I really need to post a Moment of Zen this week...if you don't see the joy in all of these food photos, I really don't know what to tell you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ett År

Holy smokes.  Has it really been a year?  Yes, yes it has.

September 22, 2010 will be a day I always remember.

Arriving in our new city after a long flight.  The fact that I'd never set foot on European soil, but picked up and moved here on a whim.  Being exhausted from a month of packing and hardcore goodbyes.  The $200ish cab ride to our tiny, temporary studio apartment.  Not knowing a soul.  Feeling slightly guilty and wondering what the heck I was going to do with my newfound free time without work.  Not knowing where to buy a grain of food or how to pay a bill.  Convincing myself that I needed this experience, so I'd never regret not taking the risk.

I found myself yet again arriving in Oslo from the U.S. last week, almost a year to the day when we first arrived.

However, this time it was a little different.  I'd dragged a suitcase through a lot of European cities.  I wasn't really tired (yet).  My goodbyes in the U.S. were more "see you soons" because being away from home for seven months no longer seemed so daunting.  I hopped on the $30 airport express train, just as it was pulling away from the station, and took it to the cozy apartment that has become our little home.  I had friends I was bursting to see.  My calendar was pressing me with volunteer commitments, errands, and chores.  I had our grocery list organized by the shop where each item could be found, and our bills all set up in the payment system in our bank account.  

I didn't know everything, but I definitely knew a little more about the experience of living in a foreign country.  That it had changed us for the better, and was definitely worth all of the frustrations that came along with it.  

And worth every ass-busting slip on the icy Norwegian sidewalks.  

Okay, maybe that's taking it a little too far...?

All that to say, it's amazing what a year can do.

Our new friends in Oslo were the key pieces that made the past year all that it was.  Without these relationships, and the fun dinners, walks, drinks, and tea dates they brought, it would've been a lonely year.  You can only escape with a trip away every once in awhile.  It's the daily dose of camaraderie that helps you thrive in a new place.

So, I'd like to give a shout-out to our friends here in Oslo, and to Norge for being a great host for the past year.

Tusen takk for et fantastisk år!  

Here's to the next.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Day in Bruges

Yes, I've been slacking again.  I've been in a magical place called America, so I have a good excuse.

I recently realized I never wrote a post about our day in Bruges on our way back home from Italy.  Traveling back to Oslo through Belgium was actually cheaper than flying directly from Italy to Oslo, so Belgium it was.

This conundrum actually worked out well, because Bruges was on our Euro list.  Ken visited Bruges during a study abroad in London in college.  Honestly, I didn't really know anything about Bruges until I saw the movie In Bruges a few years ago.  I remember having a fun and lighthearted Thanksgiving dinner with some friends, then settling down on the sofa to watch In Bruges as a transition into turkey-induced slumber.  The movie was dark, strange, and entertaining, and I remember thinking, “What just happened?” after it was over. 

So, I had a curiosity about Bruges that needed to be quenched.

Bruges has much of its medieval architecture intact, and canals throughout the city.  It was definitely a very charming, picturesque place.  I probably wouldn't go out of my way to make a specific trip there, but for a day trip on the way home, it was lovely.


Medieval building.

The belfry.

Belgian beer.

Another canal.

Pretty colors.

So charming you just want to pinch it, eh?

Add lots of chocolate shops to this, and you've got yourself a lovely day trip.  Just in case you ever find yourself in Belgium.  

Lots o' U.S. goodness will appear here sometime soon...