Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fjord og Fjell

Ken and I have had a western Norway road trip on the agenda since last summer, when we chickened out due to the rain and decided to go to Italy instead (which, I must say, was a wise decision). This summer was our last opportunity, so we took our chances with yet another soggy summer, and finally went for it. And, the weather proved us very wrong this year...it decided to be gorgeous for most of the trip!

We have lots of funny memories and stories from the road, but this will mostly be a photo post, because I've got to get this posted before the insanity that will be the next two months begins in August (and a wonderful insanity it will be - traveling, packing, moving, more traveling, then home to P-town!).


This is the true story. Of four people. Who rented a VW Golf. And drove through western Norway for a week.

Yes, we're still friends after last week (I think...). Thanks for the laughs, fun times, and great memories, Pierre and Silje!

We started off with a night of camping in Jotunheimen on our way out to the fjords, and made the crazy drive up Trollstigen.

That's a road.

Gorgeous visitors center that blended into the landscape.

 Pierre purchased this string vest for Ken in Jamaica last summer, and Ken decided it wasn't a summer road trip without the string vest. Even in the Norwegian mountains.

We scored a hotel night in pretty Ålesund with Ken's points from two years of traveling to small Norwegian cities for work. Thanks Ken!

Harbor in Ålesund.

View from Fjellstua.

Loved the unique architecture in Ålesund - it was completely different than anything else in Norway.

And now we've reached the crazy-gorgeous fjord portion of the trip...

Storfjord, on the way to the Geirangerfjord ferry.

Crossing Storfjord.

Driving down the hill to Geirangerfjord.

Silje's trusty fanny pack. (She loved it. And she loves waterfalls.) Thanks for being our fearless driver all week!

Ferry ride through Geirangerfjord.

Camping at Hellesylt, at the end of Geirangerfjord. How's that broccoli coming along?


Refreshing dip in the frigid fjord.

We headed to Flåm after thoroughly enjoying Geirangerfjord. On the way, we met some fantastic new friends...

Goatlock! (I stole that term from Pierre.) We pulled over to watch these goats walking along the road, and they stopped traffic to cross over and say hello.

Good goats. They kept rubbing their heads on my skirt - I was covered in goat fur after this.

Taming the beasts.

We named him Beardy.

Ken and I celebrated our four year wedding anniversary in Flåm. We were camping that night, so I assumed we'd have an anniversary dinner made on a disposable grill. However, we discovered Ægir brewery in Flåm, and got to celebrate with dinner and drinks in what felt like the inside of a viking ship!

We took the famous Flåmsbana, which is a twisty train ride through the mountains. I'll be honest, after a few days of driving through the gorgeous fjords and mountains, this ride lacked the wow factor we though it would have. It was still pretty, though, and a must-do for Norway.

We ended the trip in Bergen, a city I've wanted to see since we moved here. Since we were lucky to have such wonderful weather the rest of the trip, we powered through a day of rain in Bergen (and enjoyed one more night in a hotel thanks to Ken's points...woop!). It was a gorgeous city, even in all the rain. I really loved the fish market there (and sadly didn't get a pic since it started raining pretty hard on our way out). 

Bryggen: a bunch of old, colorful, pretty buildings.

More Bryggen, and a rainy biker.

Crooked buildings.

Hiding in the alleys behind Bryggen.

Apparently, you're supposed to get a great view when you take the Fløibanen funicular up the hill in Bergen. We got a thick cloud of fog.

I still find Norwegian trolls to be disturbing even after almost two years here.

It cleared up a bit on the way down.

We headed back to Oslo from Bergen, and camped one more night on our way to fulfilling a moment of destiny we dreamed up about a year and a half ago: a trip to Bjørneparken (The Bear Park). Yes, four adults have been talking about visiting Bjørneparken ever since we saw their ads on the bus stops in Oslo last year. It happened to be on our way back to Oslo, so destiny it was...

Bear cubs wrestling. We watched them play until Pierre just couldn't "bear" it anymore.

Going with the fjord og fjell theme, I'll also add a pic from a last-minute trip we decided to take in July to hike Preikestolen, outside of Stavanger on the west coast. We needed to get this hike in before leaving Norway, and decided to do it on Ken's last work trip to Stavanger. Our friends Rion and Meredith live in Stavanger, and they stayed with us in Oslo for a night in mid-July. We had a lot of fun with them, and took them up on their offer to have us stay with them in Stavanger next. 

So, a few days later, we made the gorgeous, rocky hike in the frigid, cold rain. I must say, I did not have the best attitude on this hike (it was pretty much the culmination of my bitterness toward a chilly summer full of incessant rain). 

Preikestolen - it's pretty intimidating when you get to the top!

Soaking wet and cold after the hike, we arrived at Rion and Meredith's cozy house to find this amazingness they made us for dinner...

Thank you for your excellent hospitality, Rion and Meredith! And for being Okies who know how to smoke delicious ribs (and for having the foresight to bring a smoker and Head Country BBQ sauce to Norway). 

So, that's it for our travels through Norway during our time here. Between these trips, TrondheimTromsø, and Røros, I think we've done some good work checking out the place over the past couple of years. 

Tusen takk for fjord og fjell, Norge!

Monday, July 2, 2012

May/June Extravaganza

Well, I didn't think May and June were that action packed, until I started going through all the pics from the past six weeks. So, I'll summarize it all here before more time slips away.

I arrived back in Oslo from the U.S. just in time to celebrate the 17th of May, which is the Norwegian national holiday. I was ridiculously jet lagged and barely functioning, so I was pretty lame that day. Ken enjoyed himself, however, and I stole these pics from Kara, so she deserves photo props here.

Ken borrowing a bunad jacket on Jeremy's roof overlooking the Oslofjord. (Since posting this, I've actually been informed that this is not a bunad jacket, but Justine's coat from Australia. Oops.)

Connie, Ken, and Anders.

Hide and seek.

Pretty ladies Connie, Inger, and Kara.

After the 17th of May, the prestigious Lux club ran a marathon (the guys) and a half marathon (the ladies). Congrats on the excellent work, Lux Club!

The Lux Club at the finish line. Success!

Also in May: Eurovision - a phenomenon to which we've been introduced here in Europe. The songs leave a lot to be desired, but the costume opportunities abound.

Sporting double denim and neon for Eurovision 2012 at Connie's apartment.

The whole crew. Kudos to everyone for the fantastic costumes.

We ended May with one of my favorite adventures we've been on in Oslo: biking up to a pretty lake in Nordmarka, and canoeing around the lake for the afternoon. We got approximately five days of nice weather in May, and we used the last day of it for these good times!

With our fun buds, Kara and Anders.

So pretty. Reminded me of something you'd see on Mt. Hood.

Ken and I both turned the big 3-0 in early June. So, we threw ourselves a party, and made our friends wear party hats and take pics in our photo booth. Thanks to our friends for celebrating with us! As you can see in these pics, they're pretty awesome.

We don't feel 30.

Hal, Alison, and sweet little Astrid.

Anne, Daan, Sara, and Pien.

Tore and Abbey.

Silje and Pierre, those crazy kids.

Kara and Anders.

Jeremy and Kim-André, with a homemade pølse.

Jeremy wins MVP of the photo booth for his solo series.

Frans and Marcus.

Oscar and Therese.

Pushing the boundaries of the photo booth: Anders, Oscar, Fredrik, and Ken near the end of the night. Surprisingly, no injuries resulted from this photo.

The fellas holding down the fort in our living room. Henrik and John managed to escape the evening without partaking in the photo booth, as well as Vier and Brigita, who escaped the camera altogether. 

Needless to say, it was a fun way to ring in the 30's! Thanks to our friends.

After we recovered from the birthdays, our lovely friends Holger and Annett visited us in Oslo. We visited them in Germany when we first moved to Norway (you can read about it here), and had a fun time with them again here in Oslo. We're glad you visited, Holger and Annett! And the photo credits here go to Annett - thanks for letting me steal your pics :)

With a Norwegian troll.

At the viking ship museum.

 A stroll around Hovedøya.

We finished off June with a trip to Stockholm for Midsummer, which is a big Swedish holiday for the summer solstice. Our neighbor and good friend Henrik is from Stockholm, and he generously invited a crew of us to celebrate Midsummer with his nice family at Nämdö, an island in the Stockholm archipelago. It was gorgeous out there, and we had fun dancing around the Midsummer pole and playing games. 

Photo credits here go to Kara, Angus and Justine, and Jeremy - I stole again. Thanks y'all.

Lunch time.

Snaps and aquavit...they both taste like medicine.

A dance around the Midsummer pole.

Jeremy and Angus demonstrating.

Björnen Sover a.k.a. "The Bear is Sleeping" song. We foolishly awakened the bears, and they chased us. Our favorites were this and Lilla Grodan (Little Frog).

Sack races.

Sean picking flowers to put under his pillow.

Or maybe to give to Linda?

Ken, covered in an unknown substance, and Connie, working on her sunburn.

Heja Sverige!

Duster, such a sweet old chap.

He's been to more than enough Midsummer parties to know where the goodies are.

Pretty Nämdö. Not pictured: the gazillion mosquitoes that come out at night.

As declared by Jeremy, this is "the devil's nectar" that provided much entertainment.

We took the ferry into Stockholm for a night after Midsummer. Here the crew is enjoying drinks and the view from Södra Teatern in Södermalm.

 Shenanigans on the walk back to the hotel.

 Thanks to Henrik and his family for a lovely Midsummer!

Moment of Zen: The fact that I was able to condense all of this action into a single blog post.