Sunday, June 28, 2015

Scandinavian Traveller: Likki the Trimmed Beaver - Chapter Nine

Well, today is our last Sunday in Bodø; I've realized that as I was showering.  And, I had not shown Likki our little town yet.  On weekends, we tend to go for fikka either next door at the Bodø Bakeri or at Café City Nord.  The Bakeri has good sandwiches, good pastries and coffee. The Café is more like a cafeteria, but they serve some local food and they're not opened on Sunday.  So, we walked over to the Bakeri, and introducing Likki to it all.

After that, we finally made our way to The Nordland Museum.  We've been walking by often (it's next to the Post office), and until June it was always closed on weekends.  Since, once again, it's cloudy again, we thought it would be our last chance to actually see it, given their schedule and Hubby's don't match.

That museum was founded in 1888 and the building was raised in 1903 and was not destroyed in the 1940 bombing of Bodø.  It shows the Lofoten Fisheries, the Sami exhibit, the bird mountain, where I realized that Puffins are little birds.  I thought they were penguins size, was I wrong!  The seagulls are actually bigger than them, at least in Bodø.

Likki in front of the Bird Mountain
The section which interested us most was Bodø through time and how the city evolved.  It went from being a tiny huddle of houses in 1816  to a city which also went through a lot from being bombed by the Germans in 1940 and almost completely destroyed.  I thought it was strange not to say funny that the town was actually taken over by German soldiers on bicycles!  They've always had public activity, a hospital and health service and of course fisheries, canning industries and a brewery.

Bodø, now...
The NATO invested lots in Bodø, due to its location and being this far North, it would have a role as the airport in a possible reprisal attack on the Soviets (or others).  The military presence is significant in Bodø, 10% of people here are related to the aviation industry, either military or civilian.

Likki playing Godzilla over the Bodø model

It was an interesting little museum, nothing like museums I've seen before.  Everything was in Norwegian, only a few items on display had English translation.  The little leaflet we got when we came in was somewhat helpful, but most of the valuable information we've got (other than what we've decrypted ourselves along the way) was during the little movie showing the history of Bodø, in Norwegian with English subtitles.  A nice way to close our little adventure in Nordland was to find out more about this little town where we could live, if only it was sunnier!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Many postcards later...

A month before coming to Norway I put my Postcrossing account to inactive, I had four hundred eight cards received and sent at the time.  Being set to inactive allowed me to send postcards but I couldn't receive any.  I didn't want to chance any getting lost between Norway and Canada, so I went that way.  It wasn't easy.   I know I'm addicted, what can I say, it could be to worst things, right?

As of today, eighty-five official cards were received/registered since I've been in Norway.  Yes, I've been sending lots.  According to my Flickr album, I've sent (as of today) one hundred thirty six cards.  That includes officials (for Postcrossing), RAS (Random Act of Smileness for fellow Postcrossers) and personal (for friends and relatives).

Since we've been here (March 30th) I did give our address to some friends who asked for it and some postcards friends.  Because Bodø is so far North, when I thought I could maybe "explore" outside of Bodø - I didn't know at the time that Oslo was actually thirteen + hours drive - I wouldn't be seeing that much of Norway. So, I've contacted, through Postcrossing, members in Norway.  I wanted to visit Norway through postcards.  A few of them answered and we started swapping cards since most of them were from Southern Norway.  They wanted cards from Arctic Norway in exchange for the cards of their areas. Fifty-four cards later, through current and vintage cards, I've seen Norway.  Along the way I've also made friends, and that is priceless.

Norwegian cards received
Because of very thoughtful friends, cards from all over the world started coming in, eighty-nine of them to be exact. 
Worldwide cards received
It was Hubby's idea to put them on display when they started coming in.  I took him up on his offer and started covering a wall on our living area.  It not only brought colors to our room, it also brought smiles to our faces.  The power of postcards.

All the cards received...
Today, after being inactive for many months, I've made my Postcrossing profile active again.  Here's to hoping I will have at least one or two official cards waiting for me when I will get back home.  I already know there are lots of other awaiting my return, as well as some goods...  Until then, I will most likely will write a few more cards here and there...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Scandinavian Traveller: Likki the Trimmed Beaver - Chapter Eight

A while back, looking at a local magazine, I saw excursions being advertised leaving from Bodø, most were by boats (cruise like excursion, those were not for me), but one was on land to a glacier. Said glacier outing was a whole day adventure, and was quite pricey (no big surprise there, we are in Norway after all!). Hubby looked it up on the Google and thought we could make it.

Sunday was a nice day for a drive, so we headed South (yep, the glacier is SOUTH of where we've been for the past thirteen weeks! crazy!). Part of the way we had been to, like Saltstraumen but then continued on in a direction we hadn't been towards yet. Every time we go out and the sun is out I can't get over how different everything looks. The sky is so blue, which is, according to Wikiman (read Hubby), due to being at a higher latitude or closer to the Pole.  The water is so clear, I've seen water that clear before down in the Caribbeans, every time it gets me. It is so pretty.

The first stop we've made, not long after Saltstraumen, was on a geology trail, where traces of the Ice Age were marked.  We didn't follow that trail, we just stop to test the water, which was friggin' cold!


We kept going on road 17 - which I just found out is a County Road - lots of road. We did roughly over 300 km in six to seven hours including detours, stops here and there.

Nothing but blues and greens and the further we drove, the more snow we would see in the mountains.

We took a little detour off road 17, to route 838 to see if there was anything left over from a local market, on Saturday, Hubby had been told about by a local, in Inndyr

Inndyr, in the Gildeskål Kommune
We (read I) had a bite to eat - a delicious white cake, super moist, and a coffee before continuing on our way, at the one hotel/restaurant in the village.

The scenery was beautiful, following the coast, so seeing different fjords, the sea, forest and farms.  We also saw many cyclists, a little buggy being pulled by a pony and some reindeer on our way back.

in Ørnes
As we were heading closer to the glacier, we went through a series of tunnels - I like their tunnels here, I don't feel like some chunks is about to fall off, imagine that! - one of which, the Svartistunnelen, is eight kilometers long.

It was quite the drive.  We didn't quite make it to the location where the tour was starting to get to a ferry to access the glacier, but after that much time on road, the Svartisen Glacier was (we think) what we were seeing and figured it would be as close as we were getting that day.  We turned around and headed back towards Bodø.  We had to go back the same way we came.  The view was just as nice.

Later that night, since we had a somewhat clear sky, we made our way to a local lookout and caught the Midnight Sun.  That is a sight for sore eyes...  Despite the sun shinning, the wind was/is still cold.  You can feel the warmth of the sun, but the wind's bite takes over.  No matter what, let's just say we weren't the only one out past midnight to look at this beautiful view.  That is one thing I'm truly happy to have seen and experienced myself...
Midnight Sun over Landegode
Talk about a way to close one pretty good day...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Souvenir as in not forgetting

Our Norwegian adventure will be coming to an end soon.  I will miss this place, the being away, the being unknown and the not knowing anyone as well.  I like this anonymity, not having to put on a brave or a smiling face on because someone you know might see you.  It's easy to keep to oneself when you don't really know anyone.  And that is the one main thing I did enjoy during our time here.

If there would have been more sunny days, our stay here would have been great.  Yes it was cold, and windy almost all of the time, but the cloudiness of the place did get to me.  I need to see the sun, and blue sky, not just gray and clouds.

We did see things we wouldn't have back home, experienced a few Norwegian things.  We did explore on weekends, took nice (long) drives, and this despite the rain. The one thing that I'm really happy to have seen is the Midnight Sun.  It is really strange to actually have to wear sunglasses at midnight.  The other night driving back from a view point, where we could see Landegode, a big island off the coast and behind it some part of Lofoten, I thought it was strange that the town was so quiet, when Hubby reminded me it was past midnight, on a week night...  It is strange to look out at any time and there's light, we can no longer tell time by looking out, we need a watch.

Overlooking Bodø
You must admit, it looks pretty darn good.  One day, an air traffic controller invited Hubby and me to accompany him to his cottage on an island near by.  We had to take a ferry for about 10-15 minutes.  It was worth it.  The place is really more "country", the scenery was also gorgeous. I got to see stockfish up close.

Kjerringøy used to be a fishermen trading post
The island was beautiful.  So peaceful.  Whenever we've traveled to an island,we've brought back a picture of the place, something that reminded us of our trip.  There was a little art shop not far from here that had some interesting pieces, and some of it looked like things we've seen.  Today we went in.  We looked around and there was one artist that we both liked.  We went for fikka (coffee and something to eat), talked about it, and went back to get this cutie... that is so Norwegian.

by Lars Erik Karlsen
I love it! Whenever I will look at it, it will remind me of our time in Bodø, in Norway.  That and all the pictures I've taken during our drives around Bodø.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lest We Forget

As I sat with my laptop on my knees, I knew I wanted to write.  I had ideas I wanted to put on the web.  I've look for some images, and now I feel jammed... Weird.

Before coming here, I had never thought the Germans (as in Nazi) made it this far North.  Then a few weeks back, when the kid came and stayed with us over a weekend, we visited this little fishing camp area not far from here which also turned out to  be next to bunkers and others left behind by the Germans after the Second World War.  To think that some place as remote as Bodø could be of interest is flabbergasting to me.  One of Hubby's co-worker had mentioned this place, a few hours away from Bodø, called Rognan where they have cemeteries for German soldiers, Yugoslav and Russians war prisoners.  Prisoners who were "used" to dig tunnels in massive rocks, slaves of the Germans.  Saturday we drove to Rognan.
German Memorial
Memorial stating that 2,732 German soldiers were buried there.
The grounds were well maintained, especially considering how remote that was. It wasn't really well indicated, only a few little signs here and there. The German part was pretty. It has a nice monument, and as I walked around the graves, actually saw one that had a picture. The thing that struck me there was how young those men were. Most were in their early twenties. Sad.

Across the way, was another stone fenced area, this one dedicated to Yugoslav prisoners of was, who died in captivity of German.
1,657 Yugoslav prisoners of war were buried there.
And behind it all, stood a one stone memorial dedicated to the Russian prisoners of war, who had been buried in a mass grave.
111 Russian prisoners.
On our drive back, we saw not one but three rainbows, because yes, again, we were visiting while it rained...

Could have been worst, like it must have been for those poor cyclists doing this Tour or Rally, not only was it raining, it was cold, windy and oh so hilly!

When we got back I started writing postcards. I've been touched by the compassion I've experienced this past week.  As I've written, a dear friend, back home, lost her son suddenly.  I felt that I had to do something for her, to bring her some type of comfort.  I thought of sending her flowers, you know the typical thing, when it dawn on me that one thing that brought a smile to my face was finding a nice postcard in the mailbox.  So, I've asked my Postcrossing friends if they would be kind enough to send my friend, a complete stranger, who needed some kind of human compassion a nice postcard.  I've received twenty-two answers.  As a thank you, I've sent a card back to each one.  I have no clue how my friend will react to this idea of mine, I'm sure I will find out soon enough.

Human compassion is a darn strange thing.  It will surprise you in some people, and just like the opposite is true, people whom you thought would show some empathy are nowhere to be seen.  I guess deep down, I always hope  to see the good in people, and yet, it often isn't the case.  I do know better than to expect anything of others.  Compassion, empathy, sympathy whatever you want to call it, when you're on the receiving end of it all it feels damn good. 

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Where did it all go?

Since we will be heading back home soon (which makes me sad, and yes even if it's cloudy every friggin' day here!), we started thinking about things we'd want to bring back with us.  Also, we've talked about those things we had to get here (like a toaster!) that we don't really want to bring back with us.
Little details to cover.  The joy of planning before and after making a move like we've made.  In a month from today we will be home.  The three months zoomed by relatively fast.  There were things I wanted to explore and do which I have not, due to how remote we are.  Overall, I'm quite happy with our stay abroad.  Being an expat hasn't been that bad!

Among the things I'll be bringing back, there will be postcards.  Coming here I had brought about twenty of them, in case they didn't have.  Yeah right!! 
Carterie in Grenoble
They don't have shops like I've seen in Grenoble, my heaven on earth, and yet, despite Hubby's expectations I didn't buy that many - especially compared to what I've bought thus far here.

Since we've been in Norway, I've sent out about 300 cards - yes, that is a lot.  I love to write and writing postcards is always fun.  At least for me.  It has allowed me to "see" the world, to meet new people, some of which I'm keeping in contact with, by letters and cards.  In Bodø most cards are about ''Arctic Norway", the typical touristic cards, which is fine and dandy, because I love sending and receiving those since they give you a fair idea of the area.  Coming here I was hoping to see more artistic cards, non-touristic if you will, since those are practically non-existent in Montréal.  We have lots of touristic ones, and some are pretty old image of town, but other than that, the postcards are not that present on Montréal's racks, sadly enough.  I have a few envelops waiting for me back home, full of cards I've ordered on line on different sites from Asia, Poland, Russia... plus some from exchanges.  I've sent a lot, but I'm also receiving a lot too.  As far as Postcrossing is concerned I chose to put my account to inactive (didn't feel like dealing with the address change for three months only and then after some cards might not get to me), so I couldn't receive any official cards, but I could send, and I did!  I've actually sent 72 officials cards, from Bodø and the area, including one of Montréal I had bought on our way here, at PET airport, and only 11 were "artistic" ones, i.e. non-touristic cards from those I've brought from home.  Whoa, that means that I've sent about 225 cards to friends and relatives. Having the friends I do (and I write I here, because I'm talking about my addiction), they made sure I wouldn't go cold turkey on my postcard addiction.  I've given my address to a few and started receiving cards.  Plus given that we were so far North I made contact with a few Norwegian (through Postcrossing) from different areas of the country asking them if they wanted to trade cards of their area with some of "mine".  The responses were good.  I'm even going to meet up with one of them in Oslo, on our way home.  She's been so kind and generous with not only the cards she's sent but with her explanations, I felt I had to meet her; and I will.
Cards received in Bodø, as of June 9, 2015
When the first card arrived, I put it away, then when a few others followed, Hubby suggested to display them.  Our walls were all white so I took him up on his offer, and look at how it looks now!  All the blue cards on the right, are those from Norway, all from different areas, and only two showing snow, one that I've sent myself from the Arctic Circle and one I've received today from the kid who slept over for a weekend.  The two Québécois see and show the snow, ah!  As you may be able to see, there are lots of different types of cards, not all are touristic, and many are cats related - wonder why! ;-)

On another note, I don't know about you, but I really enjoy Bugles, you know those little can't eat just one cones/chips like?  A few weeks ago a little girl was passing around some treats to try at the Big Coop where we go for our main grocery.  They have items which stores around here (read as in walking distance, like across the street, since everything is walking distance in Bodø), don't carry.  It's like a big Wal-Mart in a way, mixed with a Canadian Tire and Reno Depot.  Anyway, that kid had this sampler that I tasted and enjoyed.  It tasted like Bugles wrapped in chocolate.  I didn't see the name, bag or anything that would tell me what it was, the kid didn't understand English or was super shy because I couldn't get any information our of her.  Since then I've been on the lookout, you know, in case I'd see something like that.

Yesterday while doing our grocery run, I saw this bag of goodies.

Darn, these babies are good!  Too good for my own good! Really.  Salt and chocolate, you can't go wrong, right? Right!  Glad you agree with me!  Wonder how bad traveling to Canada would affect those babies?  Of the things I, uh, we'll bring back from Nordland, I don't think these will be among the pile...  So better enjoy them here, while I can!

Saturday, June 06, 2015


Since we've been here, I haven't really felt the distance as such, you know, that void where you feel cut out from the rest of the world, from your friends and relatives, that moment where you feel "away" and "far"... except earlier today. 

This afternoon, Hubby and I went for a nice long walk (of about 6 km),  a bite to eat and some shopping.  My phone needed to be charged, so when I saw a friend's message asking me if I was there, I simply answered I was eating.  When we got home, I checked my Bacefook account and saw her message asking me if I was there.  I then logged in to my email account to find an email from her, only a few lines in which she told me her youngest son had died.

As I'm typing this I still can't believe it.  I've tried to reach her by phone, by email and even Bacefook.  That is the first time, really, since we've been in Norway, that I've felt far.

I so much wish I could just reach over and give her that big hug she so desperately needs.  I wish I was there for my friend.  I wish there was something I could do for her, to alleviate a little bit of her pain.  I know there isn't anything I can do, not from here, nor even from home, except being there for her and give her all the hugs she wants and needs.

I wish I was there, with my friend and bring her some kind of comfort, tell her I love her and simply hold her hand.

It has been a difficult year thus far for her, and I can only hope she will get through this.

May he rest in peace, finally, and may she takes comfort in knowing he is resting.