Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oh Great! Welcome Home, Sucker!

We've been back for two weeks.  We've caught up with some friends. Enjoyed some food we hadn't had during our time away. I will admit it is nice to be back in our crap, even if it's dusty and all.  Our sofa is comfortable and well padded, we have more than four of everything as far as dishes are concerned, and despite what everyone has been complaining about, it's warm here. 

One thing we did not have while we were away is dim sum or any Asian food for that matter. 
This morning, being a nice sunny day, we decided to walk to Chinatown and go for dim sum.  Like every friggin' summer (and winter for that matter!) it is humid in town. 

We made our way, slowly, chatting along the way, when whack I felt this sharp pain in my left foot, and fought hard to remain standing.  Turns out I've twisted my left foot on a fucking crack in the sidewalk!

We've kept walking to the restaurant we had planned to go to, but it's no longer in business.  It's been there for years but I guess it did close during our three months away.  The pain was bad, this throbbing was increasing with each step.  Once we made it to St-Laurent Blvd. I told Hubby I was taking a cab home.  Naturally there was none to be seen!  We then walked towards René-Lévesque and again not one cab in sight, so Hubby decided to go home to get the car.  While he walked home, I limped my way to the corner of St-Laurent and St-Antoine and waited for him to pick me up.  I've watched people.  There were many.  Of all styles.  I (normally) love people watching, it's so interesting.  I saw a few brides making their way to the Court House, many tourists, even gave directions to a few, and many Asian families.  They travel in packs.  And they don't travel light. 

When we got home, I took out the ice pack and put my foot on ice.  Man oh man, that is not pleasant. We had a 50th birthday party tonight, a long time friend of Hubby who's in town with his family, but between the pain and having to ice my foot, we decided to stay home.  Sucks!  Oh well. 

Montréal's streets are not only full of pot holes and under construction but the sidewalks are just as bad.  It's infuriating not being able to do anything, not even worth a complaint, it's sad.  We pay more taxes yearly and it feels and looks like the services we are getting is decreasing.  To drive around time is an adventure daily.  New holes pop up like flowers in a bed of flowers.  And let's not forget the orange cones.  They also pop up everywhere.  This city has so many construction sites going, it's crazy.  We can't estimate how long it will take to get somewhere as we can and most likely will be surprised by either a construction site, some traffic or deviation that will make a simple drive turn into a nightmarish adventure.

As I sit here, my foot on ice, once again, am feeling this was Montréal's way of welcoming me home...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Scandinavian Traveller: Likki the Trimmed Beaver - Chapter Ten, The Final One.

As I write this today, ten days after returning home, after a few days visiting Oslo, sitting in our living room, watching a movie, and after running errands part of the afternoon in hot and humid Montréal, we are back!

Before I get into how it has been since our return, I will share our last few days in Oslo.  Unlike Bodø, the weather was warmer and sunny!  We were able to wear shorts!  We walked around town, explore some.  We visited the Nobel Peace Center.  It's an interesting place, dedicated to peace.  Their main event was about children's rights with Malala and Kailash.  It was quite interesting even if their was a lot of reading to be done.  They also have a boutique, where they sold lots of postcards, and I did get a bunch, mostly famous quotes from Peace Nobel Winners.  Then after a refreshment, we made our way to Akerhus Fortress, where we had a nice view over the port and the city.

View from Akerhus Fortress
Akerkus Fortress
It was quite a large fortress and you could see why its location was so important.  Even if we didn't take the tour, walking around by ourselves on the grounds it was quite impressive.  

Not far from our hotel area, I spotted this little bookstore which had some postcards, or so I thought.  Turned out they had many artistic ones, very different from anything I could find in Bodø, so I bought lots. 

I had contacted J. a while back, asking her if she wanted to meet me when we would be back in Oslo.  She send us so many postcards from Norway, showing us different areas of their beautiful country, with explanations, I felt I just had to meet her.  And we did.  Likki got to send a few cards with her, which was nice.  We had planned a two hours meeting with her, and it lasted well over six.  We talked about so many things, such an interesting encounter and warm lady.

 J. and Likki, in Oslo

Our hotel had a nice lounge we could access anytime, where they served (Nespresso) coffee or tea and fizzy water.  After 6pm they also served dinner, which was also included in our room's price.We went twice but only ate there once.  It was actually a decent meal.  Because it was warm and humid, one afternoon we went up to enjoy a cold drink and since it was completely empty, I took some pictures of the view we had from there.  On one side we had the Palace and the other the North.

View from 8th floor lounge of our hotel towards the Palace
Overlooking Kristian Augusts gate
One evening we had made reservation at a little Italian restaurant, Ruffino, which we had tried to get in back in May with our friends, so we walked to it.  Along the way we passed this impressively nice building which had a little plate on its side, in Norwegian, of course, that I could read had something to do with the Gestapo back in 1942.  We had a delicious dinner at the restaurant, a nice way to end our few extra days in Oslo.

Victoria Terrace, the site of the Gestapo headquarters in Oslo. 
The morning of our departure, the street was mostly deserted.  As we walked towards the train station, we passed the university and I managed to quickly take a picture.

Oslo University, on Karl Johans gate
On the train, Flytoget, Likki made friend with a local, a little Norwegian moose, who was heading our way.  Lucky little fellow.

Once at the airport, we recuperated the rest of our luggage and made our way to check-in, security and duty free through which we simply walked through not even stopping anywhere.  We didn't even have time to get our tax reimbursement, since, once again, the line at check in was too long, and since we had a connection in Heathrow to Canada we couldn't use the automatic check-in machine, but had to go to the counter and see a person, which meant we had to do the queue.

Heathrow is a beautiful and big airport and we had over four hours there before our next flight.  We , hit duty free, grab a bite to eat and did some shopping while walking around.  We looked for a quiet place where we could get refreshed and rest a little before our long flight home.

A tea with some biscuits, please.
If not in London, where else would one truly enjoy a good cup of tea?  She knows her stuff that Likki, despite her your life, she knows!  It was strange, at the gate, hearing not only French, but Québécois and to see people with Montréal's Canadiens tee-shirts.  A fair sign we were heading home...
Last gate before heading home...
Our return home is done.  Our adventure in Vikingland is done.  We are now back to Montréal's never ending road construction, traffic and fast pace.  It was an experience of a lifetime, to be able to do so without the worries of what would await us upon our return. And this closes Likki's Scandinavian Adventure.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Closing a chapter

In order to close the Bodø Chapter of our Norwegian Adventure, things are happening and one can't help and wonder if this is the Universe showing us, it is time for us to go back home...
  •  Monday morning I was awaken by the fire alarm.  Not the best way to wake up and start the day, but then I made my way to the Bakeri and had enjoyed a good cappuccino.  Turns out our idiots neighbor above us, the noisy ones, burned bacon and smoked up their place.  It took a while for the firemen to come and turn off the alarm.
  • Monday night, despite the friggin' cold wind, was a clear night so I made my way to the lookout point to see the Midnight Sun.  The sky was so clear, it was gorgeous!  On the opposite side, the moon was overlooking the snow covered mountains and city...

  • Tuesday morning, I was abruptly woken, again, by a man coming in our flat, as I was sleeping, naked, on our bed.  He just unlocked the door and walked in, his arms full.  When I said "Hey!", he turned around mumbled something in Norwegian and walked out! WTF!

  • Wednesday, I brought back a book at the library, for the last time in Bodø.  I'm happy I've renewed my interest to that place.  Maybe now that contact has been re-established I will go to the one near home, in Montréal. I haven't even step a foot in since they opened it, and I'm told it's a nice one...
  • Last night, since I couldn't sleep (the rain was quite loud), I got back up and went through all my Bacefook "friends" and clean up house.  That felt strangely good.

  • What better way to close this chapter of our lives, than do it in the rain!  It's been raining for the past two days, in Bodø.  Why change now, when it's been shitty weather most of our time here?  From hard rain to tiny drizzle, but no matter what it's wet.  And this after I've packed my rain boots, grrr.
  • Went to the post office, one last time, and on my way back stopped for my Take-Away moca. I did manage, through their loyalty take-away card, get a free pastry and today a free coffee, yay me, never even done that back home!
  • Did all our laundry, every is on the rack drying, and that closes another load for Bodø.
  • Tonight, a first, having dinner with locals - air traffic controllers - what an evening out.

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.