Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Recap

This post won't be about Likki and her fun adventures in Nordland, but more of a little recap about our time in Norway thus far.
  • We've been here eight weeks already, that's right eight weeks.  We have another six to go, including this week.
  • The past two weeks, the weather has been warming up and we actually see the sun more often.
  • It isn't hot, it's warmer.
  • I got my hair colored and cut.  I landed on a nice girl who knew how to die and cut hair.  It's not what I get back home, but then again, I'm in Norway.  One thing for sure, the cost of it was Norwegian - twice the price of what I normally pay.
  • While at the Arctic Circle Center, I've sent myself a postcard.  I haven't received it yet.  I hope it's not lost.  I really liked it.
  • The kid that a friend sent our way came and went.  It was actually nice to have him around.  Since the day he arrived was raining some, we walked around town a little and then went for a drive.  We managed to get a few nice pictures, despite the weather.  It's almost crazy how different things look between a cloudy and sunny day and with a few weeks later in the year.  The lakes were all ice free.  
 

We've driven past these little fishing camps a few times, and this time I did ask to go in. I was taken aback by how nice it was.  Look at the water, how clear it is.

TrygVesta
Not only was the little arbor pretty, but right next to it was this historical war site, where bunkers, canons and such were just there, rusting since the second war. Since most (not to say all) the little cards with information were in Norwegian, we could make out the distance the canons could reach, the weight of the shells they used, what the spots were used for, etc. It was an interesting little walk on top of a little rock hill giving out on the sea...


Around the bay, where the fishing camps are, there's this little white sand beach...I'm sure it must be popular during summer days.  On that afternoon, it was desolate.  Wonder if it had anything to do with the cold wind blowing?
  • Days are getting longer.  It's a really strange.  For having lived with a guy who worked nights, and slept days, this is really different.  The feeling when going to bed is just strange.  At the moment, the sun is up for 22 hours/day!

  • Night sky at 00:11 on May 25th
  • The kid kept going on his Summer trip - four months on the road.  He's making his way North, further up than here, willingly. Imagine that!
  • This coming weekend I'm traveling to Grenoble, by myself, and will stay with a stranger with whom I share a postcard addiction.  Should be interesting.  I'm actually excited about it.  My first time in France. 
  • Given that our travel plans coming here were sort of made out at the last minute; we had not really plan our return.  We had talked about vacationing after being in the cold, and being on this side of the pond it seemed like an occasion to visit central Europe. It will not be the case.  We've extended our time in Oslo, a city we both liked and would like to visit a little more, and then we will head home.
  • A part of me feels like we haven't seen much of Norway, that we haven't done the hikes we've wanted to, that we haven't tasted what we should; I feel that our time here is coming to an end, and it saddens me.  Today, I've received postcards from a friend in Montreal who sent them to me to make me feel homesick.  It didn't quite work.
  • Hubby is seriously starting to miss the comfort of home, of our home.  Especially when he's in the kitchen.
  • He also misses his internet connection, which doesn't bounce him off, and he REALLY misses stores being open on Sunday.

  • Proof of life, as requested
Note: the waiter behind him, was on his way to serve him his beer.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Time is Now

Growing up, I wasn't allowed to go to friends' houses.  I could bring as many friends as I wanted, but I had to be home.  That's how my parents rolled.  They didn't even let me go on school trips.  In high school they allowed me a few field trips near by, but there was a lot of negotiating involved.  Yes, they were control freaks, and wanted to know where I was.  I was trained like a dog.  My dad would whistle and I would come running - no joke!

Today, I'm one who will welcome people over but don't feel that comfortable sleeping over (learned behavior, duh!).  When we came to Norway, I thought we would travel, you know, in Europe.  I had not realized that we would be so far North nor that Hubby would have to be available and within a few hours from the office at all time.  I didn't have to stay put.  Traveling alone is not really my thing, I like to share my excitement when traveling and it is just more fun.  Being on this side of the big pond, I thought I could attend an European meet (for my Postcrossing addiction).  The week we arrived in Norway, there was one in Paris.  I would have loved to go, but it was too soon.  I had not found my legs in Bodø yet, so I decided to wait some.  I knew of this meet scheduled end of May in Grenoble.  Granted it wasn't Paris, but it was in France.  A place I haven't been yet. 

Many people had told me that flights within Europe were cheap, or at least way more affordable than flying from Montréal.  It is if you're not in Bodø. Nothing flies out directly from Bodø.  We have to have an extra stop, we have to go through Oslo. That extra little hop, since it is only about one hour and thirty minutes by plane, changes the price of a cheap flight.

When it was decided that I would be going to Grenoble, and that my flight was booked. I've asked the organizers of the meet if they had more details, other than a date and town, so that I could book a room, etc.  The people attending the meet are mostly people with whom I've chatted and exchanged postcards.  Many of them I have no idea what they even look like.  We're postal friends. One member sent me a message and offered me to stay at her place.  Then another member offered too.  I was surprised by the kindness, because they don't know me either, and wondered what to do.  I've accepted one of the invitation and just like that I was going to Grenoble and was going to stay with someone I have never seen before - oh, my father must be shaking in his urn!

It does feel a little strange to me when I think about it:  I'll be traveling by myself (and a bitch of a path to get there: Bodø, Oslo, Frankfurt, Lyon) and then be picked up by someone I don't even know nor what she looks like and spend two nights at her place is really foreign...

When I started training in karate, back in 1984, I also became good friend with one of the few girl also training and around my age.  We trained hard together, we would also socialized some, we were friends.  We were not BFF, but we shared a common passion and friends.  We did some fun stuff together, like karate demonstrations on local TV shows, we even did a self-defense series.  We had legs and knew how to use them.  We've passed our black belts together, and celebrated it as well. 

Time went on, I kept training and she slowed down some, and like with many friendships time had its toll on us.  We slowly lost touch.  We would see each other on occasion, for a celebration or a karate event.  We would chit-chat, catch up quickly and that would be it.  Nothing ever really happened, we just went our separate ways.  I met someone, she did too.  Had kids. Not me.  We just grew apart.

Two years ago we found ourselves on Bacefook.  We've done like so many others, wrote each others a few times, and once in a while comment on something one
of us would post.  We'd became Bacefook friends.

Yesterday she contacted me, through Bacefook, letting me know about this kid she knew traveling in Norway who would be coming through Bodø, and asked if we could put him up for two nights.  Given that we have an extra room, I had no objection, but would have to talk with the husband.  I don't know if it's because he was an only child, but unlike me (who's also one of a kind) he tends to have this knee jerk reaction when asked to share, host or anything of the sort.  I see it as: "could be fun" and I think he sees it as: "what problem is this going to bring me?".  Now, think about it: what are the odds that this kid would end up in Bodø, Norway, of all places, knows this person I knew almost thirty years ago, who contacts me to put him up?

Tomorrow morning, we will meet this young man, and will welcome him to our humble apartment in Bodø, closing this circle that I've opened by accepting an invitation from a complete stranger to stay at her place.  It is my way of giving back, by having this complete stranger stay with us for a weekend.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Scandinavian Traveller: Likki the Trimmed Beaver - Chapter Six

I wanted to go to the Arctic Circle.  When I first asked Hubby to go, he looked it up and informed me it was only opening May 1st.  Since the weekends haven't been that nice, we had decided to wait for a nice day to make our way there, it was, after all, a few hours away from Bodø.  When the sun is shinning, Bodø Kommune is a beautiful area.  The sad thing is, the sun rarely shines.  Saturday the sun was out. So we headed South to the Arctic Circle.  Yes, South.  Bodø is located at 67 degrees 16 minutes and 48 seconds latitude North and the Arctic Circle is at 66 degrees 33 minutes 45.7 seconds.  Did you know that its position varies?  It moves by something like 49 feet per year.

So, we packed a lunch and went on a drive, by a sunny day.  The way to get there was along the fjord, so we anticipated a nice drive.  Within about thirty minutes outside the city we were following the fljord.  The blue of the water, the sky and the puffy clouds here and there were making this gorgeous scenery that we had to stop and capture.

First stop along the way, where Likki had to pose despite the wind.

Look at that scenery...



Of course Likki had to be part of that!
Giving that the road was nice, barely any traffic, but quite winding and on the edge of the water, there wasn't many places we could stop to take pictures.  The further South we were going, the higher we were climber, and there the more snow we were seeing.  It actually got to a point that only the road was clear of snow, everything else around us was white.  It was beautiful, and somewhat bizarre.  I think it was my very first time being surrounded by snow like that.  Yes we do have lots of snow in Québec, but it's wasn't like that... Maybe it was because there weren't many trees, houses, or people, I don't know... It was just spooky. And beautiful.

Blue sky, white clouds and white snow...
The further South we went, the whiter it got. It looked like there was a lot of snow, not only what we were seeing on the surface. It looked deep.



After being in the car for over two and half hours, I was excited to see this sign:


We knew we were about to get there...

That sign has seen better days, but we got the point.

The Arctic Circle Center, on May 16, 2015

We were happy to see that there wasn't many people there.  And we were also a little surprise by how much snow there was...

Hubby is not short and that wasn't the highest accumulation either
Likki sitting on a snow bank...

The inside of the center is mostly a souvenir shop.  They do have a theater, not quite sure what they were showing, just noticed the price (60.00 NOK = about $10.00 CAD) for 20 min. film.  They had a bunch of wild animals on display (taxidermy), like a moose, a polar bear, a wolfe, a seal to name a few.  They sold everything from t-shirts, socks, underwares, cups, magnets, and lots more.  They also sold postcards AND had a special cancellation stamp.  They even offered to mail the cards for Christmas.  They had a special box for that, for cards to be sent out for Christmas. 

There was also a little cafeteria.  Their special of the day was Reindeer, potatoes and coffee.  I had a burger.  While our food was being prepared I wrote myself a special souvenir card, after all how often can one say that they've crossed the Arctic Circle and that they had to drive South to do so! ah!

Postcard Supervisor
After spending about one hour in there, shopping, eating and writing a little, we decided to head back to Bodø - we still had a few hours of driving ahead of us.  As we were leaving the Center, the sky got cloudy, but as we were heading North it was clearing up.  We were both wondering how much of all that snow would actually melt in the next few months.  The Center is open from May to September only, so we were wondering how soon did it start to snow, etc.  We even mentioned maybe doing that drive again before we go back home, just to see the difference a few weeks can make.

There is a national park we have to go through to get to the Center, and as we entered I saw a sign for Reindeer Crossing - I had never seen one before.  I wanted to take a picture, but Hubby wasn't stopping just then - maybe on the way back, there should have others.  Not long after we left the Center I saw that sign again.  I wanted him to turn back.  I wanted a picture of it.  He kept going looking for a spot where he could turn when I screamed in excitement, there, on the side of the road was a reindeer eating some green.  I barely had time to catch a picture of it.  We were being followed by a big truck and it was coming fairly fast, so we couldn't really stop and snap a good shot of my first reindeer ever!

Seeing it made my day! I'm still excited even as I'm writing this. That was so cool!

Scenery coming back was just as nice as the one going... I can't get tired of looking at this...


Along a gorgeous river...


You must admit, the place is fecking nice. Right?  Right!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Really? Already?

I knew this day was coming, not only did I know but I could see it. Was I ready for it?  Not really? I am not ready for it at all!  Wondering what I'm talking about? Well, you know?  It's that time of the month...

 Oh!  I don't mean that time, no, please!  No, no, it's just time for me to get a haircut!

Since we've first talked about doing this thing in Norway, one of the (many) things I thought of was my hair.  It (most likely) may be a women thing, but I've been faithful to my hairdresser.  I've been seeing her since 1999.  Even after we've moved downtown, I've kept going back to her in the West-Island.  I like what she does. She changes my color, the cut and yes sometimes it is a little funky, but I've often said it: I change what I can easily do, and my hair is one, plus it does grow back, so it's all good.  When Hubby talked about this "move", we both agreed that it was long enough that both of us would have to commit, and by that, we would have to find a hairdresser.  He gets his hair cut every four to five weeks.  I get mine done every six weeks.  Hubby and I shopped for him.  We walked around and went by feel mostly.  He also wasn't willing to pay too too much, especially since his regular cuts are about $25.00 back home.  He managed to find a barber, a little shop not far from our flat.   It cost him 250.00 NOK, which is about $40. The guy did a nice job, different from his regular crew cut, but nice.

Just before we went for our weekend in Oslo, I thought of giving a try to a salon next door.  I guess I'm not as loyal for my waxing as I am for my hair.  Or maybe it is me not being as chicken?  No matter what, I made an appointment and went for a waxing.  The lady I was assigned was nice.  She was also Sami (native of Norway).  She did it quickly and all was well.  It cost me 395.00 NOK for a half-leg, which is about $66.00.  Back home it cost me $25.00 for half-leg and bikini.  I didn't ask for the bikini, wonder how much extra that would have been.

I need to get my color done, and I'm not worried about that; as long as my grey is covered it will be good.  For the cut that is another thing.

In my younger days before I had a regular hairdresser, I've ended up looking like a poodle, too curly and so puffy - I think anyone you went through the 80s looked like this at one point or another - everything that could be wrong was wrong.  Now with short hair I know the worst that can happen is that it's cut too short, but then again, the last two visits back home, the back and sides of my hear were almost shaved so, it can't be that bad, right?  Right!  My bangs could be chopped off and that would be bad, even if they will grow back, I like my bangs!  If they're crooked that can always be corrected, but once cut there's no much to be done, but wait...

So, tomorrow I will walk around and try to find a frizør - there are so many of them around, one at almost every corner around the Sentrum - that might be just why I'm concerned... why so many salons?  And they all look like the places like my mother goes to... which is scary.  Call me snob, I don't care - I am, I assume it! - but when a place has posters hanging on their walls which look like that girl above, I know it's not the place for me.  Hubby told me to go feel the different places, I've spotted a few, so tomorrow will be the time for me to address that time of the month thing and go for it!  Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

When in Norway...

Since we've been in Norway, we've had a few moments when we wondered about some things... Some things are cultural, some are traditions, some are just plain personal preferences; they just are differences from what we know.

When we went to Oslo last weekend, we noticed as soon as we got off the plane some teens wearing red overalls with graffiti like writing on them.  They looked like they were partying, but since it was a long weekend (Labor Day) we didn't think too much of it.  The more we walked, the more we were seeing red overalls.  And then blues, and some blacks.  All the teens were wearing them.  Being the curious one I am, I've asked some girls what was the deal with their red overalls.  I was told they would wear them until May 17th - Norway's National Day or Constitution Day - it was to mark their graduation.  It's basically seventeen days of partying, dares, and doing a bunch of crazy shit which is not only legal but encourage.


They even have party buses.  We saw those in Oslo and they was some serious partying going on in there.  The boom-boom coming out of there was loud and those kids were partying.  Hard.

On the plane heading back to Bodø, Hubby was siting next to a little girl who I had seen, along with other younger kids, walk up to a teen boy in red overall asked him something and the boy handed her a business card.  I had also noticed that back in Oslo.  On the plane, the little was sorting her cards, she had a bunch. It looked like a business card but from the student, with their picture, phone number, etc. and some text.

Tonight, while having dinner at a restaurant, we had a chatty waiter, so I've asked him about the red overalls and if each color meant something.  Turns out the black ones are for trades (plumbers, electricians, etc), the blues are for sales, marketing, etc., and the reds are for everything else.  As for the cards, according to our waiter, they are often nasty and "not proper" for kids, but it is part of their tradition. 

That same waiter, explained what they call Tørrfisk (or Stockfish in English), since when in Norway...  might as well try some local fish (Hubby that is, since I don't really do fish).


Tørrfisk, on a postcard


Tørrfisk, in the real...
They dry the fish, and re-hydrate it and serve it with bacon bits, green pea mashed up, and a poached egg to end up like this...
 

I actually tasted it, and it wasn't bad.  The fish as such didn't taste like much, and with the bacon... I liked it.  Not enough to order some, but happy to have tasted it!  Like many things in life, it tasted better than it looked!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

All About Food or Mat as they say here...

I've received a comment on my previous post about what we've been eating here.  We've been eating food!  Imagine that!  Even in Norway, they have this unique concept of eating food!

Here are some of the things we've eaten here, not much different than what we eat back home...

The Party Platter @ Egon, Bodø
That was our pre-dinner snack, on a terrace, which had battered & fried shrimps, some onion rings, nacho chips with salsa and some chicken wings.

Breakfast at Brasserie Paleo, Oslo
This was my last breakfast in Olso: some delicious bread with grains and even nuts (they have many different type of flour - love all the breads I've tasted thus far); some Gjetost cheese (that brown cheese made of goat's milk) - mostly eaten as open faced sandwiches or on waffles; some little garlic meatballs, some bacon and smoked ham, some cream cheese and homemade blueberry jam to be spread over the knekkebrød (crispbread, also filled with grains and/or nuts).  They also had fruits and some little pastry, like the mini chocolatine!

For our last dinner in Oslo we went Italian.  We started with sharing a delicious platter of mozzarella, three different types: mozzarella, bufala and burrata, some little tomatoes with balsamic, some prosciutto di parma and some garlic bread.

Gran piatto di mozzarella @ Olivia, Oslo
We all ordered a different main course, and each one seemed to be satisfied with their meal.  They were good and good sized plates.  I went with some penne, with bacon, chicken and saucy.  I ate the whole thing and didn't have any desert.  Good thing we walked home afterwards!

Penne al pollo umbriaco

Breakfast the morning before.  That juice was so good.  It was freshly pressed in front of us, I loved it.


That was my second morning trying the Gjetost cheese and that time I even put some of the walnut in honey that was beside it, it was reaaally good.  Finger licking good!  Really!

Later that day (which was our touring day!) we had a refreshment stop, enjoyed sitting on a terrace by the water front, and enjoyed a platter of different appetizers, which included some tomato meatballs, some green beans, some black olives and cheese, some shrimps, some wings and some potatoes...

at Jacob Aall Aker Brygge, Oslo
That was also a very nice platter.  Very tasty, and a great way to end our sightseeing tour of Oslo.

On our first night in Olso, Hubby had some horse appetizer which he said was quite good, and all four of us ordered steak, which was good.  That night I had desert, some flambé pineapple with Canadian maple syrup and coconut oil. 
the end result... at Brasserie Paleo, Oslo
That was the only desert I've had during our three days weekend in Oslo, and it was good. But I did eat some Freia chocolate, bought at their flagship store, which was a tiny little boutique, but I found lots of chocolate!

I don't know about you, but I could eat a little something now...

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Scandinavian Traveller: Likki the Trimmed Beaver - Chapter Five

Well, this past weekend, it was a long weekend in Norway - it was Labor Day on Friday.  We arranged to meet up some friends living in Zurich and willing to visit Oslo with us.  They booked the hotel and we booked our flight (a little hop of one hour twenty minutes or so).

Thursday, after work, Hubby dropped me off at the Kiss and Goodbye, parked the car and off we were!  From the Oslo airport we took the train, and twenty six minutes later we were walking downtown Oslo, looking for our hotel.  As we walked I enjoyed what I was seeing: an European town which felt alive, buzzing with people, mixing the old and new architecture.  Weather permitting the weekend was boding well.

After a good dinner and catching up with our friends, we went to bed for a good night sleep.  We had asked for a big bed and we got just that.  Have I mention how much I like their bedding here?  I loooove it!!  If there is one thing I will try hard to bring home it will be ttwo single little comforters.

Likki ready for bed...
Friday morning, after a great breakfast, we had decided it was going to be our touring day, so I brought Likki along.  Here she is patiently waiting in the lobby and with our friends, their first encounter with her.
In the lobby of Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz, Oslo




It was a beautiful cool and sunny day in Olso, perfect for discovering the city, especially since all stores were closed due to Labor Day.  We had agreed to do the Hop On - Hop Off  Tour.  Since an acquaintance had mentioned to me that the best view of the city was from the Ski Jump, and since it was among the stop on the tour, we started with that.  We had to take the metro and make our way to Holmenkollen.

on the Metro Line 1 to Holmenkollen
From the base of the ski jump
That ride and walk up took longer than anticipated, but my acquaintance was right, the view from there, was quite nice, and this even if we didn't make it up the tower.  There was a 40 min. wait and since we didn't feel like wasting that time, we walked around, took a few pictures and took the metro back down to the city.


Since the bus stops for the tour weren't that well indicated, we actually decided to walk to the next site, the Vigeland Sculpture Park. That was sure worth the walk. I had never seen something like this before.   It actually started with seeing tulips!  We (Hubby, Likki and I) hadn't seen anything green like this in a while and Likki couldn't resist the temptation and had to stop to smell the flowers.

 

From the looks Likki got, I'm thinking people are not used to seeing beavers much in Oslo.  Granted she was trespassing, and Norwegians are sticklers for their rules, but still, she didn't eat not taken any tulip.  The park is something else.  Statues everywhere.  Naked statues everywhere, that is.  The grounds are beautiful.  The statues are interesting, some more than others.  I will say this, being the way I am, and with the twisted mind I have, it was interesting.  Likki on the other hand, was somewhat naughty.






She even did a photo bomb on our friend's selfie by the fountain!  I had to held her back!



If you're ever in Oslo make it to this park it is worth the visit, that's for sure!  After that visit, we decided to hop back on the tour and keep going towards the Norwegian Folk Museum, the Viking Ship Museum, the Kon Tiki Museum, the Fram Museum, the Norwegian Maritime Museum.  All these were located relatively close to one another.  We got off and walked around to quickly realized it wasn't really interesting us.  We hoped back on the tour and kept going towards the Nobel Peace Center (which I would have loved to visit), the Akershus Fortress and the National Opera.  I did manage to catch a picture of the Opera...


We got off and walked along the water.  We ended up sitting at a terrace for a drink and a bite to eat. We made our way back to our hotel, to freshen up before dinner.  We walked a lot.  Considering everything was closed, doing a tour of Oslo was a good thing, since it is a really nice city.  I will also say this, to close, that this sightseeing tour was the worst one I've ever been on.  Between the crappy explanations, the poor quality of the sound and the lack of signs to show where to hop back on, this tour was lame.  Good thing is the city provided nice sights, and that was worth it.  That and spending good time with our friends.