Saturday, September 27, 2014

J&J Visit

My dear friends came to visit. It was Jon's first time to Europe and Jenelle's first time back in almost 10 years. They spent a week in Croatia before coming to Scandinavia to which they said was a good mix being able to see such different parts of Europe in one trip. Jenelle was relieved to be in a place with rules and order after the, "chaotic chaos" of Croatia. I was just happy to share my life with them.


We took a 3 hour free walking tour that was great. I was pleased to discover I really do know Copenhagen pretty well (at least the tourist stops).

Creepy Swede looking on in the background

Finally made it to see the Little Mermaid after a whole year living here.

Happened upon the royal marching band escorting the guards changing duty from the palace

Reenacting the scene when I ran into Jon's parents under this statue last year

Showed J&J the old city of Lund. We only got a picture of fika though. That's the most important anyways, right?


We took a canal tour through Malmö learning lots of interesting facts about this post-industrial city I live in. I also introduced them to sauna culture, we biked through the many neighborhoods and we got lost in playing with fake sand at an exhibition.

It was wonderful having friends see my life here and get to spend down-time catching up. There is an ease and comfortability that comes from being with people you have history with. And squished in my tiny European apartment was nice getting to pay them back for those months I lived on their couch, once upon a time...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Promoting Health

I want to promote good health. But I am not really into sweating too much or putting my body in contortions in front of other people. When I heard the Color Run was coming to Sweden for the first time I decided that was a good way to promote health but not be too serious. And everyone looks funny in the Color Run. So, I gathered a big group of friends/colleagues and we joined the "Happiest 5k on the Planet."

It really was the "Happiest 5K on the Planet." I had a blast. We laughed a lot, had silly conversations and just enjoyed being in the festive atmosphere while, "running." This is the kind of health interventions I can really get behind :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Fjords, wooden houses and friendships

This is going to be a long one...

Last spring, my friends and I talked about wanting to see the fjords and Western Norway. The more we talked about it the more excited we got. This was a trip we knew we needed to make. So we made plans to meet again at the end of the summer and camp our way through Norway. I looked forward to this trip all summer and was not disappointed to say the least. In many ways it reminded me of parts of rugged America and Canada. It's a magical place. I felt such peace and contentment being in nature with good friends.

We laughed at ourselves, a lot. We bought all our food and alcohol in Sweden and used our suitcase space to transport it to Norway since we couldn't afford Norwegian prices. We tried to catch fish but ended up eating tuna from a can. We had a leaky tent so duct tapped a rain coat to the outside. We failed at finding dry firewood in the forest so bought scraps from a lumber yard. We tried to really rough it and find a nice clearing in a forest to set up camp but ended up alongside a road in a ditch. We made many good memories. I wouldn't change anything about our trip, expect making it longer. It was too short.

And as before, pictures cannot capture the amazingness of what I saw and experienced. But here's an attempt anyway:

Hardanger Fjord area:

Just us and the fjord
I was usually the first up. This was the perfect place to make the morning coffee.
While it was a bit chilly, the summer sun was still long giving us light until 10 pm.
Someone (not pictured here) bought ice-fishing poles, not so affective...
Notice the duct tapped rain coat on the tent?

Hotdogs Norwegian style - wrapped in Lumpe (similar to lefse)

Bergen: Once the 2nd largest city in Europe (just after Paris) during the Hanseatic times, I found this a very charming city full of wooden houses, beautiful fjord views and fresh sea food. I even tried whale for the first time. Norway is one of 3 countries that eat whale (Japan and Iceland are the other two). While I want to "save the whales" only slightly less than PITA members, I didn't have too big of a conscious problem trying this meat. It reminded me of a tuna steak.

Bergen (and the West Coast) are famous for being very rainy. It was. But I still loved it.

Whale burgers

I have my own clothing store in Norway

Former leprosy hospital
Bergen fortress
Norway has many troll stories and you are never far from a troll
Sognefjord and Geiranger Fjord areas:

We hiked many beautiful places and saw waterfalls, wild river, glaciers and breathtaking fjords

Cooking what I grew up calling "Swedish Pancakes"

Norwegian country side - idyllic 

Such blue waters ahead

Still waters

Eating the famous pancake made on ferries only stuffed with brown Norwegian cheese

7 Sister's waterfalls beyond me
We laughed at these big cruise ships that people paid good money to be on as we saw the same sights but from our little local ferry

Waterfalls at every turn

We often had to go through tunnels, over bridges or the road would simply end and we'd board a ferry to cross the fjord.

The world's current longest tunnel! Over 15 miles. It was too long for me.
Drove our car onto the ferry and crossed the fjord

Trollsigen (Troll's Path)

Yes, we eventually weaved our way down that curvy road
We passed more sheep than people

Stave churches - we saw several Stave church (named for the pillars that keep the church up) throughout our journey. Most were built in the 1100's and were a mix of Christian and Norse mythology, heavily influenced by the Vikings. Today, there are only 28 remaining Stave churches.

Alter on left and window from the outside for those with leprosy or other sicknesses to view the service from (on the right)

Original intricate wood work

Red dots are the remaining Stave churches
Newer Stave - from 1700's
The Atlantic Ocean Road from Molde to Kristiansund

So many buildings and homes have grass growing on their roofs

I was determined to climb to the top of this for a perfect picture - but then I got too scared, that's as far as I made it

First time touching an ocean!

Viking statue with a resting bird
Monk Island in the Trondheim Fjord - former execution site for the Vikings, prison during Danish rule, monastery and WWII German air station
Remaining stone building famous Europeans were imprisoned in back in the times of Danish rule on Monk Island

Northernmost cathedral

St. Olaf, Norway's king (and patron saint) in the 11th Century was said to be buried here

Trondheim's old fortress

Trondheim with Monk's Island in the fjord
Log rolling down someone's backyard. Yes, we had a lot of fun together!

Røros - former copper mining town

Rodane National Park

Our trusty steed always a welcome site after a long hike

Tried so hard to see moose, wolverines and bear but only ever saw sheep
Of course there is a Viking ship parked outside the gas station in Norway
This claims to have the best buns in the world. They were good, but I don't quite buy into being "the best"
It was a wonderful trip through Norway. We underestimated the time it would take us (we'd hoped to reach the arctic circle) so I guess I'll just have to go back some other time. How can you resist a place that has the perfect picnic place every single stop?