Sunday, July 15, 2018

EuroTrip 2018 Part 1: Norway

It's been three years since we've been back to Norway (or Europe for that matter).  Martin's parents come visit us plenty, so it's time we returned the favor and got on a plane for 30 hours to visit them.

Our literal first order of business once we left the airport:

Sales target: 1.8 million boller this year
Boller!  Cardamom buns, which are the quintessential Norwegian treat.  I did a spectacularly awful job of photographing my food in Norway, which is uncharacteristic of me.  I was too excited to dive into everything, I guess. 

No bakery I've ever tried has come even close to the ones they sell at gas stations, so they're the perfect road tripping snack.  My favorite are the chocolate chip ones but they also come with raisins (blah) and plain (don't bother).  Another gas station food favorite:


Hot dogs in Norway are amazing.  If you find yourself in the frozen north do not miss out!

An old saying goes that Norwegians are born with skis on their feet, so it makes sense that we went straight to Norway's largest ski resort, Trysil.  It was late May, and an unseasonably warm one at that, so we were hardly hitting the slopes.  It was 31C/87F everyday.

Yet there was still snow!


We rented a hytte, which is a Norwegian cottage for a few days of relaxation and solitude in nature.  To fight off jet lag on our first full day there we decided to hike up the whole damn Trysil mountain.



And see that summer snow up close and personal!



A wild experience when you're sweating from heat just as much as from exertion.  Zoom in here and see the buildings down below:


It's impressive how far we hiked up!  Thanks to all the crazy life changes I have skipped the gym for months now (oops) so a little exercise was absolutely overdue.

In Australia if you want to go to another country you'll have to fly for at least two hours.  In Norway, you just hop in the car for a bit and you'll eventually hit Sweden.  We were looking for more scenic sights so drove an hour or two to Fulufjallet National Park to do a little hike and see a really pretty waterfall. 


We couldn't get any closer due to falling rocks and an unstable bath, but even getting this close offered some lovely sights along the way.




I don't remember the last time I was someplace so remote.  No phone service, no grocery stores, not even a gas station.  But worst of all, no booze that's half the price of Norway!

Back at the hytte we spent a few more days hanging out, eating, drinking (napping!) and catching up.  Eventually civilization lured us back so packed up and headed to Moss, where Martin's parents live and where we called home for three years (plus 6 months of "where are we going to go in life?" quasi-homelessness).

Along the way we stopped to visit Martin's great Tante (aunt) Elsa, who is one hundred and four years of age.  And she still lives on her own!  


Elsa has lived in her apartment since WWII, when the Nazis occupied Norway.  "Under krigen" they say in Norway, "under the war".  No need to specify; there's only one war.  She didn't grow up there - she lived there as an adult!  I find that endlessly fascinating.

But Elsa can't party like she used to so we were back on the road in a flash, bound for home.


Look at that million dollar view!  Martin's parents have an amazing rooftop balcony, which we've never gotten to enjoy in long stretches before.  I'm certain I spent more time there during this trip than I have in the previous ten or so years they've lived there.


It's right by the beach, which the locals were taking full advantage of almost around the clock (land of the midnight sun, remember).  The air might be warm but the water most certainly is not.  It was way too cold for this Aussie to dip more than an ankle in!

Also nearby is the Moss canal, which is picturesque:


But most importantly houses Norway's greatest gift to the world.  The nectar of the sea.


Peel and eat shrimps! 


Straight from local waters, caught that very morning and sold off the boat.

I will never forget the first time I was served these on a visit to Norway in 2006.  I didn't even know what a shrimp even looked like, much less how to navigate peeling one - antennae, eyes and all - to eat it!


I have refined my technique since then - it is not for the squeamish - and they're my favorite thing to eat in Norway.  It's the simplest meal: bread, mayo, shrimps and lemon wedges.  And all the white wine that the wine monopoly will sell you!  Yes, in Norway you have to buy your hooch from a monopoly.  

After a week of full on family time it was time for us to head out into the world, or at least Oslo for gender-separated friend time.


Well lookey here, more shrimps!  I get my fill of the good stuff.

One gal is pregnant and another had a baby 9 weeks prior so instead slamming Jag bombs on Thirsty Thursday like we did in college, we upgraded (downgraded?) to wine in the 'burbs.  My how we've grown!

We made one last trip to visit Tante Elsa before we flew on to our next Euro-destination.  How cute is this?!


Martin was showing her pictures on his phone.  I forget of what, but I assume Matilda.  

Every time we're back in Norway and visit her we (and she - ever the realist) think, "well, this is the last time we meet".  But there's always been a next time!  So maybe there will be another next time, even though I don't think we'll be back for a few years.  

It blows my mind that she was seventy years old when Martin was born...35 years ago!  That woman and her longevity will never cease to fascinate me.  Plus, visiting her is the one time in my life when I literally MUST practice my Norwegian, both listening and speaking.  There are no alternatives (besides pantomime)! 

And that was our grand return to Norway!  I will spare you the gory details of my epic drama, but the gist is I stupidly left my backpack on the airport train, which contained my American passport.

Positive: I still had my Australian passport on me so could fly no matter what

Negative: I left my goddamn passport on a train

No bueno.  It was the worst 15 minutes of the trip (of the year?  Decade?) but thankfully I got it back thanks to the fairly incompetent Flytoget staff.  Relief!

With three flights and two countries left to go, it's comforting to know that the worst thing is behind you!




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