Fjords, Food & Family
Trip Start Oct 14, 2008
16Trip End Dec 15, 2008
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Where I stayed
Nancy & Terje's new home!
What a gem I didn't expect.
Nancy picked us up at the train station. She looked exactly how I had remembered her. (For those of you who don't know, Nancy is my mother's cousin, she is married to Terje and they live in Norway.)
I haven't seen Nancy in years and I don't believe I'd ever met Terje before.
We walked to the parking deck, and for Nancy's sake, I'll spare you the details, but we kinda sorta "lost" the car. It took -a few- minutes to find, it was quite funny. Nancy thinks she made a poor impression, but it was harmless and amusing. She drove us to their new house they just finished building and moved into in September. It's on an island, about 25 minutes from Bergen. (Bergen is the second largest city in Norway.) The island is called Sotra. Terje met us in the driveway and carried our bags in. (Good thing he's a big, strong Norwegian, because those bags are heavy!)
The house is gorgeous. You walk into a front hallway with a bathroom on your right and a laundry room on your left. They claim they are still in boxes, (and there are a couple) but it's already beautifully decorated and put together. As you continue in the house opens up into a beautiful dining room and living room. To the right is their office and to the left is their bedroom. Nancy gave me a tour of their room, and they really set that up well. A beautiful master suite with a large bathroom. (And a claw foot tub, Mom, I know you love that!)
When you continue in past the staircase there is a large kitchen with marblesque counter tops (Nancy told me what they are, but I've forgotten). The floors, I remember, are made of bamboo and Nancy and Terje laid themselves. They are beautiful. I want bamboo floors in my house. Their fridge is something to envy and the cabinets are beautiful. There is a breakfast nook that looks out into the backyard and bird feeders with HUGE black and white magpies and tiny like chickadee-like birds. Through a sliding door is their "Florida room" with their TV, a table that my Great Grandpa Nelson made, 7 skylights, and glass doors and windows that take up most of the walls. It has a beautiful view of the mountains, the sea, and you can even see a glacier.
Nancy brought us upstairs, where there is another living room, and a long hall that leads to 2 bedrooms and another bathroom. She gave us each our own room saying that "sometimes it's nice to have your own space." Nancy backpacked Europe around our age as well, so she was a wealth of advice and knowledge. Angie's room was the first on the right and she told me she "loved making a mess of it". Meaning, unpacking and having her own space.
I felt the same way. My room had a big, comfortable double bed, with more skylights and windows. Terje told me there are 22 skylights which he says he thinks are enough. And he says that with this subtle, dry, humor, acknowledging that it's quite a lot. Nancy says, when you live in a place where you can't be outside for a lot of the year, you have to make your house warm and bright so you can feel like you're outside. (Did I mention that the floors are heated???) They also have a grey and white cat they call Kitty, though he has a proper name I can't remember. He's house broken, he doesn't even use a litterbox, just scratches when he needs to go outside! (That's my kind of cat!)
That night we had a traditional Norwegian meal of meat pies, potatoes and veggies. A nice hot shower felt great. Angie fell asleep right after hers, without even changing out of her robe. We were exhausted. I stayed up and talked to Nancy and Terje for awhile while watching news coverage on the election. (I will be so relieved when it's over! Even over seas, we don't escape the coverage or the chat. It's a big deal everywhere.) I have my opinions about who I believe should be in office, but this isn't the place for that type of talk. It was Halloween, but the only thing I did for it was wear my catwoman t-shirt to bed!
I got a great night's sleep and woke up to a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich and coffee made by Terje. (I never drank coffee until this trip, and I still doubt I'll continue to when I return back to the states. Maybe those are famous last words.) The weather was cold but clear, and we went into Bergen. Our first stop was the Bergen fish market, which Nancy says is the most photographed part of Bergen. She said it's smaller during the winter, but we were still impressed. Nancy and Angie tried caviar for the first time! They both liked it! We then went into the meat market and saw hanging sheep's heads. The Norweigans eat these at Christmas!
Then we went to the Fl°en- which is a train car that takes you to the top of Bergen. On the way up, Angie and I overheard a guy say "Harrisonburg". We glanced at each other but both shrugged it off. We figured he had probably said "Harrisburg". Then he said "small town in Virginia I used to live". We both blurted out "Where are you from??" He replied, "Harrisonburg". Apparently, he went to Spotswood Elementary school. Now he is a sailor who lives in Norfolk. Him and his friend were on leave from the Navy. It is a small, small world. The connections are there if you look (listen) for them. I'm beginning to believe there's less than 6 degrees of separation in the world and I have suspected this for a long time.
Anyway, the view from the top was beautiful. We took a lot of pictures. You could see sailboats and navy boats and fishing boats. We could almost see to the Sotra. We could see the entire city. We could even see a flame burning miles and miles away at a gas refinery.
We walked around Bergen and Terje, a native Norwegian, told us about the history of the place. Some of the buildings there are from the 1700's! We also learned that because of global warming, the edges of the town flood, including it's oldest buildings so they are trying to lift them up higher.
We had lunch in a restaurant connected to a museum. It was a nice place, very modern, hip, if you will. I had a pork neck sandwich with homemade pickles and a garlic remoulade sauce. Angie had the traditional fish soup, Terje had a bacon cheeseburger, and Nancy had the sandwich of the day, like an Italian. All of our food was good (though the service, per usual for Europe, was poor). After, we had coffee mochas (Terje had black coffee). Then we walked to the mall to buy Nancy a mic headset for Skype.
When we got home I helped Nancy set up Skype (a very cheap way to make phone calls to any country, from your computer.) It worked! Nancy is excited because now she can call her sister, parents, daughter, son and friends in the states for much cheaper than before! She also had me call Mom and Dad. I tried every number they have (about 5) with no answer. Even though I TOLD my mother when I left on the trip that she had to pick up numbers she didn't know, but noooooo she's still screening. Eventually, I called Ben and had HIM call mom to tell her to answer her phone!
For dinner, we had salmon (Norway's staple food), potatoes, veggies and cucumber salad. It was delicious! We've also polished off some wine the past few days!
The next morning, we woke up and it was raining. We were thankful for our day of sunshine the day before! We had another good breakfast in the nook together and shortly after, headed out to tour more of the island and surrounding area. They drove us around the island and into fishing villages.
Then we went to Telav°g, where Nancy and Terje's old house is. Telav°g, as most of you probably know, is a town that the Germans wiped out during WWII. We went to the town's museum and watched a video about what happened. Then toured the museum with Nancy and Terje translating for us. Telav°g helped hundreds of people escape to Shetland by boat. When the Gestapo got wind of this, they found the man Telle, who was heading the resistance. They went into his home in the middle of the night and also found 2 resistance soldiers. There was a shoot out, and 2 high German officers were killed. The Nazi's made an example out of Telav°g by forcing all of their people into concentration camps and killing over half of the men. They destroyed the entire town. Every house. Nancy told us there are still survivors who live there, their old neighbors, that they know.
When it comes to WWII and the nazis, I always feel amazed and appalled that anything like that could ever have happened. This was no exception. But the people of Telav°g returned, it took them 4 years, but they rebuilt their town and it's now quite a lovely place.
We then went to see Nancy and Terje's old home, where Helena Mae and Nils Petter grew up. It was also a beautiful house, with a lot of room.
Before we went to the house, we went to check on their boat, and Terje and I both got wet feet on the dock!
We came back to the house and all did various things as the fish thawed. Then I helped Nancy make dinner. We had another fabulous meal, complete with candle light. The fish was smoked halibut ( I believe) which is Terje's favorite. It was very good. With potatoes, veggies, and a salad. Then we had chocolate frozen yogurt for dessert.
We leave tomorrow morning at 6am to catch our 8am flight. (They don't live far from the airport, you can see the planes take off from their windows). I have had such a great time being here. Nancy and Terje are wonderful. They welcomed us in as if we were their own daughters. We have been so spoiled! I'm almost afraid to go back to roughing it! The two of them seem to enjoy each other so much. Our first night here we asked them to tell us the story of how they met and fell in love. It's a good one. And they knew right away, despite the language barrier. Nancy told us that she thinks that the language barrier has helped them, because you can't say anything in between the lines. Everything is direct and honest. I like that about them. Even though now, Nancy is fluent in Norwegian and Terje is fluent in English, they still say what they mean.
It was also nice to be with family in general. It was nice to talk about memories from long ago and get caught up on Nancy's side of the family. She's made me promise to convince my family to come visit. (You hear that, you 4, Norway, soon.) Nancy also gave Angie and I Christmas presents (as if she hadn't done enough!) She gave us Norwegian bread baskets. They're cloth, and they have Santas on them, and you tie the ends together to form a box that she says we can put bread in, nuts, or our hair curlers if we'd like! I love it.
To sum it up, Norway has been wonderful. And Nancy and Terje have made it so. I'm sad to leave tomorrow. But also excited to continue on. We fly to Oslo and then to Frankfurt. We're not sure how much time we're spending in Germany OR where we're going to next! I suppose, wherever the winds take us.
Love to you all. Happy Halloween, Day Light Savings (you're now 6 hours behind me), and Election day. Miss you!