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Wanderlust

There is no greater gift we can give our children than wanderlust.  Wanderlust is the strong desire to travel and explore the world.    Through travels and adventures our world is broadened and brightened.   The opportunity to see how others live and how similar we all are is a powerful experience.

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I saw this in my own kids as we traveled throughout Norway this month.  At first, my younger two were obsessed with their one McDonald’s trip.  They were concerned that Norwegian food would not be to their liking and they’d starve.  Fortunately, they did not starve.

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As luck would have it, we landed in Stavanger on the last day of Gladmat Fargegata, the largest food festival in Norway.  For dinner that night, we explored the different vendors at the festival.  We tried pizza, spicy tacos, waffles and Pakistani food that was absolutely delicious.

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They finally cashed in their McDonald’s trip at our first dinner in Bergen.  They had sweet potato fries and jalapeno poppers that were out of this world.  While the chicken sandwich I had actually tasted like chicken.  They quite enjoyed their trip to Norwegian McDonald’s and were hoping for at least one more.  We did not give in to their continued McDonald’s craving.  Mostly because we wanted them to eat local Norwegian cuisine, but also because the idea of spending $60 to eat at McDonald’s made me cringe.

My younger two are quite picky eaters, while my oldest Jake is up to try all of the local fare.  We tried a number of sampler platters that showcased local foods like reindeer, whale, mussels, king crab, caviar, fish soup, pork, sausages, duck, and steak.  We didn’t like everything, but at least we tried it.  The Mayor had king crab and caviar in Bergen, which he liked quite a lot.  Goalielocks even tried mussels, whale and reindeer, of which he liked the mussels the most.

By the time we left Norway, their palate and their worlds had opened up a bit.  They enjoyed the Norwegian cuisine, their way of life and especially the Norwegians’ love of dogs.   Now we’re back home wishing we could be back in Norway, but also looking forward to our next adventure.

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The daily prompt was lust, but I felt writing about wanderlust would be better than writing about my lust or desire for Norwegian pastries.

Adventure on the Fjord

.My brother’s cabin in Flam came with its own boat and a prime location on the fjord.  It truly doesn’t get much better than the view from their living room or kitchen table of their cabin.  Our boys and their cousins love life on the water, so they were intent on the dads taking them out on the boat.  We were ready for our adventure on the fjord.

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The first journey on the boat, my entire family and my brother’s family hopped in eager for our adventure on the Fjord.  It had been raining that day, but the rain had abated as we boarded the boat.   No sooner had we pushed out to sea, when the winds began whipping and the rain restarted.

Unfortunately, it was clear the boat’s engine hadn’t been used in sometime.  As my brother struggled to get the engine started, hubby rowed us back towards the cabin.  The wind whips down the mountains into the valley on to the fjord with a lot of velocity, so we were quickly moving towards the very large cruise ship Costa Magica.  Luke was rowing as hard as he could, but the wind was that fierce.

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The engine did not want to start, so we were getting worried.  If we didn’t get the engine started quickly, we would hit the Costa Magica or end up in the cold waters of the Aurlandsfjord.  The very idea of going into the not so shallow (the fjord is 3,900 ft deep)  and very cold waters of the fjord made it a little nerve wracking.  As we worried,  waited and hopped for the engine to start, the engine finally started.

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My brother and hubby switched places.  After several more tense minutes, the engine finally started.  We headed safely away from the Costa Magica and out on the Fjord.  The rain and wind abated as the engine finally started.  The irony was not lost on the two men that had been rowing through the wind.

Hubby drove us out towards Aurland, but not too far from shore.   We were able to see the goats and the Viking burial grounds.  We got a close of up of a beautiful waterfall that falls several thousand feet,  goes under E16 and into the Fjord.   Despite the hairy start to our trip, our evening on the boat in  Flam turned out magical and memory filled. Undoubtedly, I was quite relieved when we were back on solid ground.

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Hidden Treasure

The drive from Stavanger to Oslo is, without any stops included, a 7.25 hour drive under the best case scenario.  When you’re traveling with kids and a post-kid bladder, 7.25 hours in a car, is never going to work.   The hubby and I planned on  stopping in Kristiansand, Arendal and Sandefjord to break up the drive and find some hidden treasures, but even with those stops the drive was long.

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Soon after leaving Arendal, I saw a sign for Olavskirken on the side of the road (E18) and I immediately asked Luke to stop at that site.  I had no idea the hidden gem that we had stumbled upon in the town of Bamble, Norway.

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Built in the Romanesque-Norman style, the old church Olavskirken dates back to 1150.  The church served as a Catholic church under the name St. Olav’s until the Reformation. Thereafter, it was referred to as Skeidi Church.  The old church was replaced by the new church built in the wooden cruciform style around 1845.

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When we pulled into the lot, I thought we were there to see the cruciform church until I noticed the ruins of the ancient church midway through the cemetery.  We all quickly lost interest in the new church and made our way towards the ruins of Olavskirken.

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The ruins were a complete gem of a find on our way back to Oslo.  We walked through the ruins noting the signs posted that spoke to the old church’s and the new church’s construction.   Moss and grass now cover the remaining walls and roof.  In the middle of the cemetery and surrounded by Norwegian forest, the scenery was magical.

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As we walked deeper into the ruins, we found a stairway that no leads nowhere and a room off to the side.  The room off to the side turned out to be the ancient chapel that is still in use today.  It was small, but beautiful.  After stopping on a whim, we had made a wondrous discovery.  Sometimes it is worthwhile to take a bit of a detour to explore as you never know what hidden gem you may uncover.

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Stopping to Smell the Roses

When I’m back home, my allergies are horrendous.  Here in Norway, they’ve been much better to the point where I can even stop and smell the roses.  My allergies have been present in Norway as there is a lot of pollen this time of year here as well, but they’re significantly less severe.  I enjoyed stopping to smell the roses.

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Even on the worst allergy day here, I can still smell the roses and flowers as I walk by them.  The fragrance of the roses, in particular, is very strong.  The smell is absolutely magnificent.  There is not a candle or potpourri on earth that can replicate the smell of these roses.

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Not only is the aroma amazing, but the flowers on the plants are gigantic, brightly colored and numerous.  Thank goodness for the close up feature on my Canon, which did a pretty good job of capturing the beautiful blooms.

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When I’m 64 – Happy Birthday Grandpa Tom!

Today we left Stavanger to head back to Oslo on Grandpa Tom’s 64th birthday!  This trip has been an unbelievably incredible opportunity to connect as a family and connect to our Norwegian heritage.  One thing my dad loves more than anything is his family especially his grandkids.  Of course, the kids love their Grandpa Tom to the moon and back.

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The picture above is of my parents at the BorgundStave Church, which connects to Husom via the Vindehellavegan part of the Kongevegan (King’s Road) that connected Oslo and Bergen.  My family and I made the hike, while my dad and brothers’ took the scenic drive to Husom.   It was marvelous to see my dad’s reaction to walking through his ancestral home.

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Aside from my Norwegian good looks and razor sharp wit, I got my love of music from my dad.  If you’re at their house ever, you know my dad loves his music and loves it super loud.   He’s a huge Beatles fan and truly was the only thing missing from our Paul McCartney concert experience.  His musical tastes run the gamut, but the Beatles are one of his absolute favorites and who can blame him.  Nobody could harmonize or envision the combination of chords to form the harmonies like Lennon and McCartney.    IMG_1701

In honor of my dad’s birthday, sing along to these fantastic hits from the Beatles.  Two are from the concert we attended and one is quick snipped from Youtube in honor of Grandpa Tom’s 64th birthday.

“When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now.
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine.

If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four”

Birthday performed by Paul McCartney:

Ob-la-di Ob-la-da performed by Sir Paul

When Life Happens

As we get older, leave college, get a job, get married, etc, we quickly settle into our routine.  When life happens it is easy to lose our creativity.   We become so busy that the creative outlets of our your get pushed aside.   Here’s the problem with all of that.  Our creative outlets be it writing, photography, painting or singing not only relieve stress, but they stoke the creative fire of our minds.  Even creative outlets, like painting for me, that are sources of painful reminders of art class failures can stoke that creative fire while healing the soul.

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When we let our creative self go dormant, our thinking becomes constrained.  We get stuck in the rut of life and the rat race.  The issues is you don’t know what has been lost until it has been rediscovered.  As a matter of dealing with grief, I started this blog and began writing again.  The consequence is the way I think and approach the world is changing.  It is broadening with my creative outlets and I’m finding myself thinking more creatively and productively about the challenges I face at work or home.

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Note about the pictures:  I picked the pictures of Jake for this post because of the creative composition of both poses.  I took the the featured image was on Mt. Ulricken in Bergen during this trip.  Jake’s best friend took the photo on the stairs in Venice.  The painting was my second attempt at paint and sip with Debbie and family.  I redid the Eifle Tower about 80 times, but it still looks like a rocket ship.  I took the last photo while on the boat in Flam.

Fun at the Bergen Aquarium

This morning the weather was a bit rainy, so hiking the mountain as we had planned was a no go. The old cobblestone roads were slippery enough, I couldn’t imagine how slippery the trail would have been. In lieu of hiking, we took the kids and went to the Bergen Aquarium with my brother and his family. The aquarium was a quick ten minute walk from our place and reasonably priced.

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The aquarium wasn’t huge, but it was perfectly sized.  It had a nice array of animals all of our attention including some familiar species from back home.  My personal favorite was the flamboyant sea lion that kept making eyes at us as it swam by the group. It was a fun morning.

 

9,000 steps before noon

We started our morning of 9,000 steps with a ride up to Mt. Floyen on the funicular.  Once up the mountain, we hiked around the lake and through the forest. The views of the city, nearby islands and the North Sea were incredible. Thankfully, they had some coffee and cold water in the gift shop for a post hike refreshment.

Post Mt. Floyen, we got on a bus and headed to Mt. Ulricken. We headed up the gondola to see Bergen from the city’s highest peak. Once at the top, we hiked up to the mountain’s peak. The mountain top was home to a farm and several small lakes. The hike was exhausting, but well worth the hard work.

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