Exploring The World

There’s nothing I enjoy more than exploring the world with my family and friends.  Last month, we were in the Bahamas for a fun and relaxing trip with family.  This weekend the Hubby is headed West for an adult hockey tournament with Goalielocks, while the Mayor will head to Epcot with school.  Jake will be working, which means I’ll have an entire Saturday to myself!  (Say what!?!?!)  If I didn’t have all these blisters on my feet from starting to run again, I’d probably go get a long over due pedicure.  I’m just a little concerned about picking up an infection with the blisters, so I’ll probably go shoe shopping instead.

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Before I get to my super Saturday, I have a 5K on Thursday night.  It’s all about the preparation with these races, which means I’m facing an uphill battle.   I’ve trained pretty steadily for the past two weeks, but it isn’t going to be sufficient to yield favorable results.  My goal is to get back under 30 minutes, but I don’t think this will be that race.  Nevertheless, it feels great to be running again.  To be clear, it feels good after I’m done running not while I’m running.

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Next weekend I’m headed to the islands for a well deserved momcation.  I can’t wait to be on a beautiful island with incredible women and incredible beaches.  Its been a hell of a first quarter and this is the perfect way to recharge my battery for the second quarter.   Honestly, I cannot wait to disconnect for a few days while in the company of great people.   Plus, you cannot beat the beaches in Turks and Caicos!

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One of my goals has always been to travel more and see different places.  The trips don’t have to be long, but just enough to get away for a bit and explore a new city.  Consequently, I’ve been thinking that for the boys’ birthdays, it would be better to take them on a weekend getaway than buy them something.   I love the idea of shared experiences over material goods.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  Lastly, Goalielocks hit the ice for the first time in earnest since his injury almost two months ago!

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Vikings

Tonight’s the night Vikings returns for season 5 on the History Channel.  I love this show, so I’ve been looking forward to tonight.  For the last several weeks, snippets of the 5th season have been showing up in my Facebook newsfeed.  I’m not into many shows, but Vikings is definitely one of them.  Fortunately, its also a show my kids love.   In fact, when we traveled to Norway this summer I made sure we incorporated some Viking themed scenery in our trip.  Although it would have been hard to avoid Viking related sights in any trip to Norway.

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Serene Fjord

In Flam, we took the boat out on the Aurlandsfjord.  This Fjord deep in the heart of Sogn Og Fjordane is sublimely serene and overwhelmingly beautiful.  As we boated around the fjord, we approached an outcropping from the cliff.  There was a grassy area on this outcropping, which was home to a Viking Burial.  It was pretty cool to see.  As an aside, Lagertha according to legends is from the Gaula Valley, which is in the northeastern part of the Sogn Og Fjordane region.

Now that the show has started, I’m writing during the commercials.  How fitting that Ikea is one of their advertisers, but I digress.  As an American of Norwegian descent, I enjoy watching a show about Norwegian/Scandinavian history.  My dad’s family emigrated to the US from Sogn Og Fjordane the very same region that Lagertha is thought to have come from.  Clearly, I was born to be a modern day shield maiden or Viking queen.

Our trip through Norway gave us a deeper connection to our Norwegian roots, heritage and Norway.  Now as I watch the Vikings, I long to go back and explore the Norwegian Countryside.  Additionally, I’d like to explore Ireland, where the show is largely filmed, and the U.K. retracing the Vikings travels.  While in France in 2011, we ate lunch at a small seaside Norman town.   As we enjoyed our crepes, our view was a replica Viking ship moored in port.  It was beautiful and imposing much like the authentic ships housed in the  Viking Ship Museum in Oslo.

Finally, tonight’s song, in keeping with my Norwegian theme, is “Take on Me” by Aha.  I know a collective sigh of relief went out as you realized I wasn’t gonna torture you with “What Does the Fox Say?”

Living the Bryggen Life

We made it to Bergen after the nice drive from the Flam.  Of all the cities or places we have been thus far, Bergen is by far the worst to drive in especially near Bryggen.  There is a lot of pedestrian traffic, buses and some cars.  This is definitely not a car city; it is a bike or pedestrian city.

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We’re staying in our second AirBnB of the trip and it is spacious and beautiful.  For the first time on our trip, we have two bathrooms!!  We are so excited!   The best added bonus, aside from the full kitchen, is the full laundry facilities. We’ve amassed plenty of laundry during our stay in the fjords, so the laundry facilities are a huge win.

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Bergen is an absolutely beautiful city.  Our AirBnB is quaint and perfectly located.  Everything is within walking distance, which is awesome. Tomorrow we’re planning on taking the Floibanen (funicular) to the top of Mt. Floyen and exploring the city.

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Exploring Oslo

After the long drive from Trondheim, we quickly settled into our AirBnB and headed out to meet our family.  We spent time along the waterfront and picked up some dinner at the food trucks on near the Nobel Center.  Jake, Goalielocks, Dad and I enjoyed a tasty fresh crepe while the Mayor had a spring roll.

We walked the waterfront heading up to Akershus Fortress to get a better viewpoint of the Oslofjord.  The vistas from the fortress are absolutely amazing. If you ever make your way to Oslo, you must make a stop as the Akershus Fortress.  The grounds of the fortress were equally impressive.

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Most of the museum close by 18:00 and it was well after this, but the grounds of the fortress were still open or so we thought.  Never low on drama or shenanigans, we (along with some other tourists) did have a run in with the military police, who informed us the grounds were now closed.   The only problem was, of course, so too were all of the exits.

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Thank god my older brother speaks Norwegians and was able to speak to the guards, who were willing to let us out their guarded entrance.  The youngest kids made their way out of the turn-styles, which locked after each individual exited.  The MPs seeing this and understanding the struggle, opened the main gate so we could quickly exit the grounds.

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We ended our night at the magnificent Oslo Opera house where you can literally walk up and down the side and roof of the building.  The kids had a blast skipping rocks and running around on the building’s roof and near the water line.  We were crossing our fingers that they wouldn’t slip into Oslofjord, which at this point is shallow, but would have made for an incredibly chilly walk back to the hotel.

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A Little Side Trip

After a wonderful lunch and visit with our Norwegian relatives, we decided as a group to make a border run since we were so close.  We caravanned our way across the Norwegian-Swedish border and stopped to take a couple of pics. Since we were so close, it made sense to explore Norway’a neighbor.

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Journey Southward

After a couple days bumbling around in a fog courtesy of jet lag and a long travel schedule, we’re all starting to feel a bit normal. We started our day with a killer hotel breakfast at the Radisson Blu in Trondheim. More options than one could possibly imagine at a free breakfast buffet and all of high quality. I quite enjoyed the crepes and the petit pain au chocolat. While my boys enjoyed the eggs, fresh fruit and croissants. Post breakfast we hit the grocery store and made a quick Starbucks run where we met a nice barista from Brazil, who ended up in Trondheim after meeting a boy in California.

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The weather was cooler this morning, but drier so it felt warmer out than the thermometer suggested. We headed south through some light rain for a bit before we hit some sunny weather. We took a different route back to Oslo that had incredible vistas of mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and valleys. The beauty of the drive is impossible to describe adequately with words, so I’ll add some photos.

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The downfall of driving so far is that the kids get stir crazy and start to fight over things like who has more leg room proportionately and who should have more leg room based on their size. Needless to say the Mayor and Goalielocks were without their phones for much of the drive.

 

We stopped in Lillehammer to have a picnic lunch at Olympic Park, which looks almost abandoned although we did see a team come in for training. It was a nice break in the drive and the boys enjoyed the opportunity to see the ski jumps and the torch. We hit the road again for the final leg of our journey to Oslo, which included our first experience with an undersea tunnel and AirBNB. It took us awhile to find the key pick up place and navigate the city, but we made it and our apartment is fantastic. We’re looking forward to our stay in Oslo.

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Exploring Trondheim

Exploring Trondheim

We spent our morning exploring Trondheim with my parents, my grandma, my brother and his family, my cousin and her family and my aunt and uncle. Trondheim is a great walking town, so we haven’t needed the car once since we got here. The weather is quite a bit colder than Florida, a refreshing and rainy 55 degrees.

One of the coolest sites in Trondheim is Nidarosdomen, Nidaros Cathedral, which is the northernmost cathedral in Europe. The cathedral was built on the burial site of St. Olav and work started in 1070 as a tribute to the King and was completed in 1300. The church’s denomination (as with the rest of Europe) was originally Roman Catholic Church, but post reformation it’s denomination is the Church of Norway.  It is truly a saintly place.

We stayed for the organ meditation where many of us fell asleep courtesy of a long travel day and some jet lag. The kids were only hushed once, which was a complete miracle. My boys lit a candle to honor Debbie. Each of the kids lit a candle to say a prayer, threw coins into the wishing well, and left a note of gratitude with a stone on an alter. Only two of them burnt themselves on the candles, another small miracle.

 

After the brief nap, or the 1:00 pm organ meditation, we made our way down to the crypt. Its much different from the catacombs of Rome or Notre Dame in Paris. In Norway, the burial practices were much different. In medieval times, they did not embalm people and they reused graves. This means the headstone would change when they would bury someone else in the grave. These headstones, some of which were for knights and other dignitaries, were what was kept in the crypt.

In the Nidaros Complex there are several museums including the crown jewels, the Archbishops palace where you can see the actual excavation sites, and a military museum. We were able to go into all of them on our combined ticket. The boys favorite was the military museum while mine was the Archbishop’s Palace and the military museum.

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Post cathedral, we took a nice nap. For those that know me that will come as quite a shock as I am not a napper. Tomorrow I’ll grab some pictures of the free breakfast, which is absolutely incredible.