Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 4 - Vigeland Park

With the Easter holiday and everything being closed, we took the bus (woohoo!) to Vigeland Park in Oslo. What a nice park! It was *huge* and had lots of statues and different sections. I posted some pics on FB so go look there for them.

The park was named after the sculptor that created all of the statues in it, most notably Angry Boy and The Monolith. That park wouldn't last a week in the US as there are naked statues of adults and children doing normal every day things scattered about the park. Definitely something the Europeans have over Americans - not being too prudish about statues depicting people as we were made.

I'm not sure how it happened but we kinda lost track of time yesterday. Going to the park was the only thing we did and we were only gone about 4 hours. I have no idea where the rest of the day went but know we had a pretty good day just being together. :)


Friday, April 22, 2011

Ahhhh Day 3 :)

Day 3 was relaxing day!!

This weekend is the Easter holiday and Norwegians take their holidays seriously - most people have Thurs, Fri & Mon off from work to celebrate. BTW, those are paid holidays. So, with most people off of work, most places are closed. In the US there's always something open - even xmas day some places are open for those that don't celebrate the holiday. You can go to a movie or do a little shopping at select stores. Not here. No way, no how. NOTHING is open.

So we spent the day indoors, talking, playing games, listening to music, watched a movie - basically just being all lovey dovey and enjoying each other's company. Ahhhh.

Jan has made a homemade meal every night so far. Last night was a dish called KlippFisk - a traditional Norwegian dish made with dried, salted Cod, potatoes, onions and butter. The fish was a little stronger than I am used to and I had to eat each piece of fish with a piece of potato due to the high salt flavor but it was pretty good. I told Jan next time we'd have to grab some sour cream - that would change it from good to great for me. :)

The weather has been typical spring weather - nice when it's nice, cold and rainy when it isn't nice. Actually, yesterday was a bit cloudy but that has really been the extent of the bad weather here. It's been mostly sunny and in the low 60's for the most part. Oddly enough, thinking back on our walking trip through the city, most Norwegians were covered up in one way or another and I thought it was beautiful, just has a t-shirt on. For people used to "cold weather", they didn't seem to think it was all that warm.

We have plans tomorrow to take a train to the coast, then take an overnight cruise to his hometown to visit his family. Not sure what is on the agenda today, probably out walking somewhere. :p We'll see what day 4 brings us!


Day two - ouch

So, like any big city around the world, if the public transportation infrastructure works, there's no need for a car. Jan lives in the city, his walk to work takes 10 minutes. He walks everywhere and when he needs to go further, he takes a bus/train/taxi.

I'm spoiled. I don't walk anywhere, I jump in my car and go wherever I need to. I don't think about distance, I just go. So when he said we could easily walk to downtown Oslo, I really should've thought about that little fact.

If you ask him, I complained the whole way. If you ask me, I didn't complain nearly as much as I could've. :p

Like I said to him, keep in mind I'm coming off of a flyball tournament (sore), am fat, old and out of shape and I'm used to walking to the next room or to the car. Sad but true.

We walked to what they call downtown and saw a few famous sites. We walked up to the King's castle (Norwegian castles aren't like what you see in movies apparently - get rid of the old Irish or English stone architecture with lots of turrets and stuff mental image - it's a big rectangular building. Think business building with a few touches of grandeur. We walked to a pier, saw a few ferries, saw lots of people having lunch at outdoor cafes, saw lots of stores.

BTW, they don't have stores like Walmart here. If you need food, you go to the food store. If you need towels, you go to a housewares store, clothes, a clothes store, etc., etc. To run errands that we would normally go to a Walmart/Target/etc. and do one stop shopping doesn't exist here.

I think that would totally tax my planning capabilities to the max. No one stop shopping?!?! Ugh. I'm so spoiled.

All in all we had a really good day - spent a lot of time walking around in the warm spring weather (3 hours to be precise, not a short jaunt), looking around, did a tiny bit of shopping, people watched and if you ask him, complained. :p


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Norway, Day 1

I figured it was easier to write about my experiences here than to people individually. Plus, I'm sure to have some... ahem, experiences.. here that I wouldn't have in the US.

The flight over wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - about 8 hours or so in the air. It was an overnight flight and I thought I'd be able to sleep but that was quite impossible. I'm thinking about buying a pillow at iKea and bringing it home with me - maybe that will help me sleep on the plane. ;)

I'll say "Norwegian" a lot but really I mean Scandinavian. I think there is a lot that is common between the countries. Not having visited the others, I can't say for sure but I'm going off of what Jan says and from what I do know about the area.

Mostly, I think I'll talk about food as that seems to be the biggest difference so far. I'll also impart language lessons from time to time as I encounter them - just have to figure out how to add the special vowels they have.

First lesson of the day: Kaffe is coffee. It's stronger than most basic American coffee but not as strong as Starbucks. It's quite good but I'd recommend learning how many "cups" equals how many "liters". It's important when futzing around with coffee makers - trust me.

Last night Jan made dinner - pasta from scratch with a cheesy cream sauce, chicken, mushrooms and prosciutto. It was delicious and a good introduction to home cooked Norwegian meals.

Side note: I did tell him I would try anything he put in front of me but he doesn't want to force me to eat anything. He's so sweet. <3

This morning he made breakfast. I guess a lot of meals are somewhat tappas style - just put out lots of little stuff you like. He cooked bacon and eggs (Swedish bacon is a lot saltier than American bacon but the rest is the same), then put out an assortment of stuff: bread, butter, peanut butter and strawberry jam (in case I didn't like the other stuff), yellow cheese, brown cheese and finally, pickled herring in tomato sauce.

Bacon & Eggs - check. Not much of a difference there. Same with PB & Jam, butter, bread and the yellow cheese. I guess they have 3 kinds of cheese - white cheese, yellow cheese and brown cheese lol. We had yellow cheese last night with the pasta - it's kind of like a type of mozzarella but not. Hard to explain but good.

Tried the herring. It wasn't totally disgusting, I didn't need to spit it out or anything but it's not something I would request. They call it a tomato sauce but it's more like a shrimp cocktail sauce with onions - not as much of a bite as American cocktail sauce but very much the same flavor. So, not my thing.

The brown cheese was a pleasant surprise. I've seen YouTube videos of Americans trying brown cheese for the first time and I was not really looking forward to it. First, a few things about brown cheese - it is cheese, made the same way or similarly to regular cheese. It's brown because of the sugar content in the cream according to Jan. Like an other sugar, the longer you cook it, the more of a caramel you get. Same thing with this cheese apparently.

It was really pretty good. It's a fairly soft cheese and comes in varying degrees of "brownness". The darker brown it is, the more the sugar was cooked. I tried a fairly light version of it, Jan's favorite, Flotemysost (the first "o" is supposed to have a slash thru it). It was a mild flavored cheese that was pretty sweet - much more sweet than I'm used to, but good. It had a later taste of a soft caramel. Now I'd guess that a sweet, soft, caramel tasting cheese sounds pretty bizarre but it was quite good.

One thing I have noticed is that things are generally smaller here. When you buy a package of bacon, it's not like an American package of bacon. It probably has about 1/4 of what you'd get in an American package. The pillows are more square than rectangular. They are very conscious of and very good at managing space.

We're heading downtown in a little bit and I'm going to bring my camera. We'll see what kind of pics and shopping we do!