Halla (slang for Hello in Norwegian)
Sorry it has taken me a while to update. It has been quite the whirlwind since I arrived in Norway - in the best way possible.
Saturday I woke up at 5:45 - eek. The girls who were flying to Barcelona wanted to leave super early, which I was okay with. (Better to be there than have to rush). We took a taxi to the train station, a train to Florence, and a shuttle to the airport. Piece of Cake - minus the fact that the shuttle ran into a street sign on the way there. Stupid Italian drivers. My flight to Frankfurt, Germany (where my change-over was) was delayed due to snow. The flight to Barcelona for the other girls was delayed too. They finally got their flight and as they left my flight got delayed two more hours. I went up to talk to the ticket counter and all of a sudden the lady was like, "you are leaving right now". Turns out because I didn´t have any luggage to check it was super easy to just transfer me to a different flight, so they did.
I played peek-a-boo with a one and a half year old on the flight over. He was pretty awesome.
Arrived in Frankfurt. Because my first flight was delayed I missed my connecting flight. There was a lady trying to get to Stockholm from my first flight and I had to go to the same ticket counter that she did so I followed her around the airport (did I mention that the Frankfurt airport is a beast? It is a BEAST. Absolutely, ridiculously, monstrously, TOTALLY huge.) I never would have made it without shadowing this woman. The ticket man transferred me onto a flight to Oslo pretty easily.
The stewardess spoke to me in Norwegian. I BLEND IN! :)
Apparently the guy who re-booked my ticket gave me first class! I was in the third row on the plane with dinner and everything. Pretty awesome.
Rolf and Tore met me at the airport and drove me back to their house. Heaven, you guys. I always knew I needed to come here. My body has been calling for this place forever and upon arriving I can tell you that my expectations were met and well exceeded. I feel like I should have been born here. It is one of the craziest most amazing feelings I have ever had in my life - so much so that I don't even know if I can explain it in words. A dream come true, to say the least. One of my grandma's cross stitches is hanging in the entrance to their home, they have the same gingerbread cookies that my mom makes (the EXACT same...I'm assuming because the recipe was passed on), similar decorations, there are pictures of me in their house from when I was a little kid (CRAZY). It is seriously out of control. I don't want to post too many pictures of their home because, well, it's their home...but I'd like you to at least get a feel at where I'm staying.
That last picture is probably one of my favorites - Luke (their dog). He's the best.
I'm sleeping in Kristian's old room (their older son - - as I've mentioned before he is studying in Russia right now). After dropping my stuff off there, Rolf, Tore and I had tomato soup with some mini pizzas (he made an Italy joke...ha) and wine. They had Fenalår;thigh of a lamb. I was a bit nervous to try it, but it's SO good. We talked about a lot of different things - Rolf is quite possibly the sweetest man ever. So incredibly generous and kind. Tore and I stayed up talking and sharing music until probably 3/4 in the morning. I will say this: It is so nice to have somebody my age...and especially Tore because since he is into the arts and I am into the arts we have so much in common and plenty to talk about. I think that this Norway experience would be different if I wasn't staying with such an incredible family.
The next morning we all woke up at eight to go downhill skiing in Oslo at Tryvann. A word about skiing in Norway: they take it very seriously. I mean, kids learn to ski here right about the time they can walk - I'm not joking. There were some little dudes flying down the mountain, turning WAY better than I can. I was happy though - I hadn't been skiing in probably two years and I managed to remember more than I thought I would. There was this little red-headed boy with wire rim glasses and crooked teeth - probably the cutest kid ever (maybe five years old) and he was on a snowboard. He said to Tore, (in Norwegian, of course), "I am new at this. This is my second time. I'm okay...but I fall sometimes" and then he sped down the mountain. So cute.
For lunch we had slices of bread with various cheeses and meats on them. They call it "matpakke" which means "package of food". SO simple and so good. They have this amazing jam spread called "Molte". It's made out of these berries that only grow in the mountains - probably the most delicious thing in the world. With this, we drank Russian Tea (Allison!)
After lunch Rolf and Tore were going off jumps and rails - I tried a mini jump and a mini rail but I failed in comparison to them. For the most part though I did really well - HOWEVER. We got to this one part of the mountain that was WAY steep and I was a little afraid to go down, so Tore and I took this side route that we thought would be easier....haha SO not easier. It was a really narrow, hilly path through the woods. I definitely hit a tree, or rather, the tree hit me. I mean, I was skiing along and all of a sudden I saw this tree just skiing towards me and BAM. Ski flew off and I was buried in snow. So embarrassing, but REALLY funny. Tore said all he heard was, "woah, woaH, woAH, wOAH WOAH! SMACK." Way to go, Eva.
After skiing they took me to HolmenKollen. HolmenKollen is a MASSIVE ski jump. Every year in March, there is one day where thousands and thousands of people gather to watch professional ski jumpers go off this thing. It's a really important day. I can't even imagine...
Upon arriving home, I showered and then Tore and I went back into Oslo (via the train, this time) to go to his choir rehearsal. The choir is through his music program at school and they are doing a collaboration with the Oslo Philharmonic choir so I got to listen to them rehearse this opera for three hours. Pretty awesome.
I was super tired when I got home so I took a nap before the late dinner we had planned, but I ended up waking up and it was morning! I was so confused - Tore was at school and Kirsten and Rolf were both at work but they left me a note saying that they didn't want to wake me. (Nice of them, seeing as I hadn't had much sleep the last two nights). I spent the morning lounging around. I took Luke out on a nice walk around their neighborhood, took pictures, and did some reading.
When Tore got home from school we went into Oslo to eat dinner. We ate at this place called "Sjakk Matt", (Check Mate) where you can play chess while you eat dinner. Super hip. We didn't play chess, but we had a very nice dinner. Food in Norway is not at all what I expected. Maybe it's different along the coast - but in Oslo there are all sorts of different foods. Sushi, Thai, Italian, Mexican, American - basically anything you can imagine they had. I ate a burrito and Tore had spicy Lasagne. After dinner Tore took me down to see the Fjord at night and then we had tickets to go see "Romeo Og Julie" at the Oslo National Theatre. Norwegian Shakespeare. I don't think anything tops seeing Shakespeare in a different language. The production was done very modern; the actors were wearing black slacks with white shirts and black ties, all the women had these crazy awesome heels - something you would see on a high fashion runway. Juliet, when she first came out, was wearing skinny jeans, black heels, a black blazer, and this awesome black bowler hat. Certain elements of the production worked - costuming did for sure, but their were some elements that got to be a little too much at times. I wasn't sure where to look or what to focus on. There were images, though, that will stick with me for as long as I live. Some of it was visually absolutely incredible. I felt very lucky to be there. It was cool too, because even though it was in Norwegian, I was able to follow the story - even down to specific speeches.
Going up the Stairs to the balcony of the National Theatre...
Tuesday I spent the day solo around Oslo. I saw the grand palace where the king (Yes, they still have a king!) and his family live. Then I went to the Grand Cafe - it's the cafe attached to the Grand Hotel and every day, without fail, Henrik Ibsen (Famous Norwegian playwright - wrote A Doll's House, Hedda Gabler, Peer Gynt, among others) would go and get lunch. They still have his table on reserve, which is why I went there. I couldn't afford lunch (crazy expensive) but I got a cup of coffee. A bunch of other famous people used to go there too, including Edward Munch (painter of The Scream). I spent the rest of the day just wandering - I didn't go to any museums or anything; I just wanted to get a feel for the town. I went back to the Fjord, this time in daylight. So beautiful. (Tore says not half as beautiful or as big as the ones where his grandparents live).
When I got home Rolf took Tore and I rock climbing at the SkØyen Klatresenter. Rolf has been rock climbing since high school - indoor and outdoor - so he's pretty amazing. I haven't been in the longest time but it made me realize that I should make a point of doing it more often. Best workout ever - you feel like you are on top of the world.
Grand Cafe and Ibsen's Table
When we got home I finally got to spend some time with Kirsten! Because she is a surgeon, she is NEVER around! We sat around the kitchen table, eating matpakke and talking about family. She asked a lot about how Emily, Eric, Mom, Dad were and I asked her how exactly we are related. She drew out a nice map for me. Turns out my grandpa is her second cousin, and my mom is Tore's third cousin - so I am very distantly related indeed but related nontheless. I'm not going to lie, it was absolutely insane sitting in a Norwegian kitchen discussing family and when my ancestors left Norway for America - basically how "me sitting in their kitchen" came to be. Mindblowing.
Today I woke up, took Luke for a walk, and took the train into Oslo again. After doing a bit of research over breakfast, I discovered that there is an Ibsen Museum in Oslo inside of Ibsen's apartment. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I made that my main priority and after using my map reading skills, I found it with quite ease. So. I WAS IN IBSEN'S HOUSE. I know that's so lame and touristy of me but it was pretty amazing. His studio and his bedroom are just as he left it, and the other rooms have the exact furniture but the room themselves have been fixed. (For a while they were used for other things). I had a really nice tourguide - she was extremely helpful and told some pretty funny stories about the guy. He was quite the character. Turns out his relationship with Norway was very strained so he left Norway for Italy (for 27 years) and in Italy is actually where he wrote all of his great plays. I found that pretty interesting...for obvious reasons. The apartment I was in today is the apartment that he stayed in upon arriving home (so basically, once he was famous and had the money to live there). He purposely decided to situate himself right next door to the King's palace and his whole apartment is one big symbol of revenge and power. He used to say that "music made him nervous" yet there is a Piano in the main room. He HATED Strindberg (rival playwright) and yet decided to put a huge painting of him in his study to, as he put it, "look over his shoulder when he's writing". Fascinating. I think I'm going to go on a huge Ibsen kick now..
The walls of the lobby bathroom were sweet. And the men's door was a mini Ibsen.
After visiting that museum I went to the National Gallery. It is home to buckets and buckets of famous artwork (mostly Norwegian, although there are some Picasso's, Manet's, Monet's and Van Gogh's thrown into the mix). Everybody goes there to see the Edward Munch room, where "The Scream" is located.
When I got home, Tore and I made some Thai food for dinner (Kirsten and Rolf were still at work). We had Lefsa for desert (FINALLY!) Ugh. SO GOOD. Aftewards we just listened to music and hung out and now I'm finally updating this damn thing. Oh my god this post is SO long.
Anyways, I'll leave you with this:
If there is a battle between Norway and Italy...sorry Italy...but Norway wins hands down. The lifestyle here is way more "me". In Italy, I feel like there is this whole "public appearance" thing that has to be upheld - almost a layer of artificiality. I love it for it's fashion, but I hate it for it's fashion. More people smile at you and greet you in the streets, but you can't trust them.
Here, people are relaxed, laid back, simple. Even Kirsten said that I probably feel more at home here versus Italy because Norway is like the midwest. I think that actually has a lot to do with it - the people here are real. Tore and I have already made a pact that he is coming to visit the USA and I am coming to visit Norway at least every two years. I swear, all my money from here on out is going towards my next trip to Norway. One week is not long enough. I'm so in love with this place. I sort of want to move here.... shhh
OH! And I'm trying my HARDEST to learn the most Norwegian I can here in one week - although it's super difficult to learn...especially because it is nothing like Italian and nothing like English. Now my plan is to learn Italian AND Norwegian...especially because if I'm planning on coming here more often I better speak the language. It's the ONE thing that sucks about being here - - I blend in COMPLETELY and then someone speaks to me and my cover is blown. Damn.
Hadetbra! (Bye in Norwegian)