Wednesday, May 28, 2008
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We spent Monday in the darling port town of Stavanger (on the west coast), touring the historic district and a church that dates back to the 1100s (I'll post pictures later as I don't have that memory stick with me at the moment). We visited the hall of records - which we imagined would be this gigantic library-esque place - to see if we could track down any of the Neilson family relatives. As it turns out, it's a tiny room on the third floor of a poorly marked old building with computers that are at least 5 years old. Plus, everything is written in Norwegian, which, unless it's numbers 1-10 or the days of the week, means nothing to me. Luckily, we were able to hire a researcher to look for records on our known ancestors. We came back an hour later to learn that she had found nothing. This, of course, piqued our interest. My first reaction was one of dismay...maybe our trip was going to turn out like that credit card commercial and we were going to learn that we're really Swedish. But then as Stina showed us her search process we realized that a number of variables were at play. Did we know the exact year the family traveled to the US? Which port did they leave out of? Did we have the correct spellings of their names? All questions we were not 100% sure of. Luckily, we were able to hire Stina to continue the search and contact us once she finds something. We've resolved to go back to the US and research some of the holes in our information.
Posted by erika at 5:43 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday was an amazing day, one of the most amazing of my life. As far as journeys go, boy do we have a story for you. Let's just say we made some tremendous discoveries when exploring Dave's Norwegian heritage. Unfortunately, his mom is on vacation at the moment and he wants to share the details with her and the rest of his family before I post it on our blog. So in the meantime I will continue to write about our adventures over here, but it will be a few more days before I can share this story with you. Believe me, it will be worth the wait ;)
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Monday, May 26, 2008
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Sunday, May 25, 2008
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Saturday, May 24, 2008
After three fabulous days in Oslo, we're setting off for Grimstad and Kristiansand today. Not sure when I'll have Internet access again, but stay tuned for more...
Posted by erika at 2:01 AM
After Munch and lunch, we took a short train ride through the countryside to Holmenkollen, which is home to the world-famous ski jump and former site of the winter Olympics. No picture can do justice to this unbelievable structure. We climbed all way to the top and peered out over the edge to see what the skiers see before they take off. From the top you can see all the way out to the Oslo fjord in one direction and the peaks of snow-capped mountains in the other. The shoot and the landing hill below are so steep that you cannot even see where the skiers land. What's even crazier is that the skiers fly off the jump head first and maintain a position that's horizontal to the earth (nose to your ski tips) going 130 km/hour. We asked Dad if he would try it for a million bucks. Nope.
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Friday, May 23, 2008
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This museum took us by surprise. At first we weren't even going to go, but at the last minute we decided to stop in and were pleasantly surprised. We toured the outdoor portion of the museum, which featured a restored town with little shops, tiny homes, and an apothecary, where travelers could find a drink in Norway's "dry" days.
Another section of the museum featured dozens of tiny wooden farm houses that had been relocated here from Telemark. Inside there were no more than two rooms. Wood burning stoves provided heat and tiny beds, not much bigger than a twin, slept an entire family. We also found a little farm with a charming pony, who we adopted and named, Gretchen.
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“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.” - Charles Dudley Warner
Thursday began with a good dose of irony. After breakfast, we waited around the hotel for two hours for the courier to deliver our luggage from the airport. While we were waiting, a family came tramping through the lobby far too early to check in to their room. As they passed by on their way to the restaurant, we heard the mother say under her breath that she couldn’t wait to get rid of their bags. “We’ll take them,” my Dad said, immediately noting the irony of our situations. I suppose a hotel room is no good without your luggage and luggage is no good without a hotel room to store it in.
Posted by erika at 2:27 AM
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Yesterday, we stopped at a fortress perched at the top of the Oslo fjord (Akershaus). This fortress was used to defend Norway against the German invasion in 1940. Unfortunately, the Germans were successful in their efforts and occupied Norway from 1940-1945. It's hard to imagine that this lovely building, with its breathtaking views, was once a place of such turmoil.
(Funny story...as we were walking up to the fortress we were talking about The Resistance and Jackie asked if Norway won. We all laughed. Then she scrunched up her nose and with a look of perplexion, added, 'Well, what I meant was, were they successful in...resisting?')
Posted by erika at 3:56 AM
Spent yesterday afternoon exploring downtown Oslo. The weather here is in the upper 50s and comfortable for lots of walking. Our first meal was at a little Greek restaurant and then we had dinner at a Thai place. No Norwegian food yet but we're heading down to the Oslo fjord tonight for dinner on the water.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008
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Chapter 2: Jackie forgot her passport. Luckily we were only at the Princeton train station when she discovered it, so Dad was able to sprint home (in the pouring rain) and grab it.
Chapter 3: Accidentally, insulted fellow traveler on the monorail to our terminal talking about Dave’s experience with the staff at the doctors’ office. The group’s conclusion: doctors’ office staff are (for the most part) unhappy and mean. Fellow traveler’s wife is a doctor. Luckily though, he claimed her staff is a nice bunch.
Chapter 4: The plane’s right filange is broken and after two hours of waiting, we have to wait an hour and a half more for the crew to fix it. At first they give us the option to de-plane but we stay on-board, having snatched a comfortable empty row. Then, they announce that they’ve changed their minds and they want everyone off. Dad jumps into action and gets all six of us rebooked on a different flight – a direct flight, better yet!
Chapter 5: Our new plane doesn’t even have a filange! That’s right. After packing up all of our stuff and lugging them on to a new flight, we learn that our new plane has some sort of mechanical problem too. What is with these planes?! We sit on the tarmac for over an hour as they drill something down below and then r’off (family slang for “we’re off”).
Chapter 6: We recount all of our memorable moments so far and decide that this is truly is going to be a great vacation!
Chapter 7: Our luggage is lost.
Posted by erika at 12:36 PM
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
“Travel is the perfect liberty to think, feel, do just as one pleases.” -William Hazlitt
In the months leading up to this trip, Dave and I were acutely aware of our need to just...wander. In every sense of the word. To clear our minds and let our thoughts journey where they may. To free ourselves of schedules and daily demands, to be spontaneous and carefree. To soul search. To reflect. To go where the wind blows us.
Posted by erika at 8:39 PM