Monday, August 31, 2015

Dinner!



This one is for Bryan!
This is the fridge that Lenore is inlove with...fridge on each side, and freezer in the center.  If you want one like this, you can order it from Marrits nephew in Bergen!



I LOVE this chair...it is so comfy. I want one, (or two!)
Beautiful fog in the morning on the farm.

The barn
After our big day exploring with Marrit and Hans, we returned to their lovely farmhouse for a simple,  but fantastic Norwegian meal.  Their home has 4 dining rooms.  We had eaten lunch in the kitchen, but dinner was served in one of the other rooms.  Marrit heated up a huge pot of SMALLMATT (disclaimer...I may very well be spelling this wrong!) which is a traditional Christmas meal.  (I guess our visit was almost as special as Christmas!). This soup had pork, lamb and beef cut into very small cubes, as well as small diced potatoes, onions, corn and carrots.  It was seasoned with such delicious favors...just fantastic.  It is served with special bread that looked like a tortilla only thinner.  It is actually 2 layers with butter and sugar in between.  Trust me, the sweetness of this bread along with the saltiness of the SMALLMATT soup is out of the world.  I am so sorry I was too embarrassed to take photo of the food at the table. As an  added bonus, Hans was so excited to serve us Akvavit with our meal...served in special little glasses!  Watching him pour it was like watching an artist...he filled each glass right up to the rim.  I noticed larger glass too...turns out those were for the local beer that one must drink with the akvavit!  It was indeed a party!

Breakfast the following morning did not disappoint...2 kinds of fabulous bread (3 if you count Gary's gluten free bread that we carried from home in our suitcases!), sliced ham, thinly sliced special smoked meat sausage, smoked salmon, brown goat cheese (the cheese is brown, I'm not sure what color the goats are!), Swiss cheese, delicious butter, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and sliced bell peppers, 4 kinds of home made jam (strawberry, raspberry, apple and cloudberry), Apple juice and orange juice, soft boiled eggs.  Lenore and I are terrified of how we can match these meals if Hans and Marrit come to visit us!?!  How can we ever possibly repay this hospitality!?!?

Friends...

Lenore does friendship very, very well!  Anybody who has known and been loved by her will agree.  And this is what friendship looks like:

That photo represents the origins of this trip...Lenore wanted to visit her high school foreign exchange who came from the small town of Nesbyen, Norway 47 years ago to attend school in Susanville, California when she was  just18 years old.  After graduating from college, Lenore made one trip to Norway to visit her...so she was long over due to see her friend Marrit, with whom she had kept up with, originally through letters and more recently through emails and FaceBook!  I have to give Ron a big shout out for surprising Lenore at Christmas with this trip to see her old friend. (Good job, Ron!)

We took a 2 hour train ride from Oslo to Nesbyen and were met at the Nesbyen train station by Marrit and her husband  Hans.  I stayed true to my promise, and STEPPED gracefully off the train with 2 feet...preferring to leave the "traditional Hunt train dismount" to Ron...who missed the last step and landed flat on his face!  Oh if only I had a photo or video of his graceful recovery as he sprung up quickly to greet Marrit and Hans...it was most impressive!  The man has some awesome moves!

We were taken to Marrit and Hans' home on their farm in Nesbyen.  This beautiful farm has been in Han's family for 4 generations...since 1850!  Hans inherited this farm when, at the age of 21 his father passed away.  This beautiful home was a treat to see...let alone sleep in!  

We had a lovely lunch (more smoked salmon for Ron!). Our visit to this beautiful little town coincided with a special craft fair in town...only females were allowed to sell their wares.  This was not like the Walnut Creek Art and Wine Fair!!!  There were home made cheeses and breads, home smoked salmon, lots of knitted wares (some even knitted with spun dog hair!). We didn't linger because we had lots to do and see!  As we were wandering through the little craft fair, Hans and Marrit were greeted by just about everyone...I guess when your family has lived in the same area for 4 generations, you know everybody in town!  Since I had been singing the praises of Norwegian Air, I was thrilled when Marrit introduced us to Bjorn Kjos, the OWNER of the airline!  His wife is from Nesbyen so he spends a lot of this in this beautiful town (small world!). Perhaps I gushed a bit too much about our fantastic flight...sure hope I didn't embarrass myself!


Gary at the gluten free booth...Norway is so accommodating to the whole GF thing...menus are very clearly marked and every single restaurant has GF bread available.  It is so much easier than at home to be GF.


Next up on the agenda was picking up a friend of Hans and Marrit, Torstein.  We drove to the Gardnos Meterorite site. This meteriorite hit earth 70 million years ago.  Torstein is a guide at this site so he was a wealth of knowledge and even loaned us his eye piece so we could examine the details in the meteorite rocks!  
This was actually way more interesting than you might imagine (or than I am explaining!) and it was unbelievably beautiful!






We still had lot more to do and see so we dropped Torstein off at home and headed up to the golf course that Marrit and Hans own.  Hans, as I said is a farmer, growing barley...but also has been a "farmer" of timber.  Boy you should have seen Ron's eyes light up when he was talking about a big tractor with some kind of huge chain saw apparatus attached!    Hans took uS up to see the huge parcel of land further up the mountain above their home where he has built one of the finest golf courses in Norway!

Before we could explore, Marrit insisted on giving us a snack (but wait...hadn't we JUST had lunch!?  We got homemade chocolate cake, carrot cakes cinnamon rolls and waffles with homemade jam to go with our coffee...and GF Gary got ice cream.  This is Bernard, their son, pouring coffee for us!






We got a tour of the place and hit a few balls at the driving range but couldn't play as there was a tournament that day.  This golf course is fascinating to me because of the way it was conceived...Hans had this huge piece of land for his lumber  farming.  Since all Norwegians are "born on cross country skis" as Hans told me, there was a lot of skiing activity on this mountain, and he began selling cabins for winter use on the land about 15 years ago.  It was popular in the winter...but there had to be a reason to get people to come in the summer to these cabins.... the idea of the Nesbyen Golf Course was born.  It has been hugely successful and the cabins are adorable!  Oh, and by the way, we bumped into my new BFF, Bjorn Kjos...who came out to play golf!  I was secretly hoping he had followed us is order to give us some free airline tickets...but no, he really just wanted to play golf!  

Below are some condo/apartments that were the original part of the development on the mountain. 




The living roofs looked so cool.

Yes, that's Ron inspecting the living roof!  We even toured the inside of one...we all loved the wood, wood, wood!  (I guess that's why the Beattles sang about "Norwegian Wood"!



When we were standing outside one of the cabins, I asked how far Han's land went..."everything you see" was the answer...and it was one REALLY BIG mountain we were looking at!  It feels like the start of something like Northstar at Tahoe...the ironic thing is that Hans had never played golf...he just had a brilliant vision and was not afraid to make his passion become a reality..  As we drove higher up in the mountain to look at some really spectacular cabins we met one of the very first purchasers, Christian.  This young gentleman described cross country skiing with Hans UP the mountain to look at his home sight before there were any roads...let me say that again...UP THE MOUNTAIN!  As it turns out Christian works for the king of Norway as a personal attach√©!  (At this point, I was beginning to think that we were hanging with some pretty special people...way to go Lenore!)

But Hans was not done with showing us houses...next we were off to see his family's summer home. (Also 4 generations old!). It wasn't that far away...just higher up the mountain,  we pulled up and walked down the road, through the gate and came upon this compound of old houses...and I mean really old!  I was so confused because Marrit had told us that their family always celebrates Easter at this home...I just couldn't believe it.  But Hans opened the door of the ramshackle house contained a pristine new home inside.  I hope that this picture is clear,  Hans said that he was not allowed to change anything on the outside, so he just built a new home inside the shell!










Hans showed us this old photo of his father and his father's best friend cross country skiing.  He explained that when the Nazis occupied Norway, they came upon this friend out skiing and asked him where the rest of his family and friends were.  He did not tell the Nazi soldier anything and was shot on the spot. In this photo, Hans's father is on the right, his best friend is in the snappy ski outfit on the left.


The other house on the property has yet to be restored, but it was a treasure trove...like walking into a museum!  This is the original stove that Hans remembers his mother and grandmother cooking on!

You can't see it in this photo, but the floor slopes down at about a 20 degree angle...the stone foundation has definitely settled in 150 years!



 Hans later drove us by this marker on the side of the road not from the house...it was the spot where the shooting of the family friend by the Nazi had occurred, and the mans family comes and places flowers there frequently. It gave us all pause as we thought about the sacrifice this family friend had made...and how many lives he had saved by remaining silent.


Time to head home and have dinner.  On the way, Gary noticed an old ski jump...no longer in use, but Hans had built this for his son when he was little!  No wonder the Norwegians win all the Olympic medals in ski jumping and cross country skiing... They have ski jumps in their yards!

PS...for anybody reading this, please excuse any typos...it is being typed late at night with the free hotel wifi, and usually after a few glasses of wine...my proof reading is compromised!


Saturday, August 29, 2015

A busy day in Oslo!


Ron and Lenore greeted us while we were eating breakfast!  After stuffing ourselves with smoked salmon and berries/yogurt we were ready to hit some "must-see" attractions in Norway!

We walked to our neighborhood stop for the hop on hop off bus.  Ron was convinced that our tickets from yesterday would work today.   Lenore and I were doubters...but Ron breezed right on the bus, with us following behind (I guess the driver didn't notice our guilty faces!). It was crystal clear today...no rain like the previous day, so it was nice to drive through the town and see it in the sunshine! Our ultimate destination was the Bygd√ły neighborhood... Also known as Museum Island. Our first stop was the Norwegian Folk Museum where 150 buildings have been brought from all over Norway reassembled here on 35 acres. As we are a little after the end of the tourist season, it was peaceful and quiet (again with the "quiet"!)




This Stave church from 1212 from the Hallingdal area was beautiful...solid wood with many intricately carved details.  





There was also a very interesting museum devoted to the native Sami people.  I remember learning about the Laplanders when I was a little girl...I think now the PC name for them is Sami!  Many of them were nomadic, herding (and milking?!) reindeer.  As they lived in the far far north, their life was not an easy one...but it was certainly fascinating!  Their brightly colored women fabrics, mixed with fur made for some amazing traditional outfits.



Ok...there was also a mama pig with her three piglets that was kind of sweet...had to take a photo!

Next up on the museum route was the Fram Museum...
The Norwegians love exploring the poles apparently...both North Pole and South Pole!  The Fram is the  125 foot long steam and sail powered ship that was used for some of these explorations, taking modern day Vikings, Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen, deep into the Arctic and Antartic.  For 3 years the Fram drifted, trapped in the Atctic ice. It was amazing to board the ship and examine the below decks quarters where these men lived for years.

Here are Lenore's and my favorite explorers!
Oh yeah, this is where we decided to have only ice cream for lunch...I mean, you can do that when you are on vacation, right?!

We also had visited the Viking Museum in this same area. And that was amazing...they have 2 Viking ships from the 9th and 10 centuries on display that were buried with household artifacts  for their kings and queens (much like the Egyptians did).




This is also the museum where we first busted out the selfie stick for the first time, and were so doubled over and consumed with laughter, that the guards came over and told us to put it away!

And maybe I'm reading too much into things, but somehow many of these Viking Laws (spotted I the gift shop!) sound very EF to me!   Take out the reference to keeping your weapons in order, and a lot of it sounds like Eileen Fisher-speak!!


Our last museum for the day was the Nobel Peace Center.  This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking museum. It celebrates the 800 past and present Nobel Prize winners.  This year's winner is the amazing young Malala Yousafzai who, even after being shot 3 times in the face by the Taliban, believes that all children deserve an education, believing that it is a prerequisite for peaceful global development.  Seeing her blood soaked clothing that she was wearing the day she was shot was extremely powerful...she will not be deterred in her determination and passion in fighting for education for ALL children.  Upstairs in the museum is a fabulous exhibition in a dimly lit room, with tranquil, zen-like meditation music playing.  A winding path of blue lights, and suspended iPads led you through the large room.  As you paused in front of each iPad, it came to life with photos, facts, and quotes of each Nobel Prize winner...below are screen shots from Malala's and Mother Theresa's screens.




Fun fact of the day...Alfred Nobel invented dynamite, making it more ironic that he donated his life's savings to promoting peace.  As we left and walked out of the museum, the bells were ringing the John Lennon tune "Give Peace a Chance".  Indeed.