Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Norway... through a terrible, ghetto computer

Hello once again my readers!
Currently reporting from the "Kong Harald" (King Harold) ship from the Hurtigruten ferry company. We loaded on the ferry this morning in Trondheim, Norway and are heading down the coast to Bergen. I havent spent much time on boats, besides my boyfriends boat, but this one is different. Reminds me of a little boat I heard about once called the "Titanic". Take a couple icebergs out of the water and bam... here we are. You get the idea. Im not gonna lie, the light fixtures and the hardwood floors are pretty badass in some areas. I never seem to get sea sick on Gregoire Lake but heading down the North Atlantic has been a bit of a different story. Its 2:11 am right now and Im wide awake because I spent half the day in my room, lying in bed sick. All I could think about was the Viking ship museum and how those buggers were in wooden boats for 5 years. No thanks.

I think I left off at our last night in Oslo. I would love to go back to that page and check where I left off but this computer has tested my ginger patience a little too much for one evening, so Im going to keep Internet Explorers' job real easy.... maintaining one browser window for an hour while I entertain my readers. We will see how this goes!!

So.. since we left Oslo, a LOT of cool shit has happened. Definitely hit the climax of our Norway story in Trondheim. So like I said, Oslo was not overly friendly, littered and busy. We train up to Trondheim and I feel like I came out to a little piece of heaven! Wonderful surroundings, lakes, mountains and fresh air, cute little colourful buildings everywhere, cobblestone streets and tons of cute little shops. We were on the train all day so by the time we got on the ground we were starving and cranky. Before I move on, Ill touch on the train ride. The train was super awesome and fast, modern and efficent. The chairs were very comfortable and there was tons of leg room. About 4 carts back there was a little dining cart where you could buy hot dogs and snacks and beverages. We went through many mountains and ran by lots of waterfalls, small towns, rivers and wildlife. We seen deer, a moose, cows, horses and cute little sheep. The farms here are so well maintained and full of pride. Barns are nicely painted red and most houses are light in colour. Lots of little sheds with sod roofs and everything is so green and lush. Kristen and I sat side by side and kept very entertained with hours of girl talk (I dont think Ive stopped talking since we boarded the plane in Calgary, surprised?) After the train stopped, we jumped off and began the experience.

After walking to our hotel and getting checked in, hungry (bitchy) Lacey & co. began a trek to find some dinner. Everything in Norway is closed so bloody early its not even funny! They would think we are crazy with the number of 24-hour stores and restaurants we have. For those of you that know me, 9:00pm in my books is equivalent to everyone elses' 5:00pm so this whole "closing up shop early" thing was quite an adjustment. However, we lucked out and found a pizza joint and luckliy for me, they even had a plain old veggie pie. Glorious.

The next day comes along... best day ever award goes to this one!
We wake up early and have breakfast and get prepared because our relatives are coming to town to pick us up and show us around the neck of the woods. Suddenly I see who I thought was my brother for a second, but after a double take, realize that this guy MUST be family. Sure enough he struts up and introduces himself. Stein is his name... which means "stone". Very cool. I meet his dad, Bjorn, and his little brother, Torbjorn, and we all jumped in their vehicles and out of Trondheim we went.

First stop > Hell, Norway.
Yes, thats correct, Hell. Ive been to Hell and back this trip! You can just about imagine the STUPID things we were saying.. "Go to Hell!", "I feel like Hell today", "What in Hell is going on", "Where in the Hell are you going", "Wanna go to Hell?". Im sure you get the point... we are beasically retarded but many laughs were had, no doubt about it.

Second stop > Graveyard
On a serious note, we visited the gravesite of our distant relatives. My greatgrandmother, Raghnild, was one of the siblings that came to Canada; and the sibling that stayed in Norway, Bjorns grandpa named Gunnar, was buried at this site. We payed our respects and continued on.

Third Stop > Fossum Farm
We stopped at another beautiful farm where our relatives stayed. They are homebodies that dont speak much english and werent expecting our visit so we just stayed for a short time. The farm was nestled along a huge, steep mountainside and just in front of a huge lake. The houses were quaint and ccared for although they were very old, and the grass... SO GREEN. It was beautiful. We said a few quick words and a few quick hugs and we were on our way (For my relatives, this is where Nora, her mom and brother live)

Fourth Stop > My Great Grandmothers Homestead and birthplace
This was pretty unreal. Like I said in the last place, my grandparents spoke of Norway like it was the doorstep to heaven. As I stood looking around on this small farm, you just couldnt help but to think back to those times and how different things must of been. Of course, my grandma being born in 1918 makes my great grandmother seem old as dirt.. but yet standing in the spot she was raised til 18 years old seemed very surreal. Gord commented that the mountains we were looking at over the distances were the same mountains she would have looked at everyday as well. That seemed to put things in perspective. The only thing that was still there from her time may have been the well and that wasnt a positive. Since the family leaving the farm, it has been purchased and a small summer cottage has been built, but nobody was home when we came to check it out. I pressed some small flowers from the farmyard so I could say that I have something from the land. Great idea by aunty Janice.

I learned a little more about my history here.... My great grandma had two children in Norway and left for Canada when she was 18 by ship. Not sure of the port they arrived on, but they ended up in Minnesota. Not long after her arrival, her husband passed away and she was left alone in the USA as a single mother who didnt know the language. She eventually met my great grandpa, Olaf, and they were given land in Canada. They had hardly passed the border where they decided to set up shop and begin the family homestead (this would be the Grinstad farm where Uncle Ronnie lived) They had a few more kids, one being my grandma, and eventually grew old and passed on in southern Saskatchewan. They are buried at Lac Qui Parle church, which is also my moms burial place, so it holds a very special place in our family's heart.

Fifth stop > Stein-something-I-Cant-recall-the-name Castle (and like I said, this computer is brutal so I cant look it up right now)

This was AWESOME. And SCARY. It was an old abandoned castle on the coast of Norway and I would love to tell you some history about it but I cant remember names and dates very well so I dont want to ruin it for you. However, I do have some stories about it and some amazing photos that I will definitely share when I get back home.

Sixth stop > Bjorns farm

Bjorns family, although already being so generous and gracious of their time and efforts, had prepared a very traditional and special meal for us called "Sodd". It is a beef and sheep stew with carrots and potatoes and is very special and is only served for special occasions. This was so flattering and appreciated! Bjorns wife, Inga Oddny, had done up the table so nicely and even had dessert and coffee. Really special.

Seventh stop > Ancient Stone Carvings

These carvings were done hundreds and hundreds of years ago in the stone just on the side of the road. We pulled over and hiked up and could see all the types of carvings. Lots of footprints and animals and spiral designs. Nobody understands what the meanings could be but it was still interesting to see the work that somebody had done so long ago.

Eighth Stop > Middle of nowhere

Yes thats right, middle of freakin' nowhere. We have a picture from about 100 years ago that was taken at a point we thought we could figure out, and sure enough, Bjorn helped us find it. The photo was overlooking a valley with a church and a river with an island on the right side. We were able to move some trees aside, and sure enough, we found the same location that photo was taken so many years ago.... and now we have the updated version!

After we finished up here, they drove us to the train station and we headed back to Trondheim (about a 45 minute train ride) and hit the hay. It was a long and amazing day, and we were tired!!

The next day we got up early and took the train back to Bjorn & Inga Oddnys farm where they had invited their family and friends for a meet and greet.. I felt like a celeb! Here I met many more great aunts and uncles and cousins. They had prepared a wonderful lunch for us and we all enjoyed lunch and drinks together. Anna, Bjorns sister, has a small cottage on the same property so she took us to her place to show us their summer home. It was so cute and had a great view of the water. On the way back to Bjorns, I asked Annas husband about a cement shelter I noticed over the pathway and he told me the Nazis built it during the war as a shelter. Their home was occupied by the Nazis and they had a "perch" on their land where they had guns and cannons preparing to shoot them off at any Britains trying to come by on ship. It was SO crazy to think that I was standing inside a Nazi bomb shelter, so surreal. We heard many stories aabout the German soldiers there at the time of the war. One of the stories being that many Germans were scared to leave Norway in fear of the Russians that were in Germany seeking revenge. The Russian war prisoners that were released at the end of the war made the German soliders go into the forest and unearth any Russian prisoners that they killed and buried in unmarked graves over the years and bring them back to Russia for a proper burial. There were many stories like this. Norwegians have a great deal of pride and much knowledge of their history. It is very honourable.

The next day back in Trondheim, we took in some sights, espressos, shopping and then met up with one of my 3rd cousins, Johan, and his girlfriend Marte. We went on a tour through town with them and then they took us to one of their favourite restaurants for Gords birthday. We had some AWESOME conversations about the differences between Canadian and Norwegian lifestyles, it was just so interesting. They even told the waitress it was Gords birthday and the restaurant made SUCH a huge deal about it.. it was awesome and embarassing for Gord (awesome, once again!) It was so neat to meet some relatives over here my age, and we will definitely keep in touch. Tried to convince them to come to North America and its looking good!

Yesterday we just shopped around and of course, went to Trondheims very well known Cathedral church. (Told you Im terrible with names!!) We sat through a pipe organ session (one of four pipe organs of its kind in the world. The creator was great friends with Bach and had him test many of his organs so there is a chance that Bach may have played this organ) We then jumped in a tour and then checked it out. (Once again, I will explain more on my Facebook photo albums) Then last night, Bjorn and his wife joined us again for some beer and pizza on a nice patio. We talked more Norway history and then parted ways. So sad to say goodbye but to grateful for their time!

So now Im on this boat and I am wrapping this up because an hour of rocking around is making me barfy... not gonna lie! I also did not edit this at all so dont mind my typos! Bergen tomorrow all day then back to Oslo for the last few days of our trip. Ill try to write again in the next few days!

Farewell for now! Miss you all!

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