Thursday, December 29, 2011

Adventures in International Travel - Day 1

Up at 1 am local time, so my sleep is still messy. But The Girl made it until 9:30 after a two-hour nap so maybe her sleep will be better.

It's not as dark or cold as I expected. Reminds me a bit of both Pittsburgh and Seattle, although more likely that those places were influenced by Scandinavian design. Went through Swedish customs and The Girl freaked out by crowds and fear of being left behind. We were officially the last through the passport check and we still had 90 minutes for our flight, so she calmed a bit. Got a coffee and muffin in one of the coffee lounges at Arlanda. The benefit to not knowing the currency is that if felt like play money. I want to move in to Arlanda. I had joked with The Girl that there would be a mini IKEA in the airport. There wasn't, but the design aesthetic was everywhere. It got light around 9, when our flight took off.

Everyone on flight from Sweden to Norway spoke in Norge to us; feel like I need a sign round my neck that says "I'm sorry, I do not speak Swedish/Norwegian/Danish." that said, it gives me a thrill that I look enough like I could be from here. Told The Girl  that this is why learning a second language is important; may have convinced her to start Polish school. Norge customs nonexistent, got bags and got on flytoget, which is pronounced nothing like the English and is the express train to Drammen, stopping along city center, Lillestrom, and Sandvika, our destination, along the way.

My friend P and her daughter, Big E, met us at station. Sandvika is site of largest mall in Norway. Funny to me, since P is from Minneapolis-st. Paul. The Girl and Big E instant friends, chattering like magpies to their house. House is big, would be called duplex in US, with one adjoining wall. Simple, clean lines and colors with lots of windows. We met Little E and saw Toff. LIttle E is a stubborn 2.5y and speaks only in Norge. Big E had written us a welcome note, using Norge phonetics and pronunciation, translated to the English "Caroline and The Girl, wwelcome to ass (us)."

I was hungry, so we went to local village - Barens Verk - for lunch and some "stay awake" browsing. P told me that Barens Verk used to be an iron factory (allegedly why Hitler wanted Norway) and most of the buildings have been there for 500+ years so it is a popular spot with tourists , especially in summer. Cute and quaint, with hills and lots of gallery spaces and shops. We went to Hansen Baker, a bakery/cafe for lunch. P says it is a chain. I had ham and cheese with veggies and cappuccino, p had cheese sandwich with veggies and cappuccino, girls had vanilla bolle, chocolate muffin, cinnamon roll. Yum. Walked around shops, over bridge over waterfall. Snow melty but lots of ice. Went into chocolate house - will go back for goodies for boys before we leave, bought locally made Norge mitts for me and The Girl. My credit card didn't work - missing some kind of chip. Should have looked into that more closely before I left.

Stopped to buy firework for NYE on way back. I took a nap, The Girl played with E and e, The Girl fell asleep on front of The Princess Bride. Make your own pizza for dinner. P and T anniversary so I put kids to bed and crashed out myself. Light at 2-3, dark at 5.

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