Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas;

We had the most wonderful Christmas this year. Every year of our marriage we, have driving for many hours and spent a few day with our families in Boston Mass. Both sides of the family live with in a few minutes of each other, which makes visiting a little easer. On the flip side however, Christmas day has always felt rushed and hectic. It always seemed that as soon as we had settled at one house, opened gifts, and had a little conversation, we had to leave to travel to the next house. It is a lot of fun seeing everyone, but exhausting. We would wait until we returned home to open our gifts to one another.

Well this year we have our Christmas at home. We decided not to travel back to the states for the holiday. We have only been here for five months and we could just not justify the cost of the flight. We bought and sent all of the families gifts back in October, and they sent our gifts to Norway.

To get our tree we walked a few blocks down to a tree lot, and pick out a small tree. Together we carried the tree home, set it up, and decorated the tree with ornaments I have been collecting in the countries we have visited. We bought a few bulbs to fill in the extra spaces, as well as lights and a silver star.

On Christmas Eve, I prepared dough for us to make cookies, and for cinnamon buns in the morning. We filled the stockings and arranged all the gifts under the tree. We lit the tree, set a fire in the fireplace, snuggled under a blanket and watched a movie. At midnight we kissed and were blissful in the moment. The night was cozy, warm, and relaxing.

Christmas morning we got up about ten, made tea and cinnamon buns, and sat down to open stockings and gifts. Ben and I took our time and enjoyed exploring each gift as it was opened. When everything was opened, we cleaned up the wrapping paper, and organized the gifts back under the tree. The rest of the day was spent playing with all our new “toys”. Ben got me “Dance, Dance Revolution two”, so I spent most of the day with that. Ben had fun playing with a marble game that goes on the refrigerator. He also explored the new camcorder we had received. Later in the day we both called our families to exchange thank yous for all the gifts.
I made a roast for dinner with all of our favorite side dishes. Ben and I spent some time baking sugar cookies together for dessert. After dinner we sat in the living room reading some of the new books. I played my game a little more, and Ben tried it out as well. All and all the day was exactly what we wanted, relaxing and calm. It is very likely that we will be returning to the states for Christmas next year, so it was nice to have Christmas ourselves this year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Germany

Ben surprised me last week by telling me we were going some place for my birthday. All he would tell me was that we were going to another country and that he would give me a hint every day until Thursday. His clues included “We can uses our Euros there”, “we will be gone for three days and four nights”, “we have never been there before”, and “it is not France”.

Finally Thursday came and he revealed that we would be going to Germany. He had been invited to a company called “Frog logic” to discuss issues with a computer documentation system. He would be busy with that for two days, but we will be staying for an extra day to go sight seeing together on my birthday. He divulged that we would be leaving Friday night, and would return Tuesday morning. I ran around packing, getting together all the travel papers, and buying film.

The next night we were off. The flight only took about an hour and fifteen minutes, so before I knew it, we had landed. Simon and Harald, who come from Germany, had also been invited to join in the discussion. Having them with us was extremely convenient. They spoke to the cab driver, and the man at the hotel’s front desk.

While the boys went to the Frog logic offices, I explored the city of Hamburg. There were many churches and towers exemplifying a broad range of architectural design. My favorite was St. Nicholas, which had been bombed in the Second World War. The city never rebuilt the church, so only the tower and a bit of wall remains today. Even though the church was destroyed, the remaining bell tower an inspiring example of rococo design.

One of the popular churches to visit is St. Michaels, which offers an observation deck atop the bell tower. You have a choice of riding in an elevator, or climbing over three hundred steps to the summit of the church. For some reason I still cannot fathom, I chose to climb the stairs. The views were amazing from any point on the three hundred and sixty degree platform.

I visited a museum that was featuring the history of image entertainment. It began with original shadow puppets from the 17th century and continued to how television and 3D pictures work. The exhibit also showed an amazing collection of picture boxes from the 18th century. In the main gallery a man was creating siluets of the patrons, not with light, but by cutting the profiles directly in to back paper. It was amazing to watch him snip the paper with tiny scissors, never even sketching an outline.

Throughout Hamburg, the city was celebrating the holiday with a Christmas market. Booths were set up in all the squares selling merchandise, food, and glugg. Glugg is a traditional hot drink served at Christmas. It is a liquor based drink, mixed with orange and a plethora of spices. Christmas music was being played in many languages throughout the markets. There were lights and decorations everywhere including large nativity sets, hand carved out of logs.

On Ben’s day off (my birthday) we wondered the city enjoying the sites I had located earlier. We took a boat tour of the harbor, and adjacent channels leading in to the city. We saw the “Queen Mary Two” as well as the old brick warehouse’s that line the city’s harbor. We were also able to go to some local malls to pick up a few things. We had a great time on our second trip to a new country. It was an amazing and wonderful birthday surprise!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Christmas party;

Trolltech recently had their annual Christmas party. It was located at the local pub and was a lot of fun. The party started with the “master of ceremonies” Trenton, discussion what a “Julebord” was with Jason. A “Julebord” is the word for a Christmas party, and Jason wanted to know what you eat at a Norwegian “Julebord”. Trenton described all the foods that Norwegians eat at Christmas, like salted, dried and smoked lamb ribs, cod with its liver, lute fish, and a ribbe-rib roast of pork. Jason asked if these were some of the foods we would be sampling tonight, to which Trenton replied, “ Oh god no! That stuff is disgusting! We are having Cajun tonight.”
The Cajun menu included catfish, spicy potatoes, chicken wings, and other typical Cajun dishes. During dinner every table was expected to sing Christmas carols. The words were provided on each table for carols from Germany, Norway, and America. Our table took the easy way out and sang, “Deck the Halls”. Dessert was a plethora or sweet treats. They served chocolate pie, cheesecake, carrot cake and a fruitcake.
Through out the night we played a game to see how well the company knows the new employees. Five flyers were made up for each table featuring images of the new employees. The only thing was that the images went through Photoshop to combine four photos in to one odd looking face. The point of the game was to correctly label the twenty new employees to their respective feature. Our table came in 2nd place after getting 16 of the 20 features correct.
Some other entertainment was a skit put on by the employees, jokes preformed separately to win more drink tickets, and the president of the company doing the “Can Can” (yes sober) in full “Can Can” girl dress. The entertainment ending in the “Golden Troll Awards” which was awards to employees who best fit the made up humorous categories. The awards were troll figures spray painted gold. The atmosphere was light and fun. The night felt like a big family gathering.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving this year was an exercise in adaptively. We could not find any turkeys at the grocery stores, so a friend suggested going to a butcher shop. Coincidently, one of the best butcher shops is right down the street from our new apartment. I had to ask if they had turkeys, because I could not see any in the cases. The person I asked at first could not figure out what I wanted. Another person at the counter figured out what I wanted after I described a turkey as a “big chicken”. He ducked in the back room and rustled in the deep freezer for about three minutes. He finally produced an extremely frozen turkey that was just the size I needed.
Another item we could not find was stuffing, or even breadcrumbs. This solution was simple enough; I simply made it from scratch. The only problem I had was buying the correct spices. Before I went to the store I looked up the Norwegian word for each spice necessary to make stuffing. As soon as I had the translations, I was able to buy all the spices I needed at the grocery store.
The only item I was unable to locate was pumpkin pie mix, or pumpkins at all. The only why to solve this problem was to not make pumpkin pie. I simply made apple pie and banana bread (each from scratch) for the dessert.
We invited four friends to dinner. Simon who is German, Marius who is Norwegian, Harold who is German, and his girlfriend Septop who is from Turkey. It was every ones first “Thanksgiving” but they all had an idea of what a Thanksgiving dinner was from TV and movies. They were intrigued by the turkey, and were impressed that “Americans actually ate apple pie”. After dessert we cleared the table and played a board game together. The game “Ticket to Ride” was very appropriate because the purpose of the game is to make trains form different US cities. We had great conversations about our cultures and current events.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Moving

We spent most of Saturday moving into our new apartment. We took two trips with the suitcases, walking the twenty minutes to the new place. The best part of the move was that unpacking only took about ten minutes. The apartment is fully furnished, which also includes the kitchen being full of appliances and other kitchenware. There are lots of home touches including plants, and curtains. We were very fortunate that the lady who owns the apartment, is renting it out while she attends school. Because of this, the apartment has everything we need. There is even a double bed, which compared to the single bed we have been sharing, seems huge. There is a phenomenal closet system with pull out baskets. There is lots of extra space considering we did not bring much clothing.

An interesting feature of the apartment is the bathroom set up. In the hall way there is a room about the size of a small closet that houses the toilet. There is a small sink to wash your hands, and that is it. In the bedroom there is another bathroom about twice the same as the other one, with a heated floor. On one side there is a small shower, and on the other is a good size sink with a cabinet below. There is also a good-sized medicine cabinet. So we have a shower room, and a water closet.

As far as other rooms go, there is a living room with a fireplace, the bedroom and the kitchen. I have yet to explore everything in the kitchen, but it is in need of a good re-organization. In the kitchen there is also a washing machine, dishwasher, and even a microwave. The windows in all the rooms are large and you can see the “kebab” vender on the corner.

There are lots of stores in out new area, selling everything from toys to fruit. There is even a local butcher shop. We went to an electronics store and we bought a cable modem so that we finally have Internet in our home. We also signed up for cable, and we ended up getting a digital cable box. We are borrowing a TV from Marius, but hope to get our own this weekend. All in all everything is settling down and life is getting back to our normal routine.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A White Halloween

We awoke this morning to discover it had snowed during the night. The snow was still falling, as a light lazy flurry. The total amount of snow was enough to cover the grass and only allowed the tips of fallen leaves to poke thru. There is a thick icing like layer of snow on top of all the cars. The trees have not yet lost all of their leaves, which makes for a white yet colorful landscape.

A little walk behind Trolltech there is a large hill besides a man made waterfall. The kids in the area were having a wonderful time with the first snowfall by sledding before and after school. So even though it is technically still fall, and Halloween has yet to a cure, winter has begun in Oslo.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friends moving back home

Two of our good friends have decided to leave Trolltech and return to their home countries. The first person to leave is Zack. Zack has decided to return to the states after having a hard time adjusting to a new country. He is a vegetarian and has found it hard to find the assortment of meals he was used to in the states. Zack was also used to playing basketball and riding a skateboard with his friends back home. He has tried to get in to a basketball league here, but he says it is not the same. He has toughed it out for about five months, but now has decided to return home.

Our other friend that is leaving is Boris. Boris is from Croatia and has a young daughter. Due to some family issues, Boris has decided to resign from Trolltech and return home. Boris has also only been at Trolltech for a short time, about four months.

I cannot begin to express how much we will miss them. It seems that we are with them at least once a week. We have gone to museums with Boris, and Zack comes over for dinner often. Luckily in the computer profession, there are many conferences and worldwide meetings. I know we will see them at one of these functions, but I will miss them on a day-to-day basis.

There is one good occurrence for Boris leaving, as cruel as it is to say it. Boris had recently leased an apartment and now has to break his lease. Ben and I have agreed to take over the lease and move in to his apartment. So we finally have an apartment of our own. It is about a twenty-minute walk from Trolltech’s current location. However when the new office opens on December, Ben will only have to walk for ten minutes. We will be moving next weekend, and we are currently setting up the cable and Internet services.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fun things going on

We try to get out of the house and do something together whenever we can. One activity we did together was to go to ceramic store on the corner. It is basically like a “color me mine” where you pick out a pre-made ceramic item. The items vary from simple cups to piggy banks and vases. I painted a water jug to uses as a flower vase. We are planning to return for another date soon.

There is a small stream that runs thru Oslo, that we live about five minutes from. All up and down the stream you can find many small clusters of ducks. In the past we have always forgotten to bring bread on our walks to feed them. The other day we realized we had some bread that had gone stale. So we saved the bread with the intent to take it on our walk. However when we left the house, we had once again forgotten it. We walked home just to get the bread, and we were finally able to feed the ducks. It was a lot of fun feeding the ducks especially when groups of them came from up and down the river when we started feeding just a few of them. Ben took some pictures.

There was a film crew directly out side of our apartment filming a scene for a local soap opera. They shutdown the street and spent the entire day filming a boy and girl talking, and then the boy backs up and gets hit by a car. He stands up and is fine. The scene ended with the boy and girl hugging. The boy did his own stunt, and it was fun watching all the takes of him getting hit by the car in different ways. I doubt we will ever see the show this scene was intended for, but is was interesting to see the filming from the living room window.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Alone again

Jason moved out of the apartment, and in with his girlfriend Pam. Pam’s job transferred her to Norway, and Jason decided to move with her. Pam’s transfer did not go in to effect until now, so Jason has just been waiting for her to move. Pam’s company is providing her with an apartment, so she did not need to locate one on her own.

Now that Jason is gone, we have the apartment to our selves. As of right now, Trolltech has not hired any one else so we might be alone for a wile. Of course if any business associates arrive for a meeting, they will stay with us.

We are still in search of an apartment of our own. We have been looking for one on-line and in person. Trolltech is moving to a new office building in December, so we are mostly looking in the area of the new office. We are looking forward to moving out, so that we can finally finish unpacking and be all moved in.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Underwater bar

We went to a bar a few block away from us with a large group of guys from Trolltech. It is called “The Underwater Bar” and has a matching d├ęcor. The walls and ceiling were painted with ocean murals, and schools of colorful schools of fish. On all the walls were displays of artifacts supposedly from the ocean floor. The bar had an upstairs reachable by a “dock” bridge and a down stairs representing underwater. The group of us sat down stairs in a corner next to a salt-water fish tank.

The thing that makes this bar different is that every Tuesday and Thursday is Opera night. They show Opera on a large screen TV over the door, and at seven and nine PM, students from a local college sing Opera live for the patrons. Two women took turns singing ballets with a live piano acompiment. To end the performance, both girls sang a lovely duet. The second performance started with a violin solo, and a violin/ piano duet. The second act also sported a different program of classic Operatic melodies.

All in all, it was lots of fun to be out with so many “trolls”. We took up an entire section on the down stairs with our group alone. We (they) drank and told stories from Spain and everyday life. The conversation eventually ended up returning to talk of work and the currents “bugs”. The live Opera was wonderful, and a welcome cultural treat.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The quest for Ricotta cheese.

I try to have Zack over for dinner once a week. I feel bad that he always eats out, or eats what is left over at Trolltech. Zack is a vegetarian, so I normally feed him pasta. I decided to make lasagna because it would be a little different, and yet still safe for Zack to eat. I found a proper pan, and all the ingredients except one, Ricotta cheese. I looked in every store near us with out success. I even went to my favorite little “mom and pop” shop but no one knew what it was, or sold it.

I went with Ben to work one day and asked some of the HR people if they knew where I could find it. Only one person knew what I was talking about. She had lived in the USA and had also gone on a hunt for the cheese when she had first arrived in Norway. She told me about a little Italian grocery store that sold it. She had not been there in a long time, but they should still carry it. It would take about a half hour to get there on the bus, so I started out. I found the street I was sent to, and walked to the address I was given. When I arrived there I did not find a grocery store, I found a gas station. I walked up and down the street hoping that the number was wrong, but again I could find nothing.

I returned to the bus and went home very disappointed. On my way I stopped at my favorite “mom and pop” store to pick up some vegetables for dinner. As I walked to the casher, I saw a boy unpacking a new shipment of Ricotta cheese in to the fridge. I was ecstatic as I realized my search was over.

Happily the lasagna came out well, and everyone enjoyed it. It feels good to make familiar foods that Ben and I enjoyed in the USA. It can be difficult at times to find all the ingredients needed, but in the end it is worth it.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Dinner Party

We were invited to a dinner party at Harold’s apartment the other Sunday for a non-birthday party. We have never been to a dinner party, so did not know what to expect. We have gone to other people’s houses for dinner and had people to our house, but it was never classified as a “dinner party”. It was always, “want to come over for dinner?” I instantly had images of the 1950’s with proper table setting and martinis. Again my images of what a dinner party is was in need of help. Basically it was a group of people eating and talking around a table, just like Ben and I do and how we both grew up with our families.

Then menu was as an interesting blend of cultures as were the people at the table. There was homemade bread and salad with different dressings for the first course. Dinner was Eggplant curry over rice, which was a Turkish recipe. Dessert was a dish called, Kaiserschmarrn, which was a pancake like substance, ripped up and added to an egg based liquid. Fruit is added and the whole thing is cooked in a pan and served with ice cream and applesauce. This recipe was an Austrian dish.

Harold, who is German, and his girlfriend who is from Turkey, made all the food. Also in attendants were Marius-Norwegian, Simon-German, Zack- Polish, and Trenton-American, which made for the best part of the dinner, the conversation. Normally when I am with computer guys, the conversation is almost entirely about computers. This night however we had almost no discussion of work. Instead we talked about world politics, and customs. We discussed the German elections and the state of New Orleans. There were debates about policies the European government has on Turkey, and India. The conversation was light though, with jokes and stories every ones has had. We even discussed the different news sources including the Daily Show.

Ben and I have debates and conversations with each other, but we have never been able to discuss these topics with anyone else. We never lived close enough to Ben’s offices in America, to be able to hang out with intelligent people. And lets face it; the three year olds at my work have a limited understanding of the world’s movements. It was so refreshing to be able to discuss topics with people who have a better understanding of the European markets and culture. To be able to have intelligent debates and informed conversation was a refreshing change to be a part of.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

We are now Norwegians

Well not really but a Norwegian says we are. Our friend Marius took us out for a hike, which is the normal outing for Norwegians on Sunday afternoons. We took a bus and the subway to get out of the city. About thirty minutes north we ended up in a forest. There was a large lake and trails all over. The woods were “real” woods, which had wild animals in it. It takes three days to walk across it, and there are no fences to keep things in or out. It is like a smaller version of Yellow stone, only totally wild. We did not see any animals, not even a squirrel (another thing I have not seen since we moved here), but Marius told us how he has seen everything from Moose, Lynx and Bear.

Marius lead us through the woods and up some rock faces. The trail was slippery, rugged, and skinny due to the fact that other hikers made it. We all slipped and fell, and got very wet and dirty. We ended up at a cabin that served food and hot drinks to the hikers (skiers in winter). We ate our packed lunch and Marius had hot coffee. In the cabin there were little troll figures, not like the cartoon image that is popular in the tourist shops, but a more classic looking image. We took the main path back down, which was much easier but not as much fun. Marius told us that next we should spend the night before going on a long weekend camping trip.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Homesick


Some of the people at Trolltech have asked us how we are handling the home sickness? They all seem surprised when we tell them that we are not home sick at all. I’ll admit that we miss some of our belongings, but that is just because we have had them for a while and we still want them. Like our furniture and our collections. Of course we miss our families, and we will miss our three nephews growing up. When we left the youngest was only a year old. However we have lived in a different state then our families for three years. So missing the boys grow up is unfortunately not something new to us. Not seeing our families more then twice a year is also not new to us. So we really can’t miss them more now then we did in New Jersey or on Long Island. We have gotten used to moving around and an unfortunate by-product of that is getting used to saying good-bye to friends and family.

But as far as being home sick goes, how can we be? After all, we are home. I mean think about it. We live here, we work here, and we have friends here. We are forming routines here, and having new experiences. Most of all though, Ben and I are together here. We are our own family and have been for more then just three years. We are our own support structure. So it does not matter where in the word we live. As long as we are together we are always home. So if we are always home together, then how can we ever be home sick?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Spanish wrap up

All in all we had a great time. I was able to experience the city, and Ben was able to code all day. One other activity we were able to do together was a beach party. The city of Malaga put together a beach party for the developers at the conference. They served sardines and had an open bar. It would have been really nice if most of the developers had not taking advantage of the open bar and gotten really drunk. A lot of them got the idea to go skinny dipping. So the guys for Trolltech, Ben, and I walked on the beach and talked. It was an interesting experience to remember Spain by.

It was nice to go shopping in Spain because the currency was Euros, which is much easer to figure out then Krones. Also everything was much cheaper then it is in Norway. I was able to buy a few tools for half the price they would have been in Oslo.

It was nice to get home and return to our routine. We discovered that ten days is a little too much time to be away from home. I would guess that a week is the perfect amount of time to go away, before it starts to get boring. That said we are looking forward to our next adventure.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The language barrier

Norway has spoiled us with the knowledge that we can easily survive in a foreign country with out speaking the language. Almost every one in Norway speaks English, and going shopping or going to a restaurant is never a problem. We naively thought that Spain would be the same way. We quickly discovered all menus were only in Spanish, and getting directions required a photo of where I wanted to go. I had to take a taxi back to the hotel one day, but was unable to correctly pronounce the name of the hotel. I resolved to show the driven hotel door card. It had the hotel logo printed on the front. The driver understood and I arrived at the hotel a few moments later.

We learned to point a lot in Spain. You would be amazed at the number of uses for pointing in a foreign country. For example, you can order food. If the menu has photos then you can just point to the picture. If you see another patron eating something appetizing, then just point to it when the waiter comes for your order. It may be a bit rude, but you do not have many options.

You can also get directions by pointing. When I was walking to the Picasso Museum, I got turned around in the many side streets. I stopped a man passing by and pointed to my photo of the museum. I then pointed to the street I thought I needed to take and looked at the man and shrugged. He smiled and said “si”. A few moments later I found the museum.

We did incounter one situation where pointing was of no help. Ben, myself and four other “trollies” got stuck in the hotel elevator. Instead of going up, the elevator took us to the bottom of the shaft. The doors would not open, and the elevator would not move. Now this situation was not like in the movies and TV, were there are two people in a very large elevator. They sit and talk and laugh. Well we were in an elevator with six people that was only big enough to hold eight. Even thou it was not full it was very tight and heating up quickly.

We pressed the alarm button and a voice came on the speaker. She did not speak English. We asked for English but apparently no one in her office spoke it. She was asking us questions we did not understand, and had no hope of answering. Finally Ben suggested trying to manually open the door. Two other guys helped and thankfully it opened. We had to step up a bit, but everything worked out fine.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Spanish cuisine


Now anyone who knows Ben and myself know that we are simple eaters. We do not eat many spicy dishes, and tend to be a little picky with our food choices. I was relieved when our first meal was pizza, and the hotel restaurant had a wonderful grilled chicken breast. Ben and the guys often stayed at the conference until 9 o’clock, so most nights I ate at the hotel alone. My favorite part of the meal was the dessert. My favorite one was a double chocolate moose. It had a white chocolate mosses on top, and a milk chocolate layer on the bottom. Between the layers was a dark chocolate syrup with hazel nuts in it. This is probably not a local dish, but it was still good.
Sardines
I would guess that Sardines in Spain are the equivalent to chicken in the USA. Every restaurant has them roasting on an open fire. We went to one restaurant right on the beach where no one spoke English. We asked the waiter (also owner) what he would suggest and he offered the sardines. I ordered a chicken dish by pointing, and the guys ordered a vegetable dish (also by pointing). When the food arrived a plate full of assorted fried items that no one remembered ordering accompanied it. I spotted what I thought was onion rings, so I ate one. It was very good so I took another one. As I was biting in to it, Marius told me that it was a fried squid ring. Now I still think that it was good, but I did not eat any more. My mind could not get over the thought of eating squid.
Ice cream
There are a lot of ice cream parlors in Spain. The kind that has all the ice cream in a glass case arranged in long dishes instead of cardboard tubs. The ice cream was in many different flavors that we did not recognize. So we would try random variations that looked appetizing. The ice cream was not as creamy as in the USA or in Norway. It was like a combination of ice cream and Italian ice. It was cold thou, which was what we needed in the hot nights.
All thou we did not go out of our way to experience the local food, we did at least try some new stuff. One thing that makes me feel better about not getting in to the local foods was that most of the people that went to the conference became very sick with a harsh stomach bug. Although many things could have caused this virus, Ben and I were never sick. Sometimes it helps to eat what you can recognize.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sunning on the beach.

While the boys were at the conference, I took advantage of the Spanish sun and went to the beach. The beach was about a fifteen-minute walk from our hotel. The sand on the beach was a dark color and a bit gritty. There were hardly any shells or rocks to stub your toe on. There were no clouds in the sky, so the beach was covered in umbrellas and beach tents. The water was a cool retreat from the intenseness of the hot sun, and I must say that swimming in the Mediterranean Sea was very cool. I spent a few hours swimming, tanning and reading during the week.
Before we left, I went to the bookstore and bought two new books for the trip. “The Secret Life of Bees”, by Sue Monk Kidd, and “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. I figured that in ten days I could finish one, and get halfway thou the other. Unfortunately I underestimated my reading skills and by the fourth day I had finished both books. Luckily I enjoy reading books more then once to find details I might have missed the first time.
By the end of the ten days all my burns have melted away to form a nice even tan. The boys however are all as white as the day we arrived. They had fun in the lecture halls so in the end we all enjoyed our stay.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Out and about in Spain

Even though going to Spain was a vacation for me, Ben had to go to work every day. I spent most of my time sight seeing alone. I had a great time roaming the city and traveling on the busses to the local sites. While in Spain I was able to visit these exciting attractions:

Laguna de Fuente de Piedra nature reserve;
The lagoon is about an hour away from the city. I got directions and grabbed a bus. The bus was similar to a Gray Hound bus with cushion seats and curtains in the windows. When the bus arrived at the station in Andalusia, I walked for a half hour down the highway to the Lagoon.
The Lagoon is the most extensive one in the area and is the second most important one Europe. It is also an important site for the largest colony of flamingos in the Iberian Peninsula. The water is deep blue and surrounded by lush foliage. So I am sure you can imagine my disappointment when I arrived at the reserve only to find a giant sand pit. Of all the people I asked directions to in the past two and a half hours of travel time, no one thought to tell me that the lagoon dries up at this time of the year. I had to wait two more hours for the bus to return, and another two until I returned to Malaga. So in total I spent about seven hours going nowhere. The bus trip went thru the mountains, so at least that part was neat.

Alcazaba;
The Alcazaba is a military fortress built be the Moors in the 11th century. The fortress lies on a hilltop with amazing views of the town and the sea. The hike up the steep sloping walk way was an extreme work out. On the way up I met a lady named from Florida named Malaina. She could speak Spanish, so she translated all the sighs for me. She is afraid of heights, so I helped her gather the courage to climb the stairs to the top of all the towers. It was a wonderful time exploring all the nooks of the fortress. I ended going twice, once by myself and once with Ben. When I went the second time with Ben, we discovered a section of the ruinis that I had missed with Malaina. The archatecure was inspiring even though to get there caused you to loose a pound of sweat.

The Roman Theater:
The Roman Theater is located just below Alcazaba, but was not discovered until 1951. It is thought that the last event at the theater accrued the 3rd century and that the Moors used elements from the theater to build Alcazaba. Today the theater is mostly closed off, but there are a few stone rows the public can sit in.

The Picasso Museum;
Picasso was born in Malaga and there is an impressive collection of his work on exhibit at his museum. There were examples from all of Picasso’s phases of art, and some of his sculptures. The most interesting display was a sequence of sketches showing the progression how a painting of his developed. There were a few progressions that actually ended in the finished work. It was fascinating to see how his thoughts and ideas changed thru the six sketches of the same piece until the finished painting.

A bullfight
I never thought that I would attend a bullfight. The violence and cruelty has turned me off the sport since I first realized how the bulls suffer. However like I said, I was eager to experience the culture and events of Spain. So I was open to the idea of going to one. When I read about one on Thursday, I figured that since I would never be in Spain again, it would be my only chance to see a real Spanish bull fight. So I boarded the bus and went to the near by city of Torremolinos where that nights fight was being held. I had to walk about a half hour to the ring where I found two German tourist that spoke English. The also spoke Spanish so they helped me get my ticket and I sat with them during the fight. They were very interesting to talk to, and they brought a bottle of wine to the fight that I thought was strange. They thought that I was strange for not drinking any so it worked out. I will not go in to the details about the fights for it was bloody. Although it was violent, sad and horrific, it was also strangely exciting and exhilarating. At least until the matadors started to stab the bulls. There were six fights, but after four I had seen enough and decided to leave. Watching the crowd’s reactions was another experience. They would whistle if they did not like how the fight was progression, and would wave white cloths if they were happy. If the crowd really liked the fight, they would throw their hats in to the ring so that the Matador could throw them back. All in all it was an interesting experience that although horrific, I am glad I went.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The ambience of Spain;

Spain was both beautiful and ugly at the same time. The environment was breath taken. The ocean meets a deep blue cloudless sky, which met at the horizon in a way that seemed seamless. The city of Malaga is surrounded by towering mountains and doted with palm trees. The sun was warm and constantly beet down on us. A cool breeze and zero humidity made us forget the temperature reaching to the 100’s. Ancient structures rise between modern buildings. Thick defensive damping walls ascend high above city streets, lining the old Moors fortress. The combination of the natural environment, the hot weather, and the ancient architecture made our trip to Spain worth the aggravation of travel.

On the other side of the scope, the city itself left much to be desired. The only word to describe the city is dirty. Where our hotel was located we could see many empty lots coved in litter. Due to the lack of rain, the city is very dusty. A thin layer of dust blankets most cars you see. All of the sidewalks are tiled in differing patterns thru out the city. Normally this would be an intricate detail that adds charm to any European city. However this same tiled sidewalk in Malaga is dotted with the resident’s dog droppings. The last thing that takes away from the beauty of Spain is the smell. There is a smell thru out the city that stops you from taking a deep breath. The dust in the air forces you to cough now and then, no matter how many shops you enter. The worst smell was one similar to sulfur. I do not know where it was coming from, but every three blocks or so, you would be impaled with a strong sulfur odor. It would last for about a block and was so pungent that it would linger in your throat, even thou the smell was undetectable.

Even though the city’s hygiene was not on par with the landscape, our time in Spain was wonderful. I took advantage of what the city had to offer and soaked in the natural beauty of Spain. You make your own enjoyment of a new experience based on your egerness to take in a culture or event. I was so excited to explore Malaga and its landscape, that I hardly noticed the city’s condidtion. We had a wonderful time, and made the most of this one chance trip
A return to cold weather

Well we are finally home. I will spend some time today writing with more details. In short we had a wonderful trip, and have lots of stories and photos.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Spain

We are off to Spain for 10 days. Trolltech always attends the annual KDE conference, which is held in different countries each year. Ben will be going with a group of other “Trolls”. I am also going to do some site seeing and visit some important anthropology sites. Ben will most likely be able to skip a day or two of the conference to join me in investigating Spanish culture. We are leaving on Thursday the 25th and will be returning Sep. 4th. It is strange, that going to Spain does not seem like a big deal to us. I guess the novelty of going to a country in Europe wears off when you live here.
It is suppose be in the 90’s when we arrive. After having the comfortable weather of Norway for so long, I’m sure the heat will come as a shock to us. It will be the first time we will have needed to wear shorts this summer. We are taking two cameras with us, so we are sure to be able to get some great photos. They will all be online as soon as we can get them up. I’m not sure how much Internet access we will have in Spain, so this might be my last entry for a while. In any event I’ll fill you all in about our trip as soon as we get home.
Walking is good.

Everyone walks here. Most of the people walking by us are in great shape. It is good exercise as well as providing time to be able to talk, away from the distraction of home life. It decreases the stress in your life, as well as the pollution in the city. These are all valid reasons for walking, but I have a better one. You find money. Ben, Zack and I were walking home, taking the long way. Ben and Zack were talking about some computer program, and I was looking around. Both Ben and Zack were so involved in there discussion that they stepped over a piece of paper. Since I was looking around my surrounding, I took a second quick look at it and stopped. I picked it up and happily showed it to them. It was a 50 Krone paper note. It is about the same as $10.00 in the US. There was no one around so I kept it. So go out for walks, it is good for you and you might find money.
Our stuff came :)


Before leaving Boston we mailed five boxes to our selves in Oslo. Four of the boxes would take 4-6 weeks, wile the last one will take 8-10 weeks. They were filled with winter clothing, books, computer items, and a few things that would not fit in the suitcases. I jumped in the air when we found out the boxes had arrived. Because the boxes were heavy, we borrowed the dolly from work, and walked down to the post office. We brought them back to Trolltech, where I happily went through each box. We now have some new reading books, and my favorite cookbook. Ben got some of his tech books, and we got some projects to work on. The last box is filled with the rest of our books. I will be glad when the last box arrives. It feels like we have not totally moved in yet, simply because we still have items in transit. The only problem with receiving our stuff now, is that when we get our own apartment, we will have more stuff to put in the taxi.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pubs
As I teenager I never went to any clubs or bars with my friends. My only knowledge of what they were like came from movies and television. Bars were always painted as dark and dangerous, where you can get drugged, hurt, or raped. Well the real thing is very different. The first pub we went to was inside a jazz store. There was live music and a bright atmosphere. All the roommates went together, plus Simon (who has moved out). Zack is a straight edge guy, which means he does not put anything in his body that could alter his perception of reality. At the top of the list are liquor, drugs, and caffeine. He is also a vegetarian and does not believe in promiscuous sex. I do not like the taste of liquor so while the rest of the guys had a beer while Zack and I had hot chocolate. The movies also never showed hot chocolate being served at a bar.
After the beer and chocolate was finished, we moved to another pub in town. This one was just a pub with a DJ and dimmer lights. This one did have sofas, and upholstered chairs. The guys again had beers, while Zack had an ice tea. Overall I have realized that pubs are just a nice place to go and talk to your friends on a Friday night. If you pick a nice one, there is nothing to fear and if you are responsible with the alcohol then everyone has a good time. No one messed with us, and no one else even talked to us. Even a pub in the middle of a capital city could teach that movies and reality is very different.
Girls
There are not a lot of girls in Trolltech. There are some, but they are mostly in the HR department. There are no girls that I can really talk to around here, and I find my self surrounded by the guys every day. I had a little bit of a reprieve the other week when Jason’s girlfriend Pam came for the weekend. Pam works for a cruise line company and is moving to the main office here in Norway. Due to her moving, Jason looked and found a job in Norway so they can stay together. Jason’s job started first so he moved here while Pam finished work on a cruise ship she had just inspected in Germany. Pam is moving here in September, in to an apartment supplied by her company. Jason will be moving in with her as soon as she arrives permanently. She came for a visit to see Jason for the first time in six months. It was different having a girl in the house for the weekend. It was nice to talk to someone about the guys, and about emotions. It was funny how the house suddenly smelt like perfume and hair products. Even though her stay was short, I am looking forward to September when Pam will be here to stay.
Boris’ wife Lilly had arrived with their daughter Emma. I have not been able to spend a lot of time with Lilly yet, but have talked to her at the office. She is trying to get her bearings and a just to an apartment after living in her own house. I got to play with Emma for a while, even though we cannot understand each other. It is a good thing that interactive play does not need language to succeed. I hope to spend more time with Lilly, especially when we get our own place. I can understand how she feels being alone all day.
After we were in the paper we were contacted by a girl who moved here from Wisconsin, to marry a local Norwegian man. We went out to dinner with them and I was able to trade stories with her about living in a new country. She understood the boredom of not being able to work, or go to school until the visa comes in. She gave me some good tips about Norwegian culture and living practices. We are planning to get together again as soon as they get back from their vacation. My hope is to get a small group of girls together so that we can go out together and help each other with the trials of a new country. Like I have said before, I love spending time with the guys, but now and then you just need the understanding of another girl.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Frisbee

Last week some of the guys at the office decided to go out and play ultimate Frisbee. For those of you who do not know what that is, here are the basics. There are two teams each with a goal. You pass the Frisbee to your teammates in an attempt to pass it to a team member in the opposite goal. Once you are holding the Frisbee you cannot move, but everyone else is free to run around or block your pass. It is kind of like basketball with goals.
It was my intention to read in the sun wile they played, but they were so into the game that I had to take pictures of them. The photos I took just did not capture the intensity of how the guys played. They were literally diving for the Frisbee, and jumping on each other to get the Frisbee away from the other team. One guy fell hard and sprained his ankle, and others were cut up and bloody by the time the game was ended.
Now I love Ben, and I have seen all the sides of him but being physically active is a side I very rarely see. We run around and chase each other, and we do physical things together, but I have not seen him play a team sport since collage. It was fun to see him running around and being active, although the next day he was very soar. We will be putting the photos I took on line as soon as we get our computer up and running.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Back to a bit of normality;

When Ben and I first got married, we carried on his family’s tradition of home made pizza and a movie every Saturday night. After a few months of this, we realized that our waistlines were growing a bit to fast. From then on, pizza was only made when we had friends over for dinner. Our friends had to help make the pizza, which made for lots of talking and fun. No matter whom we had over for dinner, they enjoyed the novelty of home made pizza from scratch.
We had invited Boris and Zack over on Saturday for a movie. I thought it would be fun (not to mention an adventure) to try to find all the ingredients and make pizza for everyone. Our first task was to find a pizza pan, which we were told might be hard to locate. Fortunately there is a restaurant cookware supply store not far from our apartment. After wondering around the shelves, I was able to locate two good size professional pizza pans.
I was then off to the corner “mom & pop” store to locate the ingredients. I was able to find everything I needed except for the yeast. I had always used dry yeast available in a packet or jar. When I could not find it, I asked the casher. Even though he spoke English, “yeast” was not a term he was familiar with. I spent a few moments using my hands to “show” the rising motion as I said, “it makes bread rise”. He had no idea what I was talking about. Luckily for me another customer was from England and knew what I needed. He showed me to the refrigerator and pointed out a small, squishy cube. When I got home I opened the yeast to discover a gray pliable substance resembling clay. It had the correct smell so I began the dough.
The pizza came out pretty good for the first attempt, and they guys left no leftovers. We had a great night watching movies, and eating ice cream for dessert. We have since had the guys over for dinner a few more times. It is always a nice feeling having Zack and the guys over to eat and talk. It is starting to feel like a normal life again. Now we just have to find an apartment of our own to officially be home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New Roommates

Trolltech rents out two apartments in the building for new employees or for visiting business officials. Originally Trolltech only had one apartment. Now that the company is expanding, they realized they needed more housing for the overseas recruits. Two Trolltech employees happen to rent an apartment in the same building as Trolltech’s. When these guys moved out, Trolltech took over their lease to provide the extra space needed. The apartment we live in is on the second floor and the official Trolltech apartment, with a sticker on the door to help locate the correct apartment. We have been sharing this apartment with Simon. Simon has been here about three months, but started at Trolltech as an intern a few years ago. Simon has recently moved out after finding his own apartment. A few days after Simon left we were told that we should expect a new roommate named Jerry on Friday. Well Friday came and the door buzzed. The voice on the other end said his name was Jason. So Jerry turned in to Jason. Jason comes from Canada, and will be moving in with his girlfriend as soon as she arrives from her job in Germany. We are trying to help Jason get used to the city and give him the information he needs to know about Trolltech and Oslo.
One the fifth floor lives two other Trolltech new hires. Boris, who is from the Czech Rep. and Zach who moved to Pennsylvania after being born in Poland. Boris had to find an apartment fast, in order for his wife Lilly and two year old daughter Emma to join him. To be able to get an apartment, you first need a bank account due to the fact that all money transactions are done thru bank transfers. This process makes checks unnecessary. In order to get the bank account you need what is called a “D” number. Think of a “D” number as a social security number. Boris’ “D” number finally came in, and he was able to find and move in to an apartment in a matter of a week. He only lived in the apartment for two months.
Zach has lived here for three months. He has not had a strong drive to find a new apartment, as it is just him. He has looked on-line a bit for an apartment, but has yet to decide on one. Now that Boris has moved out, Zack’s new roommate is named Anders. Anders is native to Norway, but has been working in the US office for six months. We were not expecting a new roommate the night Anders came, but I was awake because I could not sleep. At about 1:30 A.M I heard the sound of keys in our door. I figured that someone in the building had simply stopped at the wrong floor. When I called out that they had the wrong apartment, Anders replied he was supposed to be in the Trolltech apartment but his key was not working. Apparently no one at the office had told him to go to the top floor. He had seen the sticker on our door and assumed that was where he was supposed to go. I told him where his apartment was, and hoped that Zack was expecting a new person at this hour.
It has been interesting having roommates. We go out together now and then to museums or pubs. We visit each other for dinner or movies in each other’s apartment. It is nice to have people near by that are going thru the same thing as us, and that work with Ben. They also come in handy when we are trying to find out necessary information, like where things are or how to perform certain errands. I do wish that there were more girls around, but I am getting used to the boys.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Museums

We have been trying to get to a “tourist” site every weekend while Oslo is still new. The first attraction we went to was Vigeland Park, or as we call it, ‘statue garden”. Vigeland Park is Norway's most visited attraction with over 1 million visitors every year with app. 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943), who also designed the layout of the park. The sculptures are breathtaking and the design allows you to wonder and explore all the “nooks” of the park. It was amusing to watch the tourists get in to the same pose as a sculpture for photos. I had visited this park in January when we first visited the country, and saw this garden as brown snow covered earth. The park was so much more interesting with all the flowers in full bloom and the green grass. The next place we went was to the National Gallery. There we saw “the Scream” “Portrait of Mme Zborowska” “Winter Night in the Mountains” and the Van go self-portrait. There was a large collection of Munch’s work, as well as work by Van go, Monet, Rembrandt, and many predominant local artists. It amazed us that the museum had no air conditioning or humidifiers to protect the art. We soon learned that most recognized paintings (“the Scream” ect.) were much smaller then we had envisioned them to be. There were also many small sculptures that were over looked in the corners of the rooms. While most people either ignored or over looked these statues, we found them more festinating then some “important” paintings.
Last weekend we went to the Vikingskipshuset (Viking ship) museum as well as the Norsk Folkemuseum. The ship museum has a great display of three Viking ships and objects of daily life from the 9th century. It was an unbelievable collection that thankfully, was very well preserved. I spent a lot of time studying these artifacts, and examining the finely carved wood. The building was well laid-out, with balconies available to see over the top of the ships. After the Ship museum we walked about a block to the “Norsk Folkemuseum”. This is an open-air museum similar to Massachusetts Sturbridge Village. There is a re-crated village, with displays of social customs and clothing. There is also an apartment building that dedicates an apartment from the different decades of the 20th century. One of the main structures is the “Gol Stave Church”, which was built in 1200. It is a breathtaking example of the expert architecture and carvers of the past. We brought our upstairs roommate Boris with us, who by the end of the day, was exhausted from following us all over the grounds.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

We were in the paper;
The other day, one of the HR people asked Ben if we would mind being interviewed for one of the local papers. They were doing a story on a new program to help X- patriots get settled in the country. As Trolltech relocates a lot of people from around the world they are taking advantage of some parts of the program for their new employees. Ben and I agreed to be interviewed. We were asked the usual questions about why we decided to move and how we learned about Trolltech. We explained the biggest challenges of moving to a foreign country, which was how everything is just a little different. When they took our picture we were told to tickle each other. I can only assume it was so our smiles would look more authentic, but we think we look stupid. Oh well, we are still in the paper.
We were surprised when we found out that our article was in the paper the next day. Unfortunately we found this out the day after its release. We were able to keep the copy that Trolltech had, even though we cannot read what the article says yet. The best part of being in the paper was that Ben has received three e-mails from different people originally from the states. They want to get together with us to help us find our way around the city and to just talk. Not bad for being in the country for two weeks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Getting out of the city

We have been in Oslo for a few weeks now and although we have explored, we have not left the city. When Simon got home from work, he told us he was going to the forge (the local ocean/ beach) and would we like to come? We found our bathing suits and walked down to the bus stop. The bus ride was about a half hour that took us thru the suburbs and farms outside the city. When we arrived, we first had to walk thru a forest path. When Simon finally stopped, we were on a cliff face over looking the ocean. We soon learned that this spot was where people would jump off the cliff and in to the ocean. The cliff jumps were between nine and eleven feet high. Ben and I climbed down the cliffs to a more reasonable height before jumping in. The water was glorious. It was about 75 degrees with small waves. The current was a little strong, and we had to deal with the see weed, but it was worth it.
Climbing out of the water was a bit tricky for all. You first had to get a good grip on the cliff face next to a steep slope. Once you had a good grip, you had to wait till jus the moment the waves hit your body to give you the lift you needed to get your foot on the slope. You then have to wait for the waves to roll out so you can put your strength in your leg to get up on to the slope. The sun’s reflection on the water was lovely, and the quiet was extremely peaceful after a few weeks in the city. We sat in the sun and watched some “macho guys” try to get the courage to jump of the eleven foot high jump. Only one managed it. We dried off and took some photos of the ocean. We made our way back thru the forest until we arrived at the bus stop. We returned home to a nice cool shower, removing all the salt and see weed. We slept well that night.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Barbeque.
On Sunday we went with some new friends for a barbeque. We got hot dogs from the store and bought a small one-time use grill. It looked like an aluminum baking pan, with charcoal inside. It had a grill top, and they can be obtained in any store in the city. Norway is very big on parks and the out doors. Because of this you are allowed to barbeque anywhere in the city that you want to. The guys and I found shady spot in the park and lit our barbeque. We had a great time sitting, talking and eating grilled hotdogs. We did not get home until ten pm, however due to Oslo’s northern location, the sun was still fully out.
Before we left Boston, I was told that if I was ever home sick to look at the moon. The moon always looks the same no matter what country you are in. This is a very romantic and lovely idea. Unfortunately I have not seen the moon or the stars in two weeks. The darkest it gets here is the equivalent to six A.M in the states. While this is great for the summer, I am apprehensive to experience the darkness of winter.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Our apartment;
I received a few questions about what our apartment is like so I will endeavor to describe it. To get into the apartment you have to pass through three doors. The first one is on street level and is an enormous double door. Thru this door is a wood floor hallway leading to the back of the building. The second door is in the back of the building. It is brown door with amber glass. Our apartment is on the second floor off a spiral staircase. When you enter our apartment there is a hallway with the kitchen immediately to the left.
The kitchen is a little small, but it is functional. There is a stove/oven, a double sink, refrigerator, and a washing machine. There is a table with chairs, and just enough storage space. There is a nice tall window in the kitchen that looks out on to the paved yard. Continuing down the hall and to the left of the kitchen is our bedroom.
The bedroom is much smaller then our last one, and the bed is smaller then our queen size one back home. In the room there is also a closet, and a bureau. There is window with a tree right outside, with a birds nest. The walls of the room are covered with blue wallpaper. Directly across from our room is the living room.
The living room is a good size with lots of light. There is a couch, two chairs, and a coffee table. There is a large cabinet for books and small items. The TV is on a short, long stand that also has a DVD player on it. There are two doors in the living room on either side of the TV. The left side door leads to Simon’s (our roommate) room. The door to the right is the bathroom. The two large windows look out to the street.
The bathroom has no tub. There is a drain on the floor that the shower water flows in to. There is a curtain to keep the water contained, but the floor stays flat. There is no flusher on the toilet, instead there is a button on the top of the tank. To get in to the bathroom, you have to step up. This is because there is radiant heating beneath the tiled floor all through the bathroom.
There is hardwood flooring throughout the apartment except for tile in the bathroom and carpet in Simon’s room. There are high ceilings and lamps on every windowsill. There are posters of flowers throughout the apartment and old iron stove in the corner of the living room. When we have a moment, we will post photos of the apartment for you to see.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Everything is the same and yet just a little bit different. I made a few observations of things that stick out to me as strange. I do realize that some of these things could be just a part of city life that I have never been exposed to. We went to the grocery store today. While we could identify the food, the packaging was different. There were only a few familiar brand names, and everything was in Norwegian. The M&M bags where different colors and the shampoo bottles were about half the size.
There is very little handicap accessibility here. To go in to the grocery store you had to go down an escalator and there was no elevator. Our apartment in on the 2nd floor and again no elevator. The windows open by tilting the glass inwards. There are candles in every window but few curtains.
I went to McDonald’s were I discovered the french fries were different. I still cannot put my finger on it but it had something to do with the texture of the fry. I also was told that a "large" size meal included a second cheeseburger.
The digital clock in our apartment runs on military time. The first time I saw it say 13:00, I was mystified. Later when it read 0:00 I was totally confused for a moment. The term "AM" is not used here. We discover this when we were talking to one of Bens co workers. When we said we got in at 11 am, he looked at us confused since he did not know the term.
As we walk thru the parks we noticed that there was more fathers walking children then mothers. We also noticed that children were allowed to play naked in the public fountains. As we walked threw the park there were a large number of sunbathers. I had never noticed this in the states, but again that could be from not living in a city.

Friday, July 01, 2005

We got to the airport at about 3pm on Wednesday June 29th. Arriving three hours early, we sat in the rocking chairs and each read. I read "The Da Vinci Code" and Ben read "State of Fear". We had Mc Donald's for dinner, which strangely enough had a credit card machine. We finally got to board the plane and it took off on time. Before we left, we were asked to change seats so that a family of four could sit together. The flight attendant gave us a bottle of wine for switching. After dinner we watched the movie, "In Good Company”. Finally all of the children on the flight went to sleep, so Ben and I were able to continue our books. We landed in Amsterdam at about 7am local time. We went through customs fairly quickly and got a new stamp in our passports. When we boarded the plane we were able to get a row to our selves. We took off at about 8:30 and countinued our books. We landed in Norway at about 10 and collected our luggage. We exchanged our cash for Kroners and got our train ticket’s. We went down stairs and boarded the train to Oslo. The train ride was nicer then when we came here in January. Everything was green and flowerly.
We got in to Oslo at about 11 were we found a taxi to take us to the hotel. The day before we flew we found out that the guy in our apartment had not moved out yet so we had to stay in a hotel for the night. We took a shower and then we crashed. We fell asleep at about noon and woke up at midnight. When we woke up it was still light out. Apparently the sunsets just below the horizon making it look like early morning all night. We spent the night finishing our books, and watching local TV. The hotel served breakfast at 7, so off we went for a meal of waffles and eggs. We then walked for about an hour to Troll Tech to pick up our apartment keys. Now armed with our keys, we walked to the apartment and took a look around before we walked back to our hotel. We got all our bags and called a taxi to pick us up. We spent the next three hours unpacking our four suitcases an exploring all the nooks of our apartment. Almost everything made it ok. The nail polish remover leaked (luckily I packed it inside a plastic bag) the glass in one of the frames broke, and a piece of one of Bens Transformers broke off. We went down the street and found a grocery store. We bought milk, bananas, soap, and frozen pizza. We ate the pizza for dinner wile watching "The Simpson’s", in English. We then crashed at about 6 pm