Thursday, June 28, 2012

Observations on Oslo

Originally I had hoped that this trip to Oslo would be more of a house hunting trip, but our move dates keep changing.   So instead, I tried to use this trip to explore the city and check on a few specific details that will be important to us while we are there.  
This was my dinner the second night we were in Oslo.  We went to a Spanish restaurant and I had the paella.  It was delicious, but expensive.  Everyone will tell you that food is expensive in Oslo and they are right.  Once you get over the shock you are able to enjoy yourself.  
These flowers were at a roadside farmers market on Bygdoy, right across from the Norwegian Folk Museum.  We ended up grabbing some fresh fruit to go with our lunch, it was so good.  
The colors were just gorgeous.

This is the style of stroller that almost everyone has in Oslo.  Women in Oslo get almost a year of paid maternity leave so there are a lot of babies.  People don't drive that much so they don't need the infant car seat so all the babies are in this bassinet style stroller.  They all have pretty rugged tires on them, but I guess you would need that for the snow and ice in the winter.  Norwegian parents were pros at getting the strollers up on the trams, buses and subways that traveled around the city.
This is a day care group out at the park.  This was a very common sight around the city.  The children were adorable, it made me miss the kids so much.
One thing that I was very curious was grocery shopping.  Our family eats a lot of food and I spend a lot of my time planning, buying, and cooking food.  I went into about 6 different grocery stores that were in different neighborhoods, different brands and different sizes.  This was the biggest store I came across in my travels and it was still so small.  The Norwegian currency is the Kroner or NOK.  The exchange rate while we were there was about NOK 5.93 to $1.  That would make that container of OJ almost $9.
I did not see milk sold by the gallon.
This was the extent of their cereal aisle.  
The price of Pampers seemed about the same to the US.
That yellow bag had frozen chicken and it was the only chicken that I could find in the meat section.  They had two cases of frozen fish of all different varieties.  I know it makes sense that they sell a lot of fish, it was just surprising to see so little chicken and beef.  
You could buy prawns by the pound.
This razor set is almost $40  I know what I am so thankful for my stockpile right now.  
Apple Juice was more reasonable.  
The cucumbers worked about to about $2.50 per cucumber.
The one item I didn't see at all that I was concerned about was peanut butter, we eat a lot of peanut butter.  I asked one of Jon's Norwegian co-workers and they said they do have peanut butter in Oslo, but it is not as popular.  
In all of my exploring I did find my favorite kind of store, a second hand store.  They had books, and beautiful dishes, and odds and ends and furniture.  I loved this little corner cabinet.
And it was on sale!  NOK 800 works out to $135 US.  Can you believe that?  I think I am going to have fun  furniture shopping.
This yummy tower of seafood was dinner for Jon and several of his co-workers one night while we were out.  There was a lot of seafood and the guys enjoyed it, but one surprise was that they brought it out and everything was cold.  The server thought they were a little crazy when the guys all asked for warm melted butter to dip everything in.
Our last night there we had the privilege of visiting this amazing place.  The Holmenkollen Hotel is right next to the ski jump that is visible around most of Oslo.  The hotel was originally built as a TB sanitarium in the 1880's and was used the Germans during their occupation in WW II.  The inside had been restored and it was just gorgeous.  It was a little bit of a trip to get here, but it was well worth it.  
You could see almost all of Oslo and into the fjord from up here.  
The banisters inside that had been restored.  
After a fun 5 course meal Jon and I headed outside for more pictures.  The sun was finally setting well after 10 PM.  
Everything was so beautiful.  
I took a picture of the sign so I would remember how to spell it.  
I loved the attention to detail.  
A view of the city, it was so spectacular.  
This is Stephen and Jon.  From here we went and did a little more exploring around the city, we still had some day light and the guys had seen very little of the city because they were working so hard.  In the picture you can see the end of the ski jump right behind the hotel.
I really did have an amazing time in Oslo.  I feel much more prepared to move when the time comes.  I feel like our family can have a lot of fun exploring here.  As for timing, we are still waiting to hear.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Our Travels to Oslo

Some of you know that we have been talking about the possibility of a move to Oslo sometime this fall.  The certainty and timing of the move seem to change daily.  Fortunately Jon needed to go to Oslo for business for a week and we saw an opportunity for me to get some answers to questions you have when you are contemplating moving a family of 5 across the ocean.  My Mom was gracious enough to come to Texas and watch our crew while we were gone.  This was by far the longest and furthest I have ever been away from my children.  The experience was worth every minute away and every penny spent.
Here is Jon in front of the Nobel Peace Center on our first night.
The water was just beautiful.  The weather was a little chilly, but very welcomed.

This is an area that we came back to several times for dinner, there are about a dozen restaurants lined up facing the water.
Sorry for the poor quality, I couldn't get my camera to focus on my watch.  It is almost 9:30 PM in this picture and the sun was still very bright.
Jon headed back to the hotel after a long day of travel and some exploring around the city.  
The next day I was up bright and early to explore the city.  There was one other spouse that had come for the week so we joined up for the day to see Oslo.  Our first stop was the Viking Ship Museum on Bygdoy.  
It was not a large museum, but very interesting.
This statue was outside, we were told by the concierge at our hotel to make note of it.  There was no plaque, but there happened to be an English tour guide giving them explanation when we walked by.  These two Norwegians studied Vikings and proved that Vikings were the first group to discover North America, a fact that Norwegians are very proud of.  
A short walk brought us to the Norwegian Fold Museum.  This museum has a collection of over 150 buildings from all over Norway.  There were so many that we only made it about half way through before it was lunch time.   
My legs were feeling a little weary already, I am not used to hills like these.  
After a quick lunch on the go we took another short walk to the Kon Tiki Museum.  This is a place that celebrates a Norwegian man that sailed this ship, the Kon Tiki,  across the Pacific Ocean.  

This other ship is the Ra II, another ship that he built and sailed.
Our next stop was the Fram museum.  This museum was all about a Norwegian crew and ship that went to the North and South Poles in the early 1900's.  The story of how they accomplished this was really inspiring.  
They had basically built a building around the ship, so you could get on deck and climb below.  
This is a bunk room for the crew.  The men who went out on this ship would be gone for years at a time.

Outside of the Maritime Museum, our next stop.  It was an absolutely beautiful day.

My friend, Lisa and I on our our way back to the downtown area.  The ferry was very convenient to use to get around this area.  
This is a cannon outside the Akershus Fortress and Castle.  
The view from the castle walls.  
A view of the Castle and Fortress. 
On our way to our 7th and final museum of the day I saw this side street and I thought it was a pretty good representation of the downtown area.
This sign is in the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum.  At this point we had done A LOT of walking and we were pretty worn out, but I am so glad we stumbled upon this museum.  They did a very good job providing a concise and informative look at Norway's history in war.
I thought the sign was interesting because it is from a time before Norway had discovered their own oil reserves.  They spent a lot of years carrying other countries' oil around.
This is a beautiful quilt that they had on display.  I am not sure what significance it had, there was no explanation in English for this one.  
This view is from the roof terrace of a friend's apartment.  Not bad, huh?
This part of Oslo used to be where they built ships, now they are busy building upscale housing, you can see the giant crane in the background.  
A view in another direction from the roof.  
My favorite fountain in Oslo.  It was in an area that we walked by a couple of times a day.  I love how it looks like a dandelion.  
On Wednesday I headed out on my own.  This view is from the high point in Vigeland Park.  Vigeland Park is a huge, 79 acre, park in the middle of Oslo.  There is a huge collection of statues by Gustav Vigeland.
All of the statues are of naked people in ages from a little baby all the way to older men and woman.  
This is another view of the park.  
Another statue in the park.  I would recommend going across the street to the Vigeland Museum if you get the chance.  Reading more about Gustav Vigeland and the ideas behind the statues made a little more sense.  
This is the view of the ski jump at Holmenkollen from Vigeland Park.
The fountain at Vigeland Park.
This was taken outside the botanical gardens.  I was there at the perfect time of year, everything was blooming and gorgeous.  
 Another picture to mark the time, 10:40 and we were still waiting on the sun to set.  We were lucky enough to be there on the longest day of the year, 18+ hours of daylight.  
 This year my Aunt and Uncle opened a quilt shop outside of Dallas, TX.  When we were together last we were talking about what a quilt shop in Norway would be like.  I was able to find and visit one and it was really neat.  They also have a blog if you are interested.
 This is the view of the ski jump from our hotel room.  
 Here is the real view from our hotel room.
 This is the view in the other direction, toward the water.  
It was a wonderful trip, I had fun meeting more of Jon's friends and co-workers, I got to explore an amazing city, and I got a lot of questions answered in anticipation of our upcoming adventure.  
I do have one more post with some pictures of less touristy and more day to day things that I researched while there.