February 22, 2015. After a quick, two-hour nap, we met up with Marcus Åhlund, the owner of Arctic Fishing Adventures, for an all-night expedition chasing the Northern Lights. And I do mean chase. Unfortunately, the heavy snowfall that had hung around all day continued to plague us in the evening. Snow is pretty — until it keeps you from seeing something you’ve traveled almost 4,000 miles to witness. Continue reading Tromsø’s Northern Lights
November 4, 2014. Let me just say, I’m in hog heaven. My new kitchen is absolutely splendiferous. Aside from the gorgeous view out its windows, it sports lots of well-organized cabinet space and a galley layout. Plus, the fridge is full-sized and the range has four burners and a small oven — rare commodities in European rentals where a dorm fridge and hot plate often suffice. But the showpiece of the kitchen is the fireplace, which I’m convinced can somehow be turned into a pizza oven, saving me hundreds of dollars. (No kidding: a large carryout pizza in Oslo costs around $100!!!) Continue reading Grocery Shopping 101
I can’t leave the topic of Midsummer in Finland without briefly describing our breakneck tour of Helsinki. So here’s a head’s up for my readers; this post is all about architecture and design, baby! As the photo above suggests, Finland’s capital feels like a big city masquerading as a small town. The immense sky dwarfs both the urban landscape and the industrial harbor, making the whole place seem deceptively Lilliputian.
And something about Helskinki’s scale and layout reminds me of a super-sized Monopoly board. Stately buildings line up with military precision along expansive boulevards and plazas like game pieces brokered during the ultimate real estate battle between heavenly beings.
Happy Midsummer, everyone! Although we’ve waved bye-bye to the official longest day of the year, in northern climes the celebration can last a full week. The sun is still hanging out near its highpoint for hours, and Scandi types use the extra daylight wisely to party like there’s no tomorrow. Which there kinda isn’t, since the lack of darkness at this latitude means it’s hard to tell exactly when one day fades into the next — especially if you’ve been enjoying some homebrew. Continue reading Midsummer in Finland
Hey folks, I planned to release this post on Monday, but major tech issues have plagued me. After spending six hours at the Apple store (argh!), my machine is now back up and running … so here we go, a little late ….
I’m jumping out of my current blog timeline for a moment to talk about Halloween, since the festivities just wrapped up this past weekend. (Plus, it’s a welcome distraction from my USA Election Day anxieties.) Halloween ranks high amongst the many odd American customs that seem to fascinate Norwegians. In fact, Norway has recently imported the trick-or-treat tradition, especially in big cities like Oslo. With that in mind, I thought my readers on both sides of the pond might enjoy hearing more about how each country puts its stamp on the event. Continue reading Halloween in Oslo & Chicago
Like most French cities, Antibes has a charming Vieille Ville (Old Town) made up of cobblestone streets that wend their way around picture-postcard houses dating mostly from the Middle Ages through the 17th century. Meandering lazily down any path will take you past timeworn fountains and churches, through sunny plazas hosting quaint shops and restaurants, and along shady lanes where you can peek into private courtyards for a glimpse of what it would be like to live there. Sounds good, right? But wait, there’s more….click on the gallery photos for captions.
When last I left you, Matthew and I were headed from Oslo to the French Riviera to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. So here’s your official notice: I’ll be departing from my central storyline (Norway) for a few blog posts in order to cover our favorite summer vacation spot — France. If you’re a Francophile like me, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the upcoming photo galleries that highlight the beauty of the region. But if you hate France (which seems to be a big theme lately in the U.S.), you can either skip this post and chill for a few days until we return to my regular programming. Or, you can swallow your bile and bravely read along. Who knows? Maybe I’ll make a convert out of you 😉
Two months after returning to Chicago, it was time to repack our bags for Norway. Matthew’s second session of school was scheduled for mid-June, and I’d planned to sightsee and blog while he hit the books hard. (Classes are typically 12 hours a day, six days a week.) But to paraphrase Robert Burns, “the best-laid plans of mice and men do often go awry.” Yes, in keeping with my usual life pattern, a comedy of errors rapidly unfolded the day we left for Oslo. By the way, this is a looooong post covering a motley collection of stories, so sit down and relax for a spell.
Orchestrating an overseas move isn’t for the faint of heart. Beyond the house hunting, packing, and other hassles that come with any relocation, there’s a mountain of immigration paperwork and legal logistics for every member of the household, both human and pet. I’d thought moving to Norway had been complicated. (Check out my earliest posts, The Move: Round 1 and Round 2.) But getting back home proved even more challenging. Continue reading Sweet Home Chicago?