March 18, 2016. Easter (known as Påske in Norway) has crept up on us early this year, and frankly, no one is ready. Last year, stores flaunted decorations and treats at least a month in advance of the big event. Now, just one week before the holiday, eggs, chicks, and chocolates are finally beginning to peek out from shop windows. Confectioners have done their level best to make up for lost time, though. Their offerings include fragile feats of sugary engineering that command their own air space and challenge the laws of physics. Continue reading Easter in Oslo
February 1, 2015. Since my recent face-smashing fall had made me a bit gun shy about the ice, we decided that walking (using crampons) as a form of exercise might be a bit safer than skiing. So on Sunday, we rode the Trikk up to Ekeberg Parken, which hovers on a distant hill outside the city proper. The more winding route we elected to ride took us through some grittier neighborhoods new to us, but marked by the passage of time with layers of graffiti and city grime. Continue reading Ekeberg Parken
January 30, 2015. It’s here. The Mørketid. The Dark Time. I’ve been dreading it; when the day is a little less than six hours long, and two of those hours are devoted to murky dawn and dusk. Christmas staved off much of the dreariness with its cheery festivities and candlelight. But now that the holiday is long gone and the snows are heavy, the darkness is beginning to get to me. Continue reading Snow, Ice, and Darkness
January 20, 2015. Yep, that’s right. Let’s call a spade a spade. I’m illiterate. I’m living in a place where I can’t read a newspaper, the street signs, ads in store windows, cryptic notes that my neighbors post in the hall, or the operating instructions for my washing machine. I can’t fill out forms or applications at the bank, post office, or dentist’s office without someone translating each line to me in English. Continue reading Being Illiterate
January 15, 2015. The stereotypes are true; Norwegians are avid (some might say obsessive) cross-country skiers. I’ve yet to pass a bus or tram stop without spotting at least one or two ski-toting folks waiting for a ride to the end of the transportation lines, where snowy forests beckon. And in the middle of the day, the train platforms are clogged with throngs of schoolchildren headed to skiskole (ski school) as part of their regular class curriculum.
January 2, 2014. Traveling to a new city seemed like a good way to usher in the new year. And we’d been told that it’s pretty quiet in Oslo, except for the crowds that gather in the parks to light sparklers. So we quickly booked a trip to Copenhagen, about an hour away by air. The trip from the airport into the city center revealed a landscape that looked — and felt — a lot like Chicago: few trees, pancake-flat terrain, lots of industry, and a cold wind that robbed us of our breath and threatened to knock us off our feet. Just like home. Continue reading New City, New Year
December 27, 2014. A couple of days after Christmas, much was still closed, so we decided to go for a walk. This time we picked Sognsvann, which we’d been told had a lovely lake that we could stroll around, as well as paths for cross-country skiing. We thought we’d join the Norwegians, who love to picnic despite frigid temperatures, so I packed a lunch of leftover pickled herring and grilled veggies, along with a thermos of hot coffee. Continue reading A Walk at Sognsvann