Tag Archives: expat experience

Easter in Oslo

Check out this sugary sculpture ornamented with chocolate-filled eggs.
Check out this sugary sculpture ornamented with hollow eggs that each hold a variety of little chocolates.

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

Ekeberg Parken

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

Snow, Ice, and Darkness

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

Being Illiterate

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

Cross-country Skiing for Dummies

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.

Continue reading Cross-country Skiing for Dummies

New City, New Year

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According to tradition, newly graduated midwives still dance around Stork Fountain (1894).

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

A Walk at Sognsvann

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

Sledding on Christmas Day

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Dozens of sledders caught the train to the top.

On Christmas Day, the sun shone brightly for the first time in what seemed like weeks, and all was right with the world.  We donned our winterwear and headed out on the T-bane (the Metro train line) to Frognerseteren to admire the winter scenery from the mountain overlooking Olso.  A surprising number of Norwegians had the same idea, and when we pulled up to the Midstuen stop, an enormous throng of people toting sleds (called “sledges” here) climbed aboard.   Continue reading Sledding on Christmas Day

Christmas Eve

We prepared to spend a quiet Christmas all alone in Oslo.  By this, I mean that we’d been warned of two things: 1) absolutely everything is closed — even the grocery stores — from about noon on Christmas Eve through Boxing Day (December 26th).   And 2) Norwegians are quite private; Christmas Eve and Day are reserved for immediate family, so don’t expect an invitation to join anyone for the holiday.  No problem, we did our grocery shopping Christmas Eve morning and scheduled Facetime with friends and family for the next two days. Continue reading Christmas Eve

The Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt

December 19, 2014.  As usual when on vacation, we somehow ended up staying in the red light district.  I guess it’s our penchant for wanting to spend as little as possible on a hotel.  So when we found a great rate for the Holiday Inn not too far from the city center, we jumped on it without thought.  (Actually, it was quite a comfy, clean place, and the flashing neon of the nearby strip joints blended right in with all the Christmas lights.) Continue reading The Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt

Holiday Festivities & Hobbits

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“Elg” is Norwegian for “moose.”

December 15, 2014.  Gotta say, moose are pretty tasty.  One night after work, Matthew and I headed over to the Christmas Market on Karl Johan’s Gate for a bite to eat and a little shopping.  Three moose burgers later, we decided we liked the stuff.  Especially when you wash it down with a little gløgg — a mulled wine made with cloves and cinnamon, served warm with a helping of almonds and raisins.  On a tight budget, the drink can easily serve as a meal that’ll sustain you all day. Continue reading Holiday Festivities & Hobbits

2014 Nobel Peace Prize

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Despite the rather intimidating torches, goodwill pervades the crowd.

December 10, 2014.  Not much hurrah is made over the Nobel Peace Prize in the States.  But in Norway, it’s a big deal.  Each year on December 10th, huge crowds brandish flambeaux as they march down the main boulevard to the Grand Hotel, where the winners wave from the balcony.  I attended my first torchlit parade last year, and I have to say, it was a pretty goosebumpy experience Continue reading 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

The Move: Round II

December 3, 2014.  Thank God, our last trip toting giant piles of crap on a plane has come to a close.  In mid November, I had to head back to the U.S. to wrap up lots of final details for our move, including finishing our cats’ inoculations, finalizing our wills (cheery subject, that one), and making arrangements for our condo care while we’re gone.  (Big shout out and much thanks to Scott, who is our lifesaver and property manager!) Continue reading The Move: Round II

My Frogner Neighborhood

November 10, 2014.  Nightly walks to detox after long days at work have given us a decent introduction to our neighborhood.  We’ve scouted out the local watering holes — lots of quaint bars and pricey restaurants in the area —  and determined that anything related to American-style burgers is the latest hot trend.  Even McDonald’s boasts a “New York Burger,” whatever that is (never really thought of NY as the beef capital of the U.S., but okay ….)   Continue reading My Frogner Neighborhood

Hop on the Ikea Bussen!

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Despite their dreary, dim winters, Norwegians favor surprisingly dark, tonal interiors.

November 8, 2014.  Voyeurism saved my life during my first week in Oslo.  Adapting to a new job (construction), which was  quite different from my previous career (museums), made each day pretty doggone draining.  A real pick-me-up on the way home was staring out the windows of the Trikk (the electric tram above) and into neighboring homes to get a good look at Norwegian interior decor.   Continue reading Hop on the Ikea Bussen!

Grocery Shopping 101

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

The Move: Round I

November 3, 2014.  Fourteen hours, eight suitcases, and several drinks later, we’ve finally made it to Norway.  So much for Round 1 of our international move.  Because Matthew’s transfer is for only a year, shipping everything on a slow boat didn’t seem to make sense; hence the large number of suitcases.  However, I must confess that this entire load of luggage consists of nothing but my wardrobe, since Matthew’s closet made the trip with him during his initial move in mid October. Continue reading The Move: Round I