European Vacation

The Burgeson's trip to London and Norway 06 is chronicled here for anyone who's interested. Enjoy!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The land of the midnight sun

Today we went into Oslo, the capitol city of Norway. We took a boat tour of the fjord and saw several cruise ships, party boats, and other assorted wooden and antique ships. We also saw vacation homes on the inner islands and the castle Anschluss from the vantage point of the sea.

Afterwards, we wandered the streets of Oslo, checking out the many shops and street performers. Everything here is clean, and tidy. The whole country is as well kept as Disneyworld. Tiana went to H&M, since we don't have one in Michigan yet. We bought the kids a few articles of clothing there to complete the experience.

We took Oddbjorn to lunch at TGIFridays (yes, they have several of them, here) so he could have an american dining experience. Oddbjorn is an excellent guide and has laid out quite a good touring program for us. We have gotten a very comprehensive overview of the area, with more to come. He also speaks good english, and can translate for us. I am learning a little Norweigan, which isn't as hard as I thought, since all of the scandinavian languages came from the same common tongue, and they can all understand each other. This includes Sweden, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, and northern Germany. There are so many similarities to German, I can pick up words here and there, and what I don't understand, Oddbjorn is teaching me.

After resting at the hotel for an hour and a half, we made our way out to Reidar Torp's home. Reidar Torp lives on five acres with his wife just outside Oslo. He originally bought a historical schoolhouse in the fifties which his daughter and her family now live in. Next door to the schoolhouse, he lives in a seperate home with his wife. On the property, he also has purchased and moved, timber by timber, two very old farm buildings. One is a Finnish building, and the other, Norweigan in origin. It was inside the Norweigan building that we ate a traditional Norsk dinner. The structure dates from the 1600's. I don't think I will ever get the chance to dine in an older building like this again!

For dinner we had porridge, to which we added cinnamon and sugar. Then, we ate salted salmon and reindeer meat. Those who weren't driving drank aquavita, a special liqour derived from potatoes and stored in wooden barrels which gave it a color similar to whiskey. Originally, it was mixed by storing the barrels on voyages aboard ships. The motion of the ships blended the alcohol.

After dinner, we had some coffee and cakes. Reidar played soccer (football), played on their trampoline, and ran around the property while we visited with the Torps. Reidar Torp was friends with William Gunderson, Tiana's relative who was a famous ski jumper. William was killed while in America, jumping in competition and also promoting a ski company. It was great for T to learn about her relatives in greater detail and to be able to ask some questions. Reidar was also a former teacher and was Oddbjorn's boss at one time when they both worked in the school administration system.

In the evening, we came back to the hotel and we are watching Switzerland take on the Ukraine in World Cup Soccer. The whole family is caught up in the world cup matches. I think the enthusiasm of the locals is drawing us in. Tomorrow we return to Oslo and we get to go to the world war II resistance museum (my idea), so I'm excited.


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