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Utstein Kloster

One of the things I like best about wedding cake season is delivering cakes to parts of Stavanger and the surrounding areas I’ve never been to before. I had one wedding that took place at an old monastary on an island north of Stavanger called Utstein Kloster (Abbey). It was built in the 1100s, which sounded pretty cool, so Chris joined me on the delivery and we spent the afternoon exploring the old buildings.

It was a cute little monastery, and a super pretty place to get married!

 

Grossest postcards ever.

 

Stockholm or BUST!

It takes 18 hours or so to drive from Stavanger to Stockholm. By some definite divine intervention, our plucky little station wagon made it to and from Sweden in one piece. We had some worrisome moments, but I tell ya…blessings come from going to the temple!

We carpooled with our friends Amerigo and Sarah and caravanned with the Steffensen clan. Amerigo and Sarah are originally from the Philipines, which meant that our car was full of a combination of English, Tagalog, and Norwegian the whole drive! So much fun!

Amerigo

 

Of course, we had to stop along the way for a Norwegian hot dog picnic.

Cousins

Rotten watermelon discus

Cousins

Mother and daughter.

 

We wound along the southern coast of Norway, stopping for church in Kristiansand along the way. It was a seriously gorgeous drive! We passed fjords, lakes, rivers, and countless waterfalls. I don't think I will get over how beautiful Norway is as long as we live here. We stopped for the night in Drammen (just outside of Oslo and about half-way to Stockholm) and stayed the night with our stake president's family.

Our stake prez. and wonderful son-in-law.

 

We crossed the border into Sweden the next day and the difference was strangely immediate. For one thing, the speed limit suddenly increased from 70 km/h to 110 km/h! (Go Sweden!) In addition, I had never noticed there were no billboards along the side of the roads in Norway until we started seeing them along the highway in Sweden. The landscape also suddenly became rather boring (sorry Sweden!). Where Norway is full of winding roads and small quaint towns, Sweden was one loooong tree-lined road. With red barns. Lots and lots of red barns.

Ikea in the Motherland!!

Speed bump tee hee hee! (yep, we're still 12 years old ladies and gentlemen)

 

Lake Skating

The other day I came across the bucket list I started back in high school and have updated every few years since (bucket list = A list of all the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.”) I hadn’t looked at it in at least a year or so, and guess what! I crossed off nine things! NINE things! Life is good :)

One of the things I was most excited to cross off was ice skating on a frozen lake. All through my “career” as a figure skater, I dreamed about getting to skate on a frozen lake. It always seemed so magical in the movies! But since I learned to skate in the deserts of Las Vegas, chances to check that off the list were… well.. non-existant.

Luckily we moved to Norway where we got hit with a frigid cold spell that froze all the freshwater lakes and ponds! So we took a break from our crazy work week and had fun with the ice on Mosvanet.

Skating on a frozen lake… CHECK!

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It really was just as magical as I had dreamed!

A few other things that got crossed off the list: Go on a cruise, bake a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin, visit Italy, go backpacking, and donate my hair to Locks of Love!

North Sea Beach

One of my absolute favorite things about living here in Stavanger is the fact that we are completely surrounded by water. It’s everywhere! Lakes, fjords, oceans, and harbors just pop up everywhere you turn. And because they are plentiful, they are slightly less of a novelty than say, the beaches in California. You can find random, beautiful beaches that are relatively untouched and uncrowded all over. It’s such a contrast to my previous experience with beaches in the US where they are few and far between, crowded, and touristy. Granted… Norwegian beaches are freezing… but no less beautiful!

After Mandy and Daniel’s party on Saturday we went for a quick walk down to the beach by their house in Randaberg. It was a sunny day with a complete lack of wind, which is unusual considering this particular beach faces straight out into the North Sea. So while we were bundled up in coats, scarves and gloves, and the sand was so frozen I could walk along the beach in high heels, it was a perfect winter beach day by Norwegian standards.

I absolutely love it!

 

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Cruise: Naples, Italy

“Naples?” you say. “Naples? Haven’t you already been to Naples?” Yes, yes we have. Two Novembers ago, in fact, when Chris went to Naples for work and I tagged along. So instead of doing another tour, we decided to venture off completely on our own. We already had a list of things we wanted to do:

  1. Go to Pompeii (since I couldn’t stop talking about it last time and Chris wanted to see what all the chatter was about).
  2. Get pizza at Da Michele (initiate mouth-water sequence).
  3. Get gelato.

Nice and easy :) Besides, the cruise tour to Pompeii would have given us less time and cost over $100 a piece. Getting there on our own gave us all the time we wanted, and between the train and the entrance ticket only cost us something like 18 euros each. Awesome :)

So while Josh and Kolie boarded a cruise tour to Capri and Sorrento to see a bit of the Amalfi coast….

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…. we hopped on the Circumvesuviana train to explore Pompeii!

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C² and Vesuvius

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Gladiator Style

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Pompeii the second time around was just as good as it was the first! You can seriously spend hours exploring and not see everything. We got to see a lot of the places I missed before AND they updated their maps! We didn’t get lost this time!

The next MUST-DO on our list was eat pizza at L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. We tried it on a friend’s recommendation before and we have been thinking about it ever since (I’m not even joking…it comes up every other time we eat pizza). In case you missed the previous post about it… it’s a little hole-in-the-wall pizza joint that only makes two kinds of pizza: margherita and marinara (ie with cheese and without). And really… two pizzas are all you need. Fresh, brick-oven baked, covered in balls of squeaky buffalo mozzarella cheese….::drool:: You really can’t beat it! We consider ourselves extremely blessed that we got to return to Naples and try it a second time. Although… after too much longer eating Norwegian “Grandiosa” frozen pizzas we probably would have snapped and bought a plane ticket back to Naples anyway just to eat some real pizza again!

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And of course, what visit to Italy would be complete without gelato?

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Well… that’s it for our cruise folks! We left Naples and docked back in Civitavecchia where we began our journey homeward. I’m sure you’re thinking, “It’s about time! We’ve been hearing about this cruise for weeks now! Let’s move on.”
Yes… let’s :)