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17th of May (and a bunad-clad baby!)
We celebrated Norway’s Constitution Day by getting dressed up, taking some photos in our backyard, napping and eating hot dogs and dessert at Carrie and Kjetil’s house, skipping every single parade. We felt super lame and un-celebratory not going to any of the parades, but the idea of missing Lily’s naps when every minute of sleep for her was so precious was too much to handle for us so this year we played the new parent card. Next year :)

 

We celebrated in our own way though. I found an adorable little bunad on sale before Lily was born in a 3-month size and hoped hoped hoped that she would fit into it on the 17th. And she totally did! The cutest little Norway baby that I ever did see!
Even thought I thought she was the absolute cutest, Lily had other opinions about having to wear so many layers. She reminded me of that little boy at the beginning of Frozen who, when his mom said he had to wear his bunad becuase it was the queen’s coronation day, said, “but that’s not MY fault!”
We managed to get a smile or two out of her though!
Our now-traditional 17th of May pavlova at the Olsen’s. (2 years in a row makes it a tradition, right?)

Gratulerer med dagen Norway!

 

We live in a place where horses romp on the beach.

 

Some days are beach days, and there’s nothing else to be done other than to drive your toes into the sand.
(I would say “warm” sand, but hey, this is Norway ;) )
So we grabbed our new American friends, the Yates, and had ourselves a beachy afternoon at Hellestøstrand.
This horse was having a grand old time.
Partners in pregnant-hood. Erin is due the month after me.

 

A little bit of August

After Chris’ family left August mellowed out a bit.

Well… I guess mellowed out is relative. I got back into wedding season full swing at work, so not much happened apart from cake, cake, CAKE!

Here are a few highlights from the month when I wasn’t up my elbows in frosting:

  Chris on a beautiful sailing day taken by a co-crew member.

The only photo of my vegetable garden this summer.
Check out the bottom left corner. Potatoes! I managed to grow some potatoes in leftover compost bags this year and got the biggest kick every single time I tipped over a bag and out came rolling little golden balls of potato. I felt SO Little House on the Prairie :)
Other successes this year: radishes (as always), rainbow carrots (finally got them to grow long rather than little stubby nubbins), regular orange carrots, green beans (accidentally planted bush beans instead of pole beans, and holy cow did we get beans! We had to give some to our neighbors to keep up with them all!), and spinach.
Other non-successes this year: Broccoli (again), brussels sprouts, beets (again). Will have to figure that one out for next season.
First ultrasound of our little one that actually looks like a little baby rather than a lima bean!
Pregnancy “highlights” up to this point:
  • Lots of nausea, but only one bout of throwing up! I call that a win!
  • Falling asleep on the bus on a daily basis.
  • Meralgia Paresthetica in my left leg. Basically, my growing uterus is pinching the lateral femoral nerve in my pelvis, resulting in Novocaine-like numbness in my thigh that, when I stay standing too long, transitions into a burning sensation all the way to my knee. My doctors had no idea what I was talking about except for my chiropractor. The things no one ever tells you about pregnancy, eh?
  • Cravings: Carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Basically…the more pasta the better.
  • Aversions: Strangely, chocolate. Most detestable? Chocolate cake both in smell and taste. Go figure.
Double rainbow over the sheep farm.
Our landlord LOVES crab fishing. One day he surprised us with a bunch of freshly caught crab claws and home-baked bread to make crab rolls. So delicious! My mouth is watering again just writing about it!

 

One of the highlights of August was the wedding of our dear friends Yrjan and Desiree. They tied the knot up in Bergen in an ancient old church and had their reception near a gorgeous fjord so Chris and I got to have a lovely weekend trip out of town for the event! The whole wedding had a Norwegian/American flair with so many personal details to Yrjan (Norwegian) and Desi (American). It was a blast! It also happened to be the day after our 4th anniversary, so the trip was a perfect way to celebrate.
Our hotel was an amazing surprise! We stayed at the Bjornefjorden Gjestetun, which was one of the three hotels closest to the wedding venue and happened to have the cheapest price. We booked it with no expectations, except to have a convenient place to stay during the wedding but wow did it turn out to be a cozy escape!
Particularly this view! When we walked into the room the first time we just stood there in awe. We were BIG fans of waking up to this each morning!
I think we are going to use this hotel whenever we need to stay overnight in Bergen in the future.
Oh yeah…and I made the cake :) Congratulations again Yrjan and Desi!! You guys are the cutest newlyweds ever!Photo by Photogen Inc.
If you are interested in checking out their GORGEOUS photos from the wedding, check out Part 1 and Part 2 here!
Utne

A bus from Aurland to Voss, another bus from Voss to Kinsarvik, and a ferry from Kinsarvik to Utne. After a very full day of figuring out our route, hunting down bus stops and ferry terminals, and lots and lots of waiting we finally arrived in town for the night exhausted and wet. Boy was Utne a sight for sore eyes!

 

Especially our lodging for the night, the Utne Hotel! I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a more quaint and charming hotel (and no…I’m not getting paid to write that) and for me it was one of the highlights of our trip! Perhaps it was the fact that it was built in the 1700s and had the antiques and architecture to prove it. Perhaps it was the cozy rooms (each one unique) tucked into every nook and cranny that made you want to creepily look into every open door you passed. Perhaps it was the amazingly glorious hot shower we finally got to take after an exhausting two days. Most likely though, it was the fresh Hardanger cherries that greeted us in little bowls in our rooms and throughout the hotel provided for our munching pleasure. Seriously, so cute!

This view!!

That night we splurged and treated ourselves to a 3 course dinner at the hotel restaurant. The main course was some sort of lamb dish prepared with locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables (including Jerusalem artichokes, which I’d never had before) and it was the perfect way to end our fiasco with the van and send us off into a cozy night’s sleep to settle ourselves back down into a vacation groove.

The next morning we awoke to more fresh cherries and a rain-less day. We met up with our NATO rescuer and his 12 passenger van, loaded up our luggage and then headed to the Hardanger Folk Museum down the street to get a dash of the region’s history and culture before the long drive home. While we walked to the museum we explored a bit of the town, passing calm pebble beaches and apple orchards climbing up into the mountains. And of course all along the way we passed cherry tree after cherry tree dripping with dark red fruit that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. 
Sea goddess statue made of shells and cement.
The Hardanger Folk Museum was definitely worth the trip. A large part of it was an open-air museum recreating old-time farmhouses from the region. It was fun to imagine ourselves living back in the old days in a place like Utne. Tamara also got to see tons of her Hardanger embroidery stitch in all sorts of beautiful patterns in the bunad exhibit. I spent a good bit of time sitting in the cafe trying to stave off a bout of baby-induced nausea by eating lefse. A pregnant lady’s gotta do what a pregnant lady’s gotta do!
At last it was time for us to pile into our rescue van and make the long drive home through Odda and back to Stavanger. We’re so grateful NATO was able to send someone up to get us! Despite the hiccups, it was a pretty fantastic little Norwegian road trip. Chris and I definitely hope to make it back to Utne again in the future!

After arriving back home, we had just a few more days with the Hills in which we introduced them to friends, explored the city, and celebrated their awesome visit with a night out at our very favorite Indian restaurant.

We will always treasure these memories with Mom, Dad, and Emma!

Aurland

It wouldn’t be a good story about a road trip without a few speed bumps, right? (Get it? Speed bumps? Because it’s a road trip?? Wah-wahh. Don’t judge me. I’m writing this late at night.)

This particular speed bump was the gold Dodge Caravan that we rented from the NATO base for this trip. We rented the van because our little Peugeot wagon has a bit too many special needs for its own good, so who would have thought that the newer fancy car would have caused so much grief? I’m getting a little ahead of myself though. Back to the beginning.

Chris’ parents placed Aurland at the top of their list of places to see in Norway after they read about our stop there when my family came to visit. We basically built this whole road trip itinerary around visiting the fjord town. We rented a cozy cabin high up in the mountains surrounding the fjord and had grand plans to snuggle up nice and warm and eat the apple cake we bought at Steinstø Fruktgård while playing games long into the night (sounds pretty cozy for a summery July evening but hey, that’s Norway for you). In the morning, we would explore the town and visit the Aurland Shoe Factory and the glass blowing gallery and spend some time admiring all the darling little houses lining the fjord before continuing on our way.

Apparently Aurland was the artistic inspiration for the location of the kingdom of Arendale from Frozen. I can totally see it.

We arrived in Aurland and make a pit stop at the little grocery store to buy some vanilla ice cream to go with the apple cake and game night. We piled back into the van, turned the ignition and NADA. Zilch. Not even a turnover. The worst kind of silence ever. After trying everything we could think of to get the car started, we are finally able to get ahold of someone from NATO to get advice, which ended up being to call a tow truck and see what they can do. We explored the Shoe Factory and glass gallery while waiting for the tow truck, hopeful for a good prognosis but alas, the van wouldn’t even jump for the tow truck and had to be towed to the local garage for a deeper inspection, leaving us to figure out how to get up the mountain to our cabin. We ended up resorting to hiring the only taxi driver in town to haul all of us and our luggage up the mountain with the promise of a pickup in the morning. And of course, being Norway, it ended up being a ridiculously expensive taxi ride.

Our good friend, the tow truck.

 

We finally made it to our cabin just as dusk was falling, which in the middle of summer in Norway is pretty late at night. We were exhausted and barely mustered up the energy to grill some hot dogs out on the back porch in the rain before tucking in for the night. No games and no apple cake with ice cream. Only sleep. Which was a total bummer because the cabin was awesome!

Our cozy cabin up in the tops of the fjord.
Check out the view in the morning!

 

In the morning, the last of our hopes were dashed. The van was caput. Something to do with a major flaw in the security system that was preventing the car from starting. We were officially stranded in Aurland. We called the NATO base again and they said they would send someone to rescue us, but unfortunately they wouldn’t be able to make it until the next day. We tried to get a second night at our cabin to no avail and every other hotel/inn in the area was already booked for the night. We were in a bit of a pickle. We decided that since our original plan was to go to Utne and we had already paid for our hotel there, we would try to press forward “on foot”. After a quick morning hike to Stegastein Lookout, we were picked up by our taxi driver and taken to the tiny tourist office downtown. With help from the guy at the office, we figured out we could take two buses and a ferry and make it to Utne by that evening. So we consolidated our luggage as best we could to make it easier to carry, hopped the first bus out of town and were off on our unexpected journey to Utne!
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Stegastein Lookout
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