Category Archives: travel
Here in Norway, Easter is called Påske and after a long dark winter Norwegians are more than ready to celebrate. They do so by filling backpacks with goodies (mostly chocolate and oranges) and go ‘tur’.
Going tur means getting out. Skiing, hiking and boating are at the top of the list. And this year we’ve been blessed with beautiful weather. It’s a bit nippy here on the southwest coast of Norway, but the sky is clear and SUNNY!
Here are pictures from this year’s Påske tur…
Songdalstrand, which was once a busy fishing village is now a quaint little tourist attraction, adorned with well-preserved wooden houses. The narrow road leads out to the open coast.
Rosslandsguden, here we had to trudge through some snow to get up to the Sacrificial Stone and Giant Rossland God’s Head, which dates back to the Iron Age (500 B.C. – 550 A.D.). The God’s Head is actually a replica, the original is in the Dalane Folkemuseum.
Helleren, is an overhanging rock formation 60 meters long and 10 meters deep. Archaeologists have traced settlements from the early Stone Age here. The two houses standing today date back to the early 1800s and were abandoned in 1920.
Gloppedalsura, is the site of a tremendous landslide, caused by the melting of glacial ice and is one of the largest in Europe. Blocks as large as houses fell from these steep cliffs.
We also passed by a frozen lake where we saw cars racing on the ice! We did not join in on the fun… I’m not even sure it’s legal.
I hope where ever you are in the world – you’re having a fun but safe, Easter also!
It’s funny how people float in and out of our lives and while some stick others don’t.
After leaving America and moving to a small town in Norway twenty-four years ago, I met a family from England. I couldn’t speak Norwegian and there weren’t many expats or foreigners living in this area at the time. I felt lost, misplaced and longed for my family and friends back home. I was offered a job at a local school and that’s where I met this family. I’m not sure how I would have gotten through those first couple of years in Norway without them. Connected by the English language (their’s proper, mine not) we bonded and became fast friends and then suddenly they were gone.
I was heartbroken and didn’t know how I’d manage without them…
We kept in touch with an occasional phone call, Christmas cards and a handful of visits over the last twenty-four years. Our daughters have also challenged the years and miles, by remaining close. This past weekend, me, my daughter and granddaughter journeyed from Norway to England to visit them. It’s been at least ten years since we’ve seen each other last, but it felt as if we’d never been separated at all. We caught up on the present, reminisced over the past and made a promise to visit again soon.
As our granddaughters met and played for the very first time, I couldn’t help but marvel over the power of friendship.
Congratulations, you’ve just won a free trip to the Netherlands!
They say God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland. With over a quarter of its surface below sea level the Dutch leave nothing to chance. Instead they create their own nature and this makes the Netherlands a beautiful and fascinating place.
I had the privilege of living there for three years in a town called Wassenaar, which is located directly between Amsterdam and the Hague. I could sit here all night and gush about how great it was to live there, or you can see for yourself…
There’s no need to clean out the fridge, pack a suitcase or find a sitter for the dog, because you’ll only be gone for ten minutes… So sit back, press play and enjoy your trip.
Going Local in Gran Canaria is the type of book that would become dog-eared in a traveler’s backpack or read feverishly by an expat moving to the island. It truly is a book that has something for everyone establishing residence or simply visiting. Matthew Hirtes manages to cover everything from starting a business and getting a mortgage to which restaurant to visit on a Saturday night, and how to get there.
The book is peppered with enjoyable stories that others have shared with the author of their personal experiences on the island. It really adds a sense of the island becoming a home, not just a vacation destination. Useful phone numbers, addresses, and websites are included, and are all details that visitors and expats to Gran Canaria so desperately need.
Cover to cover, Going Local is chock-full of everything you need to get started. Hirtes is very effective at taking his vast knowledge of the island and putting it on paper for everyone to enjoy. The first thought I had after reading it was hopping on the next flight, book in hand, to experience everything this wonderful island has to offer.
Available on Amazon
I was in Dublin this past weekend with my husband and four other couples from Norway. While I may have been the only Yankee in the group, I was certainly not the only American in Dublin. There were 35,000 American football fans in Dublin to watch Notre Dame take on and clobber, Navy in the Emerald Isle Classic.
We didn’t go to the game but we found plenty of other things to do. For me the high point of the trip was seeing Riverdance at the Gaiety theater. The thrilling experience of pounding feet and swirling music left me breathlessly mesmerized.
We also went on a musical pub crawl. This is where a group of people are led to different pubs by a couple of Irish musicians, telling stories and singing songs along the way. Its great fun!
My husband and I decided against purchasing a hop-on-hop-off tour bus ticket, this being our ‘second’ trip to Dublin and all. Except for a trip to the Guinness Brewery, we decided to abandon our group of merry friends and strike out on our own for the day.
Knowing my love for tea and that I was going to Dublin, a few of my fellow bloggers recommended some new places to visit. With a list of addresses and a map of the city in hand, we set off with great determination…
The first Tea House we found (Tea Garden) wasn’t far from our hotel but unfortunately, not open. Just down the road we stumbled across the second place we were looking for. The Winding Stair Bookshop & Restaurant, formally known as The Winding Stair Bookshop Cafe. Named after a Yeats poem, this was a popular meeting place for writers, musicians and artists. Here I bought a book of Irish myths and a pack of Irish literary postcards.
We then headed over to the Temple Bar area, where we found Joy of Chá which was one of Dublin’s first tea shops. Here we sat and sipped on a cup of fresh brewed, Irish Morning tea.
Afterwards, we trudged across the city to the Portobello area and found Wall & Keogh, a small tea house loaded with a variety of different loose leaf tea. A very kind girl helped me find a Maté Energy Boost blend and an Improved Mood & Memory blend (don’t ask) which I took home with me. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
By now you may be wondering how I got my husband to agree to this excursion… It was easy, for every tea house we visited we also visited a pub for a pint.
Next we made our way over to the more touristy, fashionable side of town to Clement & Pekoe. I left with 100 g of (my favorite) Mint Green Tea and some Gunpowder tea, which I had never tried but have heard so much about from all my UK blogger friends. I’ve now tried them both and give them a two thumbs up.
Last we caught up with our friends at Bewley’s, on Grafton Street where we enjoyed a delicious meal. Bewley’s is an Irish Co. that has been selling coffee and tea since 1840. I bought a box of Pure Sencha Green Tea bags for myself and a box of Irish Breakfast Tea, to bring home to a friend.
It was a great day!
All tea houses can be found here.
I just got back from Dublin at two o’clock this morning and have so much to do…
I won’t bore you with the details, instead I’ll post a few pictures for you to look at, while I catch up and recover from my trip.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures -Irish proverb
May the sound of happy laughter fill your heart with gladness, that stays forever after -Irish Blessing
Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter, lullabies, dreams and love ever after. A thousand welcomes when anyone comes… Thats the Irish for you! -Irish Blessing
Every little girl dreams of being a princess at one time or another and I was no exception, thats why I love visiting castles. The UK is full of them and on my recent trip to Scotland I was lucky enough to visit one. Dundonald Castle was built in 1371 and used as a royal residence by the early Stewart Kings. It sits on a hill overlooking the village on Dundonald, not far from Troon, where I was staying.
This is my country
The land that begat me
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
And those who toil here
In the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh
And bone of my bone.
Sir Alexander Gray
I’m off to Ireland tomorrow, but I do hope to get back to Scotland one day.
Its fun meeting new people while traveling and hearing their stories. Everyone likes to tell where they come from and are usually excited about where they’re going. All around the world people are flying in and out of airports, crossing the globe and trading places.
I was recently on a flight from Norway to Amsterdam and sat next to a young woman from Geneva. After hearing I was American, she told me told me an incredible story about her first and only trip to the US. She was on her way back from a wedding in Canada and decided to take a twenty-four hour stop over in New York.
She checked out of her midtown hotel early the next morning and set out to explore the Big Apple. She planned on heading down to Battery Park, to see the Statue of Liberty and The World Trade Center first. But due to a mix up, she got on the wrong bus and found herself heading uptown instead. After taking a stroll through Central Park and checking out Time Square, she began making her way back towards downtown Manhattan.
She was suddenly stopped by roadblocks, turmoil and sirens screaming throughout the city. It was September 11, 2001 and she soon found herself stranded in a chaotic city, with no money and no where to stay. She turned to the Swiss Embassy for help and it was five days before she was able to finally leave New York. Sigh.
A few days later, I met a Scottish woman on my flight from Glasgow back to Amsterdam. We got talking and after telling her I live in Norway, she told me she had once rode her bike to Norway.
“From Glasgow?!” I asked.
No – she was an art student living in Denmark at the time. Her and her Danish boyfriend took a ferry to Sweden and then cycled all the way to Oslo. She felt so empowered by the trip that upon her return, she packed her bags, left her boyfriend and moved back to Glasgow to become a rich and famous artist. Ten years down the road and she’s still single and struggling. Her Danish boyfriend however, is married, has two children, lives in a beautiful house and owns a very lucrative art gallery. After telling me her story, she shook her head and said, “You know what the worst of it is Maggie? I felt so guilty after leaving him, that I paid half his bloody rent for a whole year.” Ouch.
Afterwards, while franticly flipping through the pages of my passport, an officer at the passport control counter in Amsterdam asks, “Why are you going to Norway?”
“Because I live there,” I answer.
He then asks if I have a Resident Card, I tell him no. I only have a stamp in my passport, which he points out has expired. (Oops) With a crowed of inpatient travelers grumbling behind me, he calls for another officer to come and take me away!
I’m taken to the Immigration Office, asked to have a seat, and then bombarded with questions… How long have you been living in Norway? Why do you live there? Why have you not renewed your Norwegian Resident Permit? I see you also have an outdated, Dutch Resident Permit in your passport, why? Do you have a Norwegian personal number (Social Security number)? I answer the questions, give him my personal number and he calls the Norwegian Immigration Office, in Oslo.
By now I’m wishing I’d simply told them I was going to Norway on vacation. I was also wondering if he had the power to ship me back to New Jersey. Then as if nothing happened, the officer hangs up the phone and says, “Okay, you’re free to go, have a nice trip.” Phew.
Is it like this when you travel?
I know my last post was about life getting back to ‘normal’ after a long and exciting summer, but summer’s not quite over yet. I still have two trips to take…
First, I’m going on a mystery trip to Scotland. The reason I call it a mystery trip, is because I’m going to meet a group of writers, I don’t really know. We will be discussing a joint venture, I know nothing about. I’m not even quite sure why I’m going, all I know is something in Scotland is beckoning. More to come on that…
I am also going on a trip to Dublin, with my husband, four of his old football (soccer) buddies and their wives. This trip is strictly for pleasure. More to come on this trip too…
What I can tell you about now, is my trip ‘home’ to New Jersey. I still call Jersey home because it’s where I come from, it’s where my family lives and where all my childhood friends are. No matter how long I’m gone it always feels familiar and I still sound like I belong there. Now you’re probably thinking… What?
I’m talking, or should I say, ‘tawking’ about my language and Jersey attitude. Living in a foreign country, talking ‘their’ language, with an accent and not having a clue how to joke around, mostly leaves me feeling like an outsider. Not the case in Jersey…
A few more reasons I like visiting Jersey in the summer are, warm weather, something you canNOT count on in Norway. Shopping, there is 0% tax on clothes in NJ and 22% on clothes in Norway. I could sit here all day telling you reasons I love the Garden State, but guess what?
Norway is my home now, it’s where my father, husband and two of my sons were born. I have three children and three grandchildren living there (two of my children and two grandchildren live in the US). I have friends that feel like family and my two pets, Khloe and Mia are there. The house my husband built and the home we built together are there. I feel safe in Norway and have soon lived there half of my life (six more years). I guess I have two homes…
What do you think, is home where you come from, or where you’ve gone?