Many moons ago, when I first moved to Norway and telephone calls were much too expensive for my budget, I was forced to write letters. Sit down, put pen to paper and write. That however, was not the hardest part. It was the waiting. It could take weeks, sometimes months to receive a letter in return. I felt far away, isolated, living in a garden of exile.
Facebook, FaceTime, Skype and Messenger are what now connect me (and everyone else) with the outside world. They enable us to feel close to people far away, which in turn makes the world seem smaller.
After living twenty-seven years in Norway, my husband and I recently bought a condo in my home state of New Jersey. The plan is to use it as a vacation home. Fly back and forth several times a year. Most of my family and a lot of my friends live there. Plus three Grandchildren! The condo is located at the Jersey Shore, about 25 minutes from the beach and two hours from NYC. Just perfect! Happy! Happy! Me.
But… Nothing is ever easy!
We just got back from our first mini-vacation to our new place and this is how it went…
We had a one hour drive to the airport (early in the morning). Fifty minute flight to Oslo. One hour wait before boarding. The flight across the Atlantic took approximately seven hours. We landed at 1:30pm in Newark NJ. Not bad.
I have a US passport, my husband has a Norwegian one. He has always been able to follow me through the US Citizens only line, at the Customs and Border Protection counter. Not anymore. Instead, we could either split up or both go through the Non US Citizens line. Knowing I’d have to wait for him anyway, I went with him.
The Non US Citizens line was long and slow. It took crawling at a snails pace, forever, to see why. Out of fifteen counters there were only four open. People were yelling to the officers guarding the line that they were missing their connecting flights. Babies and small children crying deliriously after long flights and their parents, tired and stressed trying to manage them. Elderly people pleading for assistance. I also noticed a pregnant woman looking drained and pale, inching her way through the line. We stood there like animals waiting to get in out of the cold. Welcome to America!
In the end, it took two hours for us to get through. I planned on saying something to the officer at the counter about the long wait, but after seeing how grumpy and unfriendly he was, I chickened out. It took another couple of hours to get through the airport and car rental agency. Of course we got stuck in traffic, so what should have been a one hour drive, took two. That’s like sixteen hours from door to door.
We stayed for one fun-filled week before heading back.
Our flight left the gate on time at 7:00pm. We sat on the runway for quite a while before returning to the gate, to fix an electrical problem. A short time later, with the problem fixed, something happened that I have never in all my years of travel seen before. Some of the passengers wanted off the plane! I don’t know if they were spooked because of the electrical problem or what… But they got off and then we had to wait for their luggage to be removed. We finally took off just after 10:00pm. It was a smooth eight hour flight.
Needless to say we missed our connecting fight and had to wait seven hours in Frankfort, Germany for the next flight home! In the end it took twenty-six hours to get home, which is more than double the time it should take.
Arriving safely is what really matters… And we’re going back in August 🙂
I’m taking a summer, blogging break.
My eight-year-old granddaughter, Maren is flying, by herself (with assistance) from America to Norway. I was eleven the first time I flew to Norway without my parents, and her mother was twelve the first time she did it. That makes Maren the third generation of adventurous little girls. She is staying for three weeks and I can’t wait!
Pop Pop Harry and I are taking her on a trip to Hamarøy, which is an island up in the north of Norway. Friends of ours own land there and we will be staying with them, in a two hundred-year-old farm house. They have a daughter the same age as Maren, so it should be fun… the only problem is Maren doesn’t speak Norwegian and my friend’s daughter, Hannah doesn’t speak English! I guess I’ll be doing a lot of translating 🙂
Hamarøy is a place where where the sun shines twenty-four hours a day in the summer. Maren can play all night and sleep during the day, because it really doesn’t matter. She can go fishing, crabbing and has a good chance at spotting a whale. She’ll climb mountains, run through fields, pick berries and wild flowers. She’ll sleep in a lavvu, eat dinner in a lighthouse and cook hotdogs on the end of a stick, over an open campfire. She will also be able to explore the ocean floor when the tide goes out. It doesn’t matter how wet or dirty she gets, for this week, she will be one with Norwegian nature.
I hope you’re enjoying your summer too!
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 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?
I’m back and fully charged after five glorious days in sunny Italy.
We flew from Stavanger to Oslo, and then on to Pisa. Our final destination was Cinque Terre, located in the westernmost area of the Ligurian Riviera. Before heading out to the sun drenched oasis, we took a detour into Pisa, to see its famous Leaning Tower. The Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) consists of four buildings, the Cathedral, Leaning Tower (bell tower), Baptistry, and Campo Santo. They stand close together on a green lawn and were even more beautiful than I imagined but what surprised me most, was how pristine they still look today.
Afterwards we took a train to La Spezia, which is often called the doorway to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre, in Italian means, “The Five Lands” and is called this because it is composed of five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. These five villages, the coastline and the surrounding hillsides are all part of a National Nature Park and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we were able to buy a Cinque Terre Card, which enabled us to take the train and walk on the paths connecting the small villages as much as we liked. From La Spezia to the last village, Monterosso (where we were staying) was only a twenty-five minute train ride.
We stayed at the Hotel Baia which was located directly across the street from the beach. Monterossa is the most touristy of the five villages because of its long span of beach and promenade along the sea. The hotel was an old, four story building with high ceilings (twelve feet) and steep steps leading up to each floor. There was an old glass elevator, but used only for transporting luggage, pregnant women and the elderly. Every room had a balcony, but only the ones in front and on the sides overlooked the sea. Ours was in the back, yet lovely and private just the same. The room was basic, but clean. A buffet breakfast was served every morning in a sunny dining room.
Monterossa is uniquely protected by hills, olive groves and lemon trees. In the backstreets of Monterossa is the old part of town, where there are shops, cafes and of course, churches. Here is where you can also pick up the well-trodden paths connecting the five villages. Trekking from one village to the other can be a little challenging in some places, due to the heat, slopes and steps.
There is more to come on the other four villages, our hike, the local wine, Italian food and the breathtaking beauty of Cinque Terre… But first, I have to read the seventy-nine new posts waiting in my inbox, wash three baskets of dirty clothes and go food-shopping. I won’t even mention what my house looks like after leaving two teenage boys and two dogs home alone to fend for themselves all week. Oh, its great to be home…
I love summer, its my favorite time of the year. There are no guarantees the weather will be nice in Norway, but thats why we have airplanes to carry us off in search of the sun. When my children were little we always went to my parents house in New Jersey. There the weather was always warm and the kids enjoyed the swimming pool in my parents yard, while their mother enjoyed the air conditioned shopping malls (just kidding…).
Now the children are grown and my husband and I like to travel around and see new places. This years vacation spot is, Cinque Terra. Whats interesting, is how I found this location… I casually stumbled across the picture above on Naomi Baltuck’s blog, Writing Between the Lines and immediately commented, Where is this place? Three days later our trip was booked! I’m sure once you read about “the five lands” on the Italian Riviera, you’ll be dying to go too…
Blogging has been quite rewarding lately, not only did I find this year’s vacation spot, but I’ve also had three blog awards bestowed on me. First was the Versatile Blogger Award which I received from Beth’s blog, it’s a whole new world. Beth is one of those people who feels like a good friend, even though we’ve never met. The second is a Liebster Award from Robin Coyle her blog is, The writing Life of Robin. Robin has a great style and her blog is overflowing with writing tips. Since I already have a Versatile Blogger and a Liebster Award, I’m going to jump right over to the third one which is the Sunshine Award. I was nominated for this one by Paula’s blog, stuff I tell my sister. Paula is also a delightful person and her blog is a warm and cozy place to visit. Check them out, you won’t regret it!
The Sunshine Award guidelines are:
- Link the award to the person who gave it to you.
- Answer the questions that come with it.
- Pass it along to other bloggers and let them know they have received it.
Here are the blogs I nominate, (I tried to see who already had the award, but that was a lot of work and then I got my lists confused, so I’m just randomly throwing some names out there. If you already have it, then I’m sorry. If you don’t have it and your name is not on the list, just take it, I’ll never tell…)
2. Expat Alien
4. Expat Lingo
- Favorite color- When the sky is solid blue, thats my favorite color.
- Favorite animal- Thats a toss up between Mia and Khloe…
- Favorite number- That has to be six, because I have six kids.
- Favorite non-alcoholic drink- Easy! Tea (warm or cold).
- Facebook or Twitter- Definitely Facebook (thats where all my real friends are)
- My passion- Everyone will expect me to say writing, but its scrapbooking.
- Giving or receiving- I love to buy gifts but when people ask me what I want, I always answer, “I don’t know.”
- Favorite pattern- Hmm… Burberry plaid.
- Favorite day of the week- Without a doubt Friday night, I love having the weekend in front of me.
- Favorite flower- After living in Holland for three years, I have to say tulips.
Something that makes a physical connection between two other things.
This is Egerøy Bridge; it was built in 1951 and it connects the small island of Egerøy to the southwest coast of Norway. Before the bridge was built the only way over to the mainland was by boat. My father was born on the island and then immigrated to America in 1955.
I crossed the bridge for the first time in 1969. I was eleven and can still remember how excited I was to be going to Norway to visit my grandmother.
Crossing the bridge on my second trip in 1971, I was less than enthusiastic. I wanted to go to Florida that year, but my parents had other plans.
In 1973, I crossed the bridge looking for adventure. After meeting a boy thats exactly what I found. Driving over on my way back home I made a vow to return the following summer, and I did…
When I crossed the bridge in 1974, I was unknowingly put on the path to my destiny. A destiny that would take years for me to find, but first I had to go home and make all my mistakes.
It would take ten long years for me to find my way across the bridge again and yet, it still wasn’t our time.
Two years later in 1986, destiny called me back.
In 1988, he made his first crossing to my side of the bridge, in America.
Then in 1989, after twenty years of crossings, the bridge became a threshold to a new life and I made his side of the bridge, in Norway, my permanent home.
Its already 1:30 in the afternoon and I’m sitting here at my Mac, trying to write my tenth blog entry. Both the dryer and dishwasher are finished and now annoyingly peeping away. The dogs are lying by the door, still waiting for their morning walk. I haven’t taken anything out for dinner, my grandchildren are coming by later and I promised to make brownies. Oh yeah, and I’ve had five cups of tea, and I’m still in my pajamas!
I’ve always been a control freak and the thing I controlled most was my house. A place for everything and everything in its place. That was my motto. Well, things have changed.
I am now trying to write a blog, which I’m finding to be a very new and exciting challenge. I’ve made oh so many mistakes, which I will not point out in hopes that you haven’t noticed. Along with this, I’m constantly on the look out for something to tweet and have become hooked on Pinterest (its like shopping without spending any money). I dedicate hours to all my friends on Facebook and I’m trying to find people to review my book. Hint, hint…
The best and most surprising part of my new adventure is the ‘other’ blogs I’ve discovered. You see, not only am I a first time blogger, its also the first time I’ve read any blogs. In the past few months I’ve literally combed through hundreds of blogs before clicking the follow button on sixteen of them. I’d love to follow more, but as you can see I’m pressed for time.
Instead of giving out the names of these blogs, I thought I would tell a little about them and hopefully you’ll understand why they have come to mean so much to me. Maybe you’ll even recognize yours:
- A father telling his childhood stories to his children, and we’re lucky enough to listen.
- A sweet twenty-something working through depression and trying to change her life around.
- A fellow tea lover who’s gearing herself up to chase a dream.
- A poet sharing her sadness, yet finding the good in everything.
- A blogger on the threshold of forty and coming to terms with personal purposes.
- A former expat wife sharing her expat/repat experiences.
- An old classmate of mine sharing beautiful pictures and craft ideas.
- A fashion savvy Norwegian living in London.
- A feisty woman blogging about life, love and the occasional shitty day.
- A life from a writers point of view.
- A grown up TCK (third culture kid).
- An expat writer who also happens to be a white muslim living in a post 9/11 world.
- A multitasking Californian who’s into everything.
- A blog about living overseas, away from families and beyond comfort zones.
- A young American married to a Norwegian and starting a new life in Norway.
- The adventures of an American family living in Norway.
I love true stories about real people. Thats why I now rush to my Mac every morning eager to check my inbox. If anyone’s curious to find the name of one of these blogs, just ask…