Moody, Rainy Bergen

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve visited this little space and haven’t finished up our last trip, which was to Scandinavia in August 2017. If you remember, we had just traveled by train from Sweden to Bergen, Norway.

Ah, Bergen. Let me just preface this with an interesting tidbit concerning weather: It has been said that Bergen, Norway is called the “most rainiest city in Europe”. This seems to be a hard fact to verify since several areas of Europe are pretty wet. But I daresay, Bergen is always in the top 5 of these and it’s there for a good reason. It is very wet a lot of the time. 
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That said, it can still be a lovely city to visit and enjoy, as long as you have proper rain gear. Which we didn’t. But one can’t purchase quality rain protection for a mere 5 day visit and expect to get your money’s worth once you return home where it’s NOT the rainiest city or even region of the States. So we made do with what we had and were grateful it didn’t actually rain every single moment of every day.

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Photo by Lynn

I’m sure each of you would recognize the song, “In the Hall of the Mountain King” or “Morning Mood“. The composer Edvard Grieg wrote both of those for a play titled, “Peer Gynt” which premiered in 1876. I didn’t realize that Grieg was from Bergen till I was reading through the travel brochures at our AirBnB. But what a happy discovery! It’s fascinating to me to link a town to a composer whose music I have heard so often but don’t have any other connections to otherwise. My sister plays violin and has performed “Morning Mood” before with the orchestra she is a part of so I had to get a picture with Grieg’s statue to send back to her.

 

 

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Why yes, there is a seagull sitting on top of his head. It wouldn’t leave for my picture.

Ever on our quest for coffee (and waffles, which we heard we had to try), the first coffee shop we stopped at in Bergen was BarBarista. Perhaps the most eccentric place I’ve ever stepped foot into. Melody captured my thoughts about this establishment perfectly below:

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Photo by Melody

It indeed was odd. Some folks would love it, and it has great reviews, but it was not my cup of tea. Or coffee, if you prefer. Still, a memorable stop.

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Photo by Melody

I was glad to step outside and get some more views of the city. It had even stopped raining.

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Our meal out for the day was at Pingvinen or, The Penguin. Everyone knows prices in Norway are outlandish and I would say this is true especially for eating out. But we had expected this and that’s why we try to save money by cooking at the AirBnB for most meals.

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We still like to try the local cuisine and this meal did not disappoint.
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Train Travel in the Rain, With Children

8.9.2017

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So get on your way!”
― Dr. SeussOh, The Places You’ll Go!

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Traveling with children is not one of the easier things in life. Our entire trip so far had been a mixture of hard, harder and hardest in terms of getting around with Natasha (age 7) and Lincoln (14 months). Natasha woke up the morning we left Chicago with a sore throat and Lincoln soon had a fever on top of teething for our sight-seeing days in Oslo and Gothenburg. Not how any parent wants to experience new countries, but these things do happen.

Melody pointed out that it was a good thing we had the baby carrier and I could cuddle Lincoln so much during this time. That got me to thinking how true that was: If I was at home, I’d probably be pretty perturbed that I wasn’t able to get anything done and that I couldn’t put him down. Instead, all I had to do was carry him around. He only wanted to be held {by me} anyway, so I got to cuddle him, love on him, soothe him and sight-see Norway and Sweden all at the same time.

That sounds all romantic and motherly, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t all that glorious, trust me. The bus ride from Oslo to Gothenburg was pretty stressful. The train ride from Gothenburg to Bergen wasn’t the relaxing journey one imagines when you see a train travel poster. Children get bored. They get hungry. They cry. They want down when they can’t be down but won’t sit still when they’re being held and won’t fall asleep when they’re beyond sleepy. I had this idea that I might get to do some journaling while riding along, maybe when Lincoln was sleeping peacefully. That was a very nice thought, but not reality. By the time Lincoln was sleeping soundly, I was so worn out, I didn’t feel like digging in the bag to find my notebook.

Thus, Daniel and I traversed the ups and downs of parenting while making our way across Scandinavia. The train ride from Gothenburg, Sweden to Bergen, Norway has over 180 tunnels. When you’re not inside darkness waiting for daylight again, the views are fantastic.
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That is, when you can actually see them. I spent a fair amount of my time pacing and standing at the back of the train car trying to bounce Lincoln to sleep. The windows are just low enough that when you’re standing, you can’t see anything outside.

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It did give me plenty of time to admire this premium baby pram by the Swedish company, Emmaljumga. I think you could purchase this exact one for approximately $600 USD. As you can see, below the bassinet is a sheepskin. I asked the mum about these and she said they’re quite nice to have; warm and cozy for the baby. She kindly gave me the name of the store, Nøstebarn, where I could find one in Bergen. Oh, how I wish I could afford to bring one home with me.

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Once Lincoln did fall asleep, I could sit and enjoy the scenery a bit. But don’t get the wrong impression here: This was NOT how I spent the majority of the trip.
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7+ hours later, we finally arrived in Bergen and stumbled out of the train. The sun was shining, we were at the gateway to the fjords of Norway and we felt fantastic.

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We had a lovely AirBnB apartment awaiting us, soon food was being prepared and spirits were definitely on the rise. They rose even more when our landlady sent up fresh, homemade bread. To say we were delighted is an understatement.

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Photo by Melody 

Scenes From our Last Day in Gothenburg

8.8.2017

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Getting some work done at Da Matteo, this time at Victoriapassegen

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Photo by: Melody

For lunch we had Swedish Meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce at Café du Nord. Truly, we ought to eat more lingonberry sauce in the states. The sweetness combined with the savory meatballs could easily become a staple in our house.

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Sorry my food is slightly sloppy looking; I’m not a food blogger and it’s hard to get tip-top pictures when you’re holding a toddler and starving at the same time.

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We purchased postcards at Akademibokhandeln (a bookstore Melody discovered by serendipity) where we oohed and ahhed over the cute artwork featured by Elsa Beskow and illustrations from Astrid Lindgren’s books such as Pippi Longstocking and The Children of Noisy Village.

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Photo by: Melody

While the girls wrote postcards, I supervised children at Plikta Playground, which is what I consider one of the best playgrounds ever. They even have little trikes and bikes to lend out for children to ride.


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Last stop of the day was for the famous cinnamon rolls at Café Husaren Hagabullen. They have a gluten-free menu as well, although cinnamon rolls aren’t included. However, we had a large chocolate dessert similar to a no-bake cookie, which was quite tasty and I did sample the huge cinnamon rolls.

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They truly are as big as your head.      Photo by: Melody

 

 

Fika in Sweden

8.7.2017

When in Sweden, one must eat Swedish food. It can be costly to eat out in Scandinavia, so whenever possible, we look for cheap, but tasty, local fare. Food trucks can be the answer to both of these criteria and we found a good one in the center of Gothenburg.


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Our choice from the little black food truck pictured above, was fried herring, mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce. We enjoyed every bite. On our walk through town to get lunch, there was a Red Bull vehicle parked by the street with several blonde Swedish girls handing out Red Bull’s new Simply Cola. Now, how fun is that? A free cola to have with our fried herring.

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  • You can have this traditional Swedish meal for yourself for around 60 SEK ($7.55 USD) from the Strömmingsluckan food truck. Located just off of Magasinsgatan 17, 411 18 in the center of town. No guarantee if the free colas will be there when you come through town though.

Somewhere along the line, the concept of fika was brought to our attention and soon it became the main thought on everyone’s mind. Fika is the idea of a coffee break accompanied with a sweet, but most definitely done with friends or family because conversation and quality time together is highly regarded. We picked up some cinnamon rolls at a cafe near the food trucks to take with us for an afternoon fika and headed off to Gothenburg’s archipelago. Public transportation includes ferry rides to these so that was very convenient.
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We chose to go to Asperö first. There is a short walking path across the island, with more heather growing on the rocks which proved to be delightful.
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Photo Credit: Lynette

Cars were not to be seen anywhere so bicycles are the mode of transportation. If you need to haul more than will fit in a bike basket, there are “truck” versions to carry your stuff.

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Natasha discovered a jellyfish and was super excited.

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To have a proper fika, we needed coffee. Or at least tea. There wasn’t a cafe on Asperö so we took another short ferry ride to Brännö. We weren’t completely sure if had found a cafe since the establishment was rather…eccentric. I thought it looked like a junkyard in the Caribbean and it was a little disconcerting since I thought we were in Sweden.

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If you can spot Natasha below, her questioning pose perfectly describes our feelings of the place. This boat was the playground.

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The cafe seemed more like a bar to me, but the girls ventured up to inquire about tea. It was simple Lipton, but it was hot and once procured, we could have our fika.

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Photo Credit: Lynette

  • Our cinnamon rolls were from Da Matteo, the cafe right in the courtyard where we had lunch at the food trucks. There was a cardamon version and a cinnamon version for 30 SEK (approximately $3.75 USD). If you go there, the cafe has seating inside for cozy conversation, as well as free wifi. Very handy if you’re engaged and your fiancé is hundreds of miles away back in the States and you want to chat, as Maria did.
  •  Also there is a free restroom right inside the door. Always on the lookout for those.

The first roll I was given had a rather burnt top. Now, it’s not normally my habit to return something I’ve purchased just because it may not meet my expectations, especially food. However, I’m not always in Sweden, selecting a Swedish pastry to have a proper fika on a dreary, wet day. So I was bold and kindly asked if I could have a different cinnamon roll that wasn’t quite so brown on top. The gal behind the counter quickly exchanged my roll and I left a happy customer, feeling rather empowered by my confidence.

The shelter we dined in was a hodge-podge of a structure; held together with tarps, old metal frames and even duct tape. It made me think of our time in Bocas de Toro, Panama and Red Frog Island.
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While eating, we were entertained by a cell phone conversation overheard while having our little snack. Apparently an English fellow was trying to help his wife (or girlfriend) with a lock and key issue she was having back at their apartment, which proved to be quite humorous. Poor guy, he tried numerous times to figure out how the key was positioned in the lock and things just weren’t working. We were probably a little too amused at his (and her) lack of communication and the entire predicament.

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Photo Credit: Lynette

To the Seaside on a Sunday

8.6.2017

It was a quiet Sunday morning in Sweden, that found us relaxing, giving children baths, lingering over breakfast and lunch and planning a walk for the afternoon.

What a walk it turned out to be. Not far from our AirBnB house we happily ambled over rocks with wild Heather, meadows with sheep grazing in the distance and the anticipation of the sea ahead.

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I had no idea I would find Heather in Sweden, growing out and about on our walk. It will always make me think of the song, “The Heather on the Hill” from the 1954 musical, “Brigadoon”, sung by Gene Kelly.

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After several days of travel and city sight-seeing, green grass, wind, sunshine and water was just what we needed. I felt like all the city grime just washed away and my soul was revived.2-024

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Part of the reason I particularly loved this little seaside visit was…no sand. It’s just not my cup of tea and this was ideal. We watched the wind-surfers, got our toes wet in the North Sea and generally admired the view.

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