Friday, October 8, 2010

I made it! I'm so thrilled to be here and start our European adventure. I will try and keep up with my blog entries.   Just a warning, im a very visual person and will be adding alot of pctures to help describe everything. 
The  flight on Sunday didn't seem as long as I had anticipated, which was great.  Watched a few movies, read a magazine, slept and I was there.  Delta fed us two meals on the plane, dinner at about 7pm (while still in the US) and breakfast at about 7am (while over the Atlantic Ocean), only 5 hours later.  I landed in Oslo at 12:30pm on Monday, we are 7 hours ahead of MN.  As I was walking out of my gate into the terminal, I saw everyone grabbing a cart and turning the corner into, what looked like a grocery store/super market.  Honestly, every single person infront of me was walking into the store.  I found out later, from Gino, that the store is called "Duty Free" which basically sells everything from socks to liquor, tax free.  They apparently only have them in airports and looking back I wish I would have known to stop and grab some wine!  Liquor is very expensive here.

After picking up my bags I walked right through customs without having to talk to anyone OR get my passport stamped.....not sure if anyone knows im here!  As I walked through customs, I saw Gino.  I was so happy to see him and to finally be in Norway.  The train wasn't scheduled to arrive for another 2 hours so we went and grabbed some lunch at Pepe's Pizza, they sell pizza by the slice.  For 3 small slices of pizza and a 16 oz 7-up it was 80 Kroners which is $14.00....not too awful but a little expensive.  The Kroner is the Norweigen currency and can be converted into dollars by roughly dividing by 6.  Ive been cheating a little....I have a currency converter app on my Ipod touch:). 

The train ride is 90 min from Oslo to Lillehammer and was absolutely beautiful, minus the cloudy/overcast weather.  The scenery actually reminded me a bit of Northern MN with all the pine trees and fall colors except it was pretty hilly.  We followed Lake Mjosa (largest lake in Norway) most of the way. 
Gino's buddy, Justin, picked us up from the train station in Lillehammer in the cars the team gave them.  Those are advertisments written all over the cars....and dont even get me started on the colors, probably the brightest vehicles I've ever seen.  The whitish looking one is actually neon green which just so happens to be the car we drive, HA....
The drive from the Lillehammer train station to our aparment is only about 5 min up a pretty steep hill.  The town is basically built up in the hills,  comparable to Duluth.  At the bottom of the mountain/hills is Lake Mjosa and on the other side of the lake are mountains with lots of pine and colorful trees.  Here is the view from the balcony of our apartment (facing the side of the hills).

I think the best way to describe our apartment is plain, only equipped with the necessities.  Our tv is brand new and looks a little out of place!  The living/dining area is a good size.  The bedroom, bathroom, and water closet (closet where the toliet is located) are pretty small.  Something a little strange...  the shower/bathtub isn't attatched to the wall and has about a 3 inch space between the tub and the walls where water falls all over the floor.  Apparently thats normal, so they have a drain built into the floor outside of the tub under the sink where all the water is supposed to drain. The first time I took a shower I thought there was going to be a flood! 


Dining Room/Living Room

Living Room with "Dorm" like furniture


Bedroom- to the left is a wall of closet space

"WC" Water Closet
No one on the team has a microwave and I thought that was going to be a big deal because I feel like Americans are always reheating, defrosting, etc.  But we haven't had any need for a microwave!  We have a coffee maker and some device that heats water for tea or hot chocolate.  If we need to reheat food, I guess we will use the oven!
My first full day in Norway we decided to take a walk into the downtown area of Lillehammer.  Its about a 10 minute walk down the mountain.  It's a very pretty walk with views of Lake Mjosa and all the cute gingerbread type houses.  Very Hansel and Gretel~

Storgata is the main street in downtown Lillehammer.  Full of shops, restaurants, cafe's and a few creeks flowing through the downtown area.  There are couple of pretty restuarants, located on the creeks, which have outdoor patios open all year round!  yes, in the winter.  They have some sort of plexi glass which covers half of the patio which is heated with heat lamps. 

Thought this was funny.  It's a a fake horse with its head in the pub, HA
For all you "Always Sunny in Phil" fans, Gino found the Lillehammer Patty's Pub
After our walk into town and the hike back up to the apartment, it was time to do some grocery shopping.  There's a Kiwi grocery store about 2 min from the apartments.  Not a large grocery store but they have a brand of food called "First Price" which is kind of like Target brand, much cheaper.  Obviously, we're not able to really make out any of the labels, but you can guess what most of them are.  The hardest would be meat.  We're never quite sure what meat were eating.  Half the time we take the food home and google the labels to see what they translate to but nothing comes up!  A little scary, haha.  Chicken is very expensive, 2 chicken breasts are about $10.00 USD.  So I have yet to eat chicken here.  All the food is pretty tasty though, we've had taco's, pork, waffles, sandwhiches, etc.  The way some of the food is packaged is very different.  For example, mayonaise comes in a a tube of toothpaste.  You can also get a tube of bacon, ham, and turkey!!- GROSS. 

 I'ts been a little bit of a process getting used to the simple things and I'm sure I wont stop learning the culture the entire time I'm here.  So far, so good.  I'm thankful to have this expierence with Gino and to immerse ourselves in a life COMPLETELY out of our comforte zone. Alot of what I have seen the past week has been similar to what we see at home but the way of life is much more simple.  The lifestyle and people are very relaxed, walk everywhere, sit in cafe's for hours and just enjoy their day. We miss you all and Ill write again soon.


  1. hello.
    looks like you are enjoying your experience of a lifetime! i LOVE your car...i almost p'd my pants with laughter when you said the 'neon' green one is yours, HA! i need a picture of you driving that baby! as for the mayo...i'd probably mistake it for toothpaste. nice pictures, can't wait to read & see more!
    miss you!

  2. Hi from MN (actually Oklahoma this week). Loved the blog--keep sending those pictures. Looks like a quaint little area which will be fun to explore. What a wonderful opportunity! I'm wondering how many lime green cars there are there == is this a popular color? -- ENJOY!

  3. Great photos...and love the blog. Keep us posted! I am really going to have to figure out a way to come visit. I love hearing stories about other adjusting to culture of other countries.
    Personally I don't like mayo in the first place and I definately wouldn't eat it in a toothpaste tube. LOL. I love those lil water heaters for coffee and tea. They have those all over Europe. Plus you can buy them hear in the states at Target.

    You know me I totally want one of those cars. Something bright, lil and fun!I love forward to seeing you on skpye and future blogs!

  4. We love hearing about your life over on the other side of the world. I heard Norway is very beautiful and your photos certainly show it. Hope you have a wonderful time. Wish we could visit but we just blew our vacation budget on 8 funfilled days at Disneyworld. I'm just exhausted!!! Leah said she'd like to go back. I asked sure and she said how about Friday? I said no, we need to see other places too. She then said "how about Las Vegas?" Not sure where that came from.

    Take care.
    Terese, Tom & Leah

  5. Hey there Guys!! I'm so happy you're blogging! Lillihammer looks amazing, how pretty! I hear ya when it comes to how different everything is, it definitely takes some getting used to- it's actually kinda funny and cute (until about March when you're dying to get home to some Taco Bell and human sized cars!) haha but enjoy it and keep posting, hopefully we can plan something to meet up! I'm definitely willing to fly up there and train up to see you guys! Good luck and remember to sleep in and relax!!

  6. Wow, I envy you! What a wonderful experience and oopportunity. I'm happy that you can share it with us. I'll look forward to catching up and reading your new post. You guys are in my prayers. I wish you all the best there. Pam Johnson/General Mills