Monday, December 12, 2011

A Christmas To Be Remembered

I think it's safe to say, Merry Christmas!  My favorite time of year.  I'm currently writing while listening to Holiday Hits on our Slingbox, watching the snow pour down on the streets of Lillehammer, and admiring our dimly lit Christmas tree that is actually a bush with a stump (long story).  In the last 24 hours we've gotten about 2 feet of snow and I must say, its beautiful!  Great for people like me, who don't necessarily have to leave the house and can enjoy it.  I heard a plow early this morning but haven't seen one in the last 4 hours. You would think that a country that receives a large amount of snow/year would have the snow plow thing down....not so much.

Aside from the weather, we are down to about 5 1/2 hours of sunlight a day.  The sun has been rising at 9:30ish and setting at about 3pm.  That basically just means that we sleep in later and I'm ready for bed at 8pm. 

As most of you know, Gino and I are expecting a baby this June 17th and just recently shared the news with family and friends.  We are beyond excited, as I would think any new parent would be and it sure does make this Christmas a little more special for us.  Even though we won't be home for the holidays this year, our support group of friends over here have been amazing and we have recieved about a million "Congratulations" emails in the last week which just adds to the excitement.  We feel very blessed to have so many wonderful and caring people in our lives. 

Gino and I broke the news to our parents 7 weeks ago and got such a wonderful response from both sets of parents, I thought I would share.   We had wanted to do something really special for them since it will be both sides first grandchild.  I thought and thought for a couple weeks what to do and without physically being able to tell them in person, our ideas were limited.  I started messing around on the computer and thought I would create a slideshow/movie with pictures of this year in Lillehammer.  We ended up adding a little video and threw in some brain teasers.  We ended up showing them on skype and telling them, "We have this great slideshow that Laura's going to add to the blog and want to know what you think".  Here it is...

We showed my parents first and when they brought up the video on their end, we were still able to see the reactions on our side.  My dad was commenting on the photos and saying how beautiful they were etc.  Finally, they got to the slide with words and were both silent.  Once the slide of Gino and I came on the screen that read, "Knowing there are really 3 people in this photo", my mom starting hitting my dad on the sholder scream- crying, "I get it!, I get it!".  My dad had no idea and was still trying to figure it out.  Once he did, he said, "Ill be darned!" Gino and I were laughing/crying.  It was such a great moment that I will honestly remember forever.  They were so genuinely shocked! 
We were fortunate enough to get Gino's parents on skype right afterwards and went through the same spiel.  They were busy looking at all the photos and both realized what it was we were trying to tell them, at the same time.  Gino's dad was speechless and started crying and his mom sort of gasped for a few minutes looking at us and then looking at Pat, back and forth.  By the end of it, we were all crying again!  Just like my parents, they were shocked and overjoyed.  Such a wonderful/emotional suprise! 

We have had a few doctor's appointments  and the doctor that we have been seeing is wonderful.  A few things are different in Norway then at home.  One, they don't believe in pre-natal vitamins.  They believe that the baby will take what it needs from the mother and that the pre-natals end up just being for the mother.  I think that's still important!  So, I ended up buying some from home and having them shipped over.  Also, I've been seeing a private doctor and have had 2 ultra sounds.  Since he's a private doctor, my appointments have been at night, 9:30pm.  Which I thought was very strange!  From here on out, I will be seeing a midwife for all of my visits and back to a doctor in March before we fly home.  Many people have been asking if we are delivering here or in MN and we will be delivering in MN.  I'm not showing yet so there will be no "bump" photo for a while.  Maybe by the next blog entry.   Overall, I've had a bit of morning sickness/nausea and ALOT of food aversions.  I've been feeling almost back to normal the last few weeks.  Here's a little pic from our 11 week ultrasound. Just saying, "hey!"

Ok enough baby talk for now, Im sure some of you are bored. 

Last Saturday, a group of us went out to the ski jump for the Nordic Combined World Cup Circuit.  We mainly went out to watch the ski jumpers for a a few hours.  It was really cool!  There were people there from all over the world and a few USA skiers.  As we were walking around the bowl, a worker came up to Gino and said, "Gino Guyer, would you and your friends like to go in the VIP tent?"  Of course we said yes because, one, it was pretty cold out, and two, we thought there may be some free food and drinks in there.  We were right!  He sat us at a table and there was a buffet set up with hot dogs, salad, potatos, etc and a bar.  On the other side of the tent you could stand next to little fires and watch the jumping.  It was great!

We stayed until our feet were numb and then headed home.  It was exciting to see some of the ski jumpers that workout in the same gym as us, jump and also to see a few USA flags and skiers.

As for news on the hockey front, the league is on Christmas break for the next 2 weeks.  They still have practice but no games until after Christmas.  Lillehammer is one point out of 2nd place and tied for 3rd.  It's a really tight race, 2nd place- 6th place are seperated by only 4 points in the standings.  So it should make for a really exciting 2nd half of the season.  Here is a the link again to the Pointstreak site where you can follow the team.  For some reason, the 2010/2011 season is still popping up so you have to go to the left side of the page and change the year to GET 2011/2012 with the little drop down box.

That's all I have for now!  Gino and I are taking advantage of his few days off and flying to Prague on Thursday.  This couldn't come at a better time, with my morning sickness at bay (FINALLY).  It will be nice to get out of Lillehammer for a few days and explore the Christmas markets and a beautiful new city.  If I don't write before Christmas, I wish everyone a very happy holiday and for all of you traveling over the holidays, I pray you have a safe trip.  Enjoy this time, hopefully away from work, and with your family and friends. 

God Bless and God Jul! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Where Did November Go!?

I'm sure alot of you are asking yourselves the same question..."Where the heck did November go!?"  I haven't written lately because we honestly haven't had a ton to write about!  On the hockey front, Gino's team is doing pretty well and is about half way through the regular season.  They have been shuffling between 2nd and 3rd place in the standings the last few weeks and Gino is currently 7th overall in the league for scoring.  Not bad!  They still have alot of hockey season left, so many things can change. 
I am happy to say that, unlike Minnesota, we don't have snow yet!!  I know, suprising. It's snowed a few times but melted right away.  Last year it snowed on the 11th or 12th of November.  But, it seems to be holding out.  I just checked the weather this morning for this week and its supposed to snow.  Oh well, we had a nice long Fall! Can't ask for much more than that.  This week has been in the 30's, which hasn't felt so bad but we had sort of an ice storm...I think around the same time that MN was getting some crazy weather.  Anyways, the roads are like skating rinks! They don't put down salt when it snows, instead they use gravel.  Makes it a little more bearable for the diesel engines.

We were lucky enough to have another set of visitors this year.  Gino's parents!  They flew in on Monday the 14th for a weeks stay.  This was their first time in Europe and Norway so it was really special.  They had a little bit of a hectic travel day getting here with a few delayed flights and some running from terminal to terminal.  But made it in one piece! They took the train in from the airport and were able to experience the beautiful ride mixed with a little nap time so they were pretty refreshed when we picked them up from the Lillehammer train station. 

Tuesday was Tessie's 50th birthday so when they walked into their apartment we had a happy birthday banner up and a fridge stocked with food and goodies for the week.  What a great way to spend your 50th, in Lillehammer Norway!  Since I am an avid knitter of scarves...just scarves (currently working on expanding my knitting repetoire)  I decided a while ago that I was going to make one for Tessie's birthday present.  She opened it on Tuesday and loved it!

Tuesday also happened to be a home game for Gino and the first game that Tessie and Pat have seen Gino play in about 2 years. They were beyond excited to experience a European hockey game.  Lillehammer  played Valerenga (from Olso) who they are actually tied with in 2nd place.  It was a great game for them to see.  Lillehammer won 6-3 and they had a great crowd.  Pat and Tessie really enjoyed the European style of play and on the olympic sheet of ice.  Its very uptempo, alot of skating, making plays, etc.  Just a different style from North American hockey.  For example, in North America you don't usually see 2 captians playing paper rock sizzors to decide who shoots first in a shoot out.  But here in Norway its occasionally part of the game. Welcome to European Hockey!
After the big win, we took them to dinner at Lillehammer Pizzeria for some bernaise pizza and a kabob.  We ended the wonderful day back at the apartment for ice cream cake.

The next morning we took a long walk into town and showed them around Storgata.  The sun is starting to set at about 3:45ish so that doesn't leave alot of time to sight see during daylight hours!  You will notice in alot of our pictures that they sort of look like dusk when its only about 2pm.

We of course had to swing by our favorite cafe, Nikkers, for a coffee and waffle.  I think that little cafe has been one of the highlights of both mine and Gino's parents trips.  Its a great, cozy cafe.

Kind of a funny story...actually its a really funny story.  We were all up at the counter ordering drinks and Pat decided to order an expresso, later telling us that he didn't really know what that was but he thought it would be like a cappuccino or something.  Anyways, as we were preparing our waffles, the waitress dropped our drinks off at the table.  When Gino and I got to the table, he couldn't stop laughing and said, "look at my dad's drink!"  It was literally the size of a small baby tea cup. Tessie was the next person to get to the table and we were all laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes.  When Pat came up, he sort of rolled his eyes and got a good laugh.  Leave it to the iron ranger to order a "manly" expresso!  To put it into perspective, the toothpick glass next to the expresso is actually the size of 1.5 ounce shot glass...

After Nikkers, we headed back to the apartments for a bit and  Gino drove his parents to the top of the ski hill before the sun went down.  I stayed back, but from what I heard, they thought it was amazing and couldn't imagine jumping!  Like I said in past blogs, it takes a special person to jump from those tracks.  Like me, Pat is a little afraid of heights but they snapped some good photos while they were up at the top.

They also happend to be making snow that day.

When everyone got back to the apartments, we were trying to rack our brains on what to make for dinner.  Before Tessie and Pat arrived, Gino and I shopped for some basic food items to stock their fridge...goat cheese, ham, bread, yogurt, etc.  Well Tessie decided to whip up something with chicken and came up with the best meal!!!  She made sort of a chicken cordon blu type entree with the ham and goat cheese and actually threw a couple pieces of bread in the oven to toast them (they didnt have a toaster) to make bread crumbs.  Talk about using your resources or camping skills:)  For dessert...yes she also came up with a dessert from scratch, she sliced up some apples and used some of the cinnamon granola type cereal we bought them to make apple crisp.  It was great! 

Gino had an away game Thurs night so he was gone most of the day.  We decided to lounge around the apartments for a bit in the morning before heading off on a hike.  I took them up the trails by our house and then we hiked over to the Olympic Museum to browse around. We ended up not going into the actual museum portion because they were going to charge us and its WAY too expensive for what you get to see. Instead, we walked around and checked out the Olympic exhibits inside of the arena which is just as cool. 
After the hike we headed back home and lounged around a bit and then met up for popcorn and a movie.  We talked Pat into watching The Sound of Music.  He had never seen it before!!!!  A week later and I'm still singing "I am sixteen going on seventeen" in my head.  AHHHHHH

On Friday, we were on the hunt for some good ol Norwegian christmas ornaments for Tessie to take back home with her. We stopped in one of the cutest shops just off of Storgata and it was all decorated for Christmas.  Tessie made a haul and left with some really good buys.  It was so pretty in the shop, we had to snap a picture.

Friday was also the day of the ice storm, the roads were awful!  It looked like there was a sheet of snow/frost on the ground but nope, it's all ice.  May need to break out my spikes, although I was hoping I wouldn't have to do that until it snowed!
Saturday was another game day for Gino.  Luckily, this was a home game against Manglerud.  It was great timing for Pat and Tessie to visit and be able to see 2 home games.  With them playing every other game at home, they only had 2 weeks throughout the year where you would see 2 home games in 1 week.  Here's a picture of all the ladies watching warmups.

After a HUGE win for Lillehammer, 10-4, (Gino had 1 goal and 2 assists) we all went out as a group for dinner to celebrate. 

Sunday was Pat and Tessie's last day Lillehammer.  They were flying out of Oslo at 11am on Monday morning.  We decided to take one last walk into town and have a coffee and waffle at Nikkers.   They had started putting up Christmas decorations on Storgata so that was really cool for them to see! Looks a little like a ghost town.  Sundays are a day of rest...

The rest of their trip was spent watching the Vikings lose on the slingbox and eating junk food in our apartment.  Overall, it was a wonderful trip and so good to see Gino's parents.  We are very blessed that both sets of parents were able to visit this year. It sure does make the season go by faster for us.  Now we have Thanksgiving with the North Americans, a little trip to Prague, and Christmas in Lillehammer to look forward to.  It will be January in no time!  I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the time with your families!   I know for Gino and I, we have alot to be thankful for in our life especially our friends and family (all of you who are reading this blog).


Monday, October 17, 2011

Long Overdue Trip to Oslo

We finally made it to Oslo!  I feel bad that we didn't bother traveling there last year when it's not only the capital of Norway but also only 2 1/2 hours from Lillehammer.  Anyways, we experienced all that Oslo has to offer last week!  Gino and I carpooled with our friends, Evan and Jillian, and happened to go on a beautiful fall day.  THANK GOD.
 I know some of our Norwegian friends might disagree....but before going to Oslo, I was researching "things to do" in the city and came across a poll taken on Trip Advisor.  They surveyed 1,400 people and found that Olso ranked #3 in one of the most boring cities in Europe.  Warsaw was #1 in case you were wondering.  We were still excited to go but had the mindset that this wasn't going to be like Paris or anything!  The guys had an early practice last Saturday and were done by 11am so we left soon after and arrived in Oslo around 1:30.  The city was pretty busy and I'm glad we had another couple with us so we could all help navigate around.  We easily found a parking ramp, parked the car and walked around the block a bit to get our bearings.  We started walking towards the water to find a  central place to meet up at in a few hours.  We happened to run into a Burger King so of course got excited and had to stop in.  I know...woo hoo.  But seriously, it was exciting! Gino and I split a whopper quick, which was delicious, and headed back to the main shopping street called Karl Johans Gate and ran into some street preformers.  Either there are hundreds of the exact same street performers all over Norway or these few performers travel to different cities...not sure.  But, I've seen the same costumed performers in Lillehammer a few times.  Michael Jackson?

After a quick pic, the couples separated for a few hours.  Before I go on, here are a few fun facts I found about Oslo.
  • Population: 600,000
  • Daylight in July: 18 hours, 41 minutes
  • Official Religion: Protestant
  • Political System: Parlimentary Democracy, Monarchy
    • King Harold V
    • Queen Sonja
    • Crown Prince Haakon Magnus
    • Crown Princess Mette-Marit
  • Oslo is Scandinavia's Sunniest Capital!
Gino and I continued to walk down Karl Johans Gate towards the Royal Palace which sits on top of a hill at the end of the street basically overlooking Oslo.

As you can see, the palace is under restoration.  In 2010, 20.9 Million Kroner (about $3.75 Million US) was allocated from the state budget to restore the palace.  I guess it was critized in the newspaper for being way too much money.  But aparently, it needed it!  This is the official residence of the Monarchy but they have numerous castles and estates they stay in throughout the year.

Here is the view of the city from the palace stairs.
We moseyed through the Royal Park, which is directly behind the palace.  There were alot of people out strolling their babies and walking their dogs.  It was a very pretty park with ponds and bridges all over the place.  When we started walking back to the palace, I snuck a couple pics of the guards.  WHAT A BORING JOB! Right??

The royal soldiers do a transition march in front the the palace at 1:30pm daily.  We had just missed it!
After the Palace, we walked over to the Harbor (Aker Brygge area) to check out the scene on the board walk and ran into the Nobel Peace Prize building.  Since the Nobel Peace Prize was just appointed earlier this month we thought we better head in and check out the museum.  It seemed really interesting...and FREE, so we were all over it.

We walked the Aker Brygge along the marina which was so beautiful.  It was packed with people eating outside and sitting on their sail boats and yachts.  You can kind of see the Akershus Fortress on the hill behind me.   

Which leads me to our next destination of the day...the Akershus Fortress.  It's a big stone castle built in the 1200's that was used as a fortress to protect the city.  It's built up on a little cliff overlooking the water.  Very beautiful! It's currently used for military purposes, tours, and special events.

We snapped a few photos and then decided to pay for the self guided tour.  Gino and I just finished watching all the seasons of The Tudors (about the Tudor dynasty, King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn etc).  Which is a great show, if you haven't seen it.  We learned alot about the history of the English Monarchy so touring the castle and learning about Norweigan Royalty was pretty amusing. 
We happened to be 2 out of the 4 people touring the entire castle so we found ourselves alone in all of the rooms.  Which was actually really scary.... ha.  Here I am, walking down into the dungeon  where prisoners were kept, oh and also where a few dead Norwegian kings and queens are biggie.


It was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop...not even kidding.  I was just waiting for a ghost to contact me and literally felt like I was on an episode of Ghost Hunters International.  I think if there would have been more people and we weren't the only 2 living beings wandering around a 12th century castle...then I would have been more comfortable.
Besides the dungeon, the rest of the castle was really interesting.  Alot of it had been restored but the furniture and tapestry's on the walls were all dated back to the 1200's.  Pretty amazing. 

After touring the castle for a few hours, we met up with Evan and Jillian for dinner and headed home.  It was a nice trip and I would totally recommend visiting Oslo, for anyone traveling to Norway.  There were so many museums that Gino and I would have loved to visit if we had more time and there's plenty to do.  So I would officially like to say that I do not agree with the Trip Advisor survey. Oslo..check!

If you've already heard me talk about this, sorry, but for those of you who haven't, I think its worth mentioning.  A few weeks ago, Jason Davis from "On The Road With Jason Davis", flew to Norway to do a piece on the 5 Minnesota guys on the Lillehammer team.  We all thought it was a little random but then found out that the King and Queen of Norway were going to be in Minnesota within the next few weeks and that KSTP was doing a whole segment on Norway.  So anyways, the guys went to the rink to interview with Jason while I went and worked out at the gym with a few of the girls.  After workout, I got home and within minutes received a message on skype from the guys saying that Jason wanted to take video of our apartment and that they would be over within the next 30 minutes.  So I start scrambling, doing the dishes left from last night, sweeping, making the bed, picking up clothes etc.  The apartments aren't the nicest anyways, and I didn't want it looking more like a pig pen than it already is! I had enough time to fix my hair into a "nicer" ponytail and slap on a little makeup over my sweaty, post gym face.  Somewhat presentable, thinking they would film the apartment and leave. 

WELL, to my complete suprise and shock, Jason Davis walks in with his camera guy and tells me to take the gum out of my mouth.  This was about 30 seconds after shaking my hand.  So of course I listened haha and spit it out.  He had Gino and I sit on the couch and taped us playing on the computer and asked a few questions about the lifestyle, etc.  So there I was....still sweaty from the gym, let alone the sweat I built up cleaning the aparmtment, and still wearing my gym clothes.  Just my luck....the ONE time I am ever on TV and I'm not showerd? Figures.  Oh well,  not like it's Oprah or the Grammy's or something. This was just my side of the story:)~
Here is the clip from the news.  All the guys did a great job and I just want to clarify that yes,  those are twigs on my bedroom wall and yes, they are decoration. Oh and I swear it looks slightly better in person.


Here are a few recipes that we made the last few weeks that are well worth sharing!!!  Let me know if you try them!

Creamy Chicken Baked Flautas   Must try it with the lime sourcream

Gino's amazing recipe of the week! 
Bangin Good Shrimp

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Cloutier's Conquer Norway!

It's hard to believe September has passed us by, and we have officially entered into a new season.  One of my favorite seasons, FALL!! Not to say I don't enjoy a good ol' Minnesota summer, but fall signifies bonfires, comfy sweaters, long walks, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and scarves!  My mom taught me to knit while they were here, and I just finished my second infinity scarf.  I love it! Luckily, yarn isn't so expensive here so that's one hobby that we can afford.  I'm a knitting machine! Ready to learn how to make other apparel.  I have the time, so I will be letting Youtube teach me!

On October 4th, we will have already been in Norway for 2 months.  Wow, that unfortunately makes a typical, 1 week vacation seem like a day trip!  September was a busy month for us.  With the official start of Gino's hockey season and my parents visit, our calendar was jam packed!  (When I say "jam packed" I'm referring to coffee dates, hockey games, market visits, entertaining my parents, hikes and of course the start of the new fall tv series).  But, I've loved every minute of it!
 Lillehammer hockey is well underway and they've had 6 games and won 4 of the 6.  Pretty good!  Gino's been playing great and jumping right back into the swing of things.  Again, if you would like to follow the stats you can by clicking on the link below.
Pointstreak LIK

Oh! before I forget again, here's a great article about Gino on the MN Star Trib Hockey Hub website.  He was chosen as one of the top 100 greatest players in MN high school hockey.  Wonderful accomplishment!  He was contacted by one of the reporters and gave a little interview a few weeks ago.  We weren't sure at the time what number he was going to be.  I'll let you find out for yourself! 
NOTE: Please no comments on the hair...he's sensitive:)
100 Greatest Minnesota Highschool Hockey Players Of All Time

My parents arrived in Norway on Thursday 15th.  It marked their first trip to Europe with hopefully many more to come.  I took the 9am train to the airport and got into Oslo, Gardermoen at 11ish.  Their plane was getting in at 11:05am, so it was perfect timing.  I'd told them to stop in the Duty Free shop, before retrieving their bags, for a few bottles of wine!  For those of you who aren't familiar with Duty Free, it's a one stop shop where you can purchase items that aren't taxed.  In some countries it's worth it....Norway being one of them!  I can buy a "cheap" bottle of wine for around 90 NOK (~$16).  They were able to purchase 3 bottles of wine for 160 NOK ($27).  So it was definetely worth it.  Anyways, after picking up the wine and their bags, they met me outside of customs.  They looked suprisingly rested for an 11 hour plane ride! I was so excited to see them! After a few hugs and a bathroom break,  we ran over to the train ticket counter to purchase our tickets back to Lillehammer.  At this time is was about 12:00 and the next train was scheduled in 5 minutes, which again was perfect timing!  The train ride was a great way for them to be welcomed into Norway.  The ride is a little over 2 hours and follows Lake Mjosa most of the way with views of the mountains around every corner.  Its really beautiful.  (If you want to see pictures of the train ride, you can look in my archive at my first blog entry...I think I have a few there)
Gino was waiting for us at the train station with the car when we arrived in Lillehammer.  Thankfully, the weather was cooperating, so we gave them a quick drive through of the city and back up to the apartments to unpack.  The team had an extra apartment open that just so happened to be on our floor so my parents were able to stay there.  It was fully furnished and equipped with dishes, pots/pans, bed sheets, towels etc.  Gino and I stocked the fridge with a few basics before they arrived so everything was ready for them.  After unpacking, they came over to our place for a quick coffee on the patio and then were ready to take in the scenery!  Talk about troopers! 
Gino had a game Thursday night so after coffee my parents and I went for our hike and left Gino to rest up before heading out to the game.  I took them to the trails near our apartment to show them the waterfalls.  They just loved it!  Again, everything was so green and lush.

After a little hike, we headed back to the apartment for dinner and relaxation before the game.  Side note...this was the first game that my parents have ever seen Gino play! Seems strange after all these years.  When he was playing for Anchorage,  my parents were at their condo in Fort Myers and Gino was going to be down for a few days playing against the Everblades in Fort Myers.  I flew down to see all of them and out of 3 games Gino didn't play one! Such a bummer.  Anyways, everything worked out for the best because he ended up leaving Anchorage to play for Phoenix a few weeks later, but thats another story!..moving on.   My parents were really excited to FINALLY see him play.  Well, they obviously brought the luck because Lillehammer ended up beating Manglerud 7-1.  Better yet, they saw Gino score!
It was beautiful on Friday! So, we ventured into town for coffee and a waffle at our favorite cafe, Nikkers.  It was nice enough outside to sit on the back patio and enjoy the creek.  My parents were just in love with the scenery.  You forget how beautiful it is here until someone visits and you see it through their eyes for the very first time.  I have a whole new appreciation for Lillehammer and Norway! 

We strolled down Storgata for a while and stopped in a few shops along the way.  My mom wanted to find some Norwegian decor for the house and after seeing the prices in some of the shops they were a little suprised.  We happened to walk buy the Fretex (a "nice" salvation army) and decided to browse.  This was not a typical salvation army we have back home...that's for certain.  Alot of the items sold still had tags on them and the place was packed with people just like us.  My mom ended up finding a pair of cheap leggings with the tags still on them. She was now ready to walk the streets in European fashion:)  After such a great find, we ended up venturing back into Fretex numerous times throughout the week.  
Before heading back up to the apartments, we strolled down into the central park and over to the cemetery by the old Protestant church.
That night we took them out to eat at Toscanas, a local Italian restaurant that we had been eyeing up since last year!  It was really great food and pretty resonably priced for Norway standards.  After dinner we showed them the brewery/restaurant built into the side of a hill.  As we were walking in, my mom ran into a stuffed grizzly bear......she was scared.  Sorry mom!  Just too good of a pic not to post.

Gino had a game on Saturday in Hamar, which meant he was pretty much out of commisson most of the day leading up to the game.  So my parents and I took a long hike up the mountain.  As we were walking to the start of the trails we saw a herd of people in running gear trying to take a group picture.  I asked them if they needed me to take the picture so I did and we proceeded to ask what they were up too. They said 15,000 people were going to be running in a 24 km race starting at the top of the trails and the finish would be at the Olympic Park (where Gino's arena is).   I've noticed in the last year that Lillehammer hosts a variety of sports events throughout the year.  A few weeks ago they had a huge bike race and this week a running race.  In winter they have a cross country skiing race etc.  It was a cool set up for my parents to see. After mosying around Olympic Park for a bit we continued to walk down a few side streets just to explore.

Saturdays are always great days to walk into town because the streets are very lively!  They have street vendors selling food, pan handlers playing music for money, and all the patio's of the cafe's are packed.  We headed to the farmers market to purchase some cheap fruit, which my parents loved.  There's just something about farmers markets and buying fresh fruit and vegetables from the growers themselves.  It makes you feel like you've done a good dead or something!
On our hike back home, we took a little detour and found this great photo spot!  I ended up taking Gino here a few days ago since he missed it.  Just spectacular panoramic views of Lillehammer
 When we returned to the apartments we had to quickly get ready and head out to Gino's game in Hamar (biggest rival and about 45 min from Lillehammer).  Since I have the luxury of driving an automatic WOO HOO, I drove my parents there and Jillian picked up the rest of the girls and followed.  Gino ended up giving us directions to Hamar via Google Maps.... they were awful!!!!  Not Gino's fault at all, but none of the street signs Google Maps told us to look for were right!  Luckily he wrote down the name of the arena and as we were approaching Hamar there were all these random signs saying Ol Amfi (the arena).  We followed those and made it to the game with 20 min to spare!  The game was pretty intense and my parents had alot of fun.  Lillehammer ended up beating Hamar 4-3, scoring the 4th goal with 3 min on the clock.  It was so exciting!  That makes it the 4th game in a row that Lillehammer has won in their arena dating back to the playoffs last year.  I think I can officially say, my parents are hockey fans!

Sunday was a little rainy and cold so we had planned to do a few indoor touristy things.  But first we took a drive to the ski resort town, Hafjell (about 15 min away) to show them around and also to stop at the grocery store to pick up some pasta sauce.  Side Note:  Everything is basically shut down in town as far as clothing and grocery stores go and we found out that there's a Kiwi (local grocery store chain)  that is open on Sundays in Hafjell!
It was a really beautiful ride through the mountains, even in the rainy drizzle!  We stopped for a photo of the man holding the Olympic torch that's cut out of the trees on the side of a mountain.  I guess it's supposed to be a pretty neat view as you're skiing down the opposite hill. Not the best photo.... but you get it.

On our ride back to Lillehammer we took a drive up the mountain on the opposite side of the town to  see a new view point.  I wish the weather would have been a little better but it was so neat to look down on the town!

You can see the arena with the white dome on the left.  At this point it was 3:30pm and we had wanted to see the Olympic Museum but it closed at 4:00pm.  We ended up driving over just to see how big it was and if we could get in for a quick walk through before 4pm.  When we went to the enterance it was locked so we started walking away a little disappointed but a little blond Norwegian girl quickly came around to open it for us and let us in.  I guess there was some creepy man causing some issues around the building so she had the door locked.  She actually wasn't sure if he was still in the building somewhere or not but let us in anyways... strange.  Since we were there so late she just let us in for free!  Nice, considering its about $20/person to get in!  I had thought the museum was going to showcase only the 94' Olympics in Lillehammer but there was a little display on the history of the Olympics and every city its ever been.  Afterwards, we walked around the huge arena where the hockey was played for the 94' Olympics and also saw the Olympic egg used during the opening ceremonies.

Monday was my parents last full day in Lillehammer.  So naturally, we started the day off with a coffee and waffle at Nikkers.  I love how cozy this looks!

We took them down to the lake after Nikkers and enjoyed the serenity of the water.  It's always so calm down there.  I haven't really ever seen any boats or jet skis tooling around the lake so it must be pretty cold year round. 

This has absolutely no relevance but, I had the creative bug and made everyone pose for a "head" shot.hehe

Anyways, we had just one more thing to show them before the trip was over and we happened to wait until the last day to take them.  It just so happened to be the best day to go!  THE TOP OF THE SKI HILL.  As you can see, we live in a relatively small town and the hike to the ski hill is a big deal!  We actually decided to drive up because of all the hiking and walking we had done all week.  At the top of the ski hill is this beautiful restaurant but unfortuanatly closed a few months ago... I think it's just seasonal.

I was able to zero in on a picture of our apartments from the deck of the restaurant. You can see the two twin apartment buildings...ours is on the left.

We started walking towards the ski hill for a few pics and noticed there were people jumping!!! How exciting.  Here's a pic of us walking down the stairs to the area where the ski jumpers started their descent.  I have so much respect for ski jumpers...and have no idea how they can do it with only a suit and a helmet!

Where the jumpers started....ugh. 

What a perfect time for my parents to see the ski jump and witness ski jumpers in all their glory!

Oh and we had to obviously take a picture with one of the jumpers.  I couldn't resist being a complete tourist.  I'm sure he was flattered...or maybe weirded out. Oh well, not my problem!

It was such a great trip with my parents and we're so thankful they were able to make it out here and visit.  They can now understand why we love the lifestyle and know what we are experiencing over on this side of the pond.  After the week in Norway, they traveled to Paris for a week.  We skyped with them a few times and I think it's safe to say they left their hearts in Paris! What a great 34th Anniversary trip. 
Our next set of visitors will be Gino's parents in November!  This is the year for visitors.  Again, we are so blessed they can also make the trip out to see us and we're excited to show them around our town!
This update has been SUPER long so I will post my reciepes of the week in the next entry.  Gino was SOOOOOOOOOO jealous that I was blogging about recipes and decided he would like to join in on the fun and cook 1 new meal a week to add to the blog.  His day is Friday.  Can't wait to see what he comes up with:)  Stay tuned!