Friday, April 15, 2011

The Norwegian Bloggers

Because our 6-day sea voyage was bookended by THREE sets of Norwegian bloggers, that is where I will start this odyssey of our Norway trip.

Three sets. Three couples. 4 Norwegians. One American. One Filipino-Spanish. And if you add in Astrid and myself, another American and one Dutch woman.

The incredible power of virtual reality becoming real!

1. Renny and Diane: Oslo

The first weekend we spent 4 nights with Renny and Diane in Oslo.
He's Norwegian and she's American, from New York, now in Oslo for 12 years.
One main reason for showing their housing complex is the of THE Norwegian basic colors for houses. Very hard to miss!

If you can't take a joke....!
Our first full day in Oslo was a SUNNY Friday, and while Diane worked, Renny took us out to see the sights. We walked out of the parking garage and immediately 'dealt' with these two lovelies, sculpted by Skule Waksvik.
What a way to start off our day!

Oslo's city center is right on the harbor where all the big crusie ships dock. I remembered it well from the Scandinavian cruise Donica and I took back in 2006. Nothing had changed.
Town Hall's two towers; the sculptures; the Nobel Peace building; the open fish market.

We had already decided ahead of time to take the hop-on-hop-off boat cruise that came with our free 72-hour/3-day Oslo Pass.

Renny and Diane had already hosted a big Blog Gathering last year, attended by our very own Vagabonde, amongst others. Thanks to that event (which we were unable to attend), we got some of our own freebies AND free Oslo Passes. THANK YOU!

BUT because there was still ice on the Oslo fjord, the hop-on/off boats (with wood bottoms) were not able to run. Instead, we took a two-hour fjord cruise in a boat with a metal bottom that could break through the patches of ice. It was worth every minute, giving us a foretaste of the longer voyage to come the following week. It was a great way to get many of the city's highlights. You can see Renny's take on it here.

After a full day on the town, we rendezvoused with Diane after her work, and stopped to buy fresh cod for dinner on our way home. Our appetites were more than ready for the typical Norwegian meal Renny and Diane served up for us, joined by Tor and Anna, the last set of Norwegian bloggers.

I'll get back to Tor and Anna later because we stayed with them the following weekend after our sea voyage. But it was wonderful to meet them at Renny and Diane's, to share the camaraderie that had been building for weeks.

Renny and Tor are both computer/IT wizzards, so you can just imagine how we all started going 100 mph on our different ways of uploading and sorting through all our images.
And that's saying nothing about the fact that Renny is THE consummate Blogger's Ambassador, championing the making of blogs and not war!

Diane's blog had been in hibernation for 3 months because of her social work stress. Babysitting these two gerbils who adore her was her lifeline. But it appears she became freshly inspired by our visit and started blogging again here after we left.
I love it when we can feed off of each other, don't you?!

By the way, that's her youngest son, Kyle, sitting next to her...and still living at home....

...and since he also was such a gentleman in welcoming us to his home, we got involved with his life as well.
His RUSS 2011 life! That's all about his high school graduation and the rite of passage they all go through, including this uniform, worn by the girls, too. That's another story altogether...but very Norwegian!
We got our education.

On a foggy Saturday, we were off again to see the Kon Tiki and Fram museums, all minus Anna. We had already become one big happy family. Too much like fun!

Then to the Norwegian open-air Folk Museum without Tor. Just the 4 of us.
See how Renny immerses himself into the lives of other people (bottom left image above)? He's like that...a friend to anyone and everyone from anywhere.

Are you still following this...and noticing that this is a post about the people more than about what we saw! But I'm still trying to whet your appetite for the posts to come. HA!

Our last full day, Sunday, before our sea voyage, was spent relaxing and visiting the Oslo Opera House. I'll talk about it more in another post but it's the only opera house in the world where you can walk up to and on the roof. Incredible, especially in the fog.
Thanks to Diane we had a lovely tour of the backstage inards.
And surely you didn't miss Tor, at 6' 6", waving his arms.

It really is an awesome construction!

Can you tell how much we enjoyed each other?
Thank you, Renny and Diane.

2. Charles and Odd: Bergen

Totally unbeknownst to us, we found out another blogger, Charles, lives in Bergen, the end city of our sea voyage. And since we were staying there overnight, before our next day's train ride to Oslo, we made sure we hooked up with them.
Charles is Filipino-Spanish and Odd is Norwegian, now married for 2 years.

Charles met us at the port, helped us take our luggage to the YMCA, and then we were off to meet Odd for sights of the city.

Lucky for us, Charles insisted on making us a Thai supper, and Odd insisted on a movie for our wonderful evening together. It was short but sweet. Friends forever.
Thank you, Charles and Odd.

The next day we were off on the 7-hour train ride to Oslo, west to east, across this incredible country called Norway. And that takes us back to Tor and Anna....

3. Tor and Anna: Oslo

It so happened it was Tor's 66th birthday that Sunday, April 10. Two month's later it'll be mine, so we have long ago decided we are long-lost twins. And why not!

Lucky for us again, we had a splendid meal prepared for us by Anna.
An avocado-caviar appetizer followed by a potato-fish casserole and home-grown berries with ice cream.
True Norwegian cuisine.

While eating, we found out that Anna had hand-painted not only the dinner plates but an entire set of Christmas plates. Just for fun and pleasure! An artist amongst us.

This is Anna, a high-school teacher of challenging kids! She has no interest in her own blog but clearly keeps herself busy with her collectibles and two Manx cats. I've decided after meeting her that she's an actress!
So much more full of life than I was expecting. Tor, too.

While Anna was off to school the next day, Tor stayed home to show off his neighborhood, overlooking the Oslo fjord...the same one we had crusied with Renny a week earlier.

Then we were off to Drøbak for the rest of the day before flying home.
Nice and relaxing and sunny, just like our first full day with Renny a week earlier.
Drøbak is where Tor's paternal grandmother, Martha, was born in 1882, so it was another special piece of Norwegian life.

And then, to top off the Incredible Adventures of Astrid and Ginnie while in Norway, Tor surprised us and took us to the scenic overview of Oslo from the Ekeberg hill where Edvard Munch got his inspiration for his famous painting, Skrik/Scream. Since we hadn't visited his museum, it was the next best thing.
And what a way to end our trip before driving to Gardermoen airport!
Thank you, Tor and Anna.

There you have it. The Norwegian bloggers. The bookends to our sea voyage. There was no better place to start for me but with them. Norway will never be the same without them!


  1. Dear Ginnie, what a wonderful post showing you had a great time in Norway! Nothing makes me happier than to know that - you know :-)

    This also reminds me of the great time we had together! Thanks for the warm words and I'll return: You are a great couple, easy going and a pleasure to have as visitors!

    You know my saying: "Blogging Connecting People" This is one of the most wonderful proof of how true that is.

  2. Oh, I just love looking at your fascinating mosaics and collages. You must work so hard on them! I get to travel and "sightsee" vicariously through your posts. It's almost like you're providing a public service, haha! (I mean that in a good way.)

  3. Renny: We already knew we'd all hit it off, of course, but the fact that we did just made it all better. As I said more than once, you ALL were better than I expected. :) That's fun. Thanks to you and Diane again for your great hospitality.

    Karen: Thank you, dear lady. I do these posts for Astrid and me so that we won't forget anything. That others like you take pleasure in them as well is the frosting on the cake.

  4. It must have been incredible to meet these brothers and sisters in blog. I could just imagine there's more fun you had than you cared to share in photos :)

    Lovely lovely time I see.

  5. Oh this is so lovely Ginnie! I do agree with Renny too! What will be fun for us is to see Tor here in Victoria this summer. We will do much of the same with them getting to know each other.... One amazement is why yellow for the house, it's beautiful and adds so much life to Renny's area.

  6. Ginnie,
    "papa" is overwhelmed and allmost speechless. The two of you made our week, even when you where on the Cruise and in Bergen.
    When we first met at Renny and Diane's home, we allready knew each other, and like you said: Even better in reality than in the Blogosphere.
    Your Photos from our meetings are fantastic and show in detail what you and we experienced.

    Hugs to the both of you.
    Hope to meet you soon again.

    PS. Anna will comment later;-)

  7. Hello Ginnie! Beautiful photos and we really enjoyed your company. I hope you and Astrid will visit us again soon or we'll visit you in the Netherlands. Regards to Astrid! :)

  8. PC: When you actually LIKE the bloggers you meet, Maria, after knowing them for so long virtually, it is really a treat. And yes, more fun stories than I could possibly share. :)

    ET: Besides this goldish-yellow there is a deep red color for houses. Everywhere. So Scandinavian, actually. You'll love meeting Tor and Anna. You'll be surprised by how tall he is. I still can't believe it.

    Tor: Aren't we the luckiest people in the world, 'Papa.' I think my best memory of you is when I saw you standing there looking out over the Oslo fjord from your neighborhood. You were trance-like! What a time we had. Thank you.

    Charles: Thank you, thank you. There's always a standing invitation for you to meet up with us here in our own neck of the woods. :)

  9. Wow, start off with a bang with Skule's sculptures. :D

    It looks as though your friends treated you like Norwegian royalty! How fantastic. All that food inside looks as appealing as the great architecture and sights outside. I can only imagine the fun of joining this way for several days. I have done it with Susie twice now at B&Bs, and we go a million miles a minute too. I do love how your post is more about the people than the sights!

    Love the Folk Museum building. Wow. And Bergen. Mmm.

    All of it, I can smell the sea air! And it does me such good.

  10. Ruth said it right, we were welcomed and treated like Royalty by our bloggerfriends.
    Amazing what the Internet connects, not only can we send e-mails with the speed of a light year.
    It connects bloggerfriends and makes it possible to meet in flesh and blood.
    This first post is a great appetizer for what comes next.
    We met some fabulous people, we felt so welcome, we tasted a little bit of 'Norwegian life'.
    The pictures show the friendship, it shows 'just normal people' that like to connect.
    I feel fortunate to be able to be part of it.
    Thank you all, thank you for everything.

  11. Ruth: Can't beat Skule's telling it like it is, can you. :) How fun. I thought of you at every meal we ate along the way, even on the boat, knowing you would love the wonderful food. Being royalty for all that time really spoiled us. HA. But that's why we need vacations, to get us away from our normal rhythms. It all was wonderful. You'll see more of it in the days to come....

    Astrid: We were on Cloud 9 our entire trip, I think! It's been hard coming back down to earth. :) It really was a trip of a lifetime. We are so lucky to have met our old friends who are now new. Yes, thank you for everything.

  12. I do believe you are following a path carved by my own history and memories :O) Do you remember your post about Scheveningen and how it brought back memories ? Well this post has done the same.

    Almost exactly 44 years ago, I visited Norway on a school trip. We went to Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger and I have never forgotten it: the lovely coloured houses, fjords and the friendliness of the Norwegians to a group of 10 year olds away from home for the first time. Lovely, lovely memories and I'd love to go back.

    I wonder...did you go to the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo too ? I also remember visiting the original Fantoft Stave church near Bergen (original because that was detsroyed in an arson attck in the 90s).

    Thanks so much for all the lovely images and memories :O)

  13. Cusp: It's amazing, isn't it, all the connections and bridges we cross. I love it! Thanks for sharing and for commenting. We did NOT go to Vigeland Park this time because we had both been before. Maybe the next timje, because it really is a wonder, isn't it! We loved the Stave church at the outdoor museum. I had seen that, too, before, but it was a first for Astrid.

  14. I am so pleased your enjoyed your trip – well I knew you would enjoy it because of your blogging friends and because Norway is such a beautiful and friendly country. Your pictures are very good and while watching them I felt I was back in Oslo. When we were there last August I took few pictures of the people attending the Blog Gathering. I think it is something about me, having been raised in Paris where people are more formal, I am always reluctant to photograph people for fear of intruding into their space, so I enjoyed looking at your pictures. We only stayed in Oslo 2 ½ days and it was way too short. Your collages are so vibrant of life and joy to see.

  15. Vagabonde: I certainly understand your reluctance about taking pictures of the people. That's why it was important to me to get permission from all of these lovely people before posting. I realize with every passing day that our time in Oslo and Bergen with the bloggers was every bit as wonderful as our sea voyage. Thank you.

  16. To be treated with such open arms and welcome! What a whirlwind of fun and learning. I loved Renny's photography and the glimpse into other people's homes. If everyone were so blessed with traveling the world and seeing we aren't really so different from one another maybe we would have more peace.... maybe blogging IS helping a bit towards that end? :)

  17. Margaret: Oh, yes! I so agree with you. Renny is always saying, "Make blogs, not war!" He loves to educate people about his country, just as I do about Holland. Just think how much is at our fingertips now because of blogging...including wonderful friends. Thank you.

  18. Now the weekend has come and I have time to comment! I feel just so HAPPY when I see you post. I love how you make your collages and I think you have captured our visit very well, and am so happy to see you with Chaz and Odd, and you capture Tor and Anna very well. I have been to visit them and spent time with them for many years so I recognise these special people in your post!! Excellent and so happy you enjoyed your trip. I am looking forward to your boat trip, wonder how it was!

  19. Woo hoo, the journey beginneth! What a fantastic start and end to your voyage! It's amazing how the blogging world effectively shrinks the world for us all.

    When we went to the Oslo Opera House it was still closed, and you not only got to go inside but got a backstage tour! Me green!!! Eager to see the pics!

    Wonderful to see this international camaraderie and cuisine! Speaking of cuisine. Do you mind if I helped myself to that caviar avocado appetizer? That is the biggest heaping helping of caviar I've ever seen!

  20. Diane: I love your happiness on my account, dear lady. Thank you. I love how our blogging family has just become bigger and better because of each other. For YOUR part in that, we'll be eternally grateful. THANK YOU. And how wonderful to see you blogging again. :)

    DB: Yes, indeed. The journey has begun! :) It'll be a long time before it ends, I'm afraid. HA! You'll love the Opera House when I get to it. And yes, there was enough caviar on that avocado to last me a lifetime. What a treat for my untested palate!

  21. I'm in overwhelm... what an incredible collection of images and memories... I will be doing collages from now on when I travel... it allows one to include so much more in a shorter space and is truly an amazing way to share so much about your adventures. It does not surprise me at all (from our correspondence) that you meet such wonderful people in your virtual world and then wind up meeting them in real life and sharing such marvelous experiences. (as you know, I'm quite far behind EVERYWHERE, so I'm saving your next post for later after I finish grocery shopping and visit V&V to see what you have to say there.. and I hope to come back here again when I'm not out of groceries and feeling rushed to get to the store and restock before lunch) :-)

  22. Victoria: I'd love to believe that one day YOU will be the blogger I'm meeting! Wouldn't that be something else. It's possible, you know.

    I love the collages, which have totally transformed the way I document our trips these days. No more photo albums, except in the rarest of situations (not for the blog). I love that you appreciate them, too. Thank you for your kind support. And thanks for finding me in between the grocery shopping. :)

  23. What a great journey! One never knows where our virtual reality will lead to in person realities. Without my former blog my wife and I probably would have never married. It was through my former blog that my now wife discovered that I was a whole lot more than she ever imagined.

  24. Ginnie, you and Astrid had such a great time. And I think meeting these wonderful blogger friends made all the difference. I'm downright jealous!!!
    What a wonderful experience for all of you.

  25. Tim: You are so right! You surely know by now that Astrid and I are married today because of my SC blog, this one, and Skype...all virtual realities. I didn't know how much that was true for you till now, so thanks for sharing. :)

  26. Carola: The sea voyage would NOT have been the same without these bookends, for sure. We felt very lucky! Thank you.

  27. Really really enjoyed this! You had such a great time with wonderful people. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing so many pics with us! Ciao!

  28. I knew you would have a fab time together. We've been there too - at the Oslo blog gathering as well as in France with them, so we know :-)

  29. Sil: It was wonderful in every way! New friends now in Norway!!! :)

    LTB: Yes, I know you've met because they already speak highly of you. Now it's OUR turn to meet YOU. :)