Thursday, March 29, 2012

Manafossen

Even though we made this hike over two weeks ago in less-than-ideal conditions, it was still so much fun that I couldn't wait any longer to share it!  We were very fortunate to be accompanied on this hike by two new friends - Leif Christian and Therese.  Leif Christian and I work together and the four of us were at a company ski trip that could have been a big bust (the weather was rainy and windy - not great skiing conditions) but it wasn't thanks to this fine couple!  Rather than go skiing for a second day, we packed up and headed out of Sirdal to Manafossen.  Here's a preview of some of the great scenery.




This is one of Norway's largest waterfalls and includes a great hike up and around it.  This whole area is really beautiful and could also include a stop to the candle factory in Byrkjedal.


I've decided that every "hike" I've been on prior to moving to Norway was really just a walk.  THIS is hiking. And our friends told us that it was an easy one too!  Pulling myself up the hill by a chain? Easy? I can't wait to see what is challenging!
Yes, I have on my ski pants and snow boots... I suspect those boots made the ascent a little more difficult   but this was an impromptu hike after all.  There is actually a sign at the beginning that warns against wearing high heels.  Now THAT would be an impromptu hiking outfit. 
We made it to the waterfall and it was well worth the effort!  

We kept hiking up and around and eventually made it to the mouth of the waterfall on the other side.  The views were wonderful and Man Farm could be seen from the top.  With more time, we probably would have continued our hike over there, but we saved it for another day better for a picnic!  Jeff quenched his thirst at the mouth of the waterfall. Don't worry - no sheep were seen upstream..



Two of my favorite spots - the bridge and the moss covered tree grove.  And you can see our friends in the blue and red jackets below! You better believe they had their hiking boots, rain gear, and trail snacks.  I've learned Norwegians are always ready for an outdoor adventure!  I might need to make a checklist...



We will definitely be making this hike again!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Bike Ride

It was a pretty normal Saturday today.  The house was straightened and Jeffrey cut bananas to put in my cereal (I love that).  We ran a few errands - Ikea and Coop Obs (the Norway version of Lowes) and met some new friends for lunch at our favorite new spot Ostehuset (Cheese House - need I say more?). We walked home in the sun, not a care in the world. Then BAM.

Jeff realized that our parking pass expires soon. Scratch that. It expires today! This normally wouldn't be cause for too much alarm except public parking is very expensive near our house (I'm talking 8/hr, people!) and there's no point in risking it because I swear the parking police hide in the bushes just to give us tickets (we've had two...ick) so leaving it wasn't an option.  After cursing the parking office for not being open on a Saturday, we decide to just drive our car to work and take the train back.  Better yet, we decide to bike back!  Four miles. FOUR. I don't bike all that much. In fact, I wasn't even sure if my cruiser could take it.

Jeffrey made sure my helmet was all snug and then we began our trek.  Some parts weren't fun - hills, gravel, the child that sped past me going up the gravely hill leaving me huffing and puffing in his dust...  But then there was the mountains, and the fjords, and the early blooming flowers, and Jeffrey doing zig zags ahead of me so I could catch up. It was one of those stressful situations that turned into a fun afternoon.  And I liked it.

Don't I look so very stylish on my cruiser? Favorite accessory - reflective ankle band.

When we got home, we tossed the ball for Pistol.  And he liked it, too.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Welcome to Our House!

Finally, a post about our new house here in Stavanger.  I guess new is relative because it was actually built around 1840 or so.  I love thinking about all the history this house has seen and the lives that have called this house their home.  Now we can too!  Of course some of it has changed (wait until you see the bathroom.. pretty sure that's a recent update) but the wood walls on the first floor are all original along with the fire place (one of our favorite features). Let's take a tour!

First, we'll start with a quick visual of our location on a map.  We live in an area called Gamle Stavanger (or "Old Stavanger").


In short, its a preserved area of wooden houses all built in the 18th century.  If you're interested, read more about it here - see the couple looking up at the white house with the blue gate??  That's our house!

We only just realized this recently and are still pretty excited.  Anyway.  The neighborhood is very charming and full of character. It's no wonder that tourists come to this area to look around on their visits.  I'm already preparing for some awkward eye contact through our front windows because we hear they'll peer in. Should be interesting!  Here are a few more shots of the neighborhood.


And there are some great views between the rooftops of the harbor.


Now for our house!  We enter through the side door through that blue gate because there is a mud room there.  No one wears their shoes inside because it's usually raining so most houses have an area for you to put your shoes and coats when you walk in.  Okay, so after taking your shoes off, step into our kitchen.







 Cozy right?  I'm adjusting to less counter space pretty well and the storage space hasn't been too much of an issue thanks to the hutch near the dining room table (remember the piece of furniture that was too tall but we had to make it work?  That's it!)  It's been very easy to adjust to the heated floors, the airy windows and the wood fireplace (love love love).  Next stop? The living room and the study.


We absolutely love our sectional, and I was so happy when I knew for sure it was going to make it into this room (it was taken completely apart and put back together again).  I knew it would fit based on measurements but I wasn't sure if it would be too big for the room.  Turns out, we think it's perfect!  Not pictured is Jeff's TV which the couch is facing - thanks to our 2000 watt transformer, it's worked like a charm too!  And the study...


About 1/4 of this room is not in the picture so it's not ALL chair.  We had to have a good reading chair though and a desk or course.   Let's go upstairs!


Pistol's excited too! There is a spare bedroom up here but lucky guests will get to stay in the loft up that ladder :)  Next is the bathroom - the most modern room in the house.


Also quite possibly the largest room in the house. Not sure why but I won't complain.  Shower is a bit of a tight squeeze - just more motivation for evening runs! Gotta love those heated floors and windows though.  The spare bedroom has a good windows too.


The windows overlook our backyard. We can't wait for a little warmer weather so we can bring out the grill.




We have a good view of the harbor from the top of the stairs too.  Sometimes all we can see is an enormous ship though - still not quite used to that!


And finally, our room.  The light's not as great on this side because we really close to our neighbor but this will actually work out great in the summer when the sun is only down from 11PM to 3AM.


Well, there you have it!  The grand tour.  The room that I forgot to take a picture of is the basement downstairs.  We call it the dungeon because of its stone walls but the most exciting thing down there is the washing machine, a deep freezer, and our summer tires for the car.   Come on over a visit sometime and stay a while!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sauda Ski Boat

I've never lived anywhere that skiing was a spontaneous activity.  Apparently, now I do!  In Stavanger, you could ski (downhill or cross country) any day between November and early April and public transportation makes it incredibly easy.  Last weekend, Jeffrey and I went with some new friends to Sauda via the Sauda Ski Boat.  Here's how it works..
  • Buy tickets ahead of time here.  Best to do it before Friday because the weekend boats fill up.  The ticket includes the boat rides, bus rides and your lift tickets for the day.
  • Boats leave Stavanger harbor at 8:00.  Food and drink are sold on the boat but we saw that others had brought their own too.  It's a beautiful ride through the fjords to Sauda so grab a seat by the window or go outside to the top of the boat.


  • Buses meet the boat in Sauda and take you to the base where you can rent skis.  One thing we noticed is there are no lockers for your extra clothes/shoes.  They are just piled up in the ski rental hut under the benches because no one is ever worried about their things being stolen because nothing ever is! 
  • SKI!

  • The slopes in Sauda are not ascended by chair lifts.  This freaked me out a little at first.. I mean, I mastered chair lifts at age 6 but a T-bar? A button lift?  Turns out, they aren't so bad and at least they don't mow you down like a chair lift if you mess up a little! I was even comfortable enough to take some pictures while on them.

  • We were fortunate to have some sun on that Saturday, too (we also had rain, snow, and wind at different times... we won't focus on that though).  Some areas of the mountain look untouched, like we were the first to ever be that high.  The slopes (or "pistes" as most call them here) weren't the toughest in Sauda but they were some of the most breathtaking.


  • Buses leave the base at 16:00 sharp!  Best get used to this time format too because that is what is used here...
  • Boat leaves Sauda once all the buses are unloaded and it makes it back to the Stavanger harbor at 18:00.  And the views are just as as good on the way back.  What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday!