On Friday, the 20th of September, Bergen was invaded by Americans. And not by just any ol’ Yanks…My parents and family friends, the Sankos.
I rushed into town from work to meet them at their hotel and with perfect timing made it there RIGHT as their Flybussen was dropping them off. Of the entire week that they were here, I think this moment was my favorite. Just that pure joy of seeing my parents after so long and knowing that I would get to show them all of the things I love about Norway. It’s a good thing they brought their walking shoes, cause I had an itinerary that was not intended for the weak. I let them take a mini break, since they did just travel for 12+ hours…but then it was chop chop! Outside! The sun was out and so were we! First stop: Nordnesparken for a lovely walk and a beautiful sunset.
The next day we made the trip up to Fløyen. As soon as we got on the Funicular, it started raining, of course. Thanks Obama. But after waiting just a few minutes at the top, the wind took away the clouds and rain leaving only the breathtaking view of Bergen. It was so much fun. I got to use the view as a 3D map to point out all of the places I have talked about and we even got to play with some trolls.
The rest of the weekend was spent with some more typical Bergen sight-seeing: Bryggen, Bergenhus Festning, and of course! The sweater shops!
On Monday, we got out of Bergen to see what Norway has to offer outside of the city with an adventure to Flåm on the Flåmsbana. It was such a cool train ride with twists and turns and views of waterfalls, beautiful mountains, and those random houses that make you wonder, “Who actually lives there?” The way back was by boat down the largest fjord in Norway, Sognefjord. Again, pictures cannot do justice the beauty that we saw on this ferry back to Bergen. If ever you want a moment where you awe at nature with such ferocity that you leave a puddle of drool…plan a trip to Norway.
On Tuesday, I let the kids go play on their own as I went to work. It was an interesting experience, going to work on my birthday…I think I’ll avoid it from now on. It was so wonderful though, to get to spend my special day with my parents and friends. I made us some rommegrot and Mrs. Sanko, my fellow chocolate lover, made sure I had brownies for my birthday cake as I was serenaded “Happy Birthday” outside my dorm building. The rest of the evening was spent doing my new favorite activity, walking in the Norwegian nature. Now my parents can picture my surroundings when I tell them I am going for a quick run around the lake, or park, or to see the Fantoft Stavekirke, and I think that is just so cool.
While everyday of the week was an adventure with my parents, Wednesday was a bit different. It was an adventure with food. We Americans got all dolled up and went to the harbor to wait for some guy in a boat. (If you’re Alexis Smith, you’ll understand this as being comparable to meeting the tour group by The Stairs outside of the Vatican…but Bergen is much smaller than Rome, so this was a lot easier.) This guy with the boat happened to be the owner of the restaurant we were going to and drove us, along with 15 employees of Norway’s ‘small’ oil company Statoil, to an island close by. This island is occupied by only this restaurant, Cornelius, and one residence.
As we ate some raw salmon, scallops (that were still moving), and oysters, we listened to the crazy story of how this man acquired such a swank place. It was a crazy story, and I’m not sure how much of it was true…also some of it was in Norwegian. I would try and relay it, but it’s one of those stories where only a certain person can tell it to give the full effect. I can tell you it includes a fish farm, death, betrayal, Seattle, and a rascal of a man. We ate a scrumptious three-course meal as the sun set behind the hills of Hordaland. Sigh.
It really didn’t hit me that my parents were here until they left. I thought that their visit would be a nice ‘refresher’ and that it would dispel the hint of homesickness I had been feeling. Quite the opposite happened. Now that I have had that taste of home, I feel more homesick. I still love it here in Bergen and am looking forward to my next three months here and the adventures I will undoubtedly have, but I realized how much I really do miss the United States and those people I love that are there. Skype is great, but it can’t give you that hug that one only gets from their mama or that big bear hug a dad gives.
Something to remember: The world is so small. Check out what I found in a local antique shop. Maybe Illinois isn’t so far away after all.