Many moons ago, when I first moved to Norway and telephone calls were much too expensive for my budget, I was forced to write letters. Sit down, put pen to paper and write. That however, was not the hardest part. It was the waiting. It could take weeks, sometimes months to receive a letter in return. I felt far away, isolated, living in a garden of exile.
Facebook, FaceTime, Skype and Messenger are what now connect me (and everyone else) with the outside world. They enable us to feel close to people far away, which in turn makes the world seem smaller.
After living twenty-seven years in Norway, my husband and I recently bought a condo in my home state of New Jersey. The plan is to use it as a vacation home. Fly back and forth several times a year. Most of my family and a lot of my friends live there. Plus three Grandchildren! The condo is located at the Jersey Shore, about 25 minutes from the beach and two hours from NYC. Just perfect! Happy! Happy! Me.
But… Nothing is ever easy!
We just got back from our first mini-vacation to our new place and this is how it went…
We had a one hour drive to the airport (early in the morning). Fifty minute flight to Oslo. One hour wait before boarding. The flight across the Atlantic took approximately seven hours. We landed at 1:30pm in Newark NJ. Not bad.
I have a US passport, my husband has a Norwegian one. He has always been able to follow me through the US Citizens only line, at the Customs and Border Protection counter. Not anymore. Instead, we could either split up or both go through the Non US Citizens line. Knowing I’d have to wait for him anyway, I went with him.
The Non US Citizens line was long and slow. It took crawling at a snails pace, forever, to see why. Out of fifteen counters there were only four open. People were yelling to the officers guarding the line that they were missing their connecting flights. Babies and small children crying deliriously after long flights and their parents, tired and stressed trying to manage them. Elderly people pleading for assistance. I also noticed a pregnant woman looking drained and pale, inching her way through the line. We stood there like animals waiting to get in out of the cold. Welcome to America!
In the end, it took two hours for us to get through. I planned on saying something to the officer at the counter about the long wait, but after seeing how grumpy and unfriendly he was, I chickened out. It took another couple of hours to get through the airport and car rental agency. Of course we got stuck in traffic, so what should have been a one hour drive, took two. That’s like sixteen hours from door to door.
We stayed for one fun-filled week before heading back.
Our flight left the gate on time at 7:00pm. We sat on the runway for quite a while before returning to the gate, to fix an electrical problem. A short time later, with the problem fixed, something happened that I have never in all my years of travel seen before. Some of the passengers wanted off the plane! I don’t know if they were spooked because of the electrical problem or what… But they got off and then we had to wait for their luggage to be removed. We finally took off just after 10:00pm. It was a smooth eight hour flight.
Needless to say we missed our connecting fight and had to wait seven hours in Frankfort, Germany for the next flight home! In the end it took twenty-six hours to get home, which is more than double the time it should take.
Arriving safely is what really matters… And we’re going back in August 🙂
I’ve been following a blog called My French Heaven for quite a while, it’s written by a Frenchman named Stéphane. Stéphane lives and runs a Chateau (B&B) in a small town outside Bordeaux. All of his posts are written in both French and English. I can’t remember how I came across the blog but what attracted me most, were the photos. Stéphane takes the most beautiful photos of people, scenery and food! Pictures that draw you in, and make you want to get on the next plane to France.
That’s why when recently planning a trip with friends, I suggested we fly to Bordeaux, drive out into the French countryside and stay at Stéphane’s Chateau. After showing my friends his photos, they were in total agreement. All info about the Chateau and surrounding area can be found on his blog.
Tucked between vineyards and not far from Saint Emilion, the Chateau was the perfect place to stay. It was especially nice to finally meet one of my many blogging buddies (I wish I could meet you all). Stéphane was a friendly and very helpful host.
Although I’m not quite the photographer Stéphane is, here are some photos from our trip…
Chateau St. Jaques Calon
A trip to the Farmers Market in Libourne
The charming city of St-Emilion
A tour and wine tasting at Chateau Cardinal-Villemaurine
A bicycle trip
The only thing missing from our trip was the sun and we hardly even noticed.
Every year it’s the same story… Where should we go this summer for a suntan?
The reason is simple, we live in Norway.
Here in Norway, you can never-ever count on good weather.
Not even in summer!
Most Norwegians head south but not us. We go west, towards New Jersey. The Jersey Shore is a great place to spend summer.
This year, with my granddaughter coming over from the States we decided to stay right here in Norway. We were invited to a friends place, way, way up in the top of Norway and so while everyone else was flying south, we flew north…
I promised the locals I wouldn’t give our exact location, because they don’t like tourists wandering around while they’re trying to skinny dip 😉
I will tell you this… We were above the Arctic Circle and no one was more surprised than me at how beautiful it was.
It was a perfect, Norwegian summer!
I’m taking a summer, blogging break.
My eight-year-old granddaughter, Maren is flying, by herself (with assistance) from America to Norway. I was eleven the first time I flew to Norway without my parents, and her mother was twelve the first time she did it. That makes Maren the third generation of adventurous little girls. She is staying for three weeks and I can’t wait!
Pop Pop Harry and I are taking her on a trip to Hamarøy, which is an island up in the north of Norway. Friends of ours own land there and we will be staying with them, in a two hundred-year-old farm house. They have a daughter the same age as Maren, so it should be fun… the only problem is Maren doesn’t speak Norwegian and my friend’s daughter, Hannah doesn’t speak English! I guess I’ll be doing a lot of translating 🙂
Hamarøy is a place where where the sun shines twenty-four hours a day in the summer. Maren can play all night and sleep during the day, because it really doesn’t matter. She can go fishing, crabbing and has a good chance at spotting a whale. She’ll climb mountains, run through fields, pick berries and wild flowers. She’ll sleep in a lavvu, eat dinner in a lighthouse and cook hotdogs on the end of a stick, over an open campfire. She will also be able to explore the ocean floor when the tide goes out. It doesn’t matter how wet or dirty she gets, for this week, she will be one with Norwegian nature.
I hope you’re enjoying your summer too!
For me there is nothing better than a comfortable chair, a pot of hot tea and a book. I’m also happy reading poolside, or under an umbrella on the beach and I would never – ever go on vacation without one!
I’m sure we can all agree there is nothing better than a real book in your hand however, Kindle has made book buying so much easier. Especially for me, living in a small town in Norway, where most books are only printed in Norwegian. I don’t have a Kindle, so I download them onto my iPad and I’m ready to go…
I’ve signed my book Fly Away Home up for a five day giveaway on Kindle from 10-14 June. There’s no gimmick, it’s totally free, ready to be downloaded and read.
The book is about my life. Leaving America under duress, with three young children in tow. Finding love again, rebuilding my life in a foreign country and a lot more… If you’re interested just click on this Amazon link and get your FREE copy now: Fly Away Home
Feel free to leave a review on Amazon after you’ve finished and Happy reading 🙂
Here are some pictures that were sent to me last summer:
It’s funny how people float in and out of our lives and while some stick others don’t.
After leaving America and moving to a small town in Norway twenty-four years ago, I met a family from England. I couldn’t speak Norwegian and there weren’t many expats or foreigners living in this area at the time. I felt lost, misplaced and longed for my family and friends back home. I was offered a job at a local school and that’s where I met this family. I’m not sure how I would have gotten through those first couple of years in Norway without them. Connected by the English language (their’s proper, mine not) we bonded and became fast friends and then suddenly they were gone.
I was heartbroken and didn’t know how I’d manage without them…
We kept in touch with an occasional phone call, Christmas cards and a handful of visits over the last twenty-four years. Our daughters have also challenged the years and miles, by remaining close. This past weekend, me, my daughter and granddaughter journeyed from Norway to England to visit them. It’s been at least ten years since we’ve seen each other last, but it felt as if we’d never been separated at all. We caught up on the present, reminisced over the past and made a promise to visit again soon.
As our granddaughters met and played for the very first time, I couldn’t help but marvel over the power of friendship.
Congratulations, you’ve just won a free trip to the Netherlands!
They say God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland. With over a quarter of its surface below sea level the Dutch leave nothing to chance. Instead they create their own nature and this makes the Netherlands a beautiful and fascinating place.
I had the privilege of living there for three years in a town called Wassenaar, which is located directly between Amsterdam and the Hague. I could sit here all night and gush about how great it was to live there, or you can see for yourself…
There’s no need to clean out the fridge, pack a suitcase or find a sitter for the dog, because you’ll only be gone for ten minutes… So sit back, press play and enjoy your trip.
Going Local in Gran Canaria is the type of book that would become dog-eared in a traveler’s backpack or read feverishly by an expat moving to the island. It truly is a book that has something for everyone establishing residence or simply visiting. Matthew Hirtes manages to cover everything from starting a business and getting a mortgage to which restaurant to visit on a Saturday night, and how to get there.
The book is peppered with enjoyable stories that others have shared with the author of their personal experiences on the island. It really adds a sense of the island becoming a home, not just a vacation destination. Useful phone numbers, addresses, and websites are included, and are all details that visitors and expats to Gran Canaria so desperately need.
Cover to cover, Going Local is chock-full of everything you need to get started. Hirtes is very effective at taking his vast knowledge of the island and putting it on paper for everyone to enjoy. The first thought I had after reading it was hopping on the next flight, book in hand, to experience everything this wonderful island has to offer.
Available on Amazon
With all the traveling I’ve been doing this summer, my blog is starting to resemble a travel blog. To mix things up, I thought I’d try writing a book review. I just finished reading a good book, so here goes…
If you’ve ever lived or simply dream of living in a foreign country, then Kathleen Gamble’s book Expat Alien: My Global Adventure, is for you. I was first introduced to Kathy and her well told stories of travel and adventure through her blog, also known as the Expat Alien. Kathy and I are two American girls who were both born in the fifties, but while I grew up on the steady shores of our homeland, she grew up wandering the world.
Her parents and two brothers started their great expat adventure in 1952, when they first moved to Burma, where Kathy was later born. Throughout most of the years the family lived abroad her father worked with the Ford Foundation, in Third World Agriculture.
The story moves along at a fast and exciting pace as we follow the family to Mexico, Nigeria and Columbia. They travel across Europe and Kathy attends boarding school in Switzerland. If it’s excitement your looking for, there’s also a plane crash, a military coup and an earthquake.
Having barely spent anytime at all in America before starting college there, Kathy has just as much trouble relating to her peers as they do to her. Feeling different and isolated she spirals into a case of severe reverse culture shock.
Later she marries a Russian American and when he takes a job in Moscow, she follows. Here we get an inside look at what its like to live, work and raise a family in Moscow. Nine years later they are forced out under unfortunate circumstances and return to the States to start again. After losing everything, Kathy is forced into making tough decisions for both herself and her son.
Kathy’s story gives superb insight as to what its like growing up globally and as exciting as that is, there were times I felt sad for her. I found this book to be an honest and riveting account of her journey.
Expat Alien is available in paperback on Amazon.com and in Kindle format.
I just got back from Dublin at two o’clock this morning and have so much to do…
I won’t bore you with the details, instead I’ll post a few pictures for you to look at, while I catch up and recover from my trip.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures -Irish proverb
May the sound of happy laughter fill your heart with gladness, that stays forever after -Irish Blessing
Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter, lullabies, dreams and love ever after. A thousand welcomes when anyone comes… Thats the Irish for you! -Irish Blessing