July 3 – Travel, 3 Flights
Today we leave home at 7:15pm for a 10:45pm flight. We’re flying in to Frankfurt, Germany and have another layover in Oslo, Norway. I really hope this time is better health wise and that I won’t be looking back at this trip journal like I was with the last one going “Ha! If only I knew…”
We have a full group on this trip! Even bigger than last time. Mom, Dad, Ryan, Me, Trevor, Melanie, Kari, Joe, Joey, Evan, Grandma & Grandpa.
I pray that we all stay healthy and safe this time around.
July 4 – Travel & Arrive in Alesund
After 3 flights, I was totally done with planes. Luckily the last two I basically slept through even though the first was only 2 hours and the second was only 1 hour. The last two flights we didn’t even use a jetway! We just walked off the plane directly onto the runway. It was so cool!
We got in to Alesund airport around 23:00 and found Erling (our tour guide, same as 6 years ago) wearing a red, white, and blue shirt while waving an American flag – we hadn’t even thought about it being the 4th of July until that moment!
We got our luggage, got into the van, and headed to the hotel. We got to the hotel around 23:30, and it was still light out! Hour hotel room had a beautiful view. We were all super tired from all the flights, so we set a meeting time and went to bed. A bed and covers never felt so good.
P.S. Today we bought (I mean adopted) our troll, Askeladden Beskytter! What a cutie.
July 5 – Leaving Alesund & Arriving in Geiranger
Today we woke up early, ate at the buffet for breakfast, went for a short walk around town, and got on the bus. We got a really cute picture of Askeladden in Alesund, too! Our first stop after leaving Alesund was at the glacier. Before riding in a troll car a good portion of the way up, we went out to eat at the cafeteria. I ate Elk for the first time…though it was unknowingly. I ordered a burger, I didn’t think to ask what kind of meat it would be!
We took some amazing pictures at the top of the glacier and then left and made a pit stop at the tallest point in Europe you can drive up to and see a fjord. It was SO beautiful!
Then we got to Geiranger and had drinks and dinner which is where i had LAMB for the first time. Not as flavorful as I would’ve thought… We also went to the outdoor hot tub (biggest one I’ve ever seen!) with an amazing fjord view. Words just don’t do it justice!
Thank you, Lord, for such an amazing and spectacular day. You beautiful world is breathtaking!
July 6 – Geiranger, Fjord Tour & Goat Museum
Today we woke up…well MOST of us woke up at 7:00 for an 8:00 departure but Melanie and Ryan had a bit of an alarm issue and didn’t wake up until I knocked on their door at 7:57 😉 Yet we still pretty much left on time! Impressive.
We went on the fjord boat tour and learned about the different waterfalls and the tales and stories behind them. One story is about the Seven Sisters Waterfall and The Suitor which are directly across the fjord from each other. The story is that The Suitor proposed to each of the sisters and was turned down by every one of them, so in his despair he turned to drinking which is why The Suitor waterfall separates, making the shape of a wine bottle. (Google it!) There were a few houses and farms scattered up on the mountains, most without current residents due to the danger of avalanches.
After the tour, we drove to the goat farm. Here we got a tour from the owner and learned about the process of living such sustainable lives. The farm is known as a summer farm because that is when they’re able to use the goats. The farm had approx. 400 goats! This farm makes brown cheese, caramel, and other spreadable cheeses from these goats. The milk the goats in roughly 6 groups of 60 with a machine When they aren’t being milked, they graze the beautiful mountains and eat as they please. There are actually laws about where they can go eat because if they roam completely free they could cause the land to starve.
Fun tid-bit: If the goats go too far up the mountain, the owner has resorted to using a drone to chase them back down! He’s no longer able to just run up the mountain anymore… understandable. Also, I stepped in a huge pile of poo because I thought it was a rock. A ROCK. IT WAS HUGE, PEOPLE!
After the goat farm we headed back to Geiranger and stopped at the Eagles Road lookout for some pictures and went into down for some shopping and treats, YUM! At the chocolate store I had hot chocolate made with REAL dark chocolate bits!
Then we went back to the hotel for some relaxation time, hot tub, and dinner. Well, the hot tub was less relaxing as we had hoped and more so entertaining watching the drunk Germans.
I’m still thrown off by all the daylight here! It is awesome!
July 7 – Geiranger & Church Tour & Trondheim
Today we took a ferry and started our journey from Geiranger to Trondheim. We took a short stop at a beautiful waterfall in Valldal and stopped at a lookout in Innfjorden. It was a small hike up, but once we got to the top it was breathtaking! It was an amazing view of the winding roads. We even had some entertainment up there watching the Norwegian version of a traffic jam – a bud and a trailer coming head to head on a narrow mountain-side road. It took awhile, but they made it through.
Our next stop was at Erline’s home church. It is one of 3 remaining “Y” Churches which refers to the design of the aisles and where the seats are located. It was designed this way so that everyone could sit as close to the front as possible, instead of what you see in most cathedrals where the seats go very far back along a single aisle. The “Y” also represents the Holy Trinity. The church was built in 1669 and hasn’t really changed much since!
After the church tour, we continued on our way to Trondheim. Once we got to Trondheim, we went on a walk down to the river and bridges. They had a fun tightrope activity down there that we all tried and mostly failed at. We also went to have a drink on the dock while we played What Do You Meme™. It was a solid day.
July 8 – Trondheim
Today we tipped a cathedral originally built in the 1100s but has been rebuild and restored since. We took a tour all about the history of the building and St. Olav. We learned that many people have been healed since St. Olav was buried there. Joey and I lit candles in the sand box in the church for Grandma and Grandpa. Evan lit one too, but no one really knows for who. I think he just wanted to light a candle in the sand.
After the tour we went on the stairs and walked up 12 very narrow and winding stairs while holding onto a rope to ensure we didn’t fall down. The view of the city from above was really cool and it was fun to walk around it 360 degrees. When we got back to the bottom of the church, we met the church cat. What a cute fluffy little guy!
After the tour we went to an old fortress. Funny enough, there was a self-moving lawn mower out there! After the fortress, we went up to the Egon pizza tower which rotates VERY slowly at the top so we got an even BETTER 360 view of Trondheim. Plus the pizza was delish!
After that we drove back to the hotel and walked around the shopping area. Most of us ended up buying Norway jackets at the Norway store, me and Joey got matching ones. 🙂
Then we had dinner and the 6 kids when riding on the “Ryde” electric scooters. It took 30 minutes just to find a scooter for everyone to use! The cobble-stone roads sure were bumpy to ride on – they made my eyeballs shake! The scooters could go REALLY fast too! My toes were almost numb by the end of it. It was fun to have the scooter squad while it lasted though, and for some reason my scooter app never ended up charging me. I can’t complain!
July 9 & 10 – Road to Lofoten
These 2 days totaled to 15 hours in the bus. We left early on the 9th and drove until around 5pm and arrive in Mo i Rana. Once we got here, we went on a walk around town and to the water. here we saw “the king of the sea” statue in the water as well as some beautiful sea-side houses. We also found an awesome slide-of-sorts that was thrilling enough to definitely not be approved in the USA for liability purposes without signing a waiver. It was so steep and consisted of just 2 metal bars you throw your left over and hope you don’t slip right on through. Did I mention it was SERIOUSLY steep?
We also saw some beautiful flowers on our walk through town and then went to dinner and to bed. The next day we started on our drive again and passed the Arctic Circle! We stopped at the Arctic Circle station and took some cool pictures. Then we drive more, took a 1 hour long ferry with beautiful fjord views up top, and drove some more. Finally, we arrived in Lofoten, made dinner, and hit the hay.
Thank you, Lord, for safe travels thus far!
July 11 – Lofoten Islands, Viking Museum, & Rein
We started the day by going to a Viking museum called Lofotr. Here we learned about the different resources Vikings used. We also went into a reconstruction of what one of their houses would look like. It was long and somewhat narrow, with each room serving its own purpose. In the house we saw wooden carvings they made which were so detailed and intricate! It must have taken them so long to perfect with the tools they had. Outside of the reconstruction was the base of a foundation from the original house – from the Iron Age! Then we walked further down a steep trail to the archery, axe throwing, and boats. Everyone did pretty good at the archery, but axe throwing wasn’t as amazing. We all could have used a bit more practice. Then we continued on to see the boats which were very picturesque.
After the museum we headed to Reine, a popular picture perfect town. It was beautiful with its red cottage siding and grassy rooftop with the mountains fading in the distance mist the slow flow of the clear blue water. There were also several dish drying racks around this town, most of which were empty. We did pass one or two on our bus ride out that were completely full – I would not want to live around there! I also made the comment a few times in Reine that it is probably not the best place for a pregnant woman (SMELLY!).
After Reine we went to Leknes to see the beaches. I took off my shoes and the sand was so fine and soft, like an hour glass. It was also nice to feel sand that doesn’t burn the bottom of your feet! The water was so clear and beautiful, not to mention cold! We even saw a dead jelly fish up close to shore… which was much more firm than we would’ve thought a jelly fish would feel like. Then we continued our journey back to our little fishing village. On the drive back I listened to Christian music, felt as full of joy as ever, sat back, and enjoyed the views.
Thank you, Lord, for your truly amazing creation The power of your beautiful nature is never ending!
P.S. It’s only 1 more year until our wedding!
July 12 – Touring town in Henningsvaer, Lofoten Islands, the yellow house
We started the morning walking through town. We stopped at the cutest little bakery, and saying little might be an overstatement. It was TINY! I got the pudding strudel, which tasted like a vanilla sweet bread of some sort. It was delicious! Most everyone else got the cinnamon pull apart which they loved as well. Then we continued to walk thru the town and stop in the little shops along the way. One of the stores sold decorative real fish heads. Want to hang that in your living room? All the shops were so cute and colorful with their own personalities. Then we went to eat lunch at what mom called the cutest little cafe she’d ever seen. I’ll admit, it was pretty cute! The inside was as coz as could be with candles and blankets. Everywhere here seems to have blankets to use! So comfortable and inviting! After lunch we went to get our softie with the tutti fruity sprinkles of course! Then Joey, Evan, Trevor and I went to the stadium and ended up doing some real rock climbing! Some amazing views from up there.
After that we headed back to the cottage and took a nap to gear up for our late night adventure. Then we drove to Svanhild’s house. The story behind the house was amazing. Svanhild stayed in a house across the way on the 2nd floor for 6 years. Here she could see the old yellow house and each day she looked out and knew she wanted it. Once she found out they were going to take the house down, she tried contacting the owner. She wanted to buy it. Several people claimed that they were the owners, so she had to go to the town council to figure out who the real owner was. After that they told her she could buy the house but it didn’t come with any property. She didn’t like this so instead she went out with the neighbors in the yard and marked where the new property lines would be > (abbreviated version).
After that she found out she’d have to get someone with a crane to pick up the house, move it, and work on the foundation before moving it back. The man who would be using the crane went to her house to look at it and told her 2 things: 1.) the house is so old that he wasn’t sure it would fall apart when he picked it up 2.) she needed to build a road to her house for the crane to drive on and that road needed to be build by Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. and it was Friday afternoon. She called an old friend she hadn’t spoken to in 15 years in the business and asked for help. He told her he could try and do it next summer. She said no, it had to be done over the weekend. He called some people and they worked 48 hours straight. She was in Oslo working while the road was being built. Her neighbors called her saying she needed to stop the road progress because it looked like it was going to cost a fortune! She said no, she needed that house. The road was finished Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. and the crane work started at 8:00 a.m. They worked on the foundation and moved the house back.
While she was gone, a photographer found her little home and spent hours photographing her house. She was so intrigued that she missed the flight! Svanhild found out about these photos because her neighbors called and said their house was on TV! She was on the National Geographic! Well, her house was. She was even asked to do a documentary on her progress renovating but she declined because she was not in it for the attention, she just loved the house. People started calling and emailing her saying she had to keep the house yellow with the red roof. After all these opinions, she decided to keep it those colors in order to preserve the houses history. They did give it a fresh coat of paint though.
Some of the elements inside the house are also from the original, such as their stairs from the second to the third floor. The doors inside their house were from another old house that was being torn down nearby. The rest of the house was absolutely sunning!
We sat and ate outside on the longest picnic table I’ve ever seen. They also had a hanging fire pit with a make-shift wooden bech with seat cushions laying on them with blankets. How Hygge! We ate whale (my first time!) as an appetizer which I did not particularly like, but that is no surprise because I am not a very adventurist eater, especially when it comes to seafood. Everyone else really liked it though! For dinner we ate reindeer stew. Also the first time I’ve had reindeer! It was amazing.
After dinner we went on a walk to the beach where the sand was so fine. There was also a pretty gross and big animal carcass floating up to shore which Joey at first thought was a human torso! Ew! Luckily we saw some utters and could rule it out being a human. After our walk back we sat around and ate a delicious chocolate mousse while talking and relaxing. We sat there in good company until 1:00 a.m. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see the sun go down and back up, but the evenings as still phenomenal! We got back and went to bed around 3:00 a.m. Today was such a blessing and a true experience!
July 13 – Last day in Lofoten
Today we split up the group in the early afternoon. Everyone but Joey, Evan, Grandma, and I went on a brewery tour. Joey, Evan, and I went to the tiny bakery and I got the pudding strudel again. Yum! Then we walked back to the cottage, picked up Grandma, and took the fishing rod we rented from the hotel down to the dock. I got a nibble but didn’t know what to do… so not much came from that. Joey got 3 total all day. We also saw tons of jelly fish all different sizes. Most were a light tan color, but some where red and one was a florescent purple! Then we were hungry for lunch, so we walked into town. During lunch we played a phone stack game so that we were all present with each other. Then we got ice cream and met up with the brewery gang. After that we went back to the cottage and did some more fishing and went to take a nap. Then we walked back into town for dinner with Erling. We packed and we went to bed for our journey to Amsterdam.
July 14 – Travel to Amsterdam
Today we woke up early and drove 3 hours to the airport. Then we took 2 flights to get to Amsterdam when we arrived in Amsterdam. We took the tram to a stop near the hotel, walked about 8 minutes, and checked in which took forever because we had to show our passports. We walked to a restaurant nearby the hotel where we had amazing mash potato and pork balls! I had a holy ravioli meal stuffed with older Amsterdam cheese and watercress topped with a lemon sage butter sauce, it was amazing! Then we hopped across the street and got some gelato, funny enough the store also sold pot brownies and cookies. The strongest being called “Gorilla Glue”. We were glad the gelato wasn’t a cannabis product as well…
July 15 – Amsterdam, Final Day
Today we walked to a cafe and got some pastries on the way to the flower market. The flower market was FILLED with tulips everywhere! I got some bath salts and a cute little mug. Trevor and I also got some tulip bulbs and a pot with fake tulips that look super real! Then we went to a “kite” or something market where we had stroopwafels. Yum! Then we got fries at a popular fry stand and headed over to the canal tour. Through all this walking, we passed by several red light district buildings which were super interesting … I learned a lot about the true meaning of window shopping… We ate cheese, crackers, and fruit while listening to the wonders of Amsterdam from our guide. I also got a picture of the Anne Frank house but unfortunately could not score any tickets to go in. After that, the 6 kids went sopping at Primark for some cute and cheap clothes! I got a shirt and corduroy skirt 🙂 Then we walked back, passing red light and weed shops all around in the alleys. You were interesting, Amsterdam!
July 16 – Going Home
This trip was amazing. I feel so blessed to experience the beauty of Norway which such a big group of my family. It is a trip I will always remember and cherish. This trip makes me feel better about traveling abroad more in the future. I’m not sure any other trip could beat this one though! Until next time…