Hosting Friends in Norway and a visit to Iceland

During the month of February and March, John and I have been so grateful to have so many friends visit us. In February, two of John’s former advisees from St. Andrew’s, Yousaf and Holly, came to visit us which we all enjoyed. Holly took a detour from her vacation in Spain to visit us for a full day. Yousaf, who was headed to study abroad in Australia came for almost a full week.

Yousaf and John standing in front of the Oslo Opera House.

In March, I had three friends visit! For the past few years, it seems, I haven’t had the time as a working mom to enjoy really long visits with friends or even keep in touch with many of them and I am just utterly grateful that I had the time to explore Oslo with all of them. I am also grateful that they chose to spend their time (and money) and brave the flight to Norway (and our cold winter) to visit us!

Mary Lewis, a good friend of mine from Davidson, who has decided to continue living in France for the year came to visit a second time for a long weekend in early March. We hiked round-trip 7 miles from a metro stop to Ullevalseter, a small cafe hidden in the Marka Forest in Oslo. I was a little nervous hiking in the snow but with ice cleats and poles, we ended up having a wonderful time.

We also went ice skating in Frogner park and went to a small house concert hosted by a friend whose daughter is in Maddie’s class. Trina Sojourn, a biracial singer from Baltimore, played and sang for about 25 of us in my friend’s living room. Here is a pic of her at the house concert and a clip of her performing in Norway on “The View.”

Molly, my friend for over 25 years (!) came to visit for a week just after Mary Lewis. We enjoyed downhill skiing and cross country skiing together;

eating Norwegian food and hiking in Bekkestua, and in the Marka forest;

marching for women’s rights and climate change on International Woman’s Day with Greenpeace (where I’ve been volunteering once a week this year);

exploring downtown Oslo; and exploring a museum about the Norwegian explorations to the Antarctic where we saw the “Fram” which Roald Amundsen took with him when he became the first man to reach the South Pole

I was actually hoping to take both Molly and Mary Lewis on Korketrekkeren, this amazing long (10 minutes!) sled ride in Oslo. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough snow on the run for either of their visits. So, a few days after Molly left back to the states and after a good snow fall, John and I leapt at the chance to go down together. Here are a few pics of our run:


Mimi, a good friend of mine from graduate school and my first job at Navigant ended up visiting next from California. We also went downhill skiing, explored Vigelland Park, and then we took this amazing 4-day trip to Iceland. (Many thanks to John who took care of the kids for 5 days!) Iceland is an amazing and somewhat otherworldly place to visit with breathtaking natural sites just minutes from a nearby parking lot on Ring Road or the Golden Circle. I also noticed a lot of similarities in food, language, and culture to Norway due to their common Viking heritage. Below are a few pics from our trip:

In Þingvellir National Park, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates collide
Stokkur Geysir which erupts every 10 minutes in Geysir Iceland (where the word Geysir originated)
Seeing the Northern Lights at 1AM in Geysir Iceland! (since our hotel woke us up, we even got sleep that night!)
Gulfoss Falls near Geysir Iceland- this waterfall carries 7 times more water than Niagara Falls!
Diamond Beach, Iceland (icebergs wash up on shore from a nearby melting glacier which is receding by 1 foot a day thanks to climate change)
Hiking Vatnajökull Glacier, Europe’s largest glacier, which is also receding because of climate change
Eldraun Lava Field, a moss covered field of lava that came from the eruption of Laki in 1783
Learning about Geothermal Energy at a Geothermal Plant in Iceland. 70% of Iceland’s electricity is hydro and 30% is geothermal which means they get all their energy from renewable energy. This particular plant was developing a technology to turn CO2 into rock. Iceland’s electricity rates are also among the cheapest in the developing world and they also get almost all their hot water inexpensively from geothermal energy.

As you can see, we had an amazing time. John ended up having an adventure in Sweden with the girls while I was gone which I’m sure he will post about soon. John and I are also looking forward to hosting even more friends and family in May!

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