A day at the beach

On Saturday, we took the bus to the beach in Sandvika. I later learned that this beach was just opened, and it is gorgeous. The water was cold, and I forgot a towel, but that didn’t stop Maddie and Ada who changed into their swimsuits on the beach and jumped right in.

I think I’m starting to see why this is such a family friendly place.

Here are some cool trash cans we found on the walk to the beach.
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The beach! Ada starts by just putting her toes in the water.
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But it isn’t long until we are swimming.
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And splashing!
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In the distance below, you can see a diving structure at the beach where kids would just walk jump and jump into the water—the taller platform seemed like it was about 10m. The other thing that was just awesome was a perimeter of freshly laid sod around the beach. It’s awesome to put your stuff down on the grass, and then walk onto the beach, play around, and walk back to the grass to get all the sand off your feet when you are ready to go.

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There was also this awesome play structure we had to check out.

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There are mermaids in Norway…of course when she saw this, Maddie asked if we could get her a mermaid tail.

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The Norwegian sky on a summer night

Sunset tonight was at 10:41 pm, and here’s what the view out our window looked like then:

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Here it is a bit later, at 12:41 am (I’m still having a bit of trouble adjusting to Norwegian time):
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I really wonder what things are going to look like when we get closer to the winter solstice…

We found our apartment

Before I give away the details of our apartment, I need to share the backstory of how we found it. Finn.no is the craigslist of Norway, and every apartment for rent ends up posted there along with a used bikes, skis and a ton of other stuff I’m sure we’ll take advantage of in the future.

Finn.no is a quirky site, there’s a map you can search to find apartments by area, and Google translate does a respectable job of translating most everything on the site, but I’ve learned quite a bit of real estate Norwegian from having to translate the bits that don’t work, like number of bedrooms, furnished, and a few others.

Back in February, I set bookmark to show me the apartments that were new each day, and would then try to write any apartments that met our criteria (2 bedrooms, close to the kids school, not crazy expensive). As it turned out, there are next to no rentals in the town we wanted to live in, and for the first few months, I would never hear back from the owners. A few times, I got emails telling me about the dozen or more respondants, all of whom were likely local Norweigians, with Norwegian bank accounts, so I began to think seriously Norway’s Right to Roam and how it’s free and legal to pitch a tent on the side of the road.

Luckily, in late May, one landlord did write us back to let us know that her furnished two bedroom apartment in central Bekkestua was available for rent. Really, it was a dream come true. We are set to sign the paperwork and move in on Tuesday, and today, while wandering around Central Bekkestua, Diana and I did our best to figure out where exactly our apartment is.

Here’s a panorama of Bekkestua SenterIMG 0214

At first, we only had an approximate address, so we had no idea which apartment was ours, but after looking carefully at the post, we zeroed in on this place:

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And getting even closer

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I’m a bit flummoxed by the meaning of Bekkestua Handelshus. Google translates it as “trading house” and my Google fu seems to indicate this whole building is atop some sort of parking deck. Annen-Etage (Another Floor) is some sort gift and interior store that we will likely never shop unless we find a need for $15 bars of soap or $700 handbags, but the really astounding news is that we are right above a grocery store (awesome), and next to the train station, which means it should take me about 20 minutes to get the University and central Oslo.

Eagle eyed viewers like my daughter, Maddie, might notice that I missed one more sign:
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If you look just up the stairs, you’ll see ThomasLeker is TOY STORE.

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I haven’t yet told Maddie that she lives next door to a toy store. I’m saving that for the next day or so when she’s missing her mom, but I think she and Ada are going to agree that they’ve found the perfect home for the next year.

If you’d like to do some scouting of our new home, here’s the link on Google Maps. Please report back if you find something cool we should check out.

The Nobel Prize

Before the day took a turn for the worse, we did get to see the Nobel Peace Prize at the Nobel Peace Center. Of course, when Maddie learned this wasn’t the “science” prize Marie Curie won, she instantly wanted to go and visit where the “science” prizes are, so maybe a visit to Stockholm is in our future.

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A sad day and a change of plans

Today, when we were riding the ferry to Hovedøya, Diana got a call from her sister letting us know that Diana’s mom has taken a turn for the worse in the hospital, and is now in the ICU (Diana’s mom had gone into the hospital last week for stomach pain that was discovered to be pancreatitis). After rushing back to our place, a lot of phone consultations with family, and scouring travel websites, Diana is booked for a flight back to Atlanta tomorrow and should be home by around 9pm. It was a really tough call for us to decide whether or not John, Maddie and Ada should join her, but some good news later in the day made us think it would probably be better to wait and not subject the girls to a long flight back the states. Please do keep Diana’s mom in your thoughts and prayers.

It does mean that we will be cancelling our trip to Athens which was supposed to begin on Wednesday. Diana won’t be able to volunteer with A Drop in the Ocean, but hopefully we’ll be able to reschedule that for next summer.

For the next week or two, I’ll be doing my best to get settled into Norway with the girls, and Diana will be helping her mom to get well. With any luck, Diana will be back here before we know it, and we hope Diana’s mom will be booking tickets to visit us in Norway, too.

Today also happens to be our 12th anniversary, which is a great reminder of the power of love and the meaning of “in sickness and in health.”