Friday, February 28, 2014

First Country: Norway

So there was about a dozen of us that were feeling a little stir crazy, so we planned a trip a couple of weeks ago to head to Oslo last weekend! For being there just one night and two days, we sure accomplished a lot. We got up super early and headed to the Karlstad Busstation (which wasn't even open by the time we left, but oh well) and we were off! Our group literally took up half of the bus, which was really fun. Once we were near Oslo, it was becoming very obvious to me that I underestimated the city. It was so gorgeous, situated on the water with all kinds of colors of houses dotting the mountain surrounding it.

We got off the bus and headed to the hotel and, after I had a happy freak out over seeing someone carrying a Starbucks cup, we arrived at the hotel. (I never got the Starbucks, but at least there was a flicker of hope). We stayed at CityBox and it was really simple and perfect for what we needed, not to mention in a perfect location. We got settled, ate some of our pre-packed lunch, and headed out. I was blown away at how intricate and colorful the buildings were. I am talking blue, purple, coral, yellow, orange, teal, pretty much any color you could think of. Karlstad is beautiful, but lacks some old charm due to the multiple fires that have engulfed nearly the entire city, so I was really excited about seeing such amazing architecture. Not to mention those crazy trees that were seemingly everywhere..

Naturally, we headed towards the city center, which was incredible. So much life was there, between the street performers, protesters, and people just walking along. The first major building we saw was the Norwegian Parliament.

Next, a little ways down the same road, was the Royal Palace. You had to walk up a hill to get there, so looking back at the city was stunning. Of course, we took a ridiculous amount of pictures. Those #castleselfies really don't ever get old. Ever.

And of course the classic group picture with all of us :)

And we were even there for the changing of the guard, which was pretty neat.

Next, after getting lost a bit (while it began raining), we found Frognerparken. There was this beautiful stream with lots of ducks and a mini waterfall, but it is most famously known for its "naked people" statues lining the bridge. This was my personal favorite, such a beautiful snapshot of real love.

After a long, well-deserved fika, we headed toward the water, where there was a castle and fortress. It was almost dark by now, so we had a beautiful view of the lights of the city and marina below.

Then, we headed to the beautiful opera house, where we were able to explore the inside and then climb to the roof to take beautiful pictures. My point and shoot camera was being difficult since it was so dark, but I think you can imagine how pretty the view really was.

At night, we headed to a local-type club where there was a live band performing. Rosa brought us all there at the advice of a friend she had met on a trip she took a couple of years ago, so we were literally the only "foreigners" there. It was really awesome to see what the young Norwegians did on a typical Saturday. It was pretty relaxed and low key, which was exactly what we all needed.

The next day, we headed out back to the streets to go to the Munch Museum. It was really nicely organized with english translations under all of the descriptions. The life stories of artists are never boring, and Edvard Munch was no exception.

His most famous painting, The Scream

Next, we hopped on the metro to go to the famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump. The view on the 20 minute ride would have been beautiful....if not for the fog. But, we stayed optimistic and made it there. Unfortunately, all that we saw of the jump was a faint outline at best. It was so frustrating that we were at a perfect angle to have such an amazing view of the entire city, but some things are out of our control. 

We all rode on this ski simulator, so then we got a better view of the ski jump ;)

So, all in all, it was a very successful short trip. I have to admit though, I am excited to come back at the end of May when my parents and sister come to see me, as many things are closed until April and, of course, Scandinavia is at its best when it is Summertime. I am so happy that this is the first European city that they will see, and I hope they enjoy it as much as I do.

In other news...

On Tuesday, I helped make kanelbulle for the first time! Oh man, I can't wait to share the majesty of those things when I get home. They are SO good, I have yet to meet someone who doesn't freak out at the sight of them. Seriously. 

On Wednesday, I presented to some Swedish students about UND and why it's so awesome/they should study abroad there. Making the presentation was my first real pang of homesickness. Like dang, my school rocks. I was really happy to see other people get excited about it and was even told that someone is seriously looking into coming to UND. YAY :)

Last night, I went to my first ever Swedish hockey game. It was really fun to hang out and watch the game, but I kept thinking about how badly I wanted to teleport to The Ralph. It makes me appreciate UND hockey even more, there is really nothing else like it. 

Duettgatan 7 represent!

Tomorrow, I have my first choir event. The different sections "battle" each other and I am really excited to see what everyone comes up with. My section is pretty awesome, and I know that it will be a great time no matter what. 

I am absolutely loving it here and am so excited for what is to come. I can't believe 2 months have come and gone, and with all the trips I have to look forward to, I know it isn't about to slow down anytime soon. Until next time....xoxo

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