Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Norway and Spain: Oslo

My sister Amy got called to serve in the Norway, Oslo mission at the same time my parents left on their mission to Spain, in the Spring/Summer of 2012. We knew she would get released before my parents because of the differing lengths of missions, and she had asked me one time if I would like to come pick her up from her mission? Um, yes I would! I ran it by Chris once and he was fine with it, but he asked me how I was going to budget for it. (Mind you, this was like a year and a half before I would need to pick her up.) I began thinking of ways I could save money for this trip, because I really really wanted to go. About this same time, a fellow coupon-blogging mommy offered me a little side gig. She needed someone to do a Winco Grocery sale post twice a month, and she told me she would pay me $50 per post. I of course said yes.

So for 18 months while Amy was on her mission, I woke up every other Monday at 4 AM and drove to Winco in the dark with my clipboard. I walked down the aisles and noted grocery prices and sales, and then I went home, nursed Henry (who was a baby), and wrote up a post that matched the sale prices with current coupons for her blog. When she paid me $100 each month, I paid my tithing and put the rest in a savings account. And that is how I saved the money to pay for this trip to pick up Amy from her mission. A huge thanks to Chris for watching Emme and Henry solo for two weeks while I was gone. It was the trip of a lifetime and it couldn't have happened without his help.

I flew out of Salt Lake City on the 5 PM Delta flight directly to Paris. Here I am, 18 weeks pregnant with little Stanley, complete with my maternity skirt and compression stockings for the airplane. I slept a little on the airplane, but we had a lot of turbulence over the Atlantic, so mostly I watched movies. (The edited version of Identity Thief was a crackup!)
I landed in Paris at about 10 AM. I found my next terminal for my connection to Oslo, sank into an easy chair and ate a pb&j I'd brought with me, as well as some cut up apples. I slept for about two hours and then hopped on a plane to Oslo. I had an empty seat by me, so I laid out and slept a little, and luckily it was a smooth flight.

I arrived in Oslo about 6:20 PM and took the Flytog (train) to Lysaker, where I was picked up by Amy and the Assistants. I had a few minutes to kill before they arrived, so I bought a snack. I opted for the Solo instead of the Griller Wiener. At home, the only time we can get Solo is once a year when they import it for Sutnamai! So this was exciting for me. I savored every drop.
 Amy and the Assistants arrived, and she ran across the street to me and gave me the biggest hug! We both cried a little and I think the Assistants took a picture. We went back to the mission home where I met Amy's mission presidents, and they fed us salmon and potatoes for dinner. It was SO GOOD. Then I went downstairs to our bedroom and fell right to sleep while the rest of the departing missionaries and the mission president finished their last evening and testimony meeting together.

We had breakfast at the mission home with President and Sister Evans and the assistants. She made Norwegian pancakes and they were so yummy. Then we said goodbye and the assistants drove us to our hotel, where we dropped our baggage.
 I spied some beautiful sweaters in the shop next door!
Then the assistants drove us to Carla's and dropped us off. Carla was one of Amy's investigators that had gotten baptized. She was from Portugal and had a five year old son. She made us lunch and chocolate cake, and we had a lovely afternoon with her.
It was hard for Amy to say goodbye to Carla.

They wanted to keep in touch and Carla wanted to add Amy on facebook. But when she searched for Amy Pace, there were SO many that came up and none of them were the right one. So I decided to turn on my phone's data just long enough to let Amy log in and add Carla, and then turn it back off. It was for a good cause, right? So I did. And that one five-minute act of international data usage cost me over $200. Ha ha! Lesson learned. I leave my phone in airplane mode in Europe from now on. :)

We took the T-bane (train) to the city center and headed towards the Institute.
 Ahhh, Oslo. It's been so long.
 The palace.
Amy found a Norwegian sweater that she really loved. We took a few pictures to send to my mom, and then came back and bought it later because it was a winner.
Here we are at the Institute center where Amy spent a lot of time on her mission. I watched the sister missionaries and Amy teach a lesson to an investigator, Karl Tobias, with another member present. I couldn't understand a word they were saying but I felt the spirit while they were teaching. It was pretty neat.
Afterwards we walked around Oslo a bit. Amy showed me the store they used to grocery shop at.
 And the apartment building she lived in.

We also walked through the cemetery, which was beautiful.

We went back to the Institute and the missionaries were there, so we decided to buy them pizza for dinner. We walked to Dolly Dimples and picked it up, then walked it back. It was like $70 USD for one large pizza, so expensive! But it was delicious -- I highly recommend the Thai Summer pizza from Dolly Dimples. :)
At the institute we had good wifi, so we facetimed Mom, Michelle & Jeff and my Dad for the first time. They were pretty excited to talk to Amy!

Except for my dad, who fell asleep, ha ha. (Some things never change.)
That night we also visited another new member family of Amy's, named Harsha and Prakash. They lived in an apartment complex where you had to walk through a courtyard to get to their building and then be buzzed up. Every time Amy had been there, the gate to the courtyard had always just been open. When we arrived, it happened to be closed. There was no buzzer or doorbell or way to get in, and we had no way to call Harsha and Prakash on the phone (see above phone incident, ha ha). I knew Amy really wanted to visit this family, as it was going to be our only chance this trip. We'd been there a few minutes now and hadn't seen anyone nearby at all to ask for help. Silently I said a prayer in my head (and it turns out Amy was doing the same thing at the same time.) Miraculously, someone came walking through the gate from the inside and let us in. Tender mercy! So we were able to get into the complex and spend the evening with Harsha and Prakash and let Amy say her goodbyes.

We slept in until 9:00 AM and then ate breakfast at our hotel.
We walked down Karl Johansgate and took some pictures.

Ah chocolate, how I've missed you. This is the good stuff, people.

I have almost this exact photo hanging in my living room wall, from when I first visited Oslo when I was 18. This street is still just as beautiful now as it was then.

 Obligatory photos in front of the Freia chocolate billboard.

"Fun with math."

The pastry spread at 7-11 when I was pulling out some kroner with my debit card. Yum!
We went back to the sweater store and bought that pretty ivory and silver sweater for Ames.
THIS. A pregnant woman's dream.
We hopped on the bus to the Kon-Tiki museum. I had asked Amy if there was anything in Oslo she wanted to see before she left. I'd seen all the touristy things already before, and so had she really, since she'd lived there. The one place she wanted to visit again was Kon-Tiki.

Kon-Tiki is a museum dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl's voyage from Peru to Polynesia in 1947 in nothing but a balsa-wood raft, as well as another voyage from North Africa to the Caribbean. He basically proves that figures in the Book of Mormon could have made similar expeditions (like the Brother of Jared).

In this little exerpt from his journal, the figures in the center have a thought bubble saying "we are all little Mormons." Ha ha ha. Thor Heyerdahl had read the Book of Mormon, although he was not a member.
 His boats are now on display in the museum. Here is the Kon Tiki that sailed from Peru to Polynesia.

 They have a great movie there that you can watch all about it.
 The Ra II that sailed from Africa to the Caribbean.

 A few movies made about his expeditions.
 Obligatory selfie outside while waiting for the bus.
We took the bus back to the city and ate dinner at Tullins Cafe. It was funny because everywhere we went, Amy would speak Norwegian to the clerks and because we're both blonde and Scandinavian looking girls, they would just assume that I spoke Norwegian too. They would say something to me and I would look at them with a blank stare and then turn to Amy and she would translate for me, ha ha. They would then apologize and say "I'm sorry, you look like a Norwegian!" Ha ha. And really, everyone there speaks English as well, so it was no trouble to get around or buy things at all.

I did, however, run into some trouble because I didn't have a chip and pin credit card, which is all they have been using in Europe for years and years. I would ask at a store to swipe my card and the clerks would look at me and tell me they didn't know how to do that. I had read in my Rick Steves' book that this might be a problem, so I just withdrew Kroner from my debit card at an ATM and we used cash most everywhere we went. This was the easiest way to avoid transaction fees and other issues, and it worked just fine for us. Plus, trips to 7-11 every day was a bonus, what with all their delicious pastries and such. Ha ha.

Then we walked to the Dale store and bought some a hat for me and a headband for Amy (it was basically the only thing in the store in my price range, ha ha). But I love this hat so much!

Isn't it so cute? I love the pom pom!

Then we walked back to the Institute building for a pit stop. While we were there we ran into one of Amy's investigator's, Tanje. She was really nice and really interested. Her first question to me was, "did you get married in the temple?" I think it's the first time anyone has ever asked me that. I was really happy to be able to tell her yes, and how special it was. I could tell that Tanje wanted to be married in the temple also. I hope someday she will be.
After the Institute, we walked around a bit more and passed a beautiful Bunad store, but it was closed. The sun went down about 4:00 PM in the afternoon, so even though our pictures are dark, it's only like 6 at night. We really didn't stay out that late! And being the off-season, most stores closed around 5:00 or so. Sometimes there wasn't too much to do after dinner except walk and explore.

 The windows of the map shop were lovely.
We walked past the palace and took a few pictures. (Again, it's only like 7:00 PM!)

We hit the sev' on our way home for some dessert, and then facetimed our family until we fell asleep.
We ate breakfast at the hotel this morning and then checked out.
We took the T-bane to church.

The Oslo chapel.
This is Amy with the relief society president of the ward. She LOVED Amy. She gave her a big hug, and she told me Amy was the best missionary they'd ever had in their ward, which I thought was quite a compliment.
It was the Primary Program at church that week. We sat by Carla and her visiting ex-husband. It was so sweet to hear all the children speak and sing, even though I couldn't understand them. During relief society, I had a headset so I could hear the lesson in English. I guess Oslo is such a melting pot that they have headsets and translators every week so that everyone can hear and understand what is being taught. I thought it was neat.

After church we snapped a few goodbye photos. Amy with Sister Frampton (from our home stake) and another sister.

This sign hangs in the womens bathroom/mother's room of the chapel. It says:
"1. Remember to wash the changing table.
2. Put your diapers with the horrible smell in a plastic bag and throw them away in the garbage outside.
3. Hang clothes out in the locker.
4. Remember to take with you all of your things when you leave."
I found this picture hanging in the hallway of the chapel. It's a photo of the Oslo ward from 1945.
You can see my grandma's aunt, Hildur Fluge Johansen in it, as well as her husband Armand. Pretty neat.They must have lived in Oslo for a time before they moved to Salt Lake City (she was originally from Bergen). I know they emigrated to the US first and my grandparents came afterwards and lived with them for a time in Salt Lake City while they found a place of their own to live.

I will never tire of this street. After church we took the T-bane back toward our hotel. We walked around for a bit and took some photos.
We walked over to the pier where the boats were.

Making mom's "face."
We walked past some bakeries advertising kransekaker but never found any available to eat! So sad. I think you have to order it in advance. I remember finding a bakery in Oslo last time I was here that would sell broken pieces and crumbs to you very cheap, but that was almost 15 years ago. 
Just ogling to bakery windows some more.
We found a street named after Stu, so we had to take a picture.

As it started to get dark, we grabbed our luggage from the hotel and walked to the train. We took the Flytog to the airport.

At the airport, I watched Amy give a passalong card to this man.

This is where I first discovered that Amy was using plastic grocery bags to keep her feet dry in her rainboots, which were leaky. This was her sad face when her grocery sack ALSO got a hole. Ha ha ha.

Amy, enjoying a shrimp sandwich for dinner. She loved shrimp but they didn't have enough money as missionaries to eat shrimp all too often.
I found this bottle of orange (apple?) juice very confusing.
When we landed in Bergen, the signs for the restroom were quite expressive.

We took a bus from the airport to the city center, which dropped us off right in front of our hotel along the Bryggen. We checked in and facetimed our family until almost midnight, and then we crashed.