Thursday, November 19, 2009

A REAL adventure!

Hey all!
Just sitting at an internet cafe in BArcelona right now...wanted to give you an update!
We spent a couple of beautiful days in Prague. I love the city, I want to go back. We spent our days with Chris, an old friend from Eagan who is in the Marines and I haven´t seen for a very long time. He showed us the city and we had a real, authentic Czech time. We saw the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Plzen, which, though the biggest brewery I have toured, was also one of the coolest. We saw part of the 9km of underground cellars that tunnel under the factory. I am also grateful to more fully understand all of my friends who are stationed around the world serving in the military. Interesting lives, for sure. So, we left Prague on their celebration of independence (20 years free from Soviet rule) and took a night train into Germany. Thus began our real adventure...We took a detour in Bern, Switzerland yesterday and got to enjoy the beautiful city and stop at Einstein´s house (which we learned he only lived in for 2 years...). We also saw another astronomical clock (which we also saw in Prague). Due to some train reservation issues, we ended up taking a detour to Milan! We had just enough time to devour gelato and explore the area around the train station. It seems that if you arent up for shopping in Milan, you should try another Italian city. From Milan we took the night train to Barcelona, where we just took a break after visiting Gaudi´s Sagrada de Familia. The church is massive and unbelievably gorgeous. We are exploring the rest of the day before we hop on a night boat to visit Emily in Mallorca! We are looking forward to the rest of our travels and I will keep you updated as I can!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sweden, Germany, Belgium

I have very good intentions of putting up photos on my blog, and everytime I go to write one, I keep telling myself that photos need to go along with the words on my page, but I decided an update with merely words was better than no update at all, so here you go!

After Stockholm I went to Kristinehamn to visit Maud, Johan, Sofia, and Josefin. They are friends of my mother and Kurt and I was excited to have the opportunity to meet the family. I had a wonderful time going to university with Sofia (English class!), visiting Karlstad, meeting their family, being treated to wonderful meals (moose!), and having the opportunity to ride their horse, Stormy (I galloped, which was a new experience for me).

I jumped west for a brief (less than 24 hour) visit to see my cousin Petter in Oslo. I hadn't gone to Oslo the last time I was in Norway, so I decided to take the long way to my next Swedish via Norway. I walked around the city, spent some time in Vigeland's park, and then met up with Petter. He showed me around the city and we had some time to chat before having a (short) night of sleep to kick off my train ride to southern Sweden.

I spent a couple of days in Hassleholm, Sweden, visiting Eva and her family. They lived in America for 12 years and went to the same church as my family while growing up. It had been a long time since any of us had seen each other, and now her girls are 12, 18, and 21. Last time I saw the youngest she was getting baptized. I was lucky enough to spend Halloween with them. I went trick or treating for the first time in years, but I have to say that Swedes really don't understand the concept. Some were confused, some didn't answer, but we had fun nonetheless. My costume was being bit by a vampire...slightly underwhelming but I got to do some zombie-esque makeup and use the clothing out of my backpack, so it all worked out. Hassleholm was my last stop in Sweden. I was lucky enough to spend over a month in Sweden, and got to visit nearly everyone I wanted to.

My next stop after Sweden was Aphoven, Germany, where I reunited with Steve! We visited his cousin Anna, her husband Tony, and their adorable children. We visited Monschau, my favorite quaint little German town, went to Cologne to see the Lindt Chocolate Museum, went to the Tri-Border, where the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany meet, and played some good rounds of Rock Band (we can't be tourists all the time). We were shown wonderful hospitality and had a great time! Always sad to leave, but we have a shortage of time left!

I am now in Belgium, visiting my former college roommate Jen. She is American but was born and raised here, about 45 minutes from Brussels. We are having a great time here. We had the chance to see St. Vincent and Grizzly Bear last night in Brussels, and will see Kings of Convenience tonight! One of my goals was to see some good concerts in Europe, and we decided to make it a point, here and now.

I cannot believe that a month from today we will be on a plane back home. Time really flies. I miss everyone and think of many of you daily.

Happy Birthday Juanita!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Hello everyone.
Yes, I am still alive, and doing quite well in fact! I have been in Sweden since the end of September, and am loving every second. I have met and been reintroduced to nearly all of my relatives here, and every single person is so incredibly kind and generous. I have spent the last 2 weeks up in Jämtland in northern Sweden, spending my nights at Strandgården, the bed and breakfast run by my relatives. We did so many fun and different things...I milked cows on the dairy farm in Offerdal, I picked Lingon in the woods and watched Ingrid make 3 enormous batches of jam, I had fika about 7893 times, which is a good thing. We need more fika in America. For those who are not aware, fika is like a coffee break, but they have them all the time. We had fika every morning at 730, followed by fika after breakfast, and fika before lunch, and fika after lunch, and fika in the evening, and fika at night, and fika if we visited anyone, ever. I merely suggest we take a little more time to relax throughout the day, even if we cannot create the fika atmosphere as well as the Swedes. One of the first days in Sweden Steve and I went to Östersund and I had a shopping spree to get warmer shoes, a jacket, a scarf, a hat, mittens, wool socks, the kitchen get the idea. We saw a lot of snow for a few days. If I didn´t have trouble fitting everything in my backpack before, you can imagine the disarray surrounding my organization and packing as of late. I would love to ramble more, but the main idea is that I have been having such a wonderful time with my family, and more stories will have to come later. It was bittersweet to leave this past Wednesday, but I had the pleasure of staying in Bollnäs with Elisabeth and her family for a couple days before moving on to Stockholm where I am now. Marianne and family are taking wonderful care of me, and I am so glad to be back in a city. I missed out last night because I could have been at Swedish Idol with relatives from the Norwegian side of my family because Jordin Sparks was singing on the show, but we made up for it tonight. My cousin Louise and I were invited to meet my relatives and see Jordin perform at CafeOpera, one of the top 2 nightclubs in Stockholm, and the nicest club I have ever been in (not that I am the clubbing type, but still). We had a very nice chat with Pam, Jordins grandmother, and got to talk about our relatives. (I told her she needs to come and visit, Jostein!) The whole experience was pretty crazy, and made even better because before we went to CafeOpera, Louise and I guessed it...swing dancing! I was thrilled, had quite a few good dances in a short amount of time in a club that was not super crowded, so all in all it was a successful night. I may even go again on Wednesday. It was Louise´s first time, but people were begging her to stay. Go figure. So, alive and well and wonderful.
Thank you for all of your words and messages! I have not had much quality time with the computer, but I am doing so well. Steve and I are meeting again in Germany in a couple weeks, so take time to stay posted on what he is doing as well!
Love from Sweden!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I hope it has not been too very long since my last post. I find it difficult to make time to write blogs, but I do know how incredibly important it is so I hope that you know I am thinking of all of you and wish you could read my thoughts daily so you knew what I was up to. Also, apologies for the lack of photos, but they take forever to load, even on good internet connection. I will try again soon.

I am still in Norway.

Here are some updates up to this point...
We had a couple more days after my last blog post with my family in Jaren, Norway. We really enjoyed getting to see Handball played (something we do not really have in MN), and we got to watch Silje play in the Brandbu Skolekorps. They marched, in uniform and all. Very fun. We were sad to leave Mette and family!

BUT, we had the chance to take a marvelous day-long bus ride to reach the beautiful town of Kjølsdalen, Norway. Kjølsdalen is in the west, and they speak quite a bit different than I have heard before, using Nynorsk instead of Bokmål. Here is the Scandinavian Studies student in me communicating, but Norway has two different types of Norwegian language. Nynorsk is based off of Norwegian dialects (which are numerous, due to the mountain-filled landscape). Dialects and slang vary from village to village, and for me, that was different and an exciting challenge to come across. For example, in Nynorsk they say Eg instead of Jeg(I), and small differences like that. I enjoyed learning to say 'Eg veit ikkje' instead of Jeg vet ikke (which means 'I dont know'...convenient, right?). Anyways...We visited Jostein and Johanne, two wonderfully generous and lively people. We had an amazing stay with them. Highlights for me were having the chance to meet some wonderful people (of course...Sophie talking to new people? Weird), visiting Johanne's family in Åheim, visiting the Gilleshammer farm where my great-great grandfather was born, making Klubb (Google it), Norwegian breakfast, eating Gombe (really, Google it), and herding sheep in the mountains! Jostein has 90 sheep on his farm that go into the mountains and basically get to eat to their heart's content, and then come home in the fall. Steve and I went to get the first batch with him. We successfully made it home with 20, 17 of which were his. Exciting! Steve and I found a really good connection at this place, and we were sad to go, but we were taken to the ferry in Folkestad to be picked up in Volda by Bente and family!

We are currently in Eiksund, Norway. Bente, Jan Ove, Maria, and Simon have been fabulous hosts. They are relatives of relatives (cousins of my Grandpa Green's cousins) and we have really enjoyed our time here! We have been visiting around their home, and have gone numerous places daily. We have been out walking in the Norwegian woods, visited Kvalsvik, Ulstenvik, Hareid, Runde, and visited Fugl Fjell (Bird Mountain...if I wrote that right...and is very popular with German tourists in the summer. Luckily, we chose a ridiculously windy day to visit and were the only ones on the mountains. Did not see and puffins, though!), among other beautiful places. Today we picked apples and were treated to Norsk Eplekake (apple cake...yum!). I cannot believe we have already been here 5 days and have to travel tomorrow.

ALSO, we learned of a huge mistake I made...Tyttebær are not cranberries, like I thought and was told, but are lingonberries! Which makes them much better to eat now. Just so you know.

I am really surprised at how similar Norway feels to home. Maybe the huge Scandinavian population, or the geography, or the fact that I went to a Norwegian, Lutheran college have something to do with it, but I really, really, love it here. I guess finding my roots is also important, and I am very grateful to have the ability to meet and visit my family across and around the world.

We will be making a brief stop in Trondheim, Norway tomorrow night on our way to Jarpen, Sweden to visit relatives of my maternal grandmother's. I met some of them 10 years ago when I toured with the Svenskarnas Dag choir there, but it will be very exciting to see them again!

Best thought of the day so far...I will be home in time to see the Concordia Christmas Concert in Minneapolis ( I get back the day before)! I didn't realize how much I missed it until I realized how excited I got about that notion.

I will put up more of anything as I can! I really appreciate everyone who is reading and staying in keeps me going on a daily basis!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trip updates, photos and Norge!

(Steve and I at Raukr viking camp in Røykenvika, Norge)

I attempted to make a blog with photos of where we have been so far and what we are doing. Make sure you read to the bottom, I swear you can make it!

This is a part of the crew helping me pack before we went to the airport in Eagan, MN (Me, Olivia, Mom, Kurt). Uff da is all I can say... I know everyone says to pack light and then cut it in half, which I did, but Steve is carrying half the things around that I am. Lucky him.

This is the view from Anwen's house in Dinas Mawddwy, Wales. She lives on a beautiful sheep farm in the countryside!

This is me at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. We spent a lovely afternoon here, and the best part was enjoying a pint from the 7th floor 'gravity bar' with a breathtaking view of the city from all sides. We walked all around Dublin and we could see how far we had been, walking from our hostel on the north side of the liffey to all the sightseeing we did on the south side.

Steve and I spent 2 days in Liverpool, England. The city was fun but industrial. I really enjoyed going through The Beatles Story and learning about how the group came to be- I really didn't know much before we went. This is me with the John Lennon statue outside The Cavern- the pub the boys made famous in Liverpool. I really liked the photography exhibit they displayed at the beatles museum of John and Yoko's 'bed-in' for peace.

This is the view from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland. Steve and I hiked up here and spent a couple hours enjoying the view from the top. We met a fellow Minnesotan up here, too! Edinburgh was a beautiful city with a nice blend of history and modern culture. We met a lot of people in our hostel (none of them Scottish). Steve's roommates were 4 French speakers, 3 of whom were looking for apartments in the city. We also met a fellow American traveling Scotland before school begins in a few weeks. It was nice to find some connections there.

Heisan fra Norge!

(Mette, Stina, Me, Kent)

We are currently in Jaren, Norway staying with my family, Mette, Roy, Silje, Stina, Kent, og Tinka (the dog!) Gjerdingen. Mette Gjerdingen is related to us through the Green side of the family. They recently took a 3 week trip through Minnesota and North Dakota so I had the chance to meet them before we came, and now they are showing us unconditional Norwegian hospitality in their home. First, let me introduce their family. Mette and Roy are married, and there are 5 kids together. Roy works driving a 'MaxiTaxi' (a Norwegian word Steve and I both like :)). Side note: I taught Stina how to say 'Mr. MaxiTaxi Driver, Mr MaxiTaxi Driver, won't you please open the door!? Good English game, right? Ja... The 16 passenger MaxiTaxi bus makes its way around the area. The schedule of his driving seems very busy, but I am surprised and happy at how well they coordinate their schdules to be around with the kids. Aina is Mette's oldest daughter. She has a wonderful husband named Lars Erik and a son named Kristian who will turn 3 in March. They were married July 4 and we have gotten to see many beautiful photos from the wedding and reception. Kjetil is Mette's 2nd son. He is my age (22) and keeps himself very busy by working for Gran Taxi service as well. He is very interested in cars and would like to own his own business someday. Silje is 12, Stina is 10, and Kent is 8. They all live where we are staying and we have had a wonderful time playing with them. Silje and Stina play cornet, and we had the opportunity to watch Stina's brass group play a mini-concert for us after her ensemble lock-in at school. Wednesday we will get to see Silje play in her band as well. We also hope to have the chance to talk to their school classes about Minnesota and America. They said we could speak English most of the time, but I hope my Norwegian holds up well enough to explain things to Kent's class! Mette is very interested in geneaology, and so she has explained many family connections to me. I really appreciate finding those connections all the way across the world. She has even helped Steve to find information about his Norwegian ancestors. Very nice! Steve is also learning Norwegian quite well. He will be a pro by the time we leave! Mette and I have been speaking to each other, her in English and me in Norwegian so we can practice. So, that is where we are right now. We have eaten so much good Norwegian food since we have been here. Norsk breakfasts are brødskiver med ost og syltetøy og fisk (bread, cheese, jam, fish. We have eaten so much good brown cheese!). I like Norwegian food a lot, but that shouldn't surprise anyone. We have had potatoes, sausage, onions, tomatoes, kjøttkaker (meat cakes), tyttebær(cranberries), kål(cabbage), rømmegrøt(sour cream porridge), kransekake, eplemost (applecider), og lefse.

(Me, Aina, and Copper)

We went to Aina's last night and she made us Norwegian waffles. They were absolutely heavenly. We ate them with her homemade jordbær syltetøy (strawberry jam), sour cream, brunost (brown cheese), hot chocolate and tea. We had a wonderful time visiting her. We got to meet Lars Erik's brother, Ole Martin, who was quite funny. We played Wii and got to know them much better. It was lovely. They live about 10 minutes from Jaren, in Gran.

(The Sister Churches)

On the way to her house she took us to see the sister churches, a popular site to visit around here. They are two churches, Maria church and Nicolaus church, that stand next to each other. They are built of stone, which is strange because most churches made at that time were built from wood. They are very beautiful and important here. So, we have had a lot of time to get to know the family and have been shown the ropes here in Norway. I hope you can follow my train of thought and get an idea of the wonderful time we are having here!
View from Mette's House in her backyard.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cheers, Dublin! that a Damien Rice reference?

We made it safely across from Holyhead, Wales to Dublin today. Check out Steve's blog, he put up some photos. ( We had a great time in Wales and are happy to be in Ireland. We are staying in a very nice hostel on the North side of the river. Tomorrow we will meet up with my friend Alex who is abroad here for the semester. We also plan to go to the Guiness factory and some museums. We have had lots of rain (and since I am Minnesotan and have to talk about weather that was worth mentionaing). A highlight of Wales was taking a 5km hike in the pouring rain. My shoes are still soaked and don't smell as new as they were a week ago, but as is life. I will post pictures as soon as I can!
Love to all,

Saturday, August 29, 2009

In the quiet misty morning...

Hello all!
(I'm singing to you, Elodie).
Steve and I are off on our first adventure-filled day in Wales. We are staying with Steve's friend Anwen (an absolute delight) who he knows from his time abroad in Rennes, France. Anwen lives near Machynlleth on a farm in the middle of the Welsh countryside. Her home is beautiful. We woke up to a view of rolling green mountains dotted with wooly nuggets (sheep!). (Also, they don't call them that...I do). It reminds me a lot of Scotland because of all the sheep. Last night we went to their local pub, the Red Lion (I wish I could tell you what it was called in Welsh). We drank cider and local ale. We met her sister, Manon, and her boyfriend and friends from London, as well as her younger brothers. Anwen's family speaks Welsh at home, and she explained that most people around here speak Welsh and English and switch back and forth flawlessly. ABout 20% of Wales speaks Welsh, and both are official languages so street signs are bilingual. We are quite enjoying our time here and cannot wait to post pictures. Love to you all! :)