Monday, July 09, 2012

I'll Have the Whale

Yesterday was the halfway point of my trip. I feel like I've been gone for approximately a month so I think this vacation is doing what it's supposed to. Lobotomize me. I mean, refresh my brain.


Before the weekend, it was stunningly beautiful here. Perfect sunny weather. We tried to go to the famed Bird Island of Runde, known for its many, many puffins. It was a beautiful drive and then, just a few kilometers away from the island, this extremely dark and large cloud started to roll over the mountains in front of us.


By the time we got to Runde, the temperature had dropped and it was cold and windy. (It actually looked a lot like when the fog rolls into San Francisco this time of year.) So we bailed on bird island and found a sunny spot for a hike.

Foreground: Mashall learns to blow dandelion seeds.

Background: Chrissy applies SPF 2000 to Josie.


This was the view from the top.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but I think we were walking on some kind of bog. It was very spongy moss that was rather springy underfoot. Kind of like that gluten-free McDonald's bun from Stockholm. (By the way, did I mention that the Big Mac is called a McThomas in Sweden?)


Chrissy's husband Will has been on a business trip to Singapore so the next day, Chrissy and I took the kids on a mini vacation to Trondheim.

It takes about 6 hours to get to Trondheim, including two ferries, and a lot of tunnels and bridges.

This one looked like a modern version of the Golden Gate bridge. Only not golden. And only two lanes.

Six hours is a loooong time in the car but the kids were really, really good.

Trondheim is incredibly charming.


Our hotel, the Rika Nidelven, was lovely and situated right on the river that runs through town.

When we arrived, we took the kids to the Trondheim Science Center which is a kid-oriented museum with LOTS of hands on activities. It was super fun.

Josie especially loved the spinner.

She was on it for hours.

I also loved that to the side of the kids' outdoor play area was this:


Yes, that's a catapult. A discarded catapult. Not, like blocked off or anything. Just put aside. It doesn't even have a sign on it that says not to touch it or play on it.


I guess the Norwegians just assume that people don't need to be told these things.



I also loved that one of the "Did you know?" signs in the museum had information about when the cheese plane was invented. Norwegians are very into their cheese planes. It's how they slice brunost, a traditional Norwegian cheese.


After the science museum, we were all ready for dinner. We took the kids to a fancy adult restaurant. While Josie and I were washing our hands after touching EVERYTHING at the Science Museum, the waitress came over to tell Chrissy about the dinner specials.


When we came back to the table, Chrissy was very excited.


"The fish of the day is halibut with a tomato-y sauce, and the meat of the day is whale."

Whale! Obviously, we HAD TO have some whale. When else do you have a chance to have whale?

Hopefully it wasn't baby whale...


We order.


Chrissy: "The kids will have child portions of the halibut with all the vegetables and sauces on the side and I'll have the whale."

Waitress: "The vale?"

Chrissy: "Yes, the whale."


Here's the whale.

You might notice that the whale looks a lot like VEAL. Because it is veal. Turns out that "veal" said with a heavy Norwegian accent sounds just like "whale."

Anyway, the whale was delicious.

So was the halibut.


We followed this delightful meal with some ice cream, because Norwegians love two things: dessert and hot dogs, and then rolled ourselves back to the hotel. We had a big day to prepare for on Sunday.

There was a massive breakfast buffet at the hotel for us to take down.


I didn't photograph it all but this is by far the best hotel breakfast I have ever seen in my life. It had everything: cured meats, many cheeses, hot meats, several kids of eggs, at least half a dozen types of salmon, a giant yogurt/cereal buffet, salad, a fruit buffet, a fresh-squeezed custom juice station, a slice-your-own-bread-station, and many, many trays of baked and griddled breakfast treats.

They even had a special section of gluten free breads and crackers. I love it here.

Fishcakes in the foreground.
Many delicious cold fishes. Don't worry, I sampled them all.
Josie's very excited about breakfast.
That brown flat thing toward the back of my plate is brunost. Please also note the half-eaten soft boiled egg in the middle. Look at how yellow (orange!) that yolk is! These eggs did not come from a factory farm.
After lunch, we rolled ourselves over to Nidaros Cathedral, which was originally built in the 11th century. It was really impressive, although we were not allowed to photograph the inside, so all I have for you is this:
Then I went over to the train station and bought a one-way ticket to Hell.

You know, just in case. It's good to have these things onhand. You never know when you're going to need to give this to someone.


It was a rainy day so we skipped the outdoor museum and headed home. Not two minutes outside of the city, it was lunchtime and the kids were claiming hunger despite our enormous breakfast binge, so we stopped for gas and a very Norwegian lunch of cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped hot dogs.

No, seriously. Modern Norwegian cuisine bears a striking resemblance to carnival food.

We also had ice cream on the ferry. It was a banner day for food, that's for sure.


We also discovered an awesome Swedish pop song.

We really can't get enough of it.

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