Sunday, 23 September 2012

A Week in September

The summer has come and gone, and with that the long days that inspire activity.  After two months of not having a drivers license I have regained by identity as an adult and am now driving on a legal Norwegian license.  In honour of my victory I decided to take full advantage.  Jay has now been gone for 2 weeks, with 3 more left, but in the middle of our solitude we had a jam packed week.

Last weekend we had back to back bike rides around Stokkavatnet, drenched in rain.  However we did manage to walk to the local Kiwi Store and buy ice cream sandwiches in the solitary hour of sunshine that appeared late sunday afternoon.  Sitting on the bleachers at the local Fotball fields we watched some kids kick the ball.

On monday we ventured into Stavanger Sentrum for a wild night... well as wild as you can get with 2 dogs and a two year old.
After catching the bus in front of our house we arrived downtown 8 minutes later. (27 kr ($4.5CAD) each way)  After wandering the beautiful cobble stone streets we made it to the Norsk Oljemuseum playground.  Entirely constructed of materials from the offshore platforms.  We finished up with a pizza at Al Forno outside on the patio with the dogs tied to a drain pipe.

 Wednesday we decided to utilize the local facilities and visited the pool in the basement of ConocoPhillips.  It is a small, but decidedly, perfect after work adventure.  Elena's confidence in the water is growing.  She even thinks she can swim by herself.  After several mouthfuls of pool water, she conceded that she can't swim yet.

September seems to have brought out a crazy mix weather, in which sun is almost always accompanied by rain.  In-between near continuous sun showers we took the dogs for a few walks on the nearby trails.
A Barnehage (daycare) across the street from our house is a favourite weekend hangout.

The highlight of this week has most definitely been our hike to Dalsnutten.  In two amazingly perfect days, we hiked up to the top of a nearby vista that overlooks the Rogaland region, from the northern tip of Randaberg, down past Sandnes to the south.  It was a brilliant day of 13 degrees, and Elena has real potential as a hiker.  She walked about 40% of the way herself, scaling some impressive rocks to reach the summit.

Today we ventured to the northern tip, and visited the Tungenes Fyr (light house) for a walk by the sea shore.  It gave Elena her first real 'smell' of the ocean.  

Monday, 17 September 2012

Dog Days of Summer

Summer 2012 - Living in Stavanger

4 dogs, 1 toddler, and 15 crazy days mixed in with a few peaceful moments.

We spent 2 weeks dogs sitter a pair of French Bulldogs in a dog swap.  Jay was working in Algeria, and that left Elena and I against the pack.

A few days reached near twenty, and we took full advantage taking in the sun on the back deck.
A ConocoPhillips family day brought us to an amusement park ing Sandnes called Kongeparken. It was a big hit with a handful of rides Elena was big enough for and a bbq lunch.

Most of our time was spent at one of the 5 parks within about 500m of our house.  Elena's favorite is the swing, and the sand box.

More typical are the days we spend walking, all decked out in our rain suits.

So far the fall is warm, but wet.  We haven't let that stop us, and have made a regular bike route around Stokkavatnet - which is a nice 9 km loop.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Spring Travels - Norway and Beyond

Oslo, Amsterdam, Oslo, Sirdal, Oslo, Bergen, and Paris... It has been a busy spring of travelling and I have now concluded two things.
1 - We won't be back to Oslo,
2 - Weekend getaways are NOT for people with out 2 year olds, or almost 2 year olds.

We landed in Oslo the first time on Jay's 34th birthday, and sadly, it wasn't a vacation.  Mika, our sweet baby girl pug, of nearly 7 years had fallen ill.  She presented in screams of pain that no person can endure.  After several visits to the vet, multiple pain killers and no diagnosis, I insisted Jay return to the vet and try for the 4th time to help Mika's pain.  Jay called at 1pm on thursday and told me that we had to go to the Vet school in Oslo to see the spinal specialist. Mika had permanent nerve damage in her spine.  It was dizzying to think about what the meant.  They vet even mentioned having to put her down.  It was one of the most awful moments in my life.  So 9 hours later we arrived in the wee hours of the morning in Oslo, with 2 dogs and 1 toddler in tow.

The day started off with a broken down car, and a cab ride to the Vet Hospital.  We dropped Mika off and she stayed for 12 more days.  With only one pug and one kid, we attempted to see a bit of Oslo.  The day is extremely short when it goes like this.  Breakfast, 1 free hour, snack, 1 free hour, lunch, nap, 2 free hours, dinner, bed. And again, confined to a hotel room.  So needless to say, we did not see much other than restaurants and a few parks.

 The one thing we did see, was the gorgeous Oslo Opera House.  It was an amazing picturesque day in sunny Norway.

Svalbard & Amsterdam - 5 year Anniversary

Svalbard, Longyearbyen, 78.21 Degrees Latitude.
Yes it included a snow cat tour up the mountain to an observatory. It was freakin cold... even for this central Canada native.

Back home for 1 day, Jay and I reconnected by flying out to Amsterdam for a 'steal of deal' weekend getaway to Amsterdam for our 5 year anniversary. (Now remember, Jay had just returned from driving 8 hours by himself with Jax and Elena, since I had flown out a few days prior for a work trip up on the most northerly point in Norway... Svalbard.)  Svalbard is WAY up there. Think nearly north pole.
Arriving in Amsterdam was great, Elena was behaving and I had high hopes for a great anniversary weekend.  A few things struck me about the beautiful city of Amsterdam.  Biking was one thing I was never going to do without losing my life!  An amazing city to tour by bicycle, but it was very overwhelming for the country biker. I am not a city girl :)
This is the beginning of Peter the Pug, worldwide traveller.  He now accompanies us on every trip... like the travel gnome.

The first of many amazing fashion finds, to which I will never be able to justify buying, let alone have anywhere to wear them. None the less... they are beautiful.

I am sure that we will be back to Amsterdam.  It has a lot of amazing things to see, in and just outside the city. We managed to see a City Sightseeing bus for about 30 minutes, Hard Rock Cafe, and NEMO the science centre.

Sirdal and Our first Visitors

Lucky for us, my parents had a trip planned to Amsterdam and a cruise south to Budapest, so they managed to change their plans and visit us for 2 weeks before.  It was fantastic to have some familiar faces in this faraway land.  We, of course, planned a jammed pack itinerary that started with a weekend away in a ConocoPhillips subsidized cabin up in Sirdal.  It was a great getaway, but again there were some serious learnings.  Always, always make room for the pack n play.  Elena still sleeps in her crib, so this was a major shock that she could just - get out of bed if she wasn't tired.  It was a tiring weekend for all involved.

Mika enjoying her new lot in life... after 2 weeks on a morphine drip, and 2 months of oral pain meds, her diagnosis was inconclusive and unsatisfactory. Bed rest, and slowly wean off the pain meds, then hope for the best.  They could see several things wrong with her, but nothing they thought was causing her pain, and certainly nothing that could be fixed via surgery.  So for the foreseeable future Mika will be carried upstairs, downstairs and on all outdoor walks.  Who are we kidding, Mika is loving it.  We just hope that her mysterious pain never comes back.
Our next adventure was our first Norwegian hike.  Vardefjell.  It was called an easy 30 minute walk.  While it was certainly no Kjerag (a 6 hour power hike up 700m elevation gain) it took us roughly 1 hour or more each way.  Granted we were carrying Elena and Mika.  It of course was well worth the effort, and Norway providing a perfect day of 22 C in May.  

Jax on the other hand was pooped! He was a trooper walking all the way.

Back to Oslo with my parents and Aunt and Uncle.

With a higher Adult to kid ratio, we significantly improved our sightseeing.. or maybe we are getting better at this.  A whirlwind 5 day trip starting from Stavanger to Oslo by train, then 4 nights in Oslo, with a 6 hour train ride to Bergen and then a 4 hour Ferry ride from Bergen back to Stavangr.
Making Friends on the train.. what a great way to travel with kids.

 The Viking Ship Museum.. truly cool.                                              THeThe FRAM... northern explorer, she loved being on the boat.

 Local norwegian seafood dish, and riding public transit.

 Museum of Natural History... borderline, too many museums at this point.

 The highest point on the train ride from Oslo to Bergen, very cool.

At the top of the Funicular, looking over the town of Bergen... like Stavanger, but bigger. Great seafood market in the harbour.

Paris - C'est Magnifique

One week in Paris in June.. divine.
We hauled Elena on two plane rides, two trains, and 2 blocks of walking to get to our 4th floor Paris Apartment.  It was basic, but in a great location... except for the busy street below. And yes, even 5 floors up you can still hear the traffic like it is driving through your window.

Our itinerary included Sacre Couer, Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Arc de Triomphe, and a lot of miles walked. Our favourites were the afternoon we spent climbing to the top of the dome at Sacre Couer, a few pleasant hours spent under the Eiffel Tower, and countless bottles of French wine.

Versailles golden gate

Sacre Couer - the Dome

The climb up to the dome... my favourite.

 The grounds at the Grand Trianon

The Hamlet at Versailles, where Marie Antionette  had a working farm.