Monday, June 28, 2010

Norway. Installment #2

There are so many different topics to choose from with my experience out there… It’s hard to choose which to cover next. But I’m going to go with Food.

Food is SOOOO different there. And it wasn’t until going out there and coming back that I realized that everything in the U.S. tastes like corn. It goes beyond candy and soda and other things made of corn syrup here. No, EVERYTHING. Our meat, our cheese, our milk…. We feed corn to everything, so everything tastes like corn. And my first clue that the food was going to be very different, was as soon as the flight out there.

Yes… even the airplane food was good. Baked chicken with roasted potatoes, tea, salad… a sourdough roll. And here I was expecting something resembling prison food. Dinner… Two snacks…. Two drinks… AND breakfast! Which was a wonderful little ham sandwich that tasted like it was fresh deli sliced ham, and authentic gruyere cheese! (My favorite!)

But I’m not going to spend all my time writing about the airplane food. The first night I was in the wonderful city of Oslo, I wanted to do something adventurous. Josh asked me about dinner and what I had in mind. “Adventurous” was a bit vague I admit, but it concluded in my first ever meal of Indian food. So… “adventurous” works.

It was fantastic. I can’t really describe what it was that I ate other than to say that it was a chicken based meal over some rice and a very yummy sauce. Ordering Indian Food off of a Norwegian menu is not the easiest of tasks. But in the now 24hrs I’ve been exposed to Norway, I somehow managed to pick up that “Kylling” means “chicken.” I stuck with what I thus far knew. Though I was very torn with trying the “Lam” dish. (Very obvious translation of “Lamb” there.) I like lamb after all… but that’s okay. Later in the week, we went back to this same restaurant and I had the lamb dish. It wasn’t as good as the chicken in all, but still extremely tastey!

Then there was McDonalds. I HAD to. I just HAD to know if it would be any different. …It was. For one, they had these promotional sandwiches that were American city themed. Chicago, New York… etc. But they all looked relatively the same to me. So I just picked something that resembled a quarter pounder and went on with it. A medium fry, burger, and medium drink at a Norwegian McDonalds comes to… 16 dollars American.

As I bit in, I understood why. It does NOT taste like the processed crap we serve here. Was it worth 16 bucks? No. But quality costs money. And the soda, was the higher mark up in comparison. A plain old regular little cheeseburger… You know, the kind that comes in happy meals… Cost 2 dollars each. This was their advertised inexpensive suggestion. …But back to how it tasted. The meat tasted like it WASN’T made out of old gym mats, the fries seemed less greasified for some reason, and the soda is rich and made with REAL sugar. In essence? The food tasted like FOOD! Imagine that!

Now… My favorite experience however was cooking.

Going to the grocery store, buying ingredients, having to translate names of items and prices in a foreign land, was super involved! I loved it. And THANKFULLY, Josh was kind and patient enough to let me play with this experience and get my bearings. I made a pasta dish that I usually enjoy making, but here’s the fun part… You know how there’s been a bit of a theme thus far? Genuine food? REAL taste? Nothing Processed? …That goes for sauces and mixes as well.

Now I always make “my own” Alfredo sauce. But I do get myself started with a premade base and add the cream and cheese to it until it’s to my liking. It’s faster and easier this way. …But there is no premade sauce of ANY brand to be found. So… I do it all from scratch. Translating each ingredient as I go. But the food turned out very good, (if I do say so myself) and it was on to desert.

Norway is cold. And hot chocolate just seems like the natural choice. …No hot cocoa mix either. …No processed ANYTHING! I love it, but it’s getting annoying at the same time.

So… I melt the butter, with the chocolate bar…. Add the cream and the sugar, and the milk…. And……. Oh dear GOD! Norwegian chocolate? WAY BETTER! Way worth the extra work!

I picked up several more bars at the airport on the way back home so savor. I will definitely miss the cooking out there. Quality.

trip to Norway installment one... "travel"

I know I already posted this as a note on Facebook... but I apparently forgot to post it here. And since I made a point of saying I was going to be more active with this blog, I figured finally getting around to elaborating on my trip would be a good start. ...Why it's taken me this long??? I have my reasons, and what can I say? Procrastination is a favorite hobby of mine and it's one that I practice regularly. But I have been going over notes and things from my trip and plan to produce something more very soon.

Norway. Installment #1

If any of you see my statuses I’m sure it was hard to miss that I was in Norway not too long ago, yet it feels so distant now. And as the experience was a long and complex tale to illustrate to its full justice, I am going to have to break it down into categories. This is installment 1.

I should start off this telling you about this little journey of mine the same way I began the actually journey. With what went wrong before I even left.

In the week or so leading up to the trip, as I went to pay my credit card bill, I found something potentially hazardous had occurred. They dropped my limit. What I was depending on to get me from point A to meal B while abroad had vanished like an unguarded pizza in a room full of growing teenage boys. I was in a bit of trouble. So… I did something I never thought I’d do. But desperate times call for desperate measures. …I called for help. …I hate asking for help.

I threw myself a fundraiser. Just a little shin dig of sorts, and I was very surprised by the response my friends gave me. They went above and beyond the call of duty, and by the end of it, I had a nice little purse for my trip. (Literally as well, Daisy bought me a neat little purse with owls on it) Really, if you took ANY part in that event, thank you from the bottom of my heart. While I was away I was thinking of you all and you truly gave me a greater gift than you will ever know. The modern family is comprised not of blood, but of friends, and I’m so grateful for you guys. :)

…On to the start of the physical journey.

I stayed up the entire night before departing. I had to leave @ 5am as I was tagging along with a friend that works on a naval base very close to the O’Hare Airport. It just made sense to do this and wait for her to get off work to make it the rest of the way. I did take a short nap at this point in the car, just to make sure I would be SOMEwhat alert once trying to decipher my gates and travel details. It was a bit of fun when a unit was marched past the car and stopped in front of it chanting hoorah-has. End nap. And just as well. I woke to find a voicemail from the friend I would be staying with while in Norway. The details were confused and instead of my flight LEAVING that day, it was thought it was LANDING. (In other words, as far as my friend was concerned, I was MIA.)

I flew about the office my friend works at in desperate attempt to find a way of contacting my friend waiting for me on the other side. Once sorted out, I was not about to fall back asleep. I wanted to be there, and I wanted to be there THAT SECOND. I felt I should have been. How dare I not arrive a day early! Shame on myself! Bad AIMEE!!!

Well, I tried to distract myself with a bit of writing. For those of you that have missed this little detail about myself, not only was this to be my first time traveling “alone”…. But first time leaving the country as well. There were a million and one questions I had needed distracting from. Customs? Passport? Gates? Security Checks? Seat assignments? Layovers? Trains? Boarding Passes? Baggage checks and claims? It was all a jumble in my mind. But it is best to learn by doing. And it was all part of the experience.


Wasn’t nearly as harrowing as I suspected it would be. I was a little confused as to what to do with my laptop with the x-ray machines. Someone was finally kind enough to tell me to take it out of the bag and set it in a bin of its own. No problems getting out to Norway. However, I found it interesting you also had to go through security getting OFF the first plane in Stockholm. It seemed excessive but who am I to judge?

Getting back to America? Was by far much more interesting. I got patted down. (I forgot to remove my stupid little wallet that is made out of metal.) The alarm went off, I removed it, and I stepped through again. (Very sleepy eyed) The alarm sounded off again, and I rolled my eyes realizing I forgot the hoodie I was wearing had a quality metal zipper. It was then that I heard the security guard utter to me, “This is a Random search.” Random search? Really? Come on. Maybe it was the language barrier, but I know a screwed up. I’ll admit it. I have nothing to hide. Just say, “we have to search you since you sounded the alarm twice.” Leave the “random” out of it when there was nothing “random” about it. The pat down was extremely mild (dare I say half assed) and I doubt if I WAS carrying anything they would have found it anyway. Say… Oh I dunno… if I had strapped a knife on my back under my bra strap for example?

After arriving in Copenhagen (journeying back TO America) I was in line waiting to go through security. The line was long, time was running out, and I… got waived thru? Seriously? Yup… they opened a side door and let the two people in front of me and myself around the security room. I just waltzed right on into the gate’s waiting area. …maybe not so much “waltzed” as tip toed nervously, expecting it to somehow be a trick, and for some reason expected a football player to appear and tackle my ass like I was in a Snicker’s commercial the moment I would let my guard down. Skipping security? I knew this was too good to be true. There was going to be a catch. Karma was going to catch up to me. Customs back home was going to be hell, I just knew it.

Yeah…. Same thing. Waived right on thru. No search, No x-ray, No nothing. (Not that I’m complaining.) But how many of my friends have I witnessed stories from? How many tales of horror about customs have filled my ears? They’ll search your luggage… you have to wait in line forever… they’ll slice you open and read your intestines on a long metal counter…. I hate to disappoint, but my intestines are fully intact and I honestly found the whole process to be very quick and painless. (And we were at threat level orange too… if anyone even notices that crap system anymore)

But that was on the way back…. Let’s talk more about the journey THERE. When I had arrived in Norway, I found the train that runs between the city and the airport. All roads lead to Central Station. I really mean that. There isn’t a single bus, train, trolley, or taxi, that doesn’t make regular stops at this building. It is the HUB of Oslo. The trains are very nice out there. Even most of the subway cars and busses. Most are cloth cushy seats. Not the hard plastic, cheap—feels like you won it out of a happy meal—seats we have here in the states. I mean, there were a couple of older trains I had hopped on every once in a while. But for the most part, it was all a quality experience.

I got off the train, dragging my luggage behind me, and found Josh. He helped me with my bags, and showed me to the next sequence of transportation back to the apartment. As I stood on the platform waiting for the tram to arrive, I stared at a machine that you purchase transit passes from. I knew I would need one. I knew there would be different increments of time you could purchase them for. …(I don’t speak Norwegian) “So… how does this work?” I stared, intimidated by the big blue box. He had his back to it, ignoring the thing, and reached into his pocket. “Already taken care of.”

He then handed me a little rectangle of paper that put the entire city quite literally at my fingertips.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More active, post one. The Pool.

I'm going to be more active with this blog. My New... Old... Year's resolution.

Let's just round to Summer Solstice, shall we?

I have a pile of things I've been meaning to blog about.... but, for one reason or another... haven't. Including tales about my trip abroad. I still promise to elaborate on my fabulous experience out there.

For now... I think I'm resolved to doing a multitude of short blogs more often, rather do longer blogs which are too much pressure that they build up and never get done.

So... with that said.

My Trip to the Pool Today.

Sitting in the apartment, I didn't get nearly as much of the to do list accomplished that I had intended. Some of it... Not enough.

So. I grabbed my journals, a trusty pen, and I went down to sit at the pool to lessen the distractions. Or so I thought.

While there, there was a mother with a baby and her pre-teen son. The mother was EXCESSIVELY inattentive, and let the baby do whatever it like. PLEASE NOTE, just because you strap water-wings, and a flotation suit on your 2yr old, does NOT mean you do not have to pay attention. I watched in horror as this poor kid waddled around looking for attention from ANYONE but its mother. Took toys from other babies... Food from teenagers... Rummaged through purses.... RAN at full speed, which had me wanting to grab hold of her before she ended up with road rash on her forehead... I was a nervous wreck watching it all unfold.

The drawing point was when after the child stole a squirt gun from another group of children and wound off floating off by itself, placed the gun in her mouth, Hollywood suicide style, and seemed to be trying to pull the trigger.

It was insanely prophetic seeming, and I could no longer watch. NOR could I listen to the mother's CONSTANT calling of the child's name, but complete disinterest in actually correcting any of the child's behavior or willingness to play with her own daughter.

The most action I witnessed in the hour's display, was the mother occasionally telling her SON to do something about his sister.

It was clear that the people the baby was constantly approaching were getting irritated while they seemed to babysit, as the child's mother lounged and drifted in the pool.

It was very disturbing to witness... as well was the baby's dark tan that suggested it had never worn sunscreen a day of it's life. I'm afraid I may have gotten cancer by just looking at it.

For all you out there lucky enough to have families and little ones. TREAT THEM WITH LOVE! Do not take them for granted or expect others to do the work for you. You made the decision to be a parent. Now make the decision to be a GOOD parent. Please! Your child is counting on you.