Scandinavian Sunshine

April 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm (Germany, Travel)

It’s April and Spring is refusing to wake in Germany.  We’ve had one hell of a long, cold, miserable winter and I am desperate for the weather to start getting warmer.  It’s been so cold that we haven’t even been able to water our hockey ground due to the water freezing over!  The first week of pre-season training even had to be cancelled because of snow!

DSCF4247Luckily for me my worst nightmare didn’t happen though… snow on my birthday.  I turned 29 in relatively quiet fashion managing to keep it quiet from my class.  My German as a second language class were on the ball though and greeted me with a cake and the birthday song.  They nearly made me cry because generally they are a very challenging class.  On the actual day I had Raclette with a few close friends and the night after Martin and I went out for dinner with Danny, Peer and Emil.  I got some lovely presents, notably a sewing machine from Martin.  So excited to try it out, just don’t have any time at the moment.

Winter also means lots of opportunities to go skiing.  This year I managed two weekends (Feldberg and Mittersil in Austria) and two and a half days in Ischgl, Austria.  My skiing is slowly improving and the purchasing of my own ski boots was definitely a good investment.  My legs still hurt like hell (I think I need to strengthen some muscles before next season) but it is a lot better.  Buying the ski boots was an adventure in itself due to my famously small feet even being told in more than one shop that boots were not made that small in Germany.

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I’ve most made the most of my weekends and managed two trips to Switzerland to visit Martin’s gorgeous nephew Florin, who was born while we were in Sri Lanka.  He’s such a cute lovely baby and we are looking forward to his christening this weekend. The Medieval Banquet at school turned into a Medieval Day which was a great success, albeit a lot of extra stress for me.  The kids particularly enjoyed making catapults.  Fiona and I also organised a highly successful Pub Golf evening much to the amusement of the locals.  We’re planning another evening when the weather gets warmer.

DSCF4266My Easter holidays were very busy even for my standards.  I started with a long weekend in Strasbourg visiting my friend Conny.  She is studying there at the moment and living in student accommodation which she understandably hates.  The city was as always beautiful and we spent time shopping, partying, lazing about and eating lots of Flammkuchen.  🙂

It was back to Germany on the Monday and the Tuesday evening Martin and I flew to Norway, my first Scandinavian country.  We were very lucky to be able to stay with Fabian, an old friend of Martin’sand his girlfriend Lena.  We flew into Oslo and the very next day we took a drive out to Rjukan.  Here we stayed with some friends of theirs (Sonja and Peter) and enjoyed the beautiful countryside.  The town once had the largest hydro water plant in the world and was run by the Nazis during World War II.  We had a lot of fun watching the 1965 Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Heroes of Telemark’ and spotting the house we were staying in.  Nowadays Rjukan is an ice climbing hub.

DSCF4305 DSC_0006While I didn’t try ice climbing, I did cross a river on a zipline and attempt cross-country skiing for the first time.  I can’t say my first go at cross-country skiing was a success.  I fell going up, I fell going down and I even fell just for the sake of falling.  To my credit they did say that the route was very difficult for an absolute beginner!  The scenery and the experience definitely made up for my sore body and deflated confidence.  Let’s be honest, not that many people can say that they tried cross-country skiing for the first time in Norway.  🙂

After a couple of days in Rjukan we headed back to Oslo to explore the city.  We DSC_0128visited the Frogner Park and admired the numerous public sculptures from Gustav Vigeland.  In fact, it is the largest public sculpture park made by a single artist in the world!  Amazingly the Norwegian government provided  lodgings and a studio for Vigeland and in return they received all the sculptures he made.  This is referred to as the Vigeland Sculpture Agreement.  He was a very busy man to say the least and I think the government did very well out of the agreement.  My favourite piece was the Monolith.  This one piece of block granite is 14.12 meters high and has 121 different interwoven human figures in it.  It was a breathtaking piece of sculpture.

We also visited the Fram museum, which tells the story of Norwegian polar exploration.  The museum is built around the actual Fram boat and it was really cool to b able to read about the trips the ship made and then also explore the boat.  I found it very interesting comparing the journeys that Amundsen and Scott took in their race to the south pole, especially as I remembered much more about the Scott journey from my own general knowledge.  Mum, you would have loved it!

On our last night we were treated to a traditional Easter meal at Lena’s mother’s house.  The meal was absolutely delicious and it was lovely being able to communicate with her and her partner in English and German.  It was a very multicultural  table as her partner is Danish.  He spoke a wonderful mixture of English, German and Norwegian with us which was lovely and amazingly, always easy to decipher.  I love international experiences and moments like these.

DSC_0086Norway was a fabulous trip… expensive… but also totally worthwhile.  Lena and Fabian were amazing looking after us and I enjoyed getting to hear Martin speak English over long periods of time.  (Lena speaks little German and I speak even less Norwegian!)  He did a really good job and I was amazed at the depth of some conversations we were able to have.  Sonja and Peter were equally wonderful, letting us stay with them in Rjukan.

Of course we had to leave Norway and the sunshine and life continues to be busy here in Darmstadt.  Between school, hockey, Martin and my German course there doesn’t seem to be much time for a social life.  Somehow I manage to squeeze most things in although lack of sleep continues to be a constant problem.  There’s no point in life if you don’t take it at full swing… although a lazy weekend of nothingness wouldn’t be too bad either.

xoxo

P.s  More photos?  Check out https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151554617650589.1073741826.509745588&type=1&l=63b02daf69

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