Monday, June 21, 2010

Animal overload


We left Harstad after we toured Statoil and arrived in Narvik in the afternoon. Narvik Rotary Klubb checked us into our hotel. This might have been the most uncomfortable hotel stay ever. It was a closet sized room with only one bed and Pooja and I had to share this room. Mason and Bruce had the same situation. The "bed" that I slept on, was a couch. It did not pull out (det var det hun sa). The staff put some sheets and a pillow on it and called it my bed.

After we settled in, Pål and Rune took us to get a fiskeburger (Æ liker ikke fisken burger) and then to the top of a mountain via ski lift car. It was a nice ride.
Pål made sure to let us know that we should go home alone that night.

The next day it was REALLY nice outside and so instead of enjoying it, we took a train to Sweden where it was only 5 degrees and cloudy and rainy. We had lunch there and then drove back. HMMPH!
Boarding the train
Wishing we weren't going to Sweden.

gettin' mah borders crossed

Luckily, we got back to Narvik in the afternoon. I met up with Elizabeth Roman who is a professor of Biology at the Narvik college. She is working on waste management in the Northwestern part of Russia where they just live in their garbage practically.
the "college"

After that, I met up with Frode at the Narvik Storesenter and we chatted for a bit until his friend, Eirik came and then we went to AmFi. I joined them for their daily 4 hour ritual of sitting in a Kafe and people watching. I think they had a good time. I took a picture of Eirik's car and I'm going to try to sell it to people on Craigslist.

We went to the Polar Zoo in Bardu the next day in the cold and rain but it was still the best time I had. Merethe from Narvik Rotary klubb drove us there with her son, who became Mason's best friend.
Mason's best friend.

It was really crowded in the van. I had to sit with the luggage.

Marianne, Lise and Ann Lisbeth came and they brought Trygve and Martin with them. We also met Elin and her husband, Kyrre, Leiv-Bjorn and Sebastian, an Australian exchange student also, Maria, an Ecuadorian exchange student.
it was raining.
everyone else

I had a fantastic time and Sebastian and I fed 4 baby, arctic foxes. This was the best time of my life. I want to feed baby animals for a living. For the record, baby arctic foxes are the cutest things in the world. This is factual information.

Pooja and I stayed at Leiv-Bjorn's house with his wife Heidi and their children: Steingrim (15), Sina (13) and Emma Kjerstein (12). This is a very friendly and athletic family. Heidi and EK ran a marathon the day we got there in the freezing rain. They're hardcore.
Heidi made us waffles for breakfast :) First waffles of the trip and they were heart shaped! Heidi also gave me the recipe for Kvaefjord Kake aka World's Best Cake.

Elin made us two fabulous meals - Taco night! and Indian night! Elin is the bomb.

Leiv-Bjorn's great-great grandfather is Bjønn-Erik, or Bear-Erik or as I like to say, Bear-ick. He is famous for hunting bears for a living after one of them killed his sheep. We visited the cabin that Bear-ick built himself a long-long time ago and we had a picnic (not a toyota picnic).

We visited a Husky sledding operation and played with the dogs and checked out some sleds too.
momma and babies
so cute. i want to squeeze them

dont look for too long. all this cute starts to hurt.

the sled they will pull one day...

After Bardu, we spent the day with the Finnesnes Rotary Club and Kyrre in Finnesnes and Hamn.
We went to a troll house which was definitely entertaining and of course, great photo opportunities. Bruce and Tim had a duel...

...while Mason and I became rulers of the troll empire.

I learned some troll stories and we all bought these candies that were sour and tasted like wax but we kept eating them anyway.

This is a wall full of pacifiers of all of the babies that the trolls ate.

getting eaten by a troll.

Next blog: Last stop

Surfer Pony
Had to leave my mark in the Hotel. I thought this was pretty clever.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Whales have leg bones

Sortland - the blue city
(Sortland is called the blue city because some artists tried to paint every building in the city blue at some point. This wasn't that sucessful because people argued over what color blue their buildings should be. A lot of them are blue though.)

Arrived Thursday night to Sortland and had dinner with Marianne and Ann Lisbeth from the Norwegian GSE team along with the Rotary klubb of Sortland. Here. I ate smoked whale. It tasted like salami.

gettin' my whales ate

Ann Lisbeth took me on a brief, secret tour of her pharmacy and showed me where the good stuff was. Then she fed me chocolate.

The good stuff

While in Sortland, I stayed at Coast Guard Base.
Big bummer because all of the hot, coast guard guys weren't there. :(
my room at the base

Here, I attempted to do laundry... What a disaster.
How do you use this?!
As you can tell by the mess, I clearly don't know

Friday, we had another tour of a fish factory in Stockmarkenes. This time, a salmon producing plant. I opted out of this tour.
Although, salmon smells better than cod, the sight and smell of the "product" made my mouth start to water and I felt my gag reflex becoming sensitive.

It takes about 2 years to fatten up the salmon enough to make them good eats.
fiske waving goodbye to their 2 year life-span
good eats

Later that day, we went to the Hurtigruten museum with Sten Magnus Engen- a famous Hurtigruten captain who is also a Rotary member. For almost 90 years, the coastal express, Hurtigruten, became the most important communication link between the north and the south of Norway and it is said that the Hurtigruten is one of the most professional and proficient expedition voyage operations on Earth.
Bruce and I with Sten

Side note: Everyone is really good about not driving when drinking. Norway has a 0 tolerance policy. You automatically lose your driving priveledges for 2 years and have to pay 2 months of your salary as a fine.

Back to business...
Saturday night, I stopped at Karl Erik's house for a bit and he let me hold his chickens (det var det hun sa) and watch his children use knives.

mmm, chicken
she uses knives better than I do. Shes like, 4.

Then, Ann Lisbeth, Marinanne, and Karl Erik made us homemade pizza and whale kebabs
while we made merriment.
whale kebab

Ann Lisbeth invited some friends of hers over as well for drinks and then we went to a local bar that we got into for free because we were American! It's really fun to be foreign.
There was a cover band playing called beet shoots, tap root, black coat, something... i dont remember.

we had a good time
Tore was DRUUUUUNK! he knocked me down in the parking lot later on this night.

Frode, you are my new, favorite Norwegian.

Sunday Ann Lisbeth, Marianne, and Karl Erik joined us for a trip to Nyksund
- a small town that used to thrive due to the fishing industry but was destroyed in a big storm.

It has since been rebuilt and is popular during the fishing season now for vacations and travelers. Jan Christensen told us a lot of stories about the town since he owns the whole thing and his whole family has lived there forever. His cousin invented the first fishing machine to help fishermen who were physically starting to feel its effects after years of hauling fish in by hand. Jan's grandfather built the church and his house and the docks and so on...
The blacksmith's shop (yes, norway still has blacksmiths) was fascinating and he gave us handmade trinkets. The smith was a young, handsome guy, who actually made his own tools in order to make other things. Crazy.
Mason and I discussed that if we were trapped on a deserted island and could only bring one thing, we'd bring THAT guy! Then, we went to Jan Christensen's house and had tea,
cheese and lefse. (Lefse and cheeses)
His house was beautiful and as equally historic as the entire town.

On the ride to dinner, we discussed Karl Erik's potential to grow breasts and produce milk and what they would be like if he had some. He said "hairy, but supple." I said, "if I ever knew a man that would do that, it would be Karl Erik."
Karl Erik with apple cake, not breasts

We left Sortland on Monday and went to Andenes. 2 stops here. First, to ALOMAR.
ALOMAR (Atmospheric LIDAR Observatory for Middle Atmosphere Research) is a research facility where scientific groups investigate the atmosphere from the troposphere to the lower thermosphere.

neat equipment
View from ALOMAR in Andenes

and 2nd, the Whale museum. Total tease here. How can we go to the whale museum and then NOT take the whale safari? HMMPH!
whales evolved from a sort-of-dog
now, they can eat giant squid

whales have the biggest brain in the animal kingdom. This is the brain hole of the whale skull

Nicole loves Moby Dick

Arrived in Harstad on Monday where Lise lives, and had some dinner with the Rotary klubb and our new host families.
Rømmegrøt - Sour Cream Porridge

I did not care for this. Although, it tasted better after sugar and cinnamon was put all over it. It's name is translated into "escape porridge" because they used to feed it to people in prison. It was served for dinner, but would have been better for desert.

Pooja and I stayed with Hilde Svenning, who works with Lise at Kunnskapsparken. She was great and we met her daughter, Helena, very briefly as she was studying for her exams. Helena is finishing her first year of nursing school in Tromsø.

The next day, I went to Hydra Tidal. Eivind Nydal gave me the tour of the facility as well as information on the Morild.
Hydra Tidal's Morild (the prototype) technology is harnessing the vast energy potential of low-speed tidal and ocean currents. They are in the final phases of building the prototype and are ready for deployment in July. I wish them the best and hope it works!!
A part of the massive, Morild.
On top of Morild with Jan!!!

Later that night, we went on a fast boat with the 20/40 klubb (for people 20-40 years old).

the water is beautiful

views from the boat

The next day we went to Kunnskapsparken where Hilde and Lise work. They gave us a presentation about their company and how to start a business in Norway. I have a tentative plan to move here by 2013.

Adolfkanonen (Adolf Cannon)

This Cannon, part of the Trondenes Battery (4 other, identical guns) was the most powerful of all batteries in Hitler's Atlantic Wall. The wall was 5,000 km long, from the border between Spain and France in the south to the border between Norway and Russia in the north
. The battery was placed to secure a continuous supply of Swedish iron ore via Narvik for Germany. Swedish iron ore was a strategic resource much needed by Germany.

biggest wrench ever.

After the Cannon, I went to the gym. Norwegian Gym!

That night, Hilde had a goodbye/futbol party at her place. We ordered pizza from Dolly Dimple's. This made me miss NJ pizza.

Before we left, we all went to Statoil where they showed us the control room where they contact the ship and then the geology room full of geological infos. I was very impressed with the way they capture and store carbon and also with their environmental monitoring.


Best GSE team EVER.

Jumping over cars with motorcycles is strictly forbidden in Norway

THIS is cool! You can bring bottles and cans to this machine and get 1NOK for regular sized and 2,5NOK for the bigger ones. If we had these, people would recycle more.

Font size
... wtf?

i paid 4 American dollars for this "just okay" cup of coffee

i saw a real submarine!!

what is a toyota picnic?

This machine is smart. You get a ticket from inside the store for 1 of 4 products: condoms, razors, cigarettes and snuss (tobacco you stick under your lip - ick!). Then, you pay at the counter and bring the ticket to the machine outside and get your stuff.

Please God, no more fiske...