Well folks, the Norwegian Adventure is in its final days… and then there were 6 (days that is).
So in the interest of being completely in the moment for my final days, I am going to suspend posting until my return to Canada. I don’t want to look back and wish that I had spent these last days with my cousin- gossiping, joking with each other and enjoying many rum and cokes; running after a bi-polar 2 year old, who loves to watch Disney’s Cars over and over; or kissing a 1 month old who changes by the hour- instead of editing photos of what has been an amazing time; because there will be plenty of time for that.
It’s amazing how time flies, people say it all the time, but it truly feels as though I just landed in Stavanger-sans luggage- and began this journey. And even though I have one more week, my heart is already beginning to ache at the thought of leaving. Although I miss home- my bed, my friends and the many comforts that mean “home” to me; - I’ve been made to feel at home here and I will miss this place- that has given me the clarity that I needed badly; and the moments with my cousin reminiscent of a time when we were kids- it’s nice to know that even though we are all grown up, that we can still be big kids together! So I owe it to myself, my cousin and those two little babes, to spend my time- all of it- with them.
I’ll be back next week, with a full round up of the insane amount of photos I have taken and my list of favorite moments- which is going to be a task in and of itself, as there have been so many good times!
Have a wonderful week everyone! See you on the flipside ;)
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Well folks, this is a first- I have nothing to say. I know- shocker! But what I do have for you are some shots from the fireworks display we attended this weekend- put on by my cousin’s sons school, in honor of some holiday where they burned a man at the stake; it’s all a little morbid to me, but you don’t have to twist my arm to get me out to a fireworks display!
Although next time I might spike my hot chocolate with some Bailey’s- by the end I was freezing my ass off.
And a question for anyone out there who might have a good answer- how does one shoot/edit fireworks pictures? I had a hell of a time shooting- my timing was way off- and editing- I didn’t have much quality material to work with; so I ended up just doing what I normally do, which I'm not loving. I would love some advice, or a link to a helpful and easy to follow tutorial online.
Well look at that, I did have something to say!
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After Monday’s low ebb, my cousin I decided to get spirits up again. We venture downtown, starting our morning with a stop at Le Café Francais- I said I was going back, and I wasn’t lying- for our usual pain au chocolat and vanilla latte; if that couldn’t raise my mood, then meds might be the only other option. Then we decided to visit the Norwegian Oil Museum- fill our bellies with food and then our brains with knowledge!
Norway is one of the largest oil producing countries in the world, home to one of the largest offshore drilling bases in Europe- because of this Stavanger was largely unaffected by the recession.
Stavanger in particular has quite the contingent of expats, coming to Norway for- what’s said- to be the safest working conditions in the world. Stavanger’s population is largely an expat population totally about 51%- coming from Texas, Alberta, Scotland, Saudi and any other oil country you can think of. During my stay, I have learned quite a lot about the international lifestyle of the Petroleum Wives. But that is an aside from the point of today’s post- The Oil Museum!
I’ve always loved museums, they are wealth’s of knowledge; and the Oil museum did not disappoint. They have put a lot into this place and it shows; there are interactive games, short films, offshore drilling simulations, 3D films on the history of oil and so many installations, you could spend hours in there.
Being from Alberta, one would think that I would know a little about oil and the industry- which I thought I did- but I learned so much about not only the issues that the world faces in regards to oil such as war, money, the environment etc; but I also learned about the future of oil and the industry. And Norway being one of the safest places to work- in general- it was very interesting to see the type of safety measures put in place on offshore rigs- although it is the pinnacle of an Oil workers career to work offshore, safety is always a concern. We’re not fishes, so being out the middle of the ocean is a vulnerable position for any human to be in. With that being said, I COULD NEVER work on an offshore rig, the museums simulation alone was making me nauseous- I thought I was being dramatic but my cousin said the same thing- so I couldn’t ever imagine myself on an actual rig; but I think that’s the case with most women, hence the only 10% female rig workforce.
The exhibit about rig divers, I found to be the most interesting of all; diving has been largely outsourced to machines these days, but men used to dive down to 400 meters to complete rig repairs back in the day- but due to long term nervous system damage and many cases of post traumatic stress disorder, the use of human divers is largely obsolete. But the divers of the past were rig rock stars and said to have been paid in the hundreds of thousands for their work- however, still not worth it to me; what do you think?
Aside from the amazing exhibits, the museum is housed in the coolest structure, with walls of windows looking out into the seaport, with 2 waterfront cafes serving light lunch type fare and pastries. The museum has done an amazing job telling the story of Stavanger’s economic lifeblood and shedding light on an- oftentimes- misunderstood industry.
Once again, if you are in Stavanger, this is an absolute must see; and lucky for you, Le Café Francais is just down the street!
Despite having been to more than a handful of lovely restaurants and cafés, having met throngs of wonderful people and being continually inspired by the beauty that is Norway, I felt down yesterday- really down. Thinking about my life and where I want to go overwhelms me most days- although I have managed to escape those thoughts since being here; yesterday they caught up to me in a major way.
The main theme being, I’m 25, why don’t I “know” yet. I know people who have known who they are and what they want since the day they graduated high school; and it bothered me to no end, seeing them getting it, while I laid in limbo, with a giant question mark hovering over my head.
I came on this trip with hopes of achieving some clarity, but I have been so busy meeting people and soaking in the lifestyle here, that I had completely forgotten about my life- if that makes any sense. Now, I didn’t come here with the intention of running from my life and the decisions that I felt bogged down with, but it was nice to not have thought about the deep stuff- if only for 2 weeks.
Yesterday, however, it all came rushing back to me; and I couldn’t shake the bad mood. That is until we went to the beach.
I am a water baby at heart, a Cancerian to the core- I love water, it calms me, I have been known to shower up to 3 times a day. Water helps me think, I find water washes away not only the days inevitable dirt, but also the extraneous thoughts and leaves behind only the good stuff- the positive.
Although it was unbearably cold, as soon as I stepped foot on the sand and heard the waves, I felt better- instantaneously. It dawned on me that I had been dreading the end of this trip; not only because I have to say goodbye to my cousin and her family, but because when I go home, I have to make decisions- tough ones. Life changing ones. And truthfully I was feeling frightened of making mistakes. I think every twenty-something feels this way at one point or another; but that doesn’t make it any easier. And I have a history of hasty decisions making.
But standing on the shore, listening to crashing waves, I felt confident about my choice- I didn’t feel scared anymore. I had been running from what I have known for some time now; but I'm tired of fighting. I know what I have to do and- most importantly- what I WANT to do; and instead of feeling scared, I feel free!
It’s going to be an adventure, but I- finally- feel ready.
I am 2 weeks into my Norwegian Adventure and if you follow me on Twitter or have read any of my previous entries, you would know that I could very well re-dub this trip the Norwegian Café Adventure. I have experienced all types of cafes, bakeries, restaurants and the like- all of which have been amazing!
I was asked recently “What is Norwegian cuisine like?” and truthfully, I haven’t been able to decipher what true Norwegian food is. I know Stavanger’s LOVE pizza- the pizza aisle at the grocery store isn’t just 1 aisle, it’s 2; and Stavanger’s also have quite an affinity for Mexican food, which I found slightly odd, seeing as Mexico is so far from here- and it’s not really true Mexican, it’s more Old El Paso and such; but I’m okay with that, I didn’t come here for poor American renditions of Mexican food, I can get that at home.
One of my favorite café’s so far, is the Café Francais- I’ve been there twice already; and I plan on going back again before I leave. And it’s not just a French café run by a Norwegian, it’s a French café run by a French expat, who desired to have a taste of his homeland in his new homeland.
On the outside, this place is very Norwegian- meaning I can’t understand any signs or what any passerby is saying; but as soon as I walk in I feel like I'm in France. The wait staff speak French, French news plays on the television and the assortment of baked goods are as French as one could hope for in Norway.
Pain au chocolate with the flakiest crust and fluffiest center; crème brulee with a perfectly torched crust and smoothest crème filling; the BEST café latte I have had since I’ve arrived- and I’ve had many! And the most interesting take on a chicken club sandwich- no bacon, just the most flavorful marinated chicken, tomato, lettuce and cucumber on the most authentic French baguette; in short heaven for my taste buds on all fronts!
The Café Francais is somewhere you go and laze for hours; starting first with a café latte and pain au chocolate, then with a chicken club and sparkling water and finishing with crème brulee and another café latte- to give you the much needed sugar rush and caffeine buzz to energize you for the- sure to follow- traipse through the cobblestone streets that surround this place.
If you ever have the chance to visit Stavanger- among all the other amazing things you must do- visit the Café Francais; I stake my reputation on it, you will not regret it!
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I am a huge fan of the arts; music, theater, film, photography- the obvious- fashion, painting, graffiti etc; even if I don’t understand it, I still find a way to appreciate it. For the longest time I didn't understand graffiti because it wasn't something that I had seen in art galleries; but since being in Stavanger I have grown a true appreciation for graffiti as an art form.
I have always wished deep down that I could take a vision in my mind and translate into beauty in drawn form; sadly that’s not me- the best I can do is stick men and women. But I have many other talents, so I’m okay with it. It’s best for morale to focus on my strengths; but I digress, I appreciate art in its many forms.
Here in Stavanger the crime rate is very low, so low even, that people leave their doors open at night and even go as far as to leave their babies outside while dining inside a café- Norwegians believe strongly in the benefit of fresh air.
The only real dissent they have is graffiti, but instead of trying to fight the graffiti artists, they- the powers that be- have given them- the graffiti artists- a canvas.
In downtown Stavanger, right by the Petroleum Museum, there is a sandy play park/jungle gym, made from reclaimed scraps off of old rigs, and the government allows- rather welcomes- graffiti tagging all over it. There literally is not a inch left untagged; but what I love about it most, is that there isn’t an abuse of the wonderful gift that they have been given- meaning no profanity or lewd drawings. It’s nice to see; I mean, in Edmonton, a tag done at 3 am is removed by noon the next day; graffiti is treated as vandalism, when really and truly, it’s art.
Now this isn’t to say that some graffiti doesn’t spill onto a few buildings away from the government sanctioned canvas; but it’s nice to see a place where all types of artistic expression is embraced.
Seen any cool graffiti lately?
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These are some shots from our nature walk on Monday- taken before I was struck down with a case of the flu.
Right in my cousin’s back yard there is a fjord and an accompanying path that wraps all the way around it, framing its beauty- if Narnia were real, this is where it would be.
I know I have said it about a thousand times already, but it bears repeating- this place is insanely beautiful. Although it was a bit chilly, we went for our nature walk anyway and I am really glad we did; as they say in Norway, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”.
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