Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lovely Norway

Not a lot of people know that Andy and I have close relatives in Norway. Early last year when we were contemplating a move to London, we were comforted by the fact that even if we lived across the Atlantic, we would still have family nearby. My mom's half-brother John Arthur, his wife Karen and their two girls Kristine and Elin live in Bryne, a small town of about 6,000 on the southwest coast of Norway just outside of Stavanger:

Bryne (pronounced breen-uh) is surrounded by beautiful hills and farmland:

My uncle is an entrepreneur who purchased the local bowling alley (Stadion Bowling) five years ago, which at the time was barely breaking even. He has since made it into a bustling social center of the city that has a booming business for kids, teenagers and adults, and a private meeting room used by local businesses for meetings and events. It is a huge success by all accounts - the Friday night we were there was their biggest night ever - way to go John Arthur!!

John Arthur & Karen in front of Stadion Bowling

Bowling Shark 1

Bowling Shark 2

Bowling Tadpole

We went into Stavanger one afternoon to visit the Norwegian Petroleum Museum and walk around the city. Stavanger reminded us a lot of the Bay Area as it's right on the water, the air is clean, and the bay is an integral part of the city's culture. The museum turned out to be fascinating and we loved walking around the traditional neighborhoods of the city, which sat high atop the hills that led down to the water.

Looks kinda familiar...

Earlier in the 20th century, ships used to pull up right to the storefronts down on the water to unload fish and seafood, so these buildings looked pretty cool:

Speaking of food, we had a lot of fun trying Norwegian cuisine on this trip. Andy and I are both firm believers that if you travel to a foreign country you should try all the local foods (with the exception of jellied eels in England of course...). So John Arthur went out of his way to get us some traditional foods and prepare a meal on our first night. Here he is with Andy in the grocery store examining some cool things like gravlax (yum) and reindeer jerky (er...):

Norwegian seafood... yay!

That night we had fresh steinbit (aka wolffish) cakes (see picture above) with gravy which were delicious, along with steamed vegetables and salad. Surprisingly, the meal had more familiar elements than I'd expected. The same thing happened on our last afternoon, when we went to a Sunday buffet just outside of town. There was local salmon, lamb, vegetables, bread and butter... it was scrumptious and I felt right at home. I think it's in my Norwegian genes to love that kind of food. Along the same lines, apparently I've inherited something else called the 'Norwegian Arm' - i.e. the tendency to reach across the table for a particularly great looking piece of food...

Without a doubt, Norway was one of the best trips of our whole time in London, and we can't wait to go back.

1 comment:

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.