Saturday, October 16, 2010

Early October: Week in Lillesand (i.e. southern Norway)

View from Lillesand, Norway
Erik's job as a forest researcher sent him down to southern Norway to hunt down old oak trees in the area surrounding Lillesand, about 4 hours south of Oslo. Since his work would have to pay for his lodging anyway, his boss suggested "take the whole family and rent a hytte". Well, OK then!

Happy 8th Anniversary to Us!
We have limited pictures from that week, as we actually thought Erik's lovely Nikon SLR camera had been stolen (we later found it in a side pocket of our luggage). How we overlooked a large SLR camera is beyond us. . . . Anyway, we were limited to our small pocket sized digital camera for the week, which Erik had to take in the field with him to document the oak trees.

When I told one of Greta’s teachers that we were traveling to Lillesand, she said “Oh it’s beautiful there in the summer.” Hmmm. We were going to be there the first week of October, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Norwegian dream house. . . 
It was still incredibly lovely and charming, despite the off-season. Lillesand is a small, coastal village, with nearly every building and home whitewashed. Our “little hytte” (that could sleep nine and had cable TV) was about a 10 minute drive from Lillesand. The weather was beautiful and sunny the first few days, although still easily in the 50s. Greta and I spent one day at the Kristiansand Dyreparken (zoo), which had a rather impressive collection of animals. We also spent a good deal of time simply playing outside, collecting acorns to toss into the sea, and meandering around the village.

Erik and I also celebrated our 8th anniversary while we were there, and marked the occasion by buying a bløtkake (a cream and white layered cake with a marzipan fondant), which I have been coveting since the day I walked into a Norwegian grocery store.

The week was exhausting for Erik, as he was putting in long hours bush-whacking through the woods in search of oaks. It was evident he wouldn’t be finished with his work by the time Greta and I had planned on leaving on Saturday via train, and he returned home late Monday night.

I had planned on returning separately from Erik anyway, as we didn’t want to make the 6 hour drive from Lillesand to Lillehammer with Greta in the car. Instead, we took a 4 hour train ride from Kristiansand to Oslo, and then transferred to a second train from Oslo to Lillehammer--another 2 hour trip. The train ride was the perfect way to travel with a 2 year old. Now, I have solo-parented my two-year-old on an 11 hour Vermont/New Jersey Amtrak ride, and an 8 hour trans-Atlantic overnight flight on which she did not sleep, so I was prepared for a measley 6 hour train trip. But get this: Norwegian trains have “family cars” that have PLAY ROOMS in them, complete with little kid-sized benches, cushions, chairs, books, DVD player and a little loft accessible by two ladders.

Piece of cake. Yummy bløtkake.

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