Ja, jeg elsker dette landet.

Ladies & Gentlemen, this will be my last post. I have been pondering the last few weeks on whether I should continue this blog or not. It is important for me to stay in touch with everyone. I really enjoy sharing my adventures, happy days, boring days, the “OH MY GOSH! I JUST DID THIS” days….and the ups & downs with all of you, but it really won’t be the same if I’m not in Norway.

I have been procrastinating putting away my things in my room/boxes because the thought of it made me really sad. I kept thinking, “Once I finish organizing everything here….once I finish putting it all away…that is it! That means you aren’t moving back to Norway anytime soon.” Tonight, I finally did it. I put away the last of my things. I have officially moved from Bø i Telemark, Norway back to Minot, North Dakota, USA.

I cried. Of course, I cried! Those were absolutely, without a doubt the best 6 months I have ever lived. Even though I know it will always stay with me, and I’ll stay in touch with my friends, it is really the end of that chapter.

Yes, yes, yes…I know. The next chapter will provide me with wonderful friends, experiences, and opportunities. I have no doubt about that. I’m looking forward to the rest of my summer….coaching swimming & preparing for a music/cello festival in New York this August. Once I return, I start classes again at Minot State University finishing my last year (maybe year and a half) studying Music Performance, and continuing my goal towards possibly becoming a conductor. I’m excited to put to use what I have learned while abroad & will continue to obtain anything and everything I can from my experiences in the future. I’m really looking forward to sharing my story in any way possible, whether it be to a new friend or student or to large groups of people.

I told my mom this last weekend, “If I have enough money someday, I want to give scholarships to students for an opportunity to study abroad in Norway.” I want to be able to share my love for this in as many ways as I can. It was too great of an experience not to.

Norway……you sure as heck won me over. It is difficult for me to actually express how honored I am to have been able to live these amazing 6 months. So many wonderful memories. I hope to see your beautiful fjords, mountains, rivers, waterfalls…and (most dear to my heart)…the people again, very soon.

Ja, jeg elkser dette landet.
Yes, I love this country.

Tusen takk for tagging along with me the last several months & for so much love and support. It’s been life changing. I’ve gained so much of so many different things. It makes my heart sing. I’m happy to have shared it with all of you.

Ha det bra!

Keeping me afloat!

Friends & family……..

I just received my first card from a “Norway friend”…. Many of you have read about her–Meg! My dear friend from Seattle will soon be coming home from Spain…and I can’t wait to talk to her again. It’s been quite some time as she has been doing a Camino! TUSEN TAKK, MEG!Image

Things like this is what will keep me afloat while not being in Norway. I am ecstatic :)



I have returned home back to Minot, ND–safe and sound! After almost 24 hours of traveling, I was greeted by my parents and a number of friends. Seeing them made me so happy! I was quite excited and energized once I landed in Minneapolis until a bit after I got home. Once I had dinner, chatted for a bit, and relaxed, the jet lag started to hit me….more than I expected. I ended up waking up at 6:30 in the morning my first day back. Not what I was hoping for, but I suppose my body was confused. It feels like it is getting worse, actually….but I can’t tell if that is the case or if I’m having post-study abroad blues, already.

Don’t get me wrong–it is great to be back home & see everyone. I feel so loved…and seeing everyone’s smiling faces the last few days is so nice & welcoming. Being away from home has really helped me view things with a different lens. I have found that I have new appreciations for things here at home that I didn’t have before.

However, I am finding that the excitement is wearing off, a bit. I go through times during the day when I’m extremely homesick for Norway….especially the people…but also just the way of life. I can’t really describe it to anyone—I find it really difficult to put it into words. But it is for sure more difficult to be away from Norway than I was predicting. The best way I can describe it is this: even though I am staying in touch with friends from this last semester, not being physically in the country and face to face with those people inevitably cause me to lose touch, a bit. Sad, but true. Just like a long distance relationship. You can stay in touch as much as you want…but there is something about physically being there that adds so much.

I feel as though I’m sort of disconnected from Norway…. but I also don’t feel so connected to home, yet. I’m still readjusting to home, the way of life, and my relationships with people.

When I left for Norway, I KNEW that I would be challenged. I knew that I was putting myself into a new situation, new experiences, new culture, language, friends, schedule…..everything. That’s part of what studying abroad is all about. When I LEFT Norway to come back home, of course I had some thoughts about readjustment, but not as in depth as when I was leaving in January.

So, essentially…..I feel like I’m sort of in a limbo. I expected to come back knowing what home was like. Who wouldn’t? Yes, it sure can change a bit here and there…but home is home! You get it. And no, home hasn’t really changed a whole lot. People haven’t really changed a whole lot….nothing drastic. BUT! it feels different. This probably means that I have changed, right? I think so…. but I’m not quite sure how, exactly.

It’s a weird process. I’m still a bit lost. I’m kind of studying abroad all over again. Which is fine with me. I think that might be the only way I will be able to adjust smoothly…. think of this as a new experience. Take anything I can & learn from it. Be a sponge…but at home!

I’m hoping to feel more settled, soon. In the meantime….thanks to everyone at home for being so welcoming. I apologize for sounding so down about being here… I think it is just part of the process & is nothing personal. :) You’re all wonderful…and I’m looking forward to this new adventure at home with all of you.

Uff da!

Well, folks…. I leave in 4 hours for the airport, but I can’t fall asleep. I have so much on my mind. Excited to come home…sad to leave. I feel like it is the night before I left Minot, ND several months ago.

And to be honest….I’m actually nervous to come home. I’m not 100% sure why that is….maybe I’m not sure what it will be like, how much I’ve changed…or things at home have changed, etc. It’s a whole new re-adjustment, again…and I guess I have been so busy enjoying Norway that I didn’t really think a whole lot about it until recently.

I love my home, especially my friends and family. I have such a supportive group of people in my life. It’s great! But it’s going to be a challenge to get back in the swing of things.

One of my fears is that I will come home and just slip back into my old self. In my opinion, I have changed a bit while being here, which is very normal. It will be interesting to see how that fits back into my normal schedule. Yes, there are things that will be the same as before I left…but the Abbie Naze today has definitely learned a lot & grown. Things about travel, relationships, cultures….good and bad things…and things about myself. I really want to use everything I’ve learned when I return home. I want to stay on this path I’m on….always learning…always growing….and always being gentle with myself & others.

We’ve accomplished a lot this semester, haven’t we? It’s been great. Too great to let it stop…so let’s not stop.

This is just the beginning, friends.

Over 3,000 views!

Gratulerer, everyone! Remember when I said we were pretty close to 3,000 views & wanted to see if we could surpass it? Well, we did! :) Woo!

The real reason I wanted to post something was because I had a really weird dream last night. When I first came to Norway, I remember having really weird dreams. I would ask my friends here about it, and they said they were having weird dreams, too.

Now, with one day left, I had an odd dream last night. In fact, similar to when I arrived, I have been having weird dreams for the last week or two. Also, keep in mind, that I have been on somewhat of a Norwegian high, lately. I recently purchased a giant english/norwegian word book the other day. I’ve been paging through it constantly to learn new words, testing my pronunciation with Inger, and, of course, learning new words throughout the day’s events.

Last night’s dream went like this:
I was riding in a car in Norway…not sure who was driving. We stopped at a gas station/grocery store like place. I walked in because I wanted a melkesjokolade.Image


[Also, keep in mind that I had a conversation last night during dinner with the Olson family about me bringing home this chocolate with me.] :)

So, I walked into the station, looked for some melkesjokolade, and walked up to the counter. The cashier smiled and I said, “Hei.” He put the melkesjokolade across the scanner, said, “tjuefem”. I handed him the exact change, reached for my chocolate bar, and said, “Takk!”

Suddenly, he grabbed my chocolate bar and said, “Nice try!” I was so confused!! “Nice try”??? What is that supposed to mean? I paid for it! In a Norwegian accent, he said, “I can tell that Norwegian isn’t your first language. You didn’t say “takk” correctly. Give me the chocolate bar back. You can buy another one some day when you have learned to speak our language correctly.”

I was so shocked! Chocolate is one of my favorite things…especially this melkesjokolade! I thought the cashier might have been joking, but I looked at his face, and he was very serious.

Then—I woke up. That was the end of the dream. No melkesjokolade & any confidence in speaking Norwegian went down the drain. Two of the most simple phrases in Norwegian, “hei” and “takk”….and I failed.

As I am writing this all out for you this morning, I look at the clock and see that I have less than 12 hours to learn how to say “takk” in the most perfect Norwegian accent in the world. I will NOT come home without my melkesjokolade bar.

Wish me “lykke til”! Yikes!


It was definitely 3 days well spent. :) I had a wonderful time staying with my friend, Melanie, and her sweet family in Berlin, Germany. I really learned a lot! Such history buffs…which was good for me. :)

We did many things in the 2 day I got to actually spend in the city.


Of course, I saw the TV Tower….



the beautiful Berlin Dome….Image





the Holocaust Memorial….Image


Brandenburg Gate….Image


and, of course….the Berlin Wall…Image

It was so nice to have Melanie as a tour guide. She knew her city very well, which made it really interesting and relaxing for me. I just kind of followed her around….learning so many things. It was a lot of fun. :)

One of the coolest things was going to hear the Berlin Philharmonic LIVE! They performed Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem…. a really moving piece. The musicians were INCREDIBLE. And I had never heard such an amazing choir. Image

However, the COOLEST part was after the concert. Many of you might know that I am considering becoming a conductor some day. I have found it interesting for a few years, but only started really getting into it this past year. I’ve spent a lot of time reading articles about conductors, articles about what makes a good conductor……lots of things that I’m trying to do to perhaps pursue this if it is something I really want to do.

Well, Sir Simon Rattle, the conductor of the Berlin Phil, is one of the best in the world. I have watched SO many YouTube videos of him, I’ve seen him on TV, again…have read articles about him, etc, etc. I wanted to meet him! So, after the concert, I saw an employee walking across the stage. I had no idea how I was going to convince her that I needed to meet Simon Rattle. So, as clueless as I could have been, I walked up to her and said, “Hi. Is there any way I can meet Simon Rattle?”

To my surprise, she said, “I’m not sure, BUT just walk right through those doors on the stage, and you might be able to find him. I’m not sure where is room is at, but you can try.”

I understand I hadn’t even met him at that point, but the fact that I even got that far was a miracle! I looked at the lady and said, “Are you sure that is okay?!?”

“Oh yeah! Go right ahead!”

So I went…Melanie following me behind with my camera. I walked on the stage, through the doors, turned the corner to find a room with musicians……and SIR SIMON RATTLE.

I turned around quickly, pushed Melanie out the door, and freaked out for a few seconds. Then I thought, “Abbie. You are being ridiculous right now. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!” So I took a deep breath, and with Melanie’s moral support, I walked up to the man. He was about to walk away, so I quickly walked up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned around.

………………… For what was probably less time than it felt, I just stood in silence. He looked at me, and I thought, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ABBIE?!!? TALK! HE IS WAITING!”

So I just talked……and I don’t even really know what I said (until I thought about it all after the whole ordeal.) Later, I asked Melanie, “What did I say?! I don’t even know what I told him! I probably sounded like an idiot!” Thankfully, she assured me that I was very calm and professional about it all, and sounded very genuine about it all. Whew!!

Essentially, I told him that I really enjoyed his concert, have been waiting quite some time to see him conduct live, and that he is a big role model of mine. After saying all of that, he seemed appreciative & smiled, but directly after, I said…”And…I want to become a conductor some day.” And he jumped & said, “DO IT! WE NEED YOU!” I more than jumped inside, smiled, and laughed. After teasing me a bit about not sounding very German & taking a photo with me, we shook hands and said goodbye.


I walked out the door with Melanie & hugged her so tight. My heart was racing, and I didn’t even know what to think…I was just so happy & honored. We walked out of the concert hall to get ice cream…..all while tears filled my eyes. When I say that I cried, it wasn’t as ridiculous as it might sound. I was just so emotionally overwhelmed. It was a joyful cry. It was great. Perhaps someday I will be a conductor, meet him again, and tell him all about this event, again.

What a way to finish up my traveling in Europe, huh?! :)

After the fun few days with Melanie & her family, I made my way back to Norway where I spent yesterday afternoon with Margrethe & Inger Olsen. We spent the day touring Oslo. The weather was very nice, and the streets were packed full of people with so many different events going on, sales, concerts, etc. Image


We made our way to a few fun places like Vigeland Park, Akershus Fortress, Opera House, and Karl Johans Gate…ImageImageImageImage


We also made it to Holmenkollen…the famous ski jump in Oslo! I have heard so much about it, have seen it on TV while being in Norway, and know that it holds many big Ski Festivals & Championships. It is a goal of mine to be able to go to an event there in the winter….as I hear it is quite an experience–so many people, such a great atmosphere! Obviously there isn’t snow there, now….so I have attached some photos of what it looks like in the winter months. It has an incredible view over Oslo…it’s so amazing….








…….and one of my favorite photos I have ever taken… check out the ski jump, the sun, and the flowers. So beautiful….Image


Now….I have just 2 days in Norway until I return home! The closer it gets, the more sad I get. But I also get excited to see my family and friends. Quite a mixture of feelings…. reminds me of what I felt like in December/January, actually….but maybe a bit different. But if I keep writing about how sad I am, it will only make things difficult for me, so for now, I will leave it at this. :)

I’m enjoying every second I can….I love this place with all of my heart.

7 days…..until departure

I have been sitting here trying to figure out what I want to say to all of you… It’s so difficult! I always think, “Okay, Abbie…this is a blog. People take the time to read this, so you need to make sure you structure things well. Don’t just talk.” But…that’s just how I am, so here we go… haha!!

7 days! I feel like it was just a month ago I was saying “7 days until departure”….for NORWAY! Now, I am soon coming home, and I really can’t believe it. I know that everyone always says things like, “It went so fast!”…blah blah… but really. REALLY! It went SO fast. And, no offense to my home, family, friends, and neighbors, in the U.S., but I don’t want to leave this place.

I remember my advisor telling me in December, “Abbie, it will be harder for you to come home than it will be for you to leave the U.S.. You won’t believe me now, but you will some day.” I most definitely didn’t believe her then. I was SO nervous to leave home….excited, but nervous. It was the biggest thing I had ever worked for.

Now look at me! I’m holding onto every little thing I can in this beautiful country…and, yes….it is WAY more difficult to leave here than I ever imagined. I consider Norway my home in the most genuine way possible. It isn’t just a title I feel like using for fun. It really is my home, now. 6 months doesn’t seem like a lot of time, and it really isn’t….but I guarantee you, it was enough time for me to fall in love with the people, scenery, food, way of life…everything.

I left Bø on Sunday afternoon. It was tough for me. I cried a lot this last week…saying goodbye to so many friends. And (my own fault)…I didn’t get enough sleep, either, so I am fighting a cold right now. But I am resting well at the Olsen’s in Skien. :)

My last day in Bø was great! I hung out with friends…..went swimming in the river (REALLY REALLY COLD), made homemade pizza, ate ice cream, and played some games later on. It’s so amazing how the little things just get magnified when you’re leaving a place. Do you know what I mean?? Like when someone does something little that you usually wouldn’t take notice to, but when you’re leaving, those things pop out at you like a sore thumb, making you realize how wonderful (or maybe, not so wonderful) things were. But everything is magnified because it’s the last time….

Last night, I met with the Delegation from North Dakota in Oslo, Norway. It was SO much fun to see familiar faces…..and…..ha!…hear North Dakotan accents. It felt very weird, but it was nice at the same time. This evening, I will be attending another reception here in Skien (Minot’s sister city) with the same people.

TOMORROW…I will be on my way to visit a dear friend, Melanie. My German friend who lives in Berlin! She was an exchange student at Minot High School when I was there. REALLY looking forward to seeing her, and, of course, the Berlin Philharmonic & conductor, Sir Simon Rattle—one of the best symphonies in the world! Truly!

You’ll hear from me again, soon! Until then…. ha det bra!

OH! I almost forgot….

See this…?Image

That’s my total views on my blog….. what do you say we make it reach 3,000 in the next 7 days? Why? Because challenges are fun. They keep you going. So let’s keep going! Share with friends & family! :)

The Viking

Many of you have wondered about the Viking I met a few days ago. (For those of you who do not have Facebook, I posted a small bit about a guy I had met who ended up being quite a gentleman and one-of-a-kind guy.)

Rather than inform numerous people over & over, I have decided to just write a short blog about my time with him.

I met him on Monday….and he left today. Lots of time to process, eh? I can assure you that every minute I spent with him was worth it and more. He is honest, talented (photographer & cook), a hard worker & great student (studies sports & outdoor life), and most importantly for me, a devout Christian….something that can be difficult to find in Norway.

The more I learned about him, the more impressed I became. He was so encouraging about everything….from being strong by lifting weights (haha!)…to being strong through God. [One of the first things that really caught my attention was when I was lifting weights with him. (Challenging, but fun.) He told me, “I can tell that you are very strong.” I assumed he meant physically….pretty relevant, no? But he then added, “Yes, physically, but I mean up here.” *pointing to his head* One of the best compliments I have ever received.]

I now know how important he is to SOOO many people in his life by the way he talked about other friends or family members. He is a caring guy who is liked by everyone. They all cherish him and his works. Or…as he would tell me, God’s work. Everything he does is done with so much love and strength from God…something that is very important for this Viking.

Although my time with him was very short….shorter than I would have liked, it’s been quite an experience getting to know this guy. I will tell you that it has been and will continue to be a bit tough for me to process all of this, especially with the events of leaving other friends, my home…and returning to my original home. But I DO know that God definitely brought us into each other’s lives for some reason. I don’t have any idea when I will see him again which saddens me, but I know that God has a purpose for the past 4 days. I hope to find out why someday. In the meantime, I just have to trust God…and continue on this amazing journey.

Shocking prices vs. shocking prices!

I went to Poland last week! It was so cheap—I couldn’t believe it! The first time I bought something, I thought, “Are you sure it is only that much? I will give you more money…”

But…..then I went to Sweden! And they said, “Give me your arm, a foot, and a leg for this water. And I went, “Hehhhh???!!!!!!”Image

I was once again re-introduced to the prices of Scandinavia.

Everything was really fun, though. I traveled with 4 other friends… Amber (Oregon), Zalika (Indiana)–first photo below, L to R–, Trina & her friend Michelle (both from Chicago)–second photo, L to R.ImageImage

I sort of did a lot of the planning for this trip….hostels, directions, tickets, etc.. Everything went really well. All were impressed with my hostel selections…close to the stations & points of interest, etc., and I just got us where we needed to be…and on time!  So, I’m happy with that!Image

One of the very first things we did when getting to Krakow was go to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp & Auschwitz II-Birkenau…the Death Camp. Now, just to clarify this for everyone: a concentration camp was used to put prisoners to work. A death camp was solely used to kill prisoners. This doesn’t mean that the prisoners at the concentration camps didn’t die. Many did. In fact, a surprising thing I found out was that many died before they even arrived to the camps. Transportation (by train) between their homes and the camps were so long, crowded, disease invested….nothing was good. Many were so weak by the time they arrived at the camps that the guards would send them to the gas chambers right when they arrived since they were hardly alive.Image

Above, you can see the famous entrance to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp…”Arbeit macht fret”…”Labor makes you free.” Fun fact about this sign: this isn’t the original. The original sign was actually stolen some years ago. I believe they found it again, but it was too damaged to put it up again.


This photo above is the area where the guards had musicians play music while the prisoners were marching to and from work. The prisoners would stand in rows of 5 & march to the music. This would make it easier for the guards to count the prisoners as they walked by. Below is an actual photo of this in 1941, although, you can’t see the prisoners marching…Image

One of the things I found very interesting was the ‘selection process’. (By the way, I will be going back and forth between events/info from Auschwitz and Birkenau). Once prisoners were off the train, they would immediately go through a selection process where a guard/doctor would look at a prisoner’s physical and mental state & decide if they should go to the bunks or if they should go to the ‘showers’….aka…the gas chambers.Image

This photo shows the guard pointing this elderly man to the “showers”. The cane he was holding was a sheer sign that he was to be sent to the gas chambers. (I stood in that exact spot. I saw this photo earlier while touring Auschwitz…and then took the bus to Birkenau where this photo was taken. It was a weird feeling, for sure.) Now, the prisoners didn’t understand that it was gas chambers they were walking towards. The guards made them believe they were getting special treatment…nice showers, clothes….and if I remember correctly, the area outside the gas chamber was even beautifully decorated with flowers to convince the prisoners even more. Below you can see (first) the gas chamber at Auschwitz and then the demolished gas chamber (1 of 4, I believe) at Birkenau.ImageImage

A word about photos: today, there are a number of photos that are clear & easy to see of the concentration camp. However, prisoners were forbidden to take photos of anything going on in the camps. It was interesting when I would see a photo displayed at the camps that were quite blurry and it was hard to pick out what I was seeing. (Sorry, I don’t have a photo of one.) But these were photos taken by prisoners at their own risk. The photos were so eery, and looking at them just made you feel nervous for the prisoner who took it.

The rest of the photos will just give you a taste of what it was like….

cans which contained Cyclone B (used in the gas chambers)Image

piles of prisones’ shoes….Image

toilets….. (Imagine dying of malnutrition, rat bites, dehydration, etc., causing you many different illnesses…..now add that to everyone else surrounding you…all needing the toilets. It’s so awful, but it is truly what they went through.) Oh…they had to clean their own toilets, too. Image

their bunks (often times 5 or 6 prisoners would sleep on one bunk)…Image

After the tour was done, we walked back to the main entrance. I was thinking about so many things…but mostly about how tired I was…physically & emotionally. I then looked down to the ground and saw what I was walking on.Image

Some of you might look at this ground and think it isn’t too bad. I can assure you that it was slightly difficult to walk on even with tennis shoes on. Then I began to think about the prisoners. Many were given shoes, but the quality was awful. Many walked barefoot….in the freezing ice and snow.

Although it was a very sad experience, I am really glad I went. I learned a lot about it, and it put things into a new perspective. I really encourage you to visit the camps someday if you are able. It is a really sad, yet important, part of the world’s history.Image

To something much less sad…

The Salt Mines!


This was a very fun and interesting tour! The salt mine has over 2,000 chambers, and if I remember correctly, it is over 700 years old. Some parts are still used for mining, but very little. It is mostly a tourist attraction.

It was a looooonnngggg way down….Image

I even tasted the salt to make sure this wasn’t all a bunch of lies…Image

They had numerous chapels throughout the mine that the miners built themselves…Image

Here is the largest chapel built by 3 miners… (You had to pay money to take photos in the chamber. So, thank you Amber for this nice shot!) It was HUGE! About 11-12 weddings take place here each year…Image

The coolest chamber was this….Image

…a concert/dining hall. Concerts are performed here each year. Maybe someday I can go back with my cello!

The last day we were in Krakow, we toured the city, ate food, shopped…all the normal touristy things. :)

Then, we were off to Stockholm, Sweden!

To be honest, we were all exhausted once we arrived in Stockholm. Actually, let me rephrase that. We were exhausted BEFORE we arrived in Stockholm. So, we weren’t quite as busy the next few days.


We made it to an aquarium…which was lame. It was cool to see fish…(I like fish)… but it was not as exciting as we had hoped for.

Mostly, we just enjoyed walking around the city & taking in the sights & happenings. We shopped a bit….and of course had to stop at the H&M clothing store. My favorite AND it originated in Sweden. Image

The weather was pretty nice while we were there….except it rained one day. Thankfully, that was the day of the symphony concert we attended!Image

The concert house has a market right outside it’s front doors. Pretty cool! Unfortunately, the original conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, (and the main reason I was going to Stockholm)…became ill the week of the concert. I was quite upset as that was something I was looking forward to for a long time. I have been considering studying conducting, and he is top notch. It would have been great to see him conduct live, but perhaps another concert I will see him.IMG_20130601_104039

However, Andrés Orozco-Estrada took Dudamel’s place, and he did an absolutely astounding job! I was so impressed, and the Gotenburg Symphony sounded incredible. I took my two friends, Trina & Zalika, along…. first one they’d ever attended. The best part was seeing my friends’ experience. They loved it so much, and I was so happy for them!

Trina-“I thought it was going to end on that big high note…but then he had those low basses come in & I threw-up happiness.”

Zalika- “Why am I feeling this way?!?!”—After hearing Beethoven’s Egmont OvertureIMG_20130601_104204

It was a wonderful way to end the trip, and I am so happy my friends enjoyed it!

The Lofoten Islands are probably heaven…


Do you remember the possibility of Meg and I going to the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway?? Well, WE MADE IT THERE! And to be honest, I can’t even really describe how beautiful it was, and photos are a waste of our time. So, I suggest you go there one day. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to recreate this masterpiece.

As I said in my previous post, it was a quick decision to go. We boarded a train on May 21 (My mom’s birthday….Happy Birthday, again, Mom…. You’re so cool. Congratulations on having such a cool daughter who gets to go to really cool places around the world.) ;) Back on track: (Pun intended)… We took 3 separate trains from Bø, Norway to Bodø, Norway. Similar names….VERY far apart. We left at 11am on Tuesday and arrived at around 10am Wednesday. You can see in the photos below that we weren’t quite all there. But hey! We had fun! Image ImageImage

At one point during the train ride, I heard the conductor say over the speaker that we were soon arriving in Støren, Norway. My family came from this small farming village! I was so excited to at least see it through my window, although it wasn’t much. So Grandma!! These photos are for you! ImageImage

We also had a layover in Trondheim which we thought was great since neither one of us had been there before! It was very windy and a bit cold, but it was nice to get off the train and walk around a bit. ImageImage

Once we got to Bodø, we hung around the town for a few hours too long. It was beautiful, but we were anxious to get on the 2-3 hour ferry to Moskenes. After getting there, we walked to Reine, Norway where we stayed for 2 nights… a small fishing village in the Lofoten Islands. I am not sure if I calculated it correctly, but if we pretend for a minute that I work for some intelligent, important company like NASA or something, it is about 60 miles above the Arctic Circle. Image

I don’t think Meg and I could have walked any faster on our 60 minute journey to Reine. It was all beautiful on the way, but once we turned the corner around a mountain (which we climbed the next day…more to come) Reine bursted beauty into our eyes! It was incredible.

20130523_032822Better yet, we got an upgrade on our housing! We originally booked a small fisherman’s cabin with 2 beds and a bathroom. However, the receptionist was so nice and said, “No use you girls staying in a closet when the other cabin is open.” I know that anywhere one stays in Reine is beautiful, but we didn’t expect this view right from our own cabin!20130522_132047We were both already smiling…saying over and over, “It’s so beautiful! Ahhh!!”…being a bunch of silly girls. Then we opened up the door to our cabin, gasped, and hugged each other while laughing so hard! We had a giant bed, a separate bedroom with 2 bunks, a very nice bathroom with a washer and dryer, a kitchen with a dishwasher, fridge & freezer, all the necessary utensils to cook and eat a meal, a kitchen table, a couch, TV, and a deck with a picnic table with one of the best views in Norway. That said, we hardly used the basic necessities since we were so busy exploring the islands. We walked through the numerous fishing villages near Reine & Moskenes & saw what this fishing was all about along the way (One truck driver had a whole load of dried fish & one flew off onto the road beside us.). 20130523_08243820130523_075924I mentioned earlier that we climbed a mountain…Reinebringen. It was a tough climb at moments, but it was totally worth it! You couldn’t see the view of Reine until the very very top which made it even more special…20130523_045036…and had the motivational view of the ocean/sea to your back the entire time….20130523_045042…and yes, I cried a little. I had never see anything so beautiful in my life, and it will be hard to top it.20130523_045909Funny story about the climb up: it seemed to just be Meg and I hiking the mountain, which surprised us since it is a very touristy spot, and we imagined more people would be around…but perhaps not tourist season just yet. But we were almost to the top when I looked up and thought I saw our friend from school, Kateřina, coming down the mountain. I said to Meg, “That looks exactly like her!” Meg responded with, “Yeah, sort of…but it’s probably not.” So we just kept walking. Finally, I said, “No, Meg! It has to be her!” We got a little closer and sure enough…it was her! All three of us were just speechless as it was a slim chance of us running into each other. She had been there for a few days backpacking throughout the Islands. We chatted for a bit, snapped a picture, and she ended up staying the night with us on our last night in Reine. It was great to see her. :)

On the last night in the Islands, Meg and I decided that we wanted to stay up the whole night to watch the sun set. Many of you probably know of the Midnight Sun in Northern Norway. We weren’t there on the exact day of it (June 21), however, it never was dark. Since neither one of us had experienced it, we wanted to see what it was like. This was the darkest it got…..20130523_172519… and that was at 1:30am, if I remember correctly. We sat on the porch wrapped in blankets, ate ice cream and chips, and had great conversation. The weirdest thing was that when it was about 1am, it felt like it was 9pm. Then, just an hour later at 2am, you realized that the sun wasn’t setting anymore, but it was rising…making it feel like 6am all of a sudden. These next two photos were taken around 3 or 4am…our last hours in Lofoten since our ferry left at 7am.IMG_20130523_21261420130523_212756Sadly, our travels home weren’t so great. Norway was experiencing flooding and avalanches, so many of the roads were closed along with the railroads. All flights that evening and early morning were either leaving before our train got to Trondheim or were already full. The hardest part was that Meg was leaving Norway in 2 days for good, so she had to pack up all of her things still……and I was leaving even sooner for my trip to Poland & Sweden. Ohh, the life of a traveler. THANKFULLY, the Olsen’s have family who live in Trondheim. They were some of the kindest people I have met. They gave us a bed to sleep in, delicious meals, a tour of Trondheim (including the beautiful Nidaros Cathedral where a man was playing Bach fugues on the organ…an really cool experience), and great company. They even sorted out a refund for our alternative travel plans and helped us find a flight home. Once we made it to Oslo/Skien via plane/train, Jan Terje Olsen picked us up late into the night and drove us back to Bø right away so we could unpack and repack in time for our next departure. We have wonderful people in Norway & I appreciate their kind hearts & hospitality!

Despite the hectic traveling, it was the perfect trip to round up my last few weeks in Norway. I wouldn’t have changed it up one bit. Great scenery, great places, and new great friends/family.IMG_20130524_061643

And just to astound you a bit more, this next photo was taken on my walk from Reine to the ferry……20130523_230508…at 5:30am. :)