Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend in Bergen

This weekend we decided to hop the short (25 min) flight over to Bergen. This was my first experience flying domestic and I learned two things. First, the airport doesn't check your ID for a domestic flight. At all. And second, because no one is more important than anyone else (Norwegian mentality), they open up boarding all at once for everyone on the plane. A bit chaotic, but an experience nonetheless.

We arrived and caught the flybussen over to the sentrum (city center) and checked into our hotel before venturing out to walk the city and find dinner. Here was our first mistake of the evening - we didn't make reservations. The place we'd looked up was closed and every other place we checked as we walked around was full. One of the restaurants suggested we try Jacobs Aall as they normally have outdoor seating available. It was a bit chilly outside, but the heat lamps and blankets they provided made it tolerable. Until the table next to us started smoking and we learned that the entire upstairs since it was outdoors was smoking. After table-hopping three times and crying at the idea of having to find another place to eat because I was so hungry (I blame the hormones...) we settled into a spot away from anyone else and downwind in case new smokers arrived. Fortunately, the waiter was great and our food was amazing which saved the evening from being a total disaster!

The following morning we headed to the tourist office to pick up a Bergen card. Along the way we took advantage of the monthly Farmer's Market that we happened to catch and also perused the famous Fish Markets on the way to our next stop - the akvariet (aquarium). 

I'm not sure what it is about zoos or aquariums, but Jason and I are smitten with them and love visiting them wherever we are. There's just something serene about walking slowly together and enjoying looking at the animals and reading about them. We can't wait to take our daughter to zoos and aquariums after she arrives!

We made sure to catch the seal feeding before we left the aquarium. The male was a bit of a show-off and we enjoyed watching his tricks along with his three leading ladies.

We walked along the Strandgaten with a beautiful view of the water and mountains. We stopped at Cafe Kippers for a chai tea and muffin and sat outside soaking up the sun.

As we made our way back towards the sentrum we stopped at the Bergenhus Fortress. The main attraction there is the Rosenkrantz Tower, which we discovered was only open on Sundays. We noted the hours so we could visit the following day and walked around the grounds for a bit before heading to the Bryggens Museum.

Overall, I would say the museum was a bit of a disappointment. They had one floor with some decent exhibits and the upstairs temporary exhibit was all about shoes. It was interesting to see how shoes were made in the old days, but beyond that the rest of the exhibit was pretty corny. I would only recommend going there if it's free (as our visit was with the Bergen card) or you have time to kill.

We headed back to the hotel for a short nap before walking over to catch the tram up to Fløibanen. The mountain overlooks the city of Bergen from over 300 meters and we wanted to watch the sunset from the top. We took my Week 24 picture there and walked around before snagging a good spot to watch the sunset.

I did not throw a snowball at you...

Check it. I'm a troll.
We'd learned our lesson the previous night  regarding dinner so Jason had made reservations for us at Holbergstuen. We enjoyed another great meal and walked around the city afterwards as we slowly headed back to our hotel.

On Sunday we caught the bus and took a short walk to catch the cable car up to Ulriken, another mountain overlook of the city. This view, however, was over 600 meters high and allowed us to see more southwest of Bergen and a better view of the mountains surrounding us.

The top had lots of trails and we saw plenty of hikers and cross-country skiers taking advantage of the sunny weather to get outside. We threw a few snowballs at one another and walked around the top before heading back down to the sentrum.

Next we visited the Hanseatic Museum. It gave a great overview of the fishing industry in Bergen during the 13th to 17th centuries. I would highly recommend visiting this museum to get an understanding of the history of Bergen and how it was influenced by the fish trade.

King cod
Rosenkrantz Tower was next on our list and we walked through each of the floors of this medieval tower dating back to the 13th century. It was extended in the 16th century and named for Governor Erik Rosenkrantz. It also underwent significant restoration after a ship exploded in the nearby harbor in the 1940's.

Finally, we walked along Bryggen (the Wharf) and admired the old buildings we'd learned were built during the Hanseatic time. Their narrow alleyways gave us a good view of the shifting foundations that over time has caused these buildings to lean pretty significantly.

We had some time to kill before our flight and enjoyed a long and liesurely lunch at Nama Sushi and Noodles. Jason was aghast at spending over $150 for two people on sushi. (Welcome to Norway!) But once again the food was spectacular and hit the spot.

Here's all the delicious food from our trip!

Overall it was a great weekend exploring our first Norwegian city outside of Stavanger (which we really haven't done any of the touristy things here in our hometown yet...). We were fortunate and caught Bergen on a sunny and relatively warm weekend with no rain.

Up next on the list is visiting Tromsø this weekend to go dog sledding and chase the Northern Lights!

PS. I've added a link to the top navigation bar for our adventures in Norway. Enjoy!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Week 24

We are visiting the beautiful city of Bergen for the weekend. We've got a little time before our dinner tonight so here's Week 24!

How far along: 24 weeks, 4 days

Size of Baby S: 1.25 lbs, almost 12 inches

Fruit/vegetable comparison (according to Baby Center): an ear of corn

Total weight gain: 10 lbs

Sleep: Better this week! I started using the side pillow that my mom gave me a few months ago and it's a little awkward getting used to it, but I think it's helping.

Movement: YES!! We felt her distinctly move for the first time on Sunday (read here) and our productivity has decreased severely in the evenings now as a result. :-)

Unglamorous body changes: Not really "unglamorous", but I am starting to notice the temperature difference in my body. I constantly turn the air off completely when we are driving and had my slightly-large driving instructor as me if he could turn the air up during our lesson. I guess I was freezing him out. ;-) I've also noticed that I need to get a lighter blanket or something for night because if I use my current one, then I wake up hot and sweaty. Ewww.

Maternity Clothes? Yes! Still in regular tops and dresses/skirts, but pants are maternity or loosely fitting stretch pants.

Showing: Yes! A co-worker of mine was gone last week for winter break and told me "Congratulations! You look pregnant now." on Monday. I'll take it. :-)

Food cravings: Nothing in particular. I did however bust into the Lucky Charms this week and oh did they taste amazing!

What I miss: Margarita. We had a girl's night at my place on Saturday and did a Mexican potluck. The food was delicious, but the virgin margarita had me aching for the real thing. With salt on the rim. Then I found out Friday was National Margarita Day. That only made it worse!

Anything making you queasy: Nope.

Strange experiences:
 Feeling our daughter move! Iit's amazing, but also kind of awkward to have an otter-like gliding sensation in your abdomen. But again, amazing! :-)

Milestones: Brain is growing quickly and taste buds are beginning to develop. Lungs are developing and producing surfactant (a substance that will help her air sacs inflate once she's born). Her skin is still translucent, but will start to change soon.

Best moment this week: Feeling Baby Girl move and kick!!! We are so incredibly blessed!

Looking forward to: Continuing to feel Baby Girl move and preparing for her arrival! We have most of the big things done at this point (registry, stroller, furniture), but still have a few things left to research and make decisions about. Unfortunately, we cannot do much in the way of nursery preparation until after our shipment goes out in March from Houston and we receive it in May.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Boys Trip: Rally Sweden

From the desk of Jason Stingerie:

Two weeks ago, February 7-10, two friends from Stavanger and I went to Sweden to watch WRC Rally Sweden. This is something I grew up watching on TV and have always wanted to go see an event in person. Now that we live in Norway it was just a quick hop over the border. Darcy wanted me to write a blog post about the trip, but she never said how many words it had to contain.... so, on to the pictures!! ;-)

We flew into Oslo Gardermoen airport on Wednesday afternoon to meet up with our tour group. We booked the trip through which I highly recommend for anyone who ever wants to see one of these events. There was about a 2.5 hour bus ride from Oslo to our hotel for the next few days in Arvika, Sweden.

On Thursday morning was practice and then qualifying for all of the cars to determine starting order the next day.

We made a short stop at the service area and were able to see a few cars being worked on (in below freezing temperatures) before the first stage that night.

That night was the opening ceremonies in Karlstad and the first stage of the race, a side by side event inside a small arena. Rally Sweden also had a historic rally event going on the same weekend with rally cars from the 60's up through the 80's. We unfortunately were unable to see any of these cars race but were able to catch them at the opening ceremonies.

Friday we visited two different stages, both with great spots to watch from just after a large jump. We also got to witness the ingenuity of some of the locals, three guys in blonde wigs strapped seats onto a large tree at the side of the road for a great viewpoint of the jump.

That night we had the opportunity to visit the Volkswagen Hospitality area. This is Volkswagen's first year in the WRC and they are doing it right. They had two fully enclosed VIP areas, one with two levels, for people to relax and eat and a fully enclosed heated area for the cars to be worked on. We were able to watch a 45 minute service on the car up close and then had dinner there, with a tour of their facility afterwards. The food and experience was amazing!

The next day we visited three more stages and were able to get some great places to view the race. I also pulled out my GoPro camera and we figured out a way to set it out on the snow bank next to the road for some great shots (video to soon follow). You can see the camera in two of the pictures below, look for the orange in the snow bank.

The final day finished with two stages back across the border in Norway.

We then made our way back to Karlstad where we would be staying that night, and where the closing ceremonies were held. Volkswagen ended up taking 1st place, with this being only their second event with the new car a pretty impressive feat. We watched the trophies being handed out and then headed out for dinner and drinks. Our tour group leader told us where the drivers will usually go to hang out that night, and we all ended up seeing and/or meeting at least one of them that night. It was a great trip and will definitely try to make it to another one at some point.

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