08 July 2008

for those who asked

I finally uploaded photos of my recent trips to the US (starting here, scrolling forward) and to Estonia/Finland, and finally a bit of more locally available highland charm (scroll forward).

Hopefully that saying about a picture being worth a thousand words will hold in this case since my time is currently devoted to putting things in various satchels and portmanteaus as I prepare for a trio of trips. More on those thrills as they unfold.

04 July 2008

northern summer

Once again in my second home in Norway, it's been a week of the most perfect weather I could imagine. A balmy 75f/25c has made everyone relaxed with positivity, from the security and check-in people at the airport to the waitresses at all the restaurants I ate at this week. There may not be a lot of incredibly hot weather here but it does seem that everyone enjoys it tremendously. The sidewalks have bloomed with women in colorful dresses and little open sandals, while men go bold and shorten their trousers to knee-length.

It made working inside very difficult, but every chance I had after hours, I was outside. I walked along the river in the village where I'm staying, following a bike path that twined through the carefully mown riverbank and ended in one of the tidiest neighborhoods I have seen. Norwegians seem to know how to do organized quite well.

For dinner, my options for exploration were slightly more restricted, as I was staying in the in-between town of Lilleström, known for two things: being at the halfway point between Oslo and the Gardermoen airport, and for the largest conference center in Norway. The latter reason has generated a cluster of gassy conference-goer steakhouse type restaurants, but just beyond that, amidst the ubiquitous kebab and hamburger shops that crowd Norway, there's a delightful little restaurant that I first went to at coworker M's suggestion to try the moose steak. The Swedish waiter was incredibly friendly during that first visit, and since the restaurant was nearly completely empty I got extra-nice service. I went back on Wednesday for a leisurely dinner where the same waiter greeted me and remembered the strange toasted vegetable that I loved so much at my last meal there three months ago. When he brought my salad he brought a bowlful of the peculiar specialty as an extra side. The food at this place is not complicated and the menu is short, but when it's enjoyed with crisp white wine in a haze of sunshine, what more in life does one need?

And now I am at the airport, with my usual pre-flight pasta salad lunch, experience a new kind of sensation- being in a large public building that appears to have no air conditioning. Sure, it's a bit hot, but in the euro-traveler appropriate summer dress, I feel perfectly comfortable. It's summer. There's no need to freeze us all with overefficient AC.

Norway does not feel like it will ever be my home, but at least it's a place where I'm finding some element of happiness and balance. I do feel privileged that it's been part of my working life, that I've basically experienced this place for free, as a requirement of my job. Up next week, Leeds, England!

(does anyone know about Leeds?)