Things you donÂ´t think about when you think of having a white christmas. Driving!
You look out the window and see the pretty snow swirling in the shifting breezes.
You go outside and shovel snow so that latter the car can get out and you enjoy working together with your sweetie for a common goal.
Then later you leave and he drives you to the movies. This is where the reality of driving while its snowing hits you. We have driven before in snow but not with as much as today.
First thing I noticed was there was no middle line in the road. In fact no road markings really. How well do you know your roads to your nearest city to you?? Do you know when there is one lane each way and two lanes your side of road or theirs? Well in weather like this where there are no median strips you really need to know. Luckily my partner does!
Second thing you notice is the car moving sideways at times when you donÂ´t expect it. Luckily my man is well used to driving in snowy conditions and these were just little movements.
Third thing I noticed was that road signs like the round speed ones had snow stuck to their face and were partly or fully obscured. Which made me wonder if I remember the speed limits from Porirua to Paraparaumu well enough to drive the right speed at the right time.
So in short I was glad it was my man driving not me!! And a resolution not to drive unknown roads in these conditions if ever faced with that dilemma.
To end the night we were faced with wind swept swaths of snow and had to dig our way into the car park. Adds to the whole going out experience 🙂
When I moved to Norway I expected to be surprised by some things. In much the same way when I tell people I came form New Zealand they expect me to be surprised by some things. The things that surprised me has not always been as expected from either side.
I expected food to be much the same generally but traditional foods to be way different than traditional kiwi fare. How wrong I was, the traditional dishes I have been fed so far would pass as kiwi food, anglo kiwi that is.
Take lapskus its a good meat casserole like grandma would cook. There are many recipes on the net but to give you one in english I grabbed this from the Daughters of Norway site. http://www.daughtersofnorway.org/dnFood.html
Lapskaus (Norwegian Stew)
Unattributed, combined and edited two recipes.
1-1/2 pounds lean beef, cubed 1 large onion, cubed
1-1/2 pounds lean lamb, cubed 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 pound pork, cubed salt to taste
4 cups or about 8 potatoes, cubed optional: 2 carrots sliced
optional: 1/4 tsp. nutmeg optional: 2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. oil water to cover
Stew recipes are inherently flexible in the details. Brown meat lightly in oil. Add water to cover and let boil about 30 minutes. Add seasonings and vegetables. Simmer another half hour or until the meat is tender. Serve with a side salad, and flat bread.
I was told I would be surprised by Norwegian potato use, practically every day Norwegians eat potatoes I was told. No joking, Every Day!! I had to let them down gently and tell them this is not surprise, most kiwis would eat pototatoes every day too.
On the food front I was surprised though about
lollies, namely that there was so much licorice and marzipan based lollies.
Now its getting closer to Christmas how much christmas food is in the stores.
How good yogurt is here
How good real sauerkraut is, mmmmm and its considered one of the new super foods too!
That they don’t have pickles and chutneys like we do.
That Worcestershire sauce would be so expensive.
That good number of folks know and love marmite / vegemite.
On the Christmas food front, I don’t mean they are getting in turkeys and mixed nuts and all. I mean that normal foods have Christmas versions that are appearing on the shelf. Like Christmas fizzy drinks (bris) Christmas sausages (pÃ¸lser), Christmas this and Christmas that. Jarle says they will be brewing Christmas beer (Ã¸l), not his favourite as its too an old time recipe.
I spotted a jar of fruit mincemeat on the shelf and thought all was not that different maybe, but Jarle said he had not seen it before. He also looked a bit dubious about meat being in a jar on the shelf. Common mistake seeing as English only uses the word meat for animal flesh nowadays and fruit mincemeat was named back when dried fruit had a meaty texture so was meat. Many folks I know are confused why anyone would call dried fruit meat too. We bought a jar as could be the only one we find, though I think I maybe eating the fruit mince pies alone LOL.
I didnÂ´t expect to be surprised at the public service I mean itÂ´s the same the world over right? Least western countries itÂ´s gotta be pretty much the same right? But some close at 14:00 or 15:00 in an afternoon and I find that just pure strange. I thought closing at 16:30 like some of ours do was early enough in a day.
I expected to find films dubbed in Norwegian but everything else pretty much the same in the movie going world. Was a little surprised at how many films you can view in English some films playing in a variety of formats eg:
English no subtitles
English with Norwegian subtitles
Norwegian with subtitles
Take a look http://program.filmweb.no/kinoprogram/kinoprogram.aspx
But more than this was my surprise at how you buy tickets.
While you can bowl up to the theatre and buy tickets, most people buy over the Internet. You can reserve your seat when you buy online and the system sends you a code to your cellphone. Once you get to the cinema you bowl up to a friendly machine and put in your code and it prints out your tickets for you.
This is so much better than buying tickets over the Internet back home. Where I had to write down or print out my confirmation of purchase. Go to the cinema and bowl up to the counter along with everyone else buying tickets. Then go through a three point security check to ensure it was me that bought the tickets and then the theater staff logged in and assigned me my seats and it seemed a bit of a hassle for them to do this rather than just sell me the ticket. I decided after doing it once just before I left NZ that I would not do it again given the chance.
The Norwegian system seems to be more really electronic ticketing while the NZ one seems only halfway there making it the worst of both worlds, for me.
The other thing about movie theatres that surprised me is the way the let you out of a movie. In New Zealand you go out the way you came in. In Norway you go out those doors that in NZ are emergency only exits and they Â´dumpÂ´you right out on the street or an alley. Except the one went to today (the collesuem) which took you to a small internal strip opposite which were the doors that took you outside.
I expected it to be colder here in Norway than my pacific home New Zealand, but the first month here (Sept 2009) was great weather. Sunny still days with enough heat to keep me happy.
I am eternally surprised though by how still it is. Days on end the trees may as well be painted backdrops for they move not at all. I am not really complaining though it kinda creeps me out. The cold is no way near as bad as I suspect when I look at the temperature, as there is no wind to whip under your clothes and through fastenings to chill you. I really appreciate what wind chill factor is now I know how cold cold is without that good old Welly wind.
I was also surprised how non-slippery snow is. ItÂ´s ice I have to watch for I am told.
New Zealand has been slowly changing its road signs to internationally accepted ones (say the PR for the changes) so I was expecting Norway being part of European continent would have pretty similar signs to NZ. Boy was I wrong. Not that they are all different, but there are enough different to throw me.
especially the ones with cars and people on as I thought it was saying there can be no cars / people after this sign, yet patently this was not being followed by those around me. Eventually I learnt that is means end of a zone. So the people one has a people only sign compatriot and when you get the grey people sign with lines thorugh it it means end of the people only zone ie now you are in a car and people zone so watch out…
The yellow diamond sign flummoxed me for a while too but its kinda a cool sign now I have been told what it is for. In New Zealand we have a rule that traffic on minor roads give way to traffic on major roads. This is even in the driving test with minor roads being drawn narrower than major and questions being asked which car gives way to which.
The yellow diamond however lets you know (for certain) that your road has right of way and the yellow diamond with a black slash over it means your road no longer has right of way. Now in New Zealand there is never much confusion in peoples minds which is the minor and which is the major road but this sign makes it very clear what is going on.
Obviously coming to Norway meant learning a new language. I thought it would be consonants and not vowels I would have trouble with seeing I as was coming from a vowel based language area (Maori and Samoan have lots of vowels in words).
However, it seems that while I am struggling to pronounce a word right and listening to the consonants it usually turns out its the vowels I am mangling.
Saturday I arrived in Norway, after too many hours in flight. traveled from 4pm Friday NZ time till 12.30 am Sunday NZ time, so arrived 2.30 pm Saturday Norwegian time.
Took homeopathic pills on journey called No-more-jet-lag. Think they are brilliant as do not feel half as bad as I should.
Was almost sureal to see Jarle after all this time. Was only May since I last saw him but felt like a year had passed. Was very good to be able to hug him again. Norway turned on a spectacularly fine day for my arrival. Hot day after coming out of early spring in NZ.
First impressions of Norway:
– Lots of trees
– Older country than NZ
– Houses are like fairy tale houses.
The landlords put out a collection of wee Norwegian flags on their verandah Â to welcome me. I have not met them yet but that was sweet.
I managed to stay up till bed time day one so that will help me settle into the time zone, but I woke up at 5am the next day unable to go back to sleep, so still catching up sleep here. Monday slept till 7am so things are settling.
Sunday went to the sculpture park in Oslo, seen photos of it before so it was good to actually be there. Very pretty expansive grounds. Can picture great picnics being held here.
Sunday, also met JarleÂ´s family and they were very welcoming. His parents are self confessed cat people and spoil their cats. They served apple cake, yum my favourite, and homemade cherry juice, unsweetened, nice and tart, yum.
Strangest things I have seen so far,
– water feature, spurting up a circle of water in the middle of a road where trams drive over. Handy for washing underside of trams I suppose and quite pretty, but strange.
– people driving on wrong side of road, going round roundabouts the wrong way and yielding to the wrong side, LOL
– Hardly any wind 😀
. white raspberry jam made from white raspberries, who knew there were such things, not me obviously. Looking forward to next autumn and seeing some white raspberries, JarleÂ´s parents grow them.
– Street signs so old and worn you almost canÂ´t read the street name.
– houses so pretty
– people take their shoes off indoors (very reminiscent of Pacific cultures) Â makes me feel at home.
– Cloak bays in entrances to houses, makes sense for the snowy days, but this has been a feature I always wanted in a house and here it is the norm it seems. Door on other side of cloak room is also a feature I have always wanted in a house as it gives that barrier to the cold on windy days
– Under floor heating, mmm cozy!
– trees trees trees, got to love so many trees being round
. Berries, berries are my favourite fresh fruit and they grow in abundance here.
– new type of berry called rips, small red berries on a long woody stalk, very tart! yumm yumm.