Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Grocery Shopping

Now here is something I never thought I would do (or even considered doing). On Monday, I went grocery shopping in Sweden!!

No, I did not see the sights. No, I did visit my relatives. Yes, I bought fish, cheese, juice, candy, and other grocery items (but no cigarettes or alcohol). As I may have mentioned, Oslo is the most expensive city in the world - more expensive than Tokyo. The cheapest box of cereal is right now around $3. While this isn't too bad for most norwegians who also earn more money on average, it is not great for those of us living on a salary paid in US dollars - which are not doing so well against the Norwegian Kroner.

Anyway, meat, candy, alcohol, and cigarettes are especially expensive in Norway - mostly for tax reasons. So, the norwegian people hop acrosss the border to stock up on these products. Knowing that I am currently in the process of stocking my kitchen, one of the congregation members invited me to go grocery shopping in Sweden. So, away we went! Its about a 45 mn. drive to the border, where a little shopping area has sprung up because of the norwegian shoppers. The area feels kind of like an outlet mall in the US.

If you are worried about my ability to afford food in the future in Norway, don't worry so much. Knowing that I am living on the dollar and being a great, generous, and caring congregation, my internship congregation has been helping me stock my pantry and 2 offerings have been taken to provide me with pantry stocking money. How great is that! I have been so well taken care of - I have even received those precious items that people pack in their suitcases to bring back from the states - peanut butter, cake mix, zip lock bags, etc.

Enjoy that large grocery store with so many food selections, and much subsidized produce and meat. Here, the grocery stores are mostly small with limited selection. I will surely be learning to cook norwegian! and shop at the immigrant groceries, which tend to be cheaper and have more non-norwegian foods. But for now, I am well stocked, thanks to my great congregation and the great country of Sweden!

Happy cooking to you!

Royal Spotting

Special update!!

So, yesterday I was walking to the train station from church, going by the royal palace. But, I'm hearing a band and there are flags flying at the palace - more than usual, and guard looking people marching around. So, of course I wander across teh street and to the palace. Lining the palace drive are Norwegian and Brazilian flags, the road is just gated off - not the kind of real security gating of the US, but just like a parade gating. Near the palace entrance is a canopied podium type of thing, and a seating area, and a press stand.

Soon, in marches about 100 royal guard, who line up and then are inspected and moved, etc. by their superiors.

Well, eventually, after everything is neat and in line. Out of the palace comes King Olav, the Queen, and Princess Marit. Olav goes and inspects the guard (at which point he was about 20 feet from me), then goes back and they all greet what look like embassy people or something from Brazil, in the stage area. Eventually, in drives the official motorcade. And out comes the President of Brazil, his wife, and Prince Hokan!

They do a little tour of the guard, shake hands, go see the Brazil people (who are singing Ole, ole, ole ole...), remember from the World Cup. - not of the Norwegian ole and lena jokes.

Anyway, how weird is that that on my way home, I wandered upon a royal reception. I think they were leaving the palace as I walked to work this morning. Out of the palace drive came a larger motorcade, who then headed through town, with the police preparing their way.

As one of the Norwegian people I was talking to at the Royal Reception said - that's one of the great things about living in a small country! You get to see and be part of these things!!

Official Pics Here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Election Day

It's voting day for Parliament here in Norway today. There is a voting station at the school of the girls of the family with whom I am staying, so the girls didn't have school today. I thought it was interesting that there is no school if there is a polling station.

I will let you know the results soon, PLUS I'm going on a tour of Parliament on Wednesday, so I should have some pictures then. One of the church members works in Parliament, so we'll get a guided tour from him!

But, since it is election day, I thought I would put up some of the sites that are somewhat related to the political realm.

The Royal Palace lies right in the middle of the city. I think the King and Queen were even in residence the day I walked by (I also walk to work on the side street by the palace). I learned recently that they normally live in an apt. on the 2nd floor of the palace.

The Nobel Peace Institute - and the decision table - is where the members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee deliberate and decide on who gets the Peace Prize. I think the Prize is actually awarded in a a larger auditorium in another building, but I can't remember. I attended a Fulbright Scholars reception at the Nobel Institute and got a little tour, but that was on my 3rd day in Oslo, so I can't remember too well.

Finally, the lovely U.S. embassy. I also walk by this building almost everyday. Isn't it lovely?? I guess it was designed by some famous modern architect, but its not really too pretty, nor, in my opinion does it give off the friendliest picture of the United States. I have now seen the US Ambassador twice, yes, twice, that's right. He was at the Fulbright reception (I didn't talk with him, though) and then just last week, he was walking to his vehicle or something outside the embassy (but inside the gates of course.) I have to say though, it was quite strange and a bit scarey to walk by a man standing on the sidewalk with a large gun in his hand.

Oh, because school was closed we went to IKEA. For those of you who love IKEA as much as I do, it looked just the same! I did figure out why IKEA sells hot dogs though. Everyone here eats hot dogs, they are the quick food. 7-11 sells them, convenience stores, vendors, etc. There were a bunch of people eating hot dogs at the cafe part in IKEA! I even ate a hot dog in lumpa at the Norsk Derby - I'm not sure if I put a picture of that up.

That's it. Enjoy!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Vigeland Park

In my first post, I said that I had gone sight-seeing. My first stop was Vigeland Park. I had visited this park last time I was in Oslo and rememberd it fondly. Well, this time, I remembered my camera and took some pictures.

The park was created as a home / studio, I guess, for Karl Vigeland to create his works of art. Almost all of his creations call Vigeland Park their home (the real name of the park is Frogner Park, if you're looking on a map.) I love the statues because they are full of movement and depict the poignancy (how do you spell this word?) and simplicity of life.

Here are some pics, enjoy!