dsc_0279It was already at least 80 degrees at 6:15 the morning we caught the overhead train from our hostel in Bangkok out to the airport. Our Norwegian airlines flight actually departed a few minutes early and arrived in Oslo just short of an hour ahead of schedule. It was 38 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny. Everyone said how much they were enjoying the warm fall they had been having. The next day it dropped to freezing and started to snow. By the next day – it looked like this:

So why did we go to Norway in November after 5 months primarily in Asian climates? Well, it has to do with my heritage. My great-grandfather immigrated to the US as a young man and I have always wanted to visit the country of my forefathers. So while we were still in Vietnam, Amber found great prices on tickets, I got in touch with my cousin Ottar, and we headed west – uh, and north – definitely north. De-boarding the plane, I think it is safe to say that Oslo was definitely “a contrast” to Thailand and Cambodia!dsc_0291We took our first Norwegian train ride south to our accommodations in Holmlia. Our Airbnb host, Carina, was wonderful! She took the time to visit with us about life in Norway, made us breakfast and coffee, and lent Amber a really stylish warm winter coat! (since we left the states we have been traveling with only the contents of one carry on size backpack each – and nothing in those packs screamed “arctic fashion”). We spent our first two days with my cousin Ottar (we share great, great grandparents) and his partner Finn, and I will never be able to thank them enough for the time they spent with us! They knew so much of our shared family history and all about the farming areas our family was from. They took us all around the old family stomping grounds, filled in the history and details and showed us Oslo too!dsc_0280dsc_0283dsc_0378dsc_0347I was able to wander the lands and very fields my great-grandfather would have walked in his youth before setting sail for America. It is hard to explain, but it all looked so right to me. The fields, forests, fjords, even the design and coloring of the houses and barns, all looked the way I would have them if I were choosing my ideal homestead. I could not believe how some areas we saw looked absolutely identical to my favorite places along highway 2 in Washington state. It is almost as if my DNA is still being influenced by the land, even two generations removed.

dsc_0284We did a walk around the grounds of the very church the ancestors attended which included the cemetery with stones dating back several hundred years.dsc_0293dsc_0307dsc_0386Our second full day in Oslo definitely felt like winter to Amber and I. It was actually only a little below freezing but with the wind, and after being in areas where the overnight low was 75, it felt arctic! Our local guides took us to a pretty upscale thrift store and I found a genuine Scandinavian winter coat! I am looking forward to many adventures with it back in the states. We did a nice walking tour that included food, hot cocoa, churches, statues, the opera house and even the Nobel Peace Prize Center!dsc_0436Despite the cold wind and new snow, tourists (like us) turned out to see the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace.dsc_0427dsc_0421dsc_0434A visit to Oslo would not be complete without a tour of the world-famous Viking Museum. It was especially important of us of course, with my being of Viking descent and all. It was great to see samples of their axes, boats, attire and lifestyle. With their hardy nature and long ships they explored the world. You could say they were the first awed travelers!dsc_0490dsc_0525Roaming the grounds of the Norwegian Folk Museum was like experiencing a life-sized, three-dimensional blueprint for that authentic, old-time, off-grid, pioneer, homestead I dream of building some day! Ottar mentioned that some of our contemporary relatives were doing some very similar things there in Norway and Amber made sure to remind me that clothes washing duties would be mine in that environment.dsc_0542dsc_0588The Resistance Museum is located on the grounds of Akershus Fortress. It is one of the most detailed and well maintained museums we have visited anywhere in the world. The displays included WW2 era timelines, dioramas, pictures, documents, posters, equipment, newspapers and recordings. Below, Amber is standing next to a fragment of one of the 10,000 pound bombs dropped on the German battleship Tirpitz.dsc_0636I could not help but think of this time as more of an exploratory trip for future visits. There is so much more of Norway to explore and many more relatives to meet. I kept saying to Amber how I wish other family from the states could see this or that. We took hundreds of pictures and I will take all of them home to show the extended family and try to get a larger expedition together for another visit in the future!dsc_0475