Wednesday, August 24, 2016


(NOTE : Click on photos to enlarge)

For my latest adventure, I spent nearly two weeks exploring Scandinavia.  I had to teach the TRIRIGA training class again and our newest team member (Ali, who is Swedish) was promoting Malmo, his home office, which is just across the new bridge (2006) over the North Sea from Copenhagen as the location.

View from my hotel

Ikea food, but better.
The day I arrived, after a nap I walked all over Malmo.  Between Pokemon and geocaching I was encouraged to walk the whole town.  I met some local  Swedish Pokemon players and met a geocacher from Nova Scotia. ... crazy to meet these people through a common hobby on the street. 

Mixture of old and new architecture

I also realized shortly after I landed, that it had been years since I'd been in a foreign speaking country. It is always humbling to realize how many people (including Ali's 9 year old daughter) speak English (and in her case, French and Spanish) better than I will EVER speak a second language. But I also find it interesting how in many countries you can figure out what most things say from context.  For example the Stadt Bibliotech is the city library.  Don't know how I know that, I just do.  I was amused that hello in Swedish (hej) is pronounced "Hey!" and Hello in Denmark and Norway is "hi".  The language thing was fun the entire trip.

The class was my best class to date.  The IBM office is very close to Malmo's most notable landmark, the Turning Torso tower.  At lunch we ate at a little grocery store in it's shadow, or took a walk along the beach of the North Sea.  The bridge mentioned above (yes the same bridge that the Television show "the Bridge" is about... which I have never heard of, and I'm thinking is not viewable on American television), 40km long, made access by taxi or by train very easy.

Kimberley and I on the train on the way to Copenhagen
Another new team member,  Kimberley, and I went to Copenhagen for the day the first Saturday.   It rained on and off so we dodged the weather popping into stores.   Kimberley was in pursuit of something to wear, since her luggage didn't  arrive for a solid week after her arrival. We took a boat tour, introduced her to geocaching, and of course went to see the mermaid.  We ended the day with very sore feet at a very formal 12-course dining experience.  When we first heard of the restaurant, Kimberley squeeled with delight, claiming herself a foodie.   But this is her first experience out of the country, and when they started serving it turns out she doesn't eat anything out of the sea, doesn't like truffles (saying they are worse than dirt... she could eat dirt but not truffles), and didn't  seem excited about much else served.... luckily plenty of food was served.   The next day she wanted Chocolate at the grocery store and said she was going to "live life on the edge" by getting a snickers with hazelnuts rather than peanuts.... cute girl.

Copenhagen's Opera House
Old Cathedral in Lund

Ali was trying to be ever the great host and took us out to the university town of Lund to walk around a couple of evenings.   He also took us to his little town of Lomma really cute coastal town.  Nice to see some countryside.
Malmo has set aside walls in the city for legal graffiti.  This wall across from my hotel, changed daily.

My room on the boat
The second weekend, in pursuit of a new country to snag a geocache and encouraged by my ancestry, I decided to take a ferry trip from Copenhagen to Oslo.  The boat left at 4:30 pm.  During the evening we followed the coastline of Sweden.  After dark I slept but got up at 6 am to watch the Norwegian coastline of the Oslo fjord,  getting into Oslo at 9:30 am.  This was fantastic,  all except the fact that I accidentally booked the trip for the wrong weekend,  so had to by a 2nd ticket at the last minute. ..which was about 3 times the cost of the original ticket I got, and it's still unclear whether I will recoup any of the original ticket price.

In the evening I noticed that the boat was heading directly North... Into the sunset... Humm, that didn't seem right.  In the end I have done a little research and this is what I think is called "White Night".  It was pretty late in July and so it didn't last all night long, but the bright sky in the North was due to seeing the horizon above the arctic circle. 

While in Norway I did some searching for Flotegrot, a Swenson family tradition and Scandinavian tradition at Christmas.  What I discovered is Grot means porridge, so I did find Havregrot (oatmeal), Risgrot (rice meal) and the more common Rommegrot (sour cream porridge) but no Flotegrot (sweetcream porridge).  I think my favorite was the "Supergrot" (with quinoa).  I bought some Rommegrot and took it home.  I tried it, It tasted as expected, and Mike wouldn't try it... oh well, he has had Flotegrot before and it is not his favorite.  All in all I think the fact that it is "porridge" takes all the romanticism right out of it!

First sights of Norway

In Oslo first thing I did was get a ticket for a hop on hop off city bus tour.  This worked well as it started POURING rain just after I got on.  I saw all the best Oslo has to offer between wiping the fog off the windows. I spent a couple hours at the Maritime museum and the Viking Ship museum and waited out the rain.

After dinner I took a walk to see the Oslo Opera house.  What is it with Opera houses in the world and landmarks. Oslo didn't disappoint.  Designed as a slab that slides into the water, it encourages you to walk up on the roof and take in the view.  Pretty cool.

Oslo Opera House

In the morning I jumped back on the bus and went to the Vigeland sculpture garden.  Didn't read up, so not sure of the significance, but lots of naked people in various geometries.. all by the same artist.  Nice park and very interesting.  One of the most visited attractions in Oslo.

Then at the last minute decided to go see the ski jump.  That turned out to be my favorite thing, not exactly because of the ski jump,  but more because the train ride up the Mountain was beautiful and the views from the top were exquisite.  There was also an interesting history of skiing museum there.

Flew back to Copenhagen that evening just as the rain hit.  Turned out to be a great weekend and completion of a fun trip.