Monday, January 4, 2010

And that makes 15

Christmas was a little over a week ago, and it was pretty laid back. No usual busy house and all that. It kinda sucked, and I didn't get into any sort of Christmas spirit until the following day. But that will be explained in due time.

Christmas evening was pretty good though. Pat, Celia, and I went to Kehl. Alex and Chan made turkey and stuffing, while Pat and Celia made eggnog and I provided mashed potatoes and some holiday cheer to accompany the eggnog. The turkey turned out extremely well, as did the eggnog. As for mashed potatoes, it is impossible to screw those up. We watched Inglorious Basterds afterward, which is always a great movie.

Following the movie, I skyped the family. It was really nice to talk to Sharon and John as well as Margo and Kent. Kent made some repairs on my car, which excites me because I'm fairly sure he replaced more than just the tail light. I'll have to wait until May to see for myself though. After talking to the family until 3am I tried calling my grandma in Vancouver but there was no answer. She must have already gone out for supper with John, Johanne and the kids.

On the 26th, I hopped on a flight to Oslo to experience the cold of the north. The cold yet to be experienced in good ol' Switzerland. I think the entire time I was there, the temperature was a consistent -15° which was rather uncomfortable when initially going outside considering I have yet to completely stop wearing my flip flops in Switzerland. Needless to say, I finally broke in my long johns and winter jacket this year. I have a feeling the only time I will be wearing either of those again will be snowboarding.

While in Norway, I stayed with a family that Ryan put me in touch with, the Nipens. They were extremely nice to let me stay with them for 4 nights when the house was already so busy. So to show them my appreciation, I brought a kilo of raclette (Swiss fondue cheese) with me. That led to questions with airport security when I brought it on carry-on as I do with all of my stuff. They requested to see my bag and found the raclette sitting right on top. The lady checking my bag openly grinned and showed the guy at the scanner and proceeded to tell me I was clear.

Since the flight was in the evening, the story begins the following day. Olav took me to see the statue park, where there is a very large statue made of solid granite with over 100 naked people built into it. There were also other naked statues and more naked statues. Why do North Americans all feel the need to live ridiculously sheltered lives? Naked statues aren't going to go crazy and rape you. But if someone decided to put a statue like that up in NA, someone would definitely shit a brick and cry aloud until is was taken down. Same goes for advertisements. Euro-ads are going to be one of the things I miss. Their tolerance and openness for such things is awesome. Wow, that was a slight tangent...

The following day, Anita, Matthias, and Thomas showed John and I around Oslo. We walked up the opera house shaped like an iceberg, went by the Royal Palace, the parliament building, and ate at McDonald's. Overall, the city wasn't super impressive and not the typical style you'd picture as Norwegian. We went to a bar to have a beer. If you've ever heard that Oslo is expensive, you'd be correct. A beer costs something like 12CHF. Ugh. Tastes very very similar to Canadian beer too.

On the 29th, I went on a day trip to Tonsberg. It is supposedly the oldest town in Norway. It didn't particularly look that old, but it did have a tower on the top of a hill. That has got to count for something. I was going to eat some fish at a restaurant until I realized I'd be spending 40CHF. I then opted for some sort of burger at some burger place. I don't know the details and it theoretically could have been ground dog meat for all I know. But it was pretty good. Tonsberg has some ruin areas where the base remains of buildings that once stood. But other than that, there isn't much around. There were a whole lot of stereotypical Norwegian wooden houses in the residential area, but I didn't walk through much of it.

That evening, I went with Matthias and Anita to a bar in Sandvika (the city that I stayed in, 14km west of Oslo) and met some cool Norwegians. They all spoke English very well and I get the feeling some of them enjoyed practising with a native English-speaker. There was a local band playing, which was pretty cool. When we left, Matthias and I tried to get some kebabs but the shop was closed. We admitted defeat and took a cab home. Where we made delicious sandwiches.

The 30th was my final day before I headed back to Z├╝rich that evening. I got Matthias to teach me to cross-country ski. I feel that I did rather well considering I've never worn skis before. The only problems occurred when gravity became a factor. Going up hills was fine, but downhill was a pretty messy experience. I tried to pizza as I've seen 4 year olds doing at ski hills. No dice. Pocket full of snow instead. It was a good experience and it was very enjoyable.

It was really enjoyable to spend time with a family over the Christmas break. It was only when I arrived in their home that I felt anything related to Christmas

Upon arriving back in Baden, I walked back to my house in flip flops at midnight. The youth of Baden waiting for the bus probably thought I was a little crazy. I continue my trend of wearing flip flops outside for every month of the year in this country.

That being said, I am now sick. Before you feel the need to comment, this occurred long before I wore my flip flops home. I don't feel terrible, but I have a pretty bad sounding cough and occasional congestion issues. I missed the Davos ski day on Saturday because of it, and now I missed a day of work. I was capable of working and concentrating, but I opted to avoid getting an actual worker sick which costs the company far more than it costs them for me to watch House all day.

My mom is coming on the 23rd for a little over a week! Yay! I was asked to look for some reasonable flights to somewhere warm for a weekend. Anybody know if Albania is warm this time of year? I'm sure my mom would just LOVE to go there. That will be the next eventful thing to blog about I think. Apart from the skiing planned for next weekend and the weekend after that. Ironic or amusing things might come up there, so an update is likely.

As a parting message, I wish to remind you of the rant I made many months ago about how hot Italian women are. I need to include the comment that after being in Norway, GAWD. No such thing as ugly Norwegian girls (of Nordic descent). They simply don't exist.