Thursday, April 7, 2022

Venturing around Norway and Denmark


The first stop on our adventure was Oslo, Norway. 

We arrived at 4pm Oslo time, after being awake for around 30 hours (at least, I had been. Maxx has that envy-inducing ability to sleep sitting up on planes). Needless to say, we, or at least I was very, very tired.

We arrived to lost luggage though, so with heavy sighs of exhaustion, we bought some toiletries for a staggering sum in a pharmacy and then walked toward our Airbnb, praying our suitcases would arrive tomorrow since we'd only be in Oslo for a day.

Meanwhile, we stumbled upon a not particularly eye-catching restaurant, of which I suggested we take a look at the menu. It was Mediterranian/Greek food and sounded decent, so we agreed and went inside, and man, what a great choice that was. The food was AMAZING. Some of the best of this kind I've ever had in my life. 

We had homemade pita bread stuffed with feta, sides of hummus, chicken in a special yogurt sauce, falafel, and sorbets for dessert, oh my gosh, it was so, so good. So indulgent, well seasoned, well made, just incredible food. We both agreed that it was a meal we'd never forget, and for several reasons (just touched down in Norway, lost suitcases and stuck with only the clothes on our backs, zombie-like with exhaustion, and just a low-lit, romantic restaurant with incredible food).

(Here is a link to check out the restaurant: Ben Riddik)

The below photos were taken the next morning, our first official day in Oslo after a solid sleep (though in, hands down, one of the hottest rooms I've ever slept in since we couldn't figure out how to stop or turn down the heat, so that was nuts). And yes, we got our suitcases back. Unfortunately, we hoofed it back to the airport in the morning which was nearly a 3-hour ordeal round trip, so it took a decent chunk out of our one day in Oslo, but it worked out all good in the end. We were cool with it. We then took our bags back to the Airbnb and headed out into Oslo to go about the rest of our day.

We wandered all over the city and saw so many different parts, which you'll see in the photos below.
Maxx remarked during the afternoon, "I feel like if I lived in this city, I'd almost never be stressed. It's so laid back. Everyone is so relaxed. It's so quiet." 

And it's true. No one seemed stressed, hurried, irritated, or in a rush like you see as commonplace living in a city like Boston, or even in numerous cities throughout the U.S. It seemed as though no one was in a huge rush to be anywhere, actually.

Above is an omelet with prosciutto on the side, a side salad, and focaccia (my lunch)

Below is a salad Maxx and I shared which was so vibrant and so fresh, we both agreed, it had everything a salad could possibly want on it. 

And then below that is the pizza Maxx got.

This is the bridge we had to cross to get into our neighborhood from the rest of the city. 

We were told by a local cab driver that our neighborhood was the trendy part of town, the city center, with loads of good food and way cool things to do.

Check out all the cool graffiti in the above and below two photos.

The next several photos below are taken from a side street that I had to really coax and urge Maxx to venture down with me. It was quiet. Residential. Up a cobbled hill. So romantic and lovely. It's where I'd want to live if I lived in Oslo <3. 

He agreed afterward that, though he'd been hesitant about checking it out (since he worried we were trespassing), he was glad we did because of how atmospheric and charming it was.

The below photos are of a way-cool cafe we happened upon and stopped in for some tea and a little sweet treat, as is a requisite thing to do when in Europe. A tea/cafe/coffee break every day, for sure, since cafe culture is prevalent here and there are so many cool cafes all over the place.

The below photo is where we sat for like 45-minutes, drinking our tea, chatting, and eating our sweets. While we sat there, we reflected on what we liked about Oslo so far and why. We speculated on the cost of living and what it might be like to live here in general. Both of us were intrigued.

The following photos are more that were taken throughout our day wandering Oslo.

The above photo was a cute little window display. Miniatures. How fun and neat is that?

The above restaurant is the oldest in Oslo, Norway, so we had to have dinner there, of course. We dined on codfish (it was the high season in Norway for cod while we were there, and thus, we ate quite a bit of it, and yes, it was super delish) and halibut. We enjoyed sides of vegetables and potatoes. 

For dessert, Maxx had an awesome chocolate mousse type of deal, which I totally regretted not getting, and I had a carrot cake, which was good, but not great. It paled in comparison to the chocolate mousse. This then became a running joke throughout the rest of the trip, that Maxx tended to pick the especially tasty dishes, and oftentimes, I chose the safer, but as a result, less tasty ones.

See the next two photos below of the outside of the restaurant, which was super charming.

The second stop on our adventure: Voss, Norway for skiing!

The train ride to Voss from Oslo was shockingly gorgeous. 

The first photo below does it zero justice but gives you the barest hint of the scenery we passed. 

At one point, we were passing what looked like an isolated, vast, endless-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see, arctic landscape. It appeared as though we were moving through somewhere like the North Pole, where you wouldn't see another soul and maybe you'd see a polar bear roaming or a reindeer, but that would be it. We both marveled over and loved this.

Below, the photos are of the view from the cabin we stayed at in Voss. Beautiful, right?

We were pretty bummed, though, because while the view was stellar, the cabin left us majorly wanting. The cabin must have been stocked with every cooking tool and gadget known to man, except it had zero matches in stock for starting a fire in the iron hearth. Our cabin was equipped with our very own sauna too, which was awesome looking. Guess what? It didn't work.

I realize these are eye-rolling, first-world bummers and problems. We didn't have much to complain about it all. Only it was a disappointment to have these cool things at hand and not be able to use them, especially since the cabin was not cheap. Anyway, otherwise everything was grand.

Funny story, when we arrived around 4:30pm in Voss, the restaurant we wanted to have dinner at didn't open until 6pm, so we did a Conbody class on Maxx's laptop (a live workout class that, somehow, the time change happened to work out for) in the cramped living room of the cabin, with basically the most awesome views one could ask for when working out. This was kind of fun and zany. We both agreed we felt good for having done it.

So, the photos of our day skiing in Voss are actually way down in this blog entry. Sorry, it's out of order. But the next day, we skied and man, oh man, was it fun. 

I was super nervous as this was my first time skiing since a pretty hardcore ski accident two years ago that resulted in surgery, not walking for three months, lots of physical therapy, and then relearning to walk. Not a great time, that was for sure.

When I first tried the bunny slope at Voss, my stomach was quivering, my heartbeat slamming against my ribs. I kept thinking, all it takes is one little clip on your ski, all your ski needs to do is hit one lump or chunk of snow that sends it in the wrong direction, and then you're screwed. This kept my heart palpitating and my anxiety high for a couple of hours. But, as the day went on, I relaxed more and more, and by the end of the day, I was zipping down the trails marked with a green circle (the easiest ones). Several of which have some pretty steep drops and sharp curves. I was going fast enough to feel that adrenaline rush that I so love about skiing, while still remaining cautious and aware, and slowing down when I gained a tad too much acceleration.

At one point, Maxx accidentally took us down a trail marked red, which is nearly expert rated. For those who do not know about the rating of a ski trail, a green circle indicates it's the easiest to ski, a blue square is still generally easy but a tad tougher (beginners would want to still be cautious with these), then a black diamond is expert, and a double black diamond is "do not go there unless you are a damn confident, top-notch skier, and even then, be careful."

So, the red trail he accidentally took us down was rated as between a blue square and black diamond. And we didn't realize this until we'd already done it. I was not especially happy about it as we actually navigated down it haha. As we skied down the steep drop, I found myself thinking, what the hell, there is NO WAY this is a green circle. Yeah, it wasn't. For the rest of the day, I stuck to green circles and had a grand, old time.

Then, we departed on a 5pm train that same day to...

The third stop on our adventure (and, we have to admit, our favorite), which was Bergen, Norway

The above photo is the view from our hotel room, which we loved. We were super excited about the coziness of this hotel room after the starkness of the cabin in Voss, which was interesting because this hotel room was way, way, cheaper than the cabin.

All of the above photos are of our hotel (the inside and outside) and the street it's on. Super pretty and charming. The neighborhood was quiet and lovely.

The photos below are of our wanderings around Bergen that first evening as dusk was taking over the sky. I loved this, meandering with no direction in mind all over the small city. It's such a quiet, beautiful, naturally scenic, charming place. 

The below few images are of one of the main universities in Bergen. Apparently, they have a strong social work department. This piqued my interest... ;-)

The several photos below, I just LOVED these houses. 

Check out how architecturally eye-catching and unique the rooves and chimneys are, as well as the shape, texture, and look of the rest of the building. So geometric and fun, interesting to look at, really neat, and even pretty.

After our first afternoon in Bergen, we had dinner at Marg & Bein. It was absolutely delicious, and the especially noteworthy part was our waitress, a young Norweigan woman. I struck up a conversation with her and we ended up chatting quite a bit throughout the meal, about what life is like in Norway, and the interesting differences she sees between Americans and Norwegians.

She told us that attending university there is free. If you wish, you can take out a loan for living expenses, but that's totally optional, and if you do take out the loan, if you work while in school, they take a solid percentage off the loan for that (so, less you have to pay back later). The school itself is free, though.

She remarked that she doesn't envy the medical care system we have in America, how expensive it is. She wouldn't want to be in our situation, with that system. In Norway, if you have a health issue, you will never see a bill for it. Yes, they pay higher taxes, but any care you need is all set and then covered. I laughed and said, I totally agree with you, I don't want to be in the situation of my medical care system either.

She laughed and said one distinct difference between Norwegians and Americans is that no Norwegian would ever do what I had done, striking up a conversation with her, someone who is a stranger. Norwegians are generally very warm, kind people once you get to know them, but then tend to keep to themselves with people they don't know and when out in public, and if a stranger does approach them, they find it odd and wonder what is the purpose of the approach/interaction. So, she said, people from Norway are quieter. 

Maxx and I smiled about this. I remarked, "Well, he would love that aspect of living here," and gestured to him, since Maxx is especially quiet and introverted, particularly loves time by himself, and isn't so into socializing. He nodded, agreeing with this.

The three of us had a warm, interesting, engaging conversation, though, and the food was super tasty. We had also just spent the day skiing in Voss earlier. All of which made this dinner memorable.

Below are some photos of the food we ate. 

The first three photos/dishes are all different types of seafood and fish since, of course, Norway is one of the top places to go for seafood. The last photo is a honey oat ice cream, which was lovely. Not a showstopper, but still quite good.

Day two of wandering Bergen, Norway...

In the photo just below, take a look at how, down through the alleyway, there are houses tucked up into the hillside. This was a unique aspect of Bergen's landscape. Lots of beautiful houses tucked up into the sides of the hills.

The above hotel is where we decided to have dinner that upcoming evening, at BARE, a restaurant with one Michelin star.

Michelin stars are given out on a scale of one to three stars, with only the top establishments in the world qualifying. 

To earn one Michelin star, a restaurant needs to be “a very good restaurant in this category”. 

For two stars, it needs to be “excellent cooking, worth a detour”. 

For three stars, a restaurant must serve “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” 

Some cool fun facts: According to the Michelin website, the Michelin Guide was originally intended to encourage motorists to explore France, and naturally, buy more Michelin tires. The little red guidebook was initially free until it was relaunched in 1920, costing seven francs. It listed hotels and restaurants by category. The Michelin star system, ranging from zero to three, began in 1931. 

The Michelin Guide has now expanded to 30 territories on three continents. 

Michelin restaurant inspectors are experienced food and beverage pros who visit and review restaurants anonymously, so restaurants don’t know when they’re being considered for a Michelin star. 

Quick detour: Here (just below) is some of the food we ate at Bare. And yes, it was incredibly delicious, everything was over the top swanky (each time one of us got up to go to the bathroom, for instance, a waiter or waitress swooped in and picked up our napkin, folding it intricately, and then laying it back by our plate), and all the people who worked there were warm, friendly, personable, and lovely. 

We struck up a conversation with one of our servers, Jack, who was from England. A small town, he said, that's the type most people never escape from. Apparently, this town has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world. Jack, though, wanted to get out of there, STAT, he said, as he grew into a young adult and observed all this. He's lived in Canada (loved it), been to Boston and fell hard for it, hated New York ("walking down the street there, you just hemorrhage money," he said, laughing), has lived all over Europe, and most recently, right before Bergen, lived in Svalbard, Norway, which is basically in the North Pole. It's one of the uppermost places in the world that people still inhabit. 

What's way cool and coincidental about this is that I JUST wrote an article about Svalbard right before we left for our trip! And then, we happened to meet someone who had just spent two years living there. This was so fascinating. 

I asked him a ton of questions about it. He said that, though it was beautiful there, it was hard living in Svalbard. Super cold, lots of darkness, not many fresh fruits or vegetables around (he joked that a shipment might come in on which there would be, say, ten tomatoes, and then everyone would be bartering and fighting over them). He said he drank a lot of alcohol, ate really unhealthy, and gained a ton of weight while living there, so not at all good for his health. But he did say it was a memorable experience, and yes, he saw lots of polar bears while there. 

We spent quite a bit of time chatting with him, which was interesting and fun, as he was lively, charming, and witty, but we later agreed, it was on the edge of being too much (he was quite the talker ;-)). 

That was a memorable, way neat experience though. Both, meeting him and the entire dinner.

Now, back to more photos taken of wandering Bergen....

In the below photos, check out all the beautiful architecture, all the pretty houses nestled into the hill.

The next several photos are all pretty gorgeous, in terms of architecture and landscapes.

We spent a couple of hours hiking up through the woods, way above the city, for some great views of everything down below.

While on our hike, we passed a cute little elementary school that was set in the middle of the woods. So cool. It's way out of the city center, quite a hike up through the forest. Man, I would love to go to school there if I was little! Super peaceful, surrounded by nature, quiet.

We walked a bit past the school and stumbled upon an empty playground, so....we tried our hand at the monkey bars, to see how many times we could go back and forth without letting go. It's surprisingly hard on the hands and with regard to arm strength! I haven't done monkey bars in decades! This got both of us giggling. I yelled at Maxx not to take a photo of me as I was struggling along doing them, but he did anyway lol.

The next few photos are us walking back down into the city, from way up high above.

The below photo is Maxx, my aerospace engineer love's, solution for keeping the tea basket from dipping too low into the water and thus, spreading the leaves everywhere :-). Love it.

As an aside, we loved this cafe. Quaint, nothing super special from the outside or inside, though it was charming. The owners were warm, personable, and kind. The inside was cozy and humble. They offered a huge selection of awesome loose leaf teas and had several homemade, delicious-looking cakes on offering. 

What was especially neat about this cafe: one of the women working inside was from Seattle, Washington. Her husband was from Norway, hence why she lived there. They'd met in New Orleans, then dated long distance for two years (with him in Norway and her in the U.S.), then decided to get married and ended up moving to Norway. I asked if she misses the U.S.? She said her loved ones, yes, and certain aspects of Seattle, sure, but in general with regards to the culture? Definitely not.

We sat here for like an hour and enjoyed tea and something sweet. The cafe is situated in a narrow, quiet alley which we liked observing. Here's a link to the cafe if you were curious to take a look.

The next day, we embarked on a boat tour, out into the distant fjords of Norway. 

The only problem? It was downpouring rain and the day was super misty. 

This made it difficult to see well. It also made standing on the upper deck of the boat...a bit of an adventure.

At first, Maxx and I stood up there, hovering under a small awning. The rest of the upper deck was exposed to the elements (aka, the rain). The awning might have comfortably allowed 6-7 people to cluster under it, but that's about it. For now, it was just me and Maxx, and then two middle-aged women. I leaned over and whispered to him, "No one is going to come up here, because it's raining and cold, so at least we'll have it to ourselves."

Damn, did I underestimate these people. Within thirty minutes, the deck of the boat was PACKED with people, laughing, taking photos, and walking around in the rain. I have to say, I was impressed. People seemed downright jovial, totally happy, and free-spirited about being in the rain. I don't think I would've been so laid back about being soaked, but I suspect there is something to be learned and inspired by here from watching everyone else be so cool and laid back about it.

With all of that said, we enjoyed the boat ride. We saw gorgeous scenery. Towering, rocky cliffs, and mountains with vein-like waterfalls snaking down the side in bright white. Little villages and clusters of homes sat on the banks alongside the fjord. It was super pretty, and the mist made it mysterious and evocative.

The crazy, way cool thing? People actually live in these houses! In the photo above and the ones below. We saw sheep grazing along the hills in the photos just below. We wondered, how do these people get to their homes? How do they leave when in need of something like food? Where do they work and what do they do for work?

So, the above photo of the waterfall? Our boat got up super close to it, within mere feet, so we could feel the spray of the water and hear the rush in our ears and chests, and so we could clearly see how awesome the cascading rapids looked coming down over the stone.

The thing that made me sad? Maxx and I were the ONLY people not experiencing it through the lens of our devices. Everyone else had a cell phone held aloft, poised, and were grinning and staring at the waterfall through a screen as they recorded it. No one actually just experienced the waterfall, real-time, themselves fully, without some kind of electronic device in front of their face the whole time so they could later share with the world what they'd been doing, second hand. 

I found this to be symbolic, a depressing indicator of how disconnected from nature and ourselves we've become, and how it's become such a knee-jerk reaction that, whenever anything cool happens, to record it so we can then share it with our audience, experiencing it then through a screen and recording our life as it unfolds, so we can show everyone else what we are doing.

To me, this is experiencing something in a watered-down, secondhand, slightly removed way. When always viewing it through a screen. 

It makes me sad that no one can stand to live anymore without recording and sharing it with others for a reaction, without showing others, "look what I am doing!" To me, this seems an indicator of disconnection and loneliness, and then a reach for and attempt at quelling that loneliness. If we show everyone what we are doing and then get reactions for it, that feels good, it feels validating, it feels like a sort of connection, in a way, when people then remark on and react to it. It also makes us feel better about the life we are living if someone else finds it cool.

We've lost our ability to just experience the world one-on-one, on its own terms, without via the lens of a camera or recorder. And this is a sad thing. It's a loss.

That reflection aside, Maxx and I enjoyed feeling, seeing, and smelling the waterfall, smiling at each other as mist hit our faces while trying not to get whacked in the head with a waving cell phone.

The below two photos would be Maxx snapping pictures of me as I walked back onto the deck and was trying to duck away from the pounding rain and whistling winds. It was insane, to say the least!

So, we stumbled upon this cozy little cafe/chocolate shop and, of course, ducked inside. Turns out, this chocolate marker has won the award for best hot chocolate in the world. I guess it's been sampled by a ton of top food critics and compared with all the other top hot chocolates and this one is the winner. So naturally, we had to sample it.

It was delicious. I don't drink a lot of hot chocolate so I don't have a ton to compare it to, but it was super tasty. Certainly among the best I've ever sampled. It tasted like a high-quality chocolate bar had been melted into a glass and stirred with some milk and then steamed. It was incredibly rich, slightly bitter, subtly sweet, and very good. I couldn't finish the whole mug, though, because of how rich it was.

And yes, that is a fat, fluffy, homemade marshmallow floating on top of each mug of hot chocolate.

We had dinner one night in a place called the Unicorn Fish Restaurant, which is an eatery set in one of the old, authentic, super famous rowhouses of Bergen. The food was quite tasty. We both had fresh cod, topped with fresh vegetables and chorizo. 

Something we learned while dining in Norway is that they have strict fishing regulations. Only a certain number of each type of fish is allowed to be caught every year. I thought this was a great thing, in terms of helping protect animals species so we do not deplete them and thus, throw off the eco-system via overfishing.

Our ultimate takeaway from Norway: We loved it. Everyone we encountered there seemed especially warm and friendly, laid back, kinder, more trusting, just less hurried, anxious, or impatient than a lot of Americans seem. 

One interesting thing we noticed was with cars. In Boston, when you cross as a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the drivers seem super irritated to have to let you cross, revving and barreling past as SOON as you've moved out of their way just enough so they can do so. 

This didn't happen once in Norway. 

People were chill, laid-back drivers. No one seemed irritated or rushing to barrel past as you crossed. On the contrary, they waited patiently until you were completely across the road and then slowly inched past as though they seemed in no rush to get anywhere. This stood out to us as an interesting comparison.

All in all, we agreed Norway quite appealed to us as a place to explore further and possibly, at its most extreme, as a place to potentially even live. It's a slower pace of life, people seem happier, and the scenery is gorgeous. We were smitten.

Now, onto the final leg of our journey: Copenhagen, Denmark! 

We arrived at 7am to find the city rather quiet. 

Maxx was quite the gallant gentleman, carrying my suitcase on his back, which he wasn't thrilled about, though did with almost nary a complaint.

Funny story: In typical Brooke fashion, I packed my bag without thinking about it, and right as we walked out the door to the airport at the beginning of our trip, realized this was the suitcase that was broken. The handle didn't extend upwards so one could pull and roll it easily. Instead, this meant it had to be carried in hand, this sizeable rolling suitcase. Not great. Maxx carried it for the entire trip, though, and I pulled his rolling bag. Just one of many examples of how considerate and caring he is. 

Naturally, after checking into our hotel, we started off in Copenhagen with a bangin' breakfast at a trendy-looking cafe.

As we ate our breakfast in the crowded cafe, watching the Danish women move throughout the room in their natural faces with glowing skin, and loose, flowing clothing, the space bustling with activity and chatter, though still managing to seem relatively laid back, the song playing overhead was Raspberry Jam by Allah Les, so fitting, perfect for the scene.

Then after breakfast, we spent the day wandering the city!

We stopped here for one of the famed cinnamon rolls that Denmark is known for. I'd marked it as a must-stop-at-bakery since they're said to be one of the best in the city.

Our hearts shattered to find they were sold out of the original, typical, straight-up cinnamon roll, so I snagged two of the ones they recommended to us which were essentially the same thing but with vanilla frosting. I LOVED it, so chewy, cinnamon-y, sweet, and decadent. Maxx liked it but didn't love it. He found it too cloying and sweet, which shocked me!

After we each devoured a cinnamon roll, we continued wandering this neighborhood, which seemed to be a happening, way cool one.

One thing we noticed about Copenhagen is, of course, the bicycles everywhere! Bicycling is a huge, huge part of the culture in Copenhagen. 

Another noteworthy aspect of what we saw: tons of people do not lock their bikes up! They just leave the bicycle out in the open and walk away, unlocked. To me, this says something significant (and positive) about the culture, as in, a high degree of trust and goodwill amongst citizens. 

Interestingly, this is something I read about when reading, My Year of Living Danishly, an excellent memoir by a woman from England who moved to Denmark for one year for her husband's job and then decides to investigate, why is Denmark said to be the happiest country in the world? Is there any truth to it? I highly recommend the book. It's witty, well written, and super fascinating. But yes, one of the many things she uncovers about why Denmark is such an emotionally contented country is there is a high degree of trust here, both in one's fellow citizens and in the government.

Way cool thing: So, when we were eating the above-pictured brunch at O12 eatery, I noticed next to us, a man and woman going back and forth between speaking fluent English and then switching seamlessly to another language, of which I wasn't sure. 

After hesitating a bit, not wanting to be weird or bother them (but then realizing that if they didn't want to talk to me, they'd make it clear via their words or body language and then I'd back off), I leaned over and said to the guy, "Excuse me, are you American, by chance?"

He smiled and said yes, he was. I said I couldn't help but overhear them speaking fluent English and then switching seamlessly to another language. I asked him what it was? He said, my wife is French Canadian, so it's French. I asked what they were doing in Denmark? He said they actually lived in Sweden but were vacationing for the weekend in Denmark. I then asked what brought them to Sweden? He said, "I'm a hockey player for the Pro league in Sweden." Both mine and Maxx's eyes widened. What were the chances that we happened to be sitting next to this guy??

(Important note: Maxx is way into hockey, has played since he was, like, six years old. He once won an award even for being (at that time) the best hockey goalie in the country! Though he ultimately decided not to, he too could have played pro, so this was quite the serendipitous meeting).

We ended up chatting with them for about 20 minutes, asking all sorts of questions about their life in Sweden, what his hockey life was like, about which Maxx seemed especially interested. We talked about travel adventures and I ended up telling them about the time we went paragliding in Slovenia and watching Maxx's huge, colorful paragliding wing inflate as he then took off running off the side of the mountain, disappearing into the mist, leaving my heart in my throat knowing that would be me in a moment. Ryan (the hockey player) listened with wide eyes, seeming riveted.

So, this was a super neat moment during our trip, for sure :-), Maxx and I both agreed.

After brunch, we walked quite a ways across town toward a bakery I'd marked down called Juno. They're known for having the supposedly best cardamom roll in the city, another traditional Danish thing. Though it was a hike, we agreed it was more than worth it. 

The roll was phenomenal, hands down, the best thing we ate in Denmark, and we had some amazing food there. The roll was still slightly warm from the oven, lightly sweet, chewy and soft, and with a spark of spice to it. SO good.

In our wanderings of Copenhagen, we stumbled upon a farmer's market that puts anything we've seen in the U.S. to shame. The vegetables were brightly colored, shiny, fresh-looking, and without dents. None were wilted or past their prime. All were bursting, vibrant, looking incredible and filled with nutrients. 

Maxx remarked, "Well, this ruins grocery shopping for me going forward. Damn." I agreed.

Part of this is because produce in Denmark is quite fresh and further, is not covered in all sorts of preservatives and chemicals like we do with it in the U.S.

How gorgeous and unique are these flowers? In the photo below and above. 

They were fluffy and soft in texture. Maxx and I agreed, we'd never seen anything like them before. So neat.

The photos above and below are of a bar called Ruby, the oldest one in Copenhagen apparently. So, we stopped in for a drink :-D

I'm sad that part of Maxx's face is hidden in the above photo because, otherwise, I think it's awesome and super sweet <3

The next set of photos was taken of Christianshavn, which is a rather unique, atmospheric part of Copenhagen. 

Christianshavn, an area of small islands, is known for its hip cafe culture and canals lined with colorful houseboats. Hotspots include Copenhagen Street Food, for international dining, and Freetown Christiania, an alternative community of ramshackle houses, galleries, and music venues. 

Here's a cool link with some short bits of info that tells you a bit more about this part of Copenhagen.

The above treat is traditional Danish, called a Flodeboller. 

It's marshmallow cream stuffed inside a chocolate shell, on top of what tastes like a soft shortbread or sugar cookie. Quite light, fluffy, and yummy.

Below are photos from our last dinner in Copenhagen at a place called Tight. Though it was not the best meal ever of our trip, it was solid and quite good, we agreed.

There was quite a funny moment when I dropped a cherry tomato on the floor from my plate, which we left there briefly. Then, after dessert, I whispered to Maxx (because it was nearest to him), "Can you grab the tomato off the floor and put it on your plate? Come on, we don't want anyone to step in it! That would be terrible." He looked at me with a smirk and said, "And what on earth is our waiter going to think when he takes back the empty dessert plate that now has a tomato on it?" This dissolved us into a fit of giggles. 

Our kind, polite, though incredibly uptight, English waiter then came over while each of us was trying to stifle our giggles and the tears leaking out of our eyes. He didn't seem to know what to make of this ;-)

As mentioned, these are out of order, but the below photos were all taken from our one day of skiing in Voss, Norway, which was totally awesome.

The below photo is a lift called a T-Bar, which Maxx had never done before, and I had done, like, fifteen years ago. It's super cool and unique. 

The bar stretches, as if on a rubber band, and you hook part of the T under your butt. It then pulls against you from behind, moving you up the hill. You have to stand, though. If you sit, you fall and the whole thing messes up. And you need to keep your skis straight and watch your balance, so it's kind of a fun, thinking-required, bodily-engaged ski lift. 

We ended up doing them a number of times throughout the day since T-Bar lifts were prevalent all over the mountain. Some of them push you up quite the steep inclines too! I found myself smiling and giggling several times at the novelty and thrill of it.

Super randomly place but the above dessert is from a restaurant we ate at in Copenhagen called Host. This dessert was AWESOME. Nordic yogurt that had been freeze-dried with nitrogen, with creamy ice cream underneath, oh my gosh, the texture was so fun and it was super tasty. Loved this.

The above photo is from when we randomly stumbled upon and paused in a bookstore/cafe. I loved this. It was charming and small, it felt intellectual and like a place people go to discuss, in hushed but passionate tones, literature and all things smart and savvy. The wood floor creaked a bit. There were homemade cakes under glass domes, funky juices on offering, and tea. 

We sat there for maybe an hour, talking and people watching out the window. Maxx had a slice of this lemon cake which came with a whipped lemon cream that he said was super good. I had a green tea which was earthy, slightly grassy, and very satisfying.

And that's all she wrote! There is, of course, a plethora of more details and stories and moments and anecdotes to the trip. Some of those are for mine and Maxx's memories and sharing only. Others I just didn't take the time to write up and include (as this blog entry already took me a handful of hours). It was a grand adventure, though, to say the least. We absolutely loved it. We'd totally go back to both countries, Norway and Denmark, to spend more time and explore further. And Norway especially stole our hearts. 

Until next time and until the next adventure...!

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