Thursday, January 21, 2010

Goodies Goodies!

No trip to a foreign country - especially the first one to that country - could ever be complete without tasting some of the local edibles. Luckily, Norway has several things I've never seen before, let a lone tasted.

And no, I haven't tasted the brown goat cheese. Yet. (I also haven't decided against it. I feel like when I went to Scotland, and my mom said that I couldn't go to Scotland and not try haggis. Turns out, haggis was delicious...)

Last weekend, I stayed with my friend Maud's family. For dessert one night, we had ice cream cones - similar to a Drumstick or Cornetto cone. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that the caramel at the center of the ice cream scoop was not your typical ice cream - it was salty!

It turns out, Norway is a great place for people who like sweet & salty combinations. I nearly jumped up and down in the supermarket when I saw Smash! snacks: salty, potato-chip-like snacks, covered in chocolate!

I remember in high school, Lay's (or a similar brand) came out with chocolate chips. I thought they were actually potato chips covered in chocolate, and thought this was a wonderful idea. You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered it was nothing more than chocolate, shaped like potato chips, and sold in a box similar to those of pringles.

So these Smash! snacks have made up for that entire experience!

The only problem is the price. At 29 Norwegian kroner, the 100 gram pack that I bought today cost about the same as a cup of coffee does here. And what the say about the 4-dollar cups of coffee in Norway isn't true - at least, not anymore, because 29 kroner amounts to five dollars! (Reality check: that is only 3.56 in Euros... sigh...)

Obviously, this is a good thing. Well, actually, it's horrible that coffee is that expensive, because that is where most of my money has gone on this trip (as well as to those amazing, cardamom-laced raisin rolls). But it's a good thing for the Smash! snacks, because I refuse to believe that those have any nutritional value.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Norway in Brief

Here's a quick look at some of the things I've done so far in Norway:

-Skied across frozen Lake Sognsvaten
-Drank tea and coffee out of a wide array of Finn Family Moomintroll mugs (including the one that I also have at home in Portland!)
-Visited the Vigeland Sculpture Park and seen all the great sculptures
-Had some very good coffee
-Eaten some delicious rosinbolle - a lot like the Dutch rozijnbol but translated to Scandinavian with the genius addition of cardamom
-Also eaten some really good cookies (oatmeal raisin, as it was meant to be, and chocolate chip with nuts, which you never see in the Netherlands)
-Visited the National Gallery, where I saw the Munchs and found two new artists to enjoy
-and last but not least, caught up with two very dear friends!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Oops. Has it already been about half a month since I posted? I meant to post even more this year than last year! I did a pretty good job blogging in 2009, I think - at least one entry per month except August! Which is generally considered to be a month of vacation, so I am cutting myself some slack.

This year I was toying with the idea of resolving to post at least once a week. That died fast. But I suppose I could always start a little late!

So, now that I am here... Happy New Year, and all that jazz. I am back in Leiden, but have been here just one week, and tomorrow I am leaving again - to Norway! This is especially great because now my total countries visited number is the same as my brothers - we are in constant competition about this. (I wonder if I can sneak in a side trip across the border to Sweden? Just to get one country ahead of him?)

I'm also dreaming of, and vaguely planning, trips to Caserta (near Naples) to visit someone who I probably shouldn't be visiting but can't really resist the opportunity, and Oxford to see another friend.

I mean, hey. You only live once. And I will only live in Europe for a little longer. (Probably.)

But I thought I would update you all not on the general ramblings of my hectic mind (oops. too late) but, instead, on the other resolution I have been toying with.

That would be, to read all of the books I have here in Leiden before I leave.

Now, at this point, I have a return ticket to the US on March 30th. I'm still not sure if it will work for me to go; it depends on some school-related things (specifically my thesis). But if I want to read all of my books before then...

Well, let's see. I own 27 books that are in English that I have not read and that I do not intend to take back to the United States with me. (Oscar Wilde's Complete Short Fiction, which was a birthday gift from my friend Dilyana on our trip to Dublin, I would like to keep. Same goes to the lovely old copy of Little Men that I bought at a stall on the Seine last month.) I'm also not counting foreign language books because most of them I want to keep, as in bring back to the US - even with Powell's, it's hard to get good Dutch books in Portland! I know, I've looked! And I searched far and wide for Guy de Maupassant's Clair de Lune before finally buying it in Paris. Since I don't want to part with those I think I can exclude them from my best-read-by March 30 list.

So. 27 books. And today is January 14th, which means I have 84 days (right? anyone want to check my math?) to read them all. That comes to, more or less, one book every three days, with another four spare days that I can devote to... sightseeing in Norway or Italy, studying for my second semester courses, or the longer books on my shelf: Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (a meager 417 pages), Trollope's Phineas Finn (651 pages), and Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (906 pages). I might even give myself a full week for the Dostoyevsky - that's still over 100 pages per day. Oh, and I could probably save one of those books for the flight home.

Yes, I definitely have my work cut out for me.