successfully ventured across the pond and back again. we had a wonderful time. K’s family was very nice and made me feel at home (and like i was part of the family) which is always nice. we ate way too much food, drank a bit too much (well i did anyways), and saw some neat things.
as far as a relaxing vacation, i wouldn’t say it was that. traveling overseas requires a lot of time and then you have to adjust to the time change. on the way back it is the same thing. this trip was a bit more tiring since i was meeting all of K’s family for the first time, and they had things planned for us pretty much every day we were there. it wasn’t like we could just sit around one day and relax if we wanted too. most of the time there were dinners to go to, visiting to do with her family, places to go, etc.
not that i’m complaining. it was great to have free places to stay and food to eat almost every day. outside of paying to get there, we didn’t have to spend very much of our own money. so, all in all i wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
we left columbus around 1pm on monday and arrived in gatwick airport, south of london at 7am on tuesday. we had to transfer planes in philly (both on the way there and on the way back). after we landed in london it was about 3 or 3.5 hours on a few trains to get to the town where K’s cousin lives (just outside sleaford). we decided the best way to get on the time over there would be to stay up all day and then go to bed that night. usually i can get a few hours sleep on the 8 hour plane ride over to europe, but this time i couldn’t. so by the time we went to bed tuesday night i’d been up for about 36 hours. i couldnt’ remember the last time i’d been up for that many hours straight. in the end it worked out well though because the next morning we were pretty much on “england time”.
we spent the day on wednesday in london. i’d been there the last time i traveled to europe, but only for a couple hours between trains. it was nice to get to walk around some and spend a day there. we saw st. paul’s cathedral (didn’t go inside though, it was £11 to get in!) and walked around the financial district. we also walked over the millenium bridge which was cool. we spent a bit of time walking along the thames and ate in a pretty decent pub on the river. we walked down to big ben and the parliament building and took the train back from waterloo station. all in all it was a pretty good sightseeing day.
we flew from heathrow to the airport in oslo where K’s uncle picked us up and drove us down to halden. halden is the town where K’s mom grew up, and is where her grandmother and aunt and uncle live. it sits on a river that leads down to the southernmost fjord in norway. halden is also the border defense town between norway and sweden. there is a very cool fortress there called fredriksten that we walked up to and checked out. the history of the fortress is pretty interesting. since it sits on the mountain looking over the city it also offers some very good views.
norway on the whole is pretty expensive. the conversion from norwegian crowns to american dollars is to divide by something like 6.5 or 7. so something that costs 65 crowns is about $10. at first it is kind of hard to wrap your head around that. you see something that is like 150 crowns and think “oh my god that is expensive!” but then when you divide it out it’s only like $23. of course, everything there really is more expensive, so when you are paying like $10 for a glass of beer you really do realize how much more expensive things are.
a couple days before we hiked up to the fortress i took a boat ride with K’s uncle and a few of her other relatives down the fjord to an island where there was a viking burial site. the burial site is basically a pile of rocks about 6′ or 7′ high. one the way up to the burial mound there is a carving in the stone of a circle. it looks like someone ran their finger around and around to make a groove in the rock. they are not sure what it means, or if it was unfinished or what. standing on top of the mound was an interesting feeling. just thinking about the thousands of stones there and how they all had to be carried by hand and placed in the pile hundreds of years ago was weird. there are native american burial mounds in ohio too, but i’ve never seen those. now that i have seen this viking burial site, i think i will definately have to check out the native ones here.
the flight back home was pretty uneventful. we did have our connecting flight from philadelphia back to columbus canceled, so we ended up having to stay at the philly airport for a few more hours. i was very ready to be home by then, so it was kind of frustrating that we had to sit around and wait that much longer, but in the end it wasn’t that big of a deal. we were back in our own house by 2am saturday morning.
i’m definately looking forward to going back again someday!
all of the pictures from our trip can be seen here