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Arriving and settling in

Bodo Travel Blog

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We were lucky to get off the ground yesterday, the fog was so terrible the plane couldn't find our gate and 400 waiting people missed it as it slipped up beside us. There was snow in Oslo, which was lovely, and as we arrived Elizabeth texted to say there had been a massive storm the night before and it was blowing a gale at the moment, so we were a bit worried about landing in Bødo. The flight was pretty bumpy, but we landed okay.

They have been pretty disappointed with the weather on our behalf, as they know I hoped for snow and reindeer, but apparently it is actually quite rare to snow in Bødo, and in fact it is quite a long drive to the closest place; the closest town is an hour away, and beyond that the closest Norwegian town is 8 hours away! In fact the second closest town is in Sweden.
.. In fact, I'm not disappointed by the weather at all. It has chucked it down with sleet all day and it has settled and everything is white. I'm told this is "barely" snow, but to the English it would be a blizzard.
 
We went shopping today, everything is extortionately priced. The exchange rate is 11.4 so 100 kroner is about ten pounds. A hairbrush (I forgot mine) cost me 4 pounds, and the tiny phrase book we bought which was 115 kroner I converted the wrong way, thinking it was about 1 pound 50p was actually about 12 pounds!  Thankfully most of their Christmas celebration involves visiting family and friends, and I understand that most Norwegian houses here are designed for entertaining. Elisabeth explained that English people really only use their houses for sleeping and entertain and socialise 'out', so we decorate our houses less.
The beautiful wood panelled and parqueted kitchen, living room and dining room all run into each other to form a large open-plan living space and there is a table in each, plus others to be pulled out in the event of guests. In fact they are expecting many people in and out all the time, so even Victoria has a table in her bedroom for entertaining her friends. I never thought a coffee table would provide such a cultural difference of note. 
 
All the houses here are very pretty, though unfortunately my camera phone cannot capture the details. From the kitchen window you can see lots of pretty houses all clustered up and down around a snowy hill. You can see into everyone's houses as everybody leaves their lights on all time, even when they're not in.
In fact Elisabeth is considered quite the oddity for turning hers off. But the reasoning behind it is that without lights on and with so little natural daylight, everywhere would be very gloomy through winter. And also that because everything is powered by electricity, whether it comes out of a light bulb or the central heating doesn't matter. There is 'daylight', or twilightdusk to us, for 3-5 hours, but in fact it is only light refraction as the real sun is 12 degrees below the horizon. The reason there is, according to our sources, only 5 minutes of actual daylight is because were there not mountains behind us, theoretically you would see the top of the sun on the horizon for 5 minutes only before it sunk, but still, this would only be light refraction and an illusion.
I'm in a room at the top of the house with no windows, which I'm glad of, since I would have seen the half-light when I woke up and thought it was still silly early and not got out of bed!
 
So we visited Elisabeth's parents today for coffee and I had some patisserie cakes; unleavened bread with cinnamon and sugar, donuts, viennesse type biscuits and chocolate biscuit-type cake. Dad is cooking our traditional xmas dinner today, much to the delight and relief of Elisabeth who enjoys food but really isn't a big cook, and to the consternation of the rest of the family who think it is really unfair to make Dad cook half the night and all day on his first day here. They don't understand how much of an imposition he feels we are, and also how neglected he feels to be excluded from cooking on his favourite feast! 
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 I forgot to mention Alexander's very sweet gesture of offering me a footbath virtually on arrival yesterday. It started with a misunderstanding about defrosting the turkey and running a bath and since I wasn't exactly sure what he was asking I said yes. Elisabeth thinks it's hysterical, Jesus-esque if you will.
 
After visiting Elisabeth's parents Bjørg and Knut (pronounced Byoorig and Knoot) we came back for a traditional ENGLISH Christmas dinner, which considering an unfamiliar kitchen, electric oven and the reduced availability of the usual Christmas trimmings (we had to bring a lot of ingredients with us eg cloves, sausagemeat, green veg) was actually one of Dad's best. We were joined by Elisabeth's sister, husband and 3 children. They were suitably impressed with the food, if not the green vegetables, which we were pre-warned wouldn't be popular seeing as they don't grow in Norway so are pretty unfamiliar fare.
 
Later we had lots of different biscuits and cakes and sweets which I can definitely cope with. After which we took a drive with Andre down to the cemetary. We had passed earlier in the daylight and Elisabeth commented that there would be many candles there later. It's a lovely Norwegian tradition that at Christmas everyone visits the gravestones of their family and leave a light, so the graveyard is alight with flickering candles. Impossible to take photos of sadly!
 
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and Norwegian's BIG day so we are half-expecting both sets of grandparents round. Apparently Christmas Day is a nothing day! People sleep half the day, play with the toys they recieved on Christmas eve. We are planning a long drive pending weather. Apparently they are 25 minutes from the largest mælstrom in the world, so we're hoping to see that. I didn't know what one was, so for your benefit (although I sincerely imagine that this is not news to you) there is a very large fjord with a very tiny entrance to the sea so when the tide comes in a very large amount of water rushes in through the tiny gap and forms a very large whirlpool. And then perhaps the same when the tide rushes out again. So we are checking when the tide is strongest and when the light is best.
 
So that's it for now. I'm sure tomorrow will be mostly home-based family stuff so I may not write and then hopefully we will be out and about doing and seeing stuff when Christmas is out of the way.
Bodo
photo by: CFD