Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Land of the Midnight Sun

When we were planning our trip we emailed Ronny Stulen, an LDS Bishop in Norway, and asked for his help in finding places to stay... he ended up finding places for us to stay 5 of the 6 nights we were in Norway.  Ronny arranged for us to stay our first night in Sandefjord at the home of Trond Barth, another Church member.  Trond was away to Stockholm for the weekend and was actually glad to have some one there to look after things.  It was very nice and we're really thankful to Trond for his generosity.

Sandefjord is a nice little city 90 minutes south of Oslo.  The weather was great and everyone in the city seemed to be outside the Saturday we were there.  We spent a few hours walking around Sandefjord including the the park, which featured a rose garden and sculptures, and the quaint town square where we were serenaded by a street performer, window shopped and ate a waffle and pomme frites.  We quickly came to realize how many of the stereotypes were very much true.  Many people were tall, blond and beautiful, many spoke English well, and everything was expensive (just to give you an idea, a Big Mac meal from McDonald's cost the equivalent to $14).  Next we headed back to the airport where we rented a car and headed on the road again.  We were able to see the small towns and villages where our ancestors were from, one of which is Risør, pictured below.  It was a beautiful little seaside town and we loved it.

Marijke has ancestors from Risør, specifically Marijke's great-great-great-great-grandmother: Serine Tarjer Torjussen Gahrsen Evensen, who later added one more name on there when she married Archibald Gardner in Salt Lake City.  She was the first female in Norway to convert to the LDS church and her husband, Henrick, was the fourth Norwegian man to be baptised into the LDS church.  Unfortunately Henrick died as he was returning from his last voyage before he and Serine would take a boat to America then cross the plains to Utah.  Serine continued to make the journey by herself.  She faced so many challenges on the trek to Utah including losing her baby to illness on the boat and had to bury her at sea, but stands as an example of faith, courage, perseverance among many other things.

A small town near Nipe where Marijke's family is from.

From Risør we continued on to Arendal where we would meet Ronny and his family.  Along the way we made as many stops as we could to take in the stunning scenery and Nordic villages (and to figure out where we were going).  Road signs (including speed limit signs) were few and far between which made navigation quite the challenge.  We never made it to some of the places, but we were in the general area and got a good feel for this beautiful country.

1 comment:

Alison said...

You guys are doing the coolest stuff! So jealous!!