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I’m back again to share about my second full day in Norway. A week has passed, and looking through the photos again really makes miss Sarah. I guess I just need to go back again some time!

Saturday started with another delicious breakfast to fuel for the first hike of the day: Prestgaardssetra.

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This hike, like the first, followed along a waterfall.

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It was the perfect hiking temperature. Cool enough that we didn’t get too sweaty, but warm enough that a few layers were enough.

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I was feeling a little sore from the previous day’s hike and needed to take a break about 1/4 of the way up. I don’t look tired at all… right?

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Sarah and I had extra company on this hike. Her dog, Koda, joined the ranks. He was one curious dog, smelling anything and everything.

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Isn’t he beautiful?

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He’s friendly, too.

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This trail was wetter and more covered with pine needles and leaves than the first.

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It was exciting once we were able to begin to look over the trees.

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From the top of the mountain, we could see Sarah and Aug’s tiny little town below.

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When Sarah and I were on our first hike together, she called Aug when we were about to turn around and mentioned that we weren’t going to make it “to the book.”

PA292222Being the novice that I am, I though “the book” was hikers’ talk for the top of the mountain.

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Low and behold, at the top of every hike in their area, there is a post box that literally contains a book.

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Everyone who makes it to the end of the hike signs their name into the book.

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As you can imagine, I was quite proud to sign my name.

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I made it to the top!!!

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A beautiful morning for an invigorating hike.

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I call this photo: Two friends on top of the world.

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Even Koda was excited to take in the view.

Ok, maybe he was more excited to be cuddled.

Once we made it back down to the car, we went back to Sarah’s to freshen up for lunch.

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Sarah took me to an adorable little cafe which is next to an equally cute shop.

We both had a pasta salad which came with arugula, kidney beans, red onions, mozzarella and croutons. The dressing had a very mind curry flavor which pulled the whole thing together. PA292254

This lunch was light, fresh and delicious!

I tried to recreate this at home, but my dressing wasn’t spot on.

After lunch, we headed back to Sarah and Aug’s home. We relaxed for about an hour then changed back into our hiking boots for the second trip of the day.

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The weather was a little dreary for our hike to Innerdalen, but the conversation was great.

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We had to walk through a tiny farming community to get into Innerdalen. PA292260

On the way through, we bumped into this farmer and his flock of sheep.

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This hike was a lot easier than the first two. There were still several big hills, but most of the way incline was pretty gradual.

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I was really surprised when Sarah pointed out the glacier between the mountains above.

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Apparently Aug has noticed a dramatic change in this glacier since he first arrived in Norway. It’s heating up up north!

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The walk to Innerdalen was really beautiful. PA292278

Lots of rushing waterfalls and Autumnal colors.

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Innerdalen is a beautiful valley between huge mountains.

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As beautiful as ever!

 

 

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The lake water was crystal clear and ice cold.

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Sarah said that this little cabin community is packed with tourists during the summer, but on the day we visited, we were absolutely alone.

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While it was beautiful and serene in autumn, I can imagine Innerdalen to be a fun center for hiking activity in the summer.

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Fishing boats just waiting for the summer sun. I was so amazed that these cabins were quite literally balancing on stones.

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So peaceful and calm.

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After walking around the deserted summer camping grounds, Sarah and I went back to her place for another delicious dinner.

Following three strenuous (by my terms) hikes in 24 hours, I was so grateful to soak my weary muscles in the hot tub. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing in front of the TV before I could no longer keep my eyes open.

Saturday was such a fun day. I felt so accomplished and proud of my body for taking me on two wonderful hikes. It was a great day spent talking with Sarah about life and futures.

Never would I have imagined that my own future would hold the blessings and opportunities that it has. Praise the Lord!

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Sunrise from my flight’s gate in Amsterdam.

After one very early flight from Cologne to Amsterdam, another flight from Amsterdam to Oslo, a four hour wait in Oslo and a five hour train ride through Norway, I finally arrived at the train station to be greeted by Sarah and her husband.

I was so happy to see them that the exhaustion from traveling over 14 hours was instantly wiped away.

Thursday was practically over by the time we arrived back at their home, but we made the most catching up over a traditional Norwegian evening meal before calling it a night.

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Friday morning presented the opportunity to follow Sarah through her school day. We ate breakfast, she packed a lunch, then we met with her two neighbor boys to take the bus to school.

Want to know another example of what a great human being Sarah is? She learned and then taught Braille to the younger brother who has become blind. Yeah, she’s awesome like that.

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It was such a privilege to be welcomed into Sarah’s schools and get to learn about the Norwegian school system. One of the interesting differences is that the children have a short break time between each and every lesson. I imagine every child I’ve ever taught could benefit from a short break between lessons.

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I spent the first lesson of the day in Sarah’s 4-5th grade English lesson before heading across the school yard to the preschool.

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After playing in the preschool and gymnasium with the little kids, we all had a nearly identical lunch of bread or crackers with either cheese or sliced meat. Sarah got all fancy and even packed us vegetables and hard boiled eggs. Apparently, Norwegians like to eat alike.

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The school day ends early in Norway so as Sarah carried on with after school supervision, I walked back to her home, taking photos along the way.

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When I arrived Thursday night, it was too dark to see the landscape, but in the light of day, I felt absolutely dwarfed by the greatness of the surrounding mountains.

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Sarah’s school is probably about 1km away from her home. It was a bit drizzly and overcast on the walk back, but the atmosphere was peaceful and calming.

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Lucky for Sarah and Aug, they were able to find a beautiful home right beside the water.

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As if waking up every day to this amazing kitchen wasn’t enough, check out the view!PA282134

Sarah and Aug have done such a wonderful job creating a warm, cozy, welcoming home. A lovely home to accompany their lovely personalities!PA282131

Once Sarah returned from school, we appropriately dressed for my first ever “real hike.”

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What I’ve been calling hiking all my life is a walk in the park compared to the hiking Sarah does in Norway.

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See that big waterfall coming down from the mountain? That’s called Haremdalen, and it was our first hike.

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Did I mention that Sarah is 29 weeks pregnant? After working all day, this lady was hiking up mountains like a goat. As Sarah put it, she was active before she became pregnant so it has been easy to have an active pregnancy.

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We climbed through mossy trails and even had to cross the rushing waterfall at one point, but Sarah expertly guided me along.

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The trail was very steep, but she encouraged me the whole time.

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A few times along the hike, I had to ask my pregnant friend to slow down so I could take a breather.

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Sarah kindly obliged each and every time.

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As we climbed higher and higher, the view became more and more amazing.

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Before I knew it, we were able to look into the valley at the miniscule town below, and take in the massive mountains rising in every direction.

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Although the sunlight started to fade and we needed to head back down before reaching the book at the tip-top, I still feel proud to say that on my 26th birthday, I climbed a mountain with the most fit soon-to-be-mama in Norway!

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After our hike down the mountain, Sarah made a delicious traditional fish dish for my birthday dinner.

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This baked dish was so yummy, I plan on making it with Sebastian later in the week!

After dinner, we relaxed in their hot tub, watched How I Met Your Mother, then ate cake. A great way to celebrate the day of my birth!

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Surprise! I know I’ve been absent from the blog a lot lately, but life has just been too great to sit in front of a computer.

Want an example of how lucky and blessed I am?

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I spent the last four days visiting my friend Sarah in Norway.

Sarah and I lived on the same floor freshman year of college, and then lived together the following summer. I have always admired her positive, encouraging, seize-the-day attitude and am so very grateful to know her.

Since I’ve lived in Germany, Sarah and her husband, Aug, have lived in Norway. We’ve been saying we need to visit each other for over three years. Recently, Sarah announced that she and her husband are expecting their first baby, so I figured I’d better get over there and see her before the baby arrives.

I am so glad I did.

The trip was a bit last minute, but that actually added to the excitement.

I am so thankful I got to spend this time with my wonderful friend. I cannot wait to visit again to meet the lucky baby boy who is about to be born into this loving family.

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I’ll be back with more…

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We have had such a resurgence of beautiful, summer-like weather in Germany.

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The sun has been shining brightly for almost two weeks now, and I have been busy trying to enjoy the amazing weather while it lasts.

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On Sunday, Sebastian and I joined several friends on a train journey to the tiny village of Mayschoss to celebrate the wine which is produced in the region.

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The town was bustling with music and the wine was flowing.

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We shared several bottles of local wine while relaxing under a walnut tree beside a football field.

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Thanks to Krasi, we had freshly foraged walnuts to accompany our wine.

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Relaxing and laughing with good friends… PA021494

I could not have asked for a better way to spend the lovely autumn day.

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Welcome back to another recount from my wonderful vacation in Budapest.

This time, I want to talk about one of my favorite things, FOOD!

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As a vegetarian, it was difficult to find traditional, yet meatless, Hungarian meals in Budapest.

Although meat is a must for Hungarian cuisine, Sebastian and I were able to find several delicious vegetarian restaurants in Budapest.

We ate at Govinda Vegetarian Restaurant and Salad Bar twice during our week-long vacation.

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With an alle carte buffet, the dishes change daily. You can either order a set meal or just pick and choose from what’s on offer. The first time we ate at Govinda, Sebastian and I shared the Indian buffet for two. IMAG0184

We received two curries, one with mixed vegetables and one with potatoes and eggplant, saffron rice, dal, a samosa, two tempura eggplant slices, 1 roti, 1 parantha, two chutneys and two mango lassies.

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Wow, were we stuffed!

This meal was so good that we came back once more before leaving Hungary. Although I didn’t get a photo of the meal, everything the second time around was different but equally as delicious!

Another favorite restaurant was Hummus Bar.

As the name suggests, this place does hummus and does it well.

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Sebastian and I both opted for a hummus plate. He had a beer with his meal and I went for a mint lemonade which was really refreshing on such a hot day.

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I couldn’t decide which toppings to get with my hummus plate so went for the option that offered everything. My favorite toppings were the falafel and spiced kidney beans.

The plates were served with hot pita bread. Needless to say, we left this meal feeling very full and happy.

My friend, Josh, would love Budapest because every restaurant seemed to have a comprehensive menu of Belgian beers. If you’re not up for the high alcohol content, don’t worry, you can always get a coke, juice or water.

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Fruit stalls are spotted all over the city, especially near main train stations and metro stops.

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One of the more decadent (read expensive) treats I had while in Budapest was a fancy gelato.

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Fancy because it was formed into the shape of a rose.

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It looked and tasted great.

The main food attraction in Budapest has to be the Great Market Hall.P8170611

With produce, meat, fish, grains and spices, this building has been a a one-stop shop for fresh food since the early 1900s.

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  On the second floor of the market hall, across from the textiles, you can find the food stalls.

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It was here that I had my one and only “traditional Hungarian” meal, a langos.

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Basically a deep-fried dough topped with sour cream and cheese, this may be traditional, but I found it disgusting.

Sorry, Hungary, but I simply couldn’t eat this.

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Oh well, being in new places is all about trying new things. I’m glad I tried a langos, but am happy to never eat one again.

Luckily, there was lots of beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables to drool over.

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Wandering through the isles of produce was a great way to get to know the food culture of Hungary.

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Our trip to Budapest was simply stunning. I mentioned it briefly before, but Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen.

We stayed for 7 days and left feeling like there was still so much more to do and see.

Since these Budapest posts are going to be pretty photo heavy, I’ll try not to be too long-winded; I’ll just let the city speak for itself.

Parliament Building

An iconic building for Budapest that is most impressive when viewed from the Buda side of the city.

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City Park

A great place to relax in the shade and enjoy a picnic. There are flea markets and regularly scheduled activities throughout the year, so check to calendar of events.

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Hero’s Square

This monument is located at the far end of the city park.

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Castle Hill

The views of Pest from atop Castle Hill are remarkable. Beautiful by day and magical by night.

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Be sure to take in the view over a drink from one of the cafes along the Fisherman’s Bastion.

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I had so much fun walking around the Castle Hill with one of my students and his family. The little boy from my class was so excited to share what he knew about his hometown and his parents made excellent tour guides.

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On our last night in Budapest, Sebastian and I went back to the top of Castle Hill to watch the sun set and the Indian Moon rise over Pest. Wine and cake certainly made the evening even more sweet.

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The Citadel

Another fantastic view can be taken in from the Citadel, also on the Buda side of Budapest.

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On our last day in the city, Sebastian and I hiked up to the citadel. We were hot and sweaty by the time we reached the top, but the view was well worth the extra exertion.

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The pretty and ornate building at the end of the bridge is the market hall.

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Margaret Island

The island between Buda and Pest provides the perfect location for all sorts of activities. From swimming pools to football fields, fountains to flower gardens, there is a lot to do on this tiny little island.

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Market Hall

I’ll write a bit more about the market hall in my Budapest food post, but the beautiful architecture of this building is the perfect setting for the beautiful produce and textiles within.

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Budapest Activities

The sights were great, but the activities we took part in are the most memorable.

House of Terror

Although not a happy place, this museum was absolutely eye-opening to the painful Hungarian history. The museum is now housed in a building that was used as a prison, interrogation center and execution facility by both the fascist and communist regimes. P8170721

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The promise of the building is that it is now used to honor the men, women and children who were murdered by the two terrorizing regimes.

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Walking Tours

Budapest is the perfect city for a walking tour. There are many organizations that offer tours, but Sebastian organized his own Jewish walking tour using a guide he found online. We were channeling my good friend Kim by taking a lot of fun photos at each stop along the tour.

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Thermal Caves

One of the activities that was sadly left uncrossed from my wish list was a visit to the famous thermal spas in Budapest. Although we didn’t make it to the spas, we did see some of the wonderful caves below the city that were formed from the thermal springs. These photos were taken in the very dark caves with my phone, so please excuse the poor quality. If you ever visit Budapest, I would highly recommend visiting one of the 3 caves which are open to the public.

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Night Cruise on the Danube

Budapest is stunning, especially by night when the sights are reflected in the water of the Danube. There are some very luxurious (and pricy) night cruises available, but we went on the free ride that came with our bus ticket. Not the most comfortable boat, but it was all about the city anyways.

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Castle Hill from the Danube.

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The Parliament building.

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I still have so much more to share, but will leave you right here. It is really lovely to relive this fantastic vacation two weeks after returning to Bonn. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have!

Until next time!

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Beautiful Budapest

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Just a quick android post to share a few photos from the beautiful Hungarian capital, Budapest.

I am amazed that this city isn’t more famous.

In my opinion, it is more beautiful than Paris, Vienna and even one of my other favorite cities, Prague.

Sebastian and I have been busy learning as much as possible about Budapest. On Friday we met my Hungarian student and his family. They kindly played tour guide and showed us around the Castle District.

Last night we took a river cruise and were impressed by Buda and Pest’s lit up skylines.

Today we will visit several of the city parks and an island in the middle of the Danube. Tomorrow we’re off on a day trip to one of Hungary’s most famous lakes.

I can’t wait to share more about this impressive city, but for now, I’m off to explore and take it all in.

Have a great weekend!

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