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Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

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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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Yesterday and today it rained.

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Steady, unrelenting, cold rain.

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Although we only made it out to wander the grounds and speak with the owners, the few moments of clear skies and fresh air were much appreciated.

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Two cold and rainy days on a summer vacation may seem terrible to some, but I’ve really enjoyed napping, reading, eating and relaxing.

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Eating has consisted of potatoes, pasta, butter, cheese and bread for the last two days.

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Being forced to stay inside has given Katie and me plenty of time to plan our two days in Paris, clean up and pack.

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Tonight is the last night in the country.

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We came to see the countryside, hike, relax and breath.

That’s just what we’ve done.

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Now we’re heading to the big city for action, energy, crazy-busy sight seeing and limited sleep.

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(Photo of Katie and the car from our first day here.)

Wish us luck as we travel back into Paris with our tiny little navigation-free car.

Prayers are always welcome.

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Today was another gorgeous day in the French countryside.

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We started off a bit late today after sleeping in and talking all morning.

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We arrived at our first stop just in time to witness everything close up for the three hour lunch break.

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Crap.

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Katie and I made the best of the pause by wandering the streets of Évron and photographing the famous Basilica of Nortre-Dame-de-l’Epine.

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The Basilica was built between the 11th and 16th centuries.

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The architecture of the building is both Romanesque and Gothic.

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The Basilica was very quiet. Peaceful and quiet.

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At 1:30, the tourist information office re-opened and a very friendly English speaking French girl was happy to help us find things to do.

Just not in Évron.

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We still had another half hour to wait before the bank that supposedly exchanged traveler’s checks was reopened.

When we asked what else there was to see in Évron, the girl just laughed and said, “only the Basilica.”

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Long story short, we were sent from place to place regarding the traveler’s checks. Emotions were high. Katie and I both lost our patience, then miraculously, the post office exchanged a small amount of Katie’s infuriating fake currency.

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A note to any and all travelers, regardless of what your parents, guide books or bank tellers say, NEVER rely on traveler’s checks for your European vacation.

Just use your debit card. The fees are minimal and ATMs are everywhere.

Simple. Done.

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After that, we moved on- figuratively and literally.

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We moved on to visit the Medieval city of Saint Suzanne.

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Like any tourist trap, Saint Suzanne was beautifully maintained and provided plenty of photo opportunities.

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From the tower of the old castle, I was able to enjoy spectacular views of the land below.

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I wish Katie wasn’t afraid of man-made heights, because the climbing structure that was in place in the tower was really cool.

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I can’t image defending a castle.

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Before leaving Saint Suzanne, Katie and I popped into a little shop that sells soap and perfume.

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Although the welcoming party was a bit creepy, everything smelled fantastic.

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We had an easy drive back then kicked up our feet for a bit.

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Back at the gite, I made a simple dinner while Katie posted pictures on facebook.

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We had baked camembert cheese with jam and warm baguette along with an arugula salad with carrots and tomatoes.

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I love the look in the lady’s eyes on the cover of the cheese. That’s the same look I have when a dinner of cheese is involved.

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Right now it’s sprinkling rain outside. The fresh smell coming through the windows is working wonders to settle my soul. I have a feeling tonight will be a very restful sleep.

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How was your day? Mine was like this.

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We slept in late before awaking in a converted stable in the French countryside.

After quick showers, we were off to the nearest town to do grocery shopping and attempt to, yet unsuccessfully, exchange Katie’s traveler’s checks.

The afternoon was spent indoors as a rain shower passed. We ate tomato soup with a baguette and fresh garlic herb cheese, watched the rest of Amelie and read.

Once the rain passed, we put on our hiking boots and took of to explore the immediate surroundings. A croissant was had for snack and baked camembert with warm baguette and cherry jam was enjoyed as dinner.

On the agenda for tonight- planning the remainder of our days in the French countryside.

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Last Sunday, I went on a short hike with my friends Jan and Zoe.

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We started at the car park just above Rolandseck, a neighboring village.

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It was overcast and a bit chilly, perfect weather for an uphill hike.

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On the way up, we stopped to spy through the gates of a private property. Imagine living in a turret.

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The hike was quite easy with a few hilly areas. Everything is finally green again. I love spring.

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There are several longer hikes and bike trails which lead to the remains of the Rolandsbogen Castle. These paths are marked with different numbers and paint symbols which can be seen to the right of the arch above.

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Before we knew it, we’d reached signage of the Rolandsbogen Restaurant.

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Here’s a little history about the Rolandsbogen Castle, copied from this source.

Above Remagen and Rolandseck, near the island of Nonnenworth, is the former castle of Rolandsbogen. It is now in ruins, although offers magnificent views to those who climb up to see it. The castle was built by Charlemagne’s nephew, Roland. He supposedly returned from serious injury in Spain to find his wife had taken her vows as a nun on the island. So he built this fortress to be able to catch glimpses of her. The castle was built around 1040, and fell after an earthquake in 1673. Roland’s window still stands romantically in place.

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Romantic even with the story rolling in.

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Up a few more steps, we found the arch, cafe and restaurant. The building above is actually a Standesamt, one of the registered locations for the legal, civil union side of marriages in Germany.

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The view over the Rhine was fantastic.

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With the Seven Hills across the Rhine, and the convent turned school on the island, this castle once stood proud with an amazing view.

We had a coffee and shared a slice of cheesecake and apple cake while waiting out the storm before making the descent.

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The walk back down was a bit more sunny and humid but still really lovely.

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I’m so lucky to live in such a geographically interesting place. Just minutes from my home I have hills, dormant volcanoes, prairies, forests and one of the most important rivers in Europe.

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I just need to get out and hike more often.

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