Category Archives: expat life

Day 8: Nyvågar to Tennevoll


Today was another of those days that it didn’t seem like we did much. There was a bit of driving (so we don’t have to do so much tomorrow). Let me back up. We packed up our bags this morning and said goodbye to our cottage at Nyvågar Rorbuhotell and its majestic surroundings. We didn’t drive away until 11am. Our journey today will take us back on to the mainland after being on the Lofoten Islands. The area is remote with very little in the way of towns. What made up for that was the waterfalls, mountains, snow-covered mountainsides, fjords, lakes and so on. We made one stop along a beach with snow-covered mountains in the distance. We skipped rocks and picked up sea urchins, scallop shells and all sorts of other treasures. The kids loved it! Our next stop was to use the toilet and have a snack. The moment we stepped in the shop Sofia had a strange look on her face and it was all I could do to get her outside to be sick. Car sickness. We sat in the grass on the edge of a river taking in the fresh air. She was fine to get back in the car and had no trouble the rest of the way.

Our accommodation tonight is one of the more rustic places we will stay. There isn’t much choice around this area so Tom booked us a cabin at a camper park. It is actually really cute and has beautiful mountains all around. But it is also one of those places that doesn’t even supply you with a bar of soap and you have to hire sheets and towels.

I took the kids to play at the playground for a while and then we all decided to find some dinner. After driving through some villages we realised we better stick to dinner at our place…nothing else around us. Tom and I ordered salmon, potatoes and salad. Alex and Sofia shared a hamburger. Sofia ordered meatballs. When it arrived she wanted to know where was the spaghetti?! She did try a few bites but skipped the stewed (mushy) peas, cranberries and potato. I shared some salmon with the kids since I got so much of it. Ice cream for dessert.

The kids showered while Tom made up the bunk beds for everyone. They got ready for bed and went to sleep around 10. It is now 10:20 and I am looking out the window at the snow-covered mountains across the highway. The sun is still shining brightly and we don’t have blackout curtains tonight.


Day 7: Storvågar, Nyvågar, Kabelvåg and around


Epic sleep for us all. Tom struggled to stay asleep, getting up several times this morning. The kids and I slept until almost 9am! That was 11 hours of sleep for them and 9.5 for me. Wow. That doesn’t mean their behavior has improved. Perhaps some time apart might help? We are not used to all spending so much time together coupled with jet lag, lack of sleep and whatever else.

After breakfast Tom went into Svolvær to see about an adapter (success) and something for Alex’s birthday. I took the kids to the Lofoten Aquarium right next to the hotel. It is a small aquarium but nice for the kids to have a look around without losing interest. We saw seals, salmon farming, tanks of local fish, starfish, anemones, crabs and so on. There was also a display about co-existing, people with animals and industry, etc.

We met back at the cottage and had a little party for Alex’s 4th birthday. Tom got some little cupcakes and a card and gift (model ambulance) for Alex. It must be hard to have a birthday without friends, a party or gifts. He will have a party and some gifts when we get back home next month.

After getting organized and getting everyone in the car Alex declared, “I am sick!” Tom left with Sofia and I took Alex back to the cottage for some relaxation. He has a really runny nose and some red spots in his mouth. No idea what is wrong with him. He is sitting on the sofa playing the iPad with a sick bag near him but now doesn’t feel sick anymore. Naturally. I was happy to sot and finish up a book I had started.

Alex and I were feeling bored and decided to go out for a walk. We walked past the aquarium and stopped near the museum to look at the pretty horse that wanders in the field there. After a little pat we continued on down the road which has very little to see and do. Alex asked me to call daddy since it had been three hours since he left with Sofia. They were on their way back and said they would be only about 10-15 minutes so we waited by the side of the road. Alex was happy to watch a few cars go by and just chat. They picked us up and we made a quick stop back at the cottage before heading out for a couple of hours again.

We drove through the little village of Kabelvåg to have a look around since it is the closest little area. There weren’t many eating choices so we went up the road to the larger Svolvær. This was a great little place for dinner. Things stay open later in these villages. The Hurtigruten ferries come in day and evening which, I imagine, brings extra business. In the square was a stall set up selling Norwegian sweaters so we let the kids each pick one for themselves. Sofia chose red and white and Alex chose white and black (what was I thinking?)

After dinner we stopped back into the Coop in Kabelvåg for a few supplies and headed back to our cottage since it was already past 8pm. The kids didn’t end up in bed until almost 9:30 again! I want to stay out and enjoy the perfect sunshine at 10pm. In fact, it is 11pm now and I am sitting at the table looking at the beautiful mountains and water out in front of here. The sun barely dips behind the mountains so it isn’t providing as much heat as much as it is providing bright light still. I find myself feeling so awake and resisting bedtime like a little child.

I have just washed up the last load of dirty clothes at 50NOK/load. I don’t even want to talk about what that costs in $$$. At least we have clean clothes for the next week and more. Tomorrow will be about three and a half hours of driving with many stops along the way to get to our next hotel. I stayed up to get our bags organized so we aren’t messing around in the morning trying to get ready. Sleeping in is really a bad thing for us right now. In the wee wee hours of Monday morning we have a 4:40am flight. I don’t even want to think about that. And it is a tricky day having to connect in Oslo going on to Hamburg. The connection will require us to pick up our bags in Oslo and then go all the way to check-in and start over again. In one hour.

I am working on getting some photo to put up here hopefully in the next few days.

Day 6: Bodø to Moskenes on the ferry and on to Nyvågar


As suspected, we were up early. Tom and I were both up just before 5am and the kids not long after that. They are sleep-deprived and it shows. Foul behavior. We got ourselves dressed and had some breakfast. We packed up bags and headed out to see about an adapter. Nobody knew where to get one and we were out of time since we had to check in for the ferry 45 minutes before departure.

Once loaded on to the ferry we settled into some seats for the short journey. The weather is cold, cloudy, windy, and slight sprinkles of rain on departure. Further out the rain stopped and clouds seem to be clearing a bit. The wind and cold continue though. Worries of seasickness have subsided as it is a fairly smooth journey through the deep blue waters. The ferry isn’t overly crowded which gives us a chance to move around and see everything from different areas.

Once we got about 20 minutes from shore we had the blessing to see a small pod of Orcas/Killer Whales feeding right off the side of the ferry. How awesome!

We landed in Moskenes and had a short wait to drive the car off of the ferry. We headed east towards the village of Å to have a look around first. These islands are famous for their dried cod and we were lucky enough to see some racks of dried cod being cut down and stacked. These islands are spectacular with rocky islands, tall peaks, snow on some of the mountains, water everywhere. And cool/cold in the summer. I love it.

We spent quite a bit of time stopping for about an hour just to take in all of the magnificent views. Finally we were on our way to our Rorbuhotell at Nyvågar which is not far from Svolvær. We checked in to our room which is a two-bedroom cottage right on the water overlooking the mountains.

The kids played outside at the little playground and ran around. I did two loads of laundry which should get us to Tom’s Mom’s house in Charlotte with clean clothes. The midnight sun plays tricks on the brain. It is so high in the sky at 8pm that you would swear it was lunchtime. Suddenly at 8pm we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner. The kids were so hyped up that they were not going to sit in a restaurant. We drove to Svolvær and picked up sandwich fixings, cereal, milk and fruit.

I left laundry going when we went out. After having a bite to eat, getting the kids ready for bed and tucking them in I ran over to the laundry room to grab the last load. When I returned they were all sleeping, even Tom. It was 10pm, mind you. The kids need to go to bed earlier but the sun really plays tricks on the brain.

Views from our cottage:




Day 3: Singapore and an overnight flight


We got off to a slow start Saturday. The kids were in fine form not listening and having meltdowns. Tired? We had breakfast and went back to the room. We packed up 11:30ish and took a taxi over to Science Centre. The kids had a great time pushing buttons, turning knobs and looking at all of the fun exhibits. Once again, it was a very warm humid day (97F/36C). The hotel let us have a 4:30 checkout so we had to be wary of the time. After Science Centre we took another taxi back to the hotel (have I mentioned taxis are cheap in Singapore?). We sat in the lobby and had a quick bite to eat with a drink before heading upstairs to pack our bags. It took about an hour to get everything reorganized and packed away. We stored our things with the concierge and headed out the door to look around for a few hours.

We had a look around the shopping centers near us on Orchard Road which were heaving with people. Shopping in Singapore is epic. As an American who has lived in the UK and now living in Australia I am amazed at the brand presence from these countries. Instead of dragging the kids around shops, we hopped on the MRT at the Somerset Station just to see what it is like. Buying tickets was straightforward from the machines. Tom chose the Raffles Quay station, three stops down the line.

We took the H exit and ended up outside near the Fullerton Hotel in a gorgeous area with the Singapore River and Boat Quays, quaint pedestrian bridges, and museums. As we were walking across one of the bridges we were greeted by three large military helicopters overhead, one with the Singaporean flag. Straight after that were five military jets flying in formation over the city. Furthermore were loud gun/cannon blasts which Alex found intriguing but too loud. Singapore’s National Day is August 9th and there are celebrations leading up to the day. We aren’t quite sure what was going on today but I am glad we were there. We walked down to Marina Bay where we could see across to the Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer. Over at the Singapore Flyer was some sort of military exhibition with vehicles, boats, dancing, fireworks, lights, etc. we sat ourselves down at the Merlion fountain to take it all in and have a rest. It was still sweltering with the occasional breeze at 7:30pm. One thing of note if you have never been to Singapore is the architecture. It is truly stunning.

Around 7:45 we decided to starting heading back to the hotel to collect our bags and catch a taxi to Changi Airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave just after 11. The kids were well and truly done for the day but kept up their spirits and didn’t lose control. Tom went off to shower in the lounge while I kept the kids busy. We looked at the beautiful orchid garden and koi pond as well as another beautiful garden. Sofia spent a good 20-30 minutes at an art station they had set up. There was paper and crayons and about 15 or so different metal plates of different design where the kids could do rubbings. Alex wasn’t interested so he sat with me and studied the terminal maps.

We met Tom up in the Silver Kris lounge for a snack and a drink before departure. We got teeth brushed and everything organized for this next long journey. Tonight’s flight is 12.5 hours from Singapore to Zürich on Swiss Airlines. From here we have a one-hour layover and then a short flight to Manchester, UK.

We boarded our A340 and got settled in to our Business Class seats. Poor Alex couldn’t even stay awake to get up in the air. He passed out just as we lifted off of the runway. He is coming down with a cold (hope it isn’t as bad as mine has been) so he was waking many times before settling in for the night. Tom and Sofia sat together in the seats near the window. Sofia didn’t last much longer than Alex before settling in for the night. I stayed up to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with my dinner. It was a struggle to make it to the end because my eyes were heavy. I had no idea what the movie was about when I chose it, but really loved that he went to Nuuk, Greenland and then to Iceland. Tom and I had one holiday without kids and visited both of these places.

As I said, Alex woke we up several times before finally settling into a deep sleep. At one point I opened my eyes to a little girl of maybe 2 years old from the row ahead of me standing between my and Alex’s seats staring at me. I had to wake her mother to get her. I slept for maybe six hours, waking when the plane was directly over Baghdad. Both kids slept a bit longer. I helped them use the toilet they are both settled into a movie. We are over Turkey and just about to go over the Black Sea now with three hours to go.

Day 2: Singapore


We arrived in Singapore on Thursday night without issue. The kids were reasonably well behaved on the flight. Alex only got a bit fidgety at the end. Three hours in Sofia wanted to out her shoes back on because she thought it was time to land. Um, over five hours to go, dear. They watched movies, played games, played the iPad, and Sofia even did some reading. I watched The Wolf of Wall Street and The Grand Budapest Hotel. I loved them both! I was interrupted repeatedly but I still got to watch them both.

We made the mistake of stopping to use the toilet before heading over to immigration. Bad idea. We were near the front of the A380 and by the time we were done? At the back of the queue which took 30-45 minutes. The kids were fighting and didn’t want to stand anymore. Smooth sailing after that. We picked up our bags and caught a taxi to the Holiday Inn. After check-in we went for a little walk on Orchard Road. Shopping heaven!

We attempted to keep the kids up for a while after a (very hot and sticky) walk. They managed 9:30pm (which is 11:30 to their brains).

Friday morning Alex was up early but I convinced him to get back to sleep for a couple of hours. Sofia slept in as usual. Tom had to go to work so he went down for breakfast early and went off to work. The three of us lounged around and finally went down for breakfast around 9:30. I love hotels with a diverse client base because of the wide selection of breakfast food.

I took the kids swimming at the hotel pool in the afternoon. It was so miserably hot and humid outside and the pool was a perfect remedy. After two hours of playing and one incident of Alex trying to drown himself we wrapped things up and headed back to the room. The kids had a snack and we all took turns showering.

Tom came home just before five. We packed up and headed out for a few hours. We grabbed a taxi over to Vivo for a bite to eat. On the way over the kids were yawning in the taxi but wouldn’t admit they were tired. After dinner we walked over to the HarbourFront Tower 2 to get on the Singapore Cable Car. After we got our tickets and got on board Sofia decided she was terrified. And we were making a complete circuit. She calmed down and managed to make the circuit. It was beautiful at night. The cars were black with flashing lights. I think maybe going just as the sun is going down would be best, but we were just a little bit late for that.

We walked back over to the taxi queue at Vivo and went back to our hotel. I kept the kids up until almost 10pm. And I crashed right along side of them.

Around the World


Thursday morning we depart on a round the world trip with the kids. On the itinerary: Depart Sydney for Singapore; Bodø, Norway; Lofoten Islands (Moskenes to Tromsø), Norway; Longyearbyen (Svalbard/Spitsbergen), Norway; Hamburg, Germany; Charlotte, North Carolina; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and San Francisco, California.

Come along and see what we are up to…

Here is what our organized chaos looks like right now. Not anywhere near organized, but moving in the right direction. I am coming down with some terrible sickness and I am struggling with clear thinking!