Tuesday, December 29, 2009


First and foremost we would like to thank the Brusevold family for hosting us on our recent trip to Oslo over Thanksgiving weekend. Jan and I went to UT together, and at the Scharnell wedding this last summer, he was kind enough to invite us to come visit him and his family for the holiday.
We flew into a small airport about an hour and half south of Oslo right along the coast. As we came in for the landing we were rewarded with some beautiful views of the famous Norwegian fjords and their rocky coastline. We took a bus to the central station in Oslo and met Jan and Hope there. They gave us a brief tour of the city as we walked to the ferry to catch our ride to Jan's parents' home for dinner. We boarded the ferry and chatted away during the 20 minute commute over the fjord to the area where they lived. Jan's mom picked us up and ushered us home to a meal she had prepared for us. Not just any meal mind you, but a Norwegian specialty...moose. It was delicious, and we had a wonderful dinner sharing time with everyone.

On Saturday, we woke up and Jan and Hope took us to Oslo to tour the city. Oslo was filled with excitement due to the visit from Barack in two weeks' time to collect his peace prize. We saw city hall where the ceremony takes place (pictured above). We toured the Nobel peace prize museum, which was very interesting and had a wonderful exhibit on the transition from the time of MLK to the time of Barack. Each of us won a Nobel peace prize while we were there, only ours were better than Barack's because they were filled with chocolate.
We saw the royal palace and the impressive new opera house. We saw Norway's parliament building and the University of Oslo. Then we took a boat cruise around the harbor, which dropped us off at different points of interest. We toured the viking ship museum, the Con Tiki museum, and the Fram museum (which is the first ship used to explore the poles in 1892). We went at sunset to the Vigeland sculpture park with its numerous nude statues showing different stages in the circle of life. From there we went to eat a nice dinner and then headed back to the Brusevolds to try to take in the OSU/OU game for Shea. Unfortunately, we didn't get the game, but luckily it wasn't a bad game to miss.
On Sunday morning we were invited to a wonderful breakfast at Jan's cousin's house. She lives in an apartment near the Brusevolds so we were able to walk through the neighborhood and get a good sense of the area to take some splendid pics of the harbor. From there Jan and Hope went with us back into the city where we toured the Christmas market, visited the Norway World War II museum located in the Akershus Castle, and then did a few minutes of shopping. Shea and I then jumped on a bus back to the airport to catch our plane to Frankfurt.
We had a wonderful visit with the Brusevolds and really appreciated their hospitality over the holiday weekend. It reminded us of home, and we are thankful to have such great friends.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


We know what you all are thinking, but no we didn't take part in "everything" Amsterdam has to offer.
On November 20th, we were supposed to wake up early and take a direct speed train to Amsterdam to meet Seth (Shea's brother) to celebrate his birthday weekend. But ya know how sometimes alarm clocks don't work like they are suppose to...ya, that happened. So after several hours of transfers we finally arrived in the late afternoon. Fortunately, it gave Seth a chance to get lost for a while and get a sense of the place. From the train station we all headed back to the hotel to check in and drop off our bags.
We all freshened up and then went for a walk through the canal-lined streets. As it was raining cats and dogs we huddled under our umbrellas until we found a tucked away bar in the "Jordaan" district. The Jordaan district is an artistic and residential area in Amsterdam known for its quaint shops and friendly atmosphere.
We hung out with all the locals in the bar and the bartender was helpful in picking out some traditional foods and beers to try. As we were all a bit tired from our full day of travel, we headed home about 10 and were soon fast asleep.
On Saturday, we woke up to clear skies and mild temperatures...alright! We had a 10:30 tour appointment at the Anne Frank museum, which is located in the building where she hid for two years during WWII and wrote her world-renowned diary. We learned about her life, both before and during the Nazi occupation of Holland. We were able to tour the cramped spaces that 8 people called home and were struck by how difficult life was for them all.
After our tour there, we stopped for a bite of lunch and then headed to our 1:00 walking tour of the city. We met the group at the train station and then walked to the front of the royal palace in the heart of the city. From there we toured through the red light district and learned about the history of the city and its liberal leanings toward prostitution and marijuana. We were shown underground Catholic churches that survived during the Reformation and the Dutch East Indian Trading Company, which was a model for much of our modern corporate structure. We walked through a portion of the Amsterdam Historical Museum and visited the Jewish quarter with its 1960's architecture. Taxes used to be assessed according to the size of the front of your home, so we were shown the narrowest home in Amsterdam - which wouldn't allow you to lie down sideways - but did have a lovely view of a canal.
After the tour we enjoyed a great dinner to celebrate Seth's birthday on Sunday. He had done a little research and wanted to visit a popular jazz club in town. We figured out how to get there and headed out for a night on the town. We found the place and had a great time listening to some live mellow jazz and drinking some local Holland beer. We left and got some late night pizza and then caught a late night bus back to the train station near our hotel. Great times!
On Sunday, we woke up late (imagine that) and headed back into the city. We found a mass to go to that was in Latin...very pretty, but after the late night we had had it was rough for all of us to keep our eyes open. From there we headed over to Vondelpark, which is a beautiful park in the interior of the city. We left there and went to the Van Gogh museum where we toured and saw his many famous works. Don't tell Shea but the chewed bubble gum I gave her is not the found portion of his ear. Another late dinner and we called it a night. Happy Birthday Seth!
On Monday, it started raining again, but we went to an underground church museum and then walked for a while through the city, taking in the canals and the beautiful architecture of the city.
We headed back to the train station to make our train and left Seth to enjoy one more night in town before his plane back to DC in the morning.
We had a great time in Amsterdam, and we really appreciated getting to see it with Seth.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Sorry for the delay in updates. Over the next few days I will be writing about several trips we have taken this Fall.
In late October, we took a day trip to Marburg, Germany. It is a quaint university town with one of oldest Gothic churches north of the Alps, St. Elizabeth. The university was founded in 1527 and is most famously the school that the Brothers Grimm attended and where they collected their fairy tale stories. Marburg is also the home of the Marburg Colloquy, which were meetings between Martin Luther and Zwingli to develop and establish the Protestant church.
Shea and I arrived and first visited the cathedral. It was very beautiful with amazing stained glass and a handcrafted tomb made entirely of gold. We then toured through the hilly city streets and enjoyed the half-timbered houses and shops. We followed the streets up to the castle, which dominates the city. Though not quite as big as the castle in Heidelberg, it was still impressive and offered beautiful views of the city and river valley below. From there we walked through the university district and felt a little old seeing all the university students who looked like they could pass for pre-teens.
It was a nice day trip to a pretty little town with some interesting historical significance.