The last two weeks have been filled with unpacking what I have termed the Box Fortress, cussing (because the company that once moved us from Sweden to Finland and did a great job, did more of a really so-so job this time), and hiking down the hill to the village for errands. Spring is just getting started here (we moved from Finnish winter to Norwegian spring), and all the snow is melting violently (it went from -3°C to +8°C daytime temperatures in a matter of days), and running in little rivulets down the slope, and the buds are just beginning to break. The conifer forest went from black-and-white to dark-but-distinctly-green seemingly overnight. I feel like I get a birthday present with this move – my upcoming birthday is in spring again, whereas it was in winter for the past 3 years.
Our rented apartment is rather nice (for a basement, or in general). Well, half-basement specifically: it has an exposed side with big windows, which has a pretty view of the foothills of the Fjäll (Scandinavian Mountains), while the back wall is buried in the slope, which probably makes it warmer in winter and cooler in summer (we’ll see soon enough about the latter – it’s certainly warm right now). We are planning to stay here for around a year or so, because 1. – we are so tired of moving that we really don’t want another move in the next 12 months (please, all the gods, no!), and 2. – we plan to buy a house for the next move, and before we do that, we need to get to know the area in order to figure out where we do and/or do not want to live. For example, knowing which side of the mountain the house is located on is important because of sun exposure – which is something that I had not even known to consider before moving to a mountainside. I am sure there are many more similar considerations to be made that I just don’t yet know about.
So far – and it’s only been a little over two weeks – I like what I see of Norway. First of all, it’s staggeringly pretty. I have been gawking at it and telling all my friends about it like a madwoman, which prompted one or two to point out that I am a doofus and that “well, yes, of course – Telemark is world-famously beautiful, what else did you expect?”
Sometimes I am less worldly than people think I am.
Second, the food isn’t as expensive as everyone warned me about – although some specific things can be more pricey than in neighboring Sweden and Finland (hello, twice-the-price-per-kilogram flour!), there are also many things which are cheaper and more plentiful (seafood, glorious seafoood!). I have found out that we moved here right in the middle of the local season for fishing the migratory cod (skrei) at Lofoten Islands, and that the fishery is sustainable. I haven’t had cod in many years because I refused to buy and eat a fish from dying stocks, but this one is not, and is managed very carefully, so I am gleefully stuffing my face with all the cod I can lay my greedy paws on. There is even raw cod roe and liver in the stores, which I plan to buy and cook rather soon – before the fishing season for it is over in April. I will report back with some recipes and pretty pictures of cod as soon as I have unburied the area where the dinner table will be, and can take some good daylight photos of the meals I make.
Third, I’ve never lived in such a tiny place before (We have a bus line. It runs a bus. I already have met both of the drivers. The checkout dude at the nearest supermarket already knows my face.), but the locals seem friendly and nice, and rather chatty. I can’t really compare that to Sweden or Finland, or actually make any real comparisons at all, because, as pointed out by multiple friends, I have the magical aura of making people talk to me (i.e. random people having conversations with me on Stockholm subway on a regular basis), but the initial impression I have is that maybe it is because it is a smaller place here, but people seem happy to talk to the new faces in town. Which is nice.
The next installment in the “Moving Abroad” post series is in the pipeline, but because of being busy with the actual move, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and finish it. Now that the numbers of boxes are dwindling, and I am finally finding the things I need around the house, I will soon have more time to sit down and gather my thoughts and opinions (of course I have opinions!) on settling into the new country.
In meantime, enjoy this gorgeous carved wood gate that our neighbor has. We pass it every time we walk down to the valley for T’s work and
buying more skrei cod running any errands.
The mountains are beautiful, the air is clean and smelling of wood fires, I already managed to get a light sunburn because my face hasn’t seen the sun in over half a year of winter in Finland, and also because 300km South and clean mountain air, and I need to go fill my unpacking quota for the day.