Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Night Visitor

Last night something happened that I pray will never happen again...

Let me preface this story with information about myself. Ever since I was a little girl I would randomly jump out of my bed, after being dead asleep, and run to the other side of the room. I was always convinced that a bug or rodent of some sort was in my bed. With racing heart I would turn the lights on, creep back to my bed (now fully awake) do a quick search and realize it was just a dream or a freak out or whatever you want to call it. Marrying Dhrumil hasn't stopped this and he has had to get used to my random running out of bed and turning on the light.

Well last night, my dear friends, the almost 30 years of running has not been in vain!

It was about 2:30am and I had just gotten up to use the restroom. After coming back to the room I decided to adjust the window fan to a lower speed and I then jumped back in bed ready to fall asleep. After falling asleep for a moment I found myself sitting straight up because because of a soft banging sound I heard... like the blinds hitting the window. I thought that it might have been how I adjusted the fan and I stared at the window. It was dark and my glasses were off, but I was able to distinguish a shadow crawling up the blinds, back down and back up. 

Mind you, this was no ordinary shadow of a moth or a spider... no this was MUCH larger!!

Feeling slightly ill I shook Dhrumil awake and told him something huge was crawling up our window. Of course he didn't believe me at first, because as I said above, I tend to wake up and say things like this. I told him that it was huge and he needed to get it and at this point I was shaking like a leaf and I felt like I was going to puke. I jumped out of bed, put the light on and shut the door. 

All of the sudden I hear something of a battle going on inside of our bedroom. It sounded like a pillow fight, but on a massive scale. Then it sounded like Dhrumil was wrestling with a killer and his breathing got very loud. I looked down to see the roll of paper towel I was clutching to help Dhrumil squash whatever type of bug was in there would not do the trick. While I listed to the battle within, I prayed Mikayla wouldn't wake up and then I started to giggle... because, why not? 

Dhrumil ran out of the room, shutting the door behind him and told me it was a bat. At the point I started to shake again and feel like I was going to puke. He said he needed to figure out something he could put it in because he had knocked it down and it was now laying on our bed.

I then started to cry for the bat, the poor innocent creature... in my tears I said "how could you kill it!?" Dhrumil looked at my with eyes filled with the terrors of battle and said "you are worried about the BAT?!"

He then proceeded to run back into the room, wrap it up in our duvet ,and as I cowered in the other room, he it ran outside. I then heard a shake of the blanket and a bang of the door and all was silent.

Dhrumil told me it flew away. He also told me that he had been hitting it with our pillows and anything else he could find while in the bedroom. Willoughby... our brave hunting dog... watching on seated in his cozy bed while Dhrumil tried to tame the wild beast all on his own.

My brave husband... triumphant from what had just happened admitted that he had been freaked out by the whole thing. I replied that he was just that much closer to being Bat Man!

It was hard to fall asleep after that... thinking things were crawling on us. My duvet cover and pillow cases are in the wash as we speak. I guess the bat had crawled through our window somehow.

One thing is for sure... Dhrumil will now take all of my jumping out of bed serious for now on!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

All By Myself

Let me begin by setting the scene:

I am sitting in my hotel in Stavanger, Norway. My room overlooks the harbour and I am watching the occasional boat pass by. I am sipping tea, nibbling on some amazing dark chocolate I found at a local shop and listening to classical music. This scene does NOT sum up how my whole trip has been thus far, BUT it does show where I am at right now... enjoying every moment!!

The view from my window
When I began traveling at age 9, my parents had me keep a diary or "travel journal" of everything I experienced. Every night my dad would make sure I wrote a few sentences down and he would fill in the blanks by keeping his own journal. My first journal was on my trip to England and went something like this"I went to Harrods... dad didn't buy me anything. I went to Windsor Castle... it was neat." I am so happy my parents had me keep these journals... I can go back and read what the different countries were like through my eyes at that time in my life.

And so... I start my travel journal of my experiences in Norway thus far. I will warn you that this may end up being a book.

I have been waiting almost five years to be sent to Norway by my company and was extremely excited when I was finally told to book a trip! Norway has been on my wish list since I was a little girl... mainly because my grandmother was Norwegian. As I don't remember her, I guess I always felt going to this country would help me somewhat connect with this woman who was my family.

And so we begin my trip:
Monday early evening - I board my flight to Amsterdam and was excited by being in business class for the first time! The flight was ok... but the service was wonderful! I had a hard time sleeping because of all of the turbulence and also... is it just me... or is it extremely strange to have a whole cabin full of strangers all on sleeping chairs laying right next to each other? I just felt the whole thing bizarre. What happened next should have warned me of what was to come... in the last 20 minutes of our flight the woman next to me started talking. Long story short... her husband had kidnapped her 15 month old daughter and she was going to fight to get her back. I felt really bad for this woman, but I don't feel this is something that one normally brings up in shallow conversation... so yeah, hmmm.

Tuesday morning (Amsterdam time) - Fighting the exhaustion I wait for my two hour layover to pass. To pass the time I watch the planes taxi... notice some lightning, but nothing crazy. Then... flight is cancelled and I was told to go find a certain counter. I was so exhausted at this point I was unable to jog with all of the other people.

What awaited me... MASS CHAOS! A line that was hours long, people yelling at each other... I have never seen anything like it. I happened to overhear a few people talking about Stavanger and I asked if they were going there and if they could help me. A lovely woman by the name of Hilde told me to stick with them and they proceeded to guard me the rest of the day. Hilde had a precious number that secured us a spot in the line to be called to find out what flight we could get on... all the others who didn't have a number had to wait 4 hours. So I sat with Hilde, her mother and a nice older couple and waited for our number to be called (about two hours). We finally got called and Hilde made sure we all had tickets... it was a miracle we got on a flight at all. Basically the airport had been closed that morning and all flights had to be rebooked. So the rest of the day was spent with these lovely Norwegians... we ate lunch together, spoke of many things, and all looked out for each other. We had many things in common... Hilde had two year old twins, the older man's father used to build organs, and the older woman who didn't really speak English was also named Elisabeth!

Tuesday afternoon - 8 hours later I get on the plane...9 hours later I get off the plane and noticed my luggage has not come out. Hilde's mom was missing a piece of luggage as well and so we stood in line together. They had no clue where my luggage was, I was handed a "care" package and was told that I would hopefully get it in the next five days! I turned around to find Hilde and her mom waiting for me and I burst into tears. I was at the end... they hugged me and gave me sympathetic looks. I said goodbye to them and headed to my hotel.

The "care" collection
I tried to take in the scenery as we drove to the hotel, but it was hard since I was trying to hold in my sobs. When I reached the hotel I was told that as it was a holiday and all stores were closed... which meant I would be going to my two day seminar in the clothes I had been wearing since Monday. I would also meet all of the people in my new department with no makeup, smelly clothes and crazy hair.
After sobbing to Dhrumil on the phone, I got a pizza, opened up my care package to see a white tshirt and toothbrush, took a shower and went to bed.

I couldn't resist...

Wednesday morning - I put my smelly clothes back on, looked at myself for a brief second in the mirror and went downstairs to breakfast and to wait for my ride. I should add that all the while Dhrumil had been calling the airline trying to track down my luggage. I met many of my colleagues and got on a bus for a hour trip to our off site meeting. Somehow over the course of the bus ride all, including the head honcho, found out about all I had been through and were very nice about the whole thing. Long story short... again... I got my suitcase late that afternoon (thanks to my wonderful husband!!) and was able to change before our nice dinner in the monastery!!!

Wednesday evening -  Fresh smelling and feeling WONDERFUL I got back on the bus to head to the monastery where we were going to have a tour and also eat dinner. This whole day the main event was to "mingle." As I was only one of two English speakers mingling sometimes posed a challenge as those I would come upon would have to change their language when they remembered. Good thing I am used to being with Dhrumil's family who tend to not talk in English! On our way to the monastery I remarked to an older gentleman (who reminded me of a distinguished sea captain) that they sure have a lot of lakes. To which he replied... "but it is the SEA!" Yup... felt a bit silly. :) Amazing the fjords everywhere...

One view from hotel... hotel was surrounded by water
The monastery was beautiful, outside it was surrounded by gorgeous fields and water. Also sheep... so many lambs right now! I was sad to hear they raise them for eating and not for their wool... poor lambys. Anyways I ended up leaving a bit early in someone's car (10:30pm ad it was still light out) and we got lost on the skinny roads! For a moment I felt as if I were lost in Indiana... though the area was much prettier. We finally made it back to the hotel and I fell into a deep sleep.

Thursday - The rest of the seminar went well. I had many conversations with many interesting people. I learned many things. I then got bus sick on the way back and almost threw up in front of all of my colleagues. The head hancho told me to get some air and take a taxi. Yes... what a joy. Thank God I didn't end up losing my cookies!!!!

Finally made it back to my first hotel, had a rest and then decided to make the most of the afternoon and go sightseeing. Though I was told it was not possible to get lost in Stavanger... I did. But I did see SO much and so it was worth it. I also wanted to buy everything is every store... I didn't, but the things I did buy I had no clue how much I spent. It is so much fun without knowing how expensive things are! :) Here are just a few highlights from my afternoon stroll...
A house in the "old town" I took of the cat for Mikayla :)

More of old town...  
The Cathedral... I hope it is open tomorrow!

The Harbour

I forget what this is called but the whole street had very colorful buildings... and an amazing chocolate shop!

View of the back of my hotel from a high point... and home to a cafe with a very good chicken salad!

While waiting for the pictures to upload I was staring out my window and noticed beautiful swans floating by... so peaceful! I recommend everyone to travel alone at some point in their life. It really does the body good. And as a mommy... this me time has helped me grow into a better person!!!

Tomorrow... the office and Saturday... Amsterdam! I am sure I will have many more stories to record after the next two days.

A few things I have noticed:
- To leave through a door you have to pull and not push... SUCH a hard concept for me. :)
- If the sun in shinning the Norwegians think it is warm
-The Norwegians eat outside even if it is cold... because it is sunny!
- The Norwegian women are very strong and independent!

Now time for bed... even if it is still light out.