I had mentioned in a previous post that my family went to Belgium this summer to visit our old home. Actually, what made that possible was that my grandparents took all of the extended family (all 26 of us) to Norway for a week so that we could see their old home. My dad and his family grew up in Norway while my Papa worked for ConocoPhillips oil company. It was such a great experience being able to spend a week with the family and exploring my father's and his siblings' expat country. I had been to Norway before, but I was so young that I couldn't remember much of it. Now, I have made some new memories that I will keep with me forever.
Our way around the coast of Norway was actually by cruise ship, so we were able to see quite a bit of the coast. Our first day was spent in Oslo where we hit up the Viking museum, the Kon Tiki museum, and the Fram museum. It was very interesting to learn about Norwegian history and culture. If you don't know much about Norway, I highly recommend you look into it, they are rich with culture and their history is fascinating. Sadly, we didn't make it to the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park, which I really wanted to see. I think I might have been the only one who wanted to go anyway, when I was disappointed that we couldn't make it to the park, my sister told me, "you're not really missing much are you? Why would you want to see a park full of naked statues anyway?". So, from the mouth of a fourteen-year-old, maybe I didn't really miss out, but it still would have been fun I think.
Our second day was spent in the old part of Kristiansand. There isn't a lot to do in this town entertainment wise in the time frame that we had. There are a few shops and the town square is pretty to walk through. The Kristiansand Cathedral is also worth taking a walk through. What made this place so much fun for all the cousins was the hiking. We hiking trails were beautiful and all the lakes were just stunning. After our hike, we walked over to the Christiansholm Fortress which was built in 1672 to defend the city. Although this day was pretty relaxed, it is one of my favorite memories because of the cousin bonding time and the chance to walk around and appreciate all the beautiful nature that God has created. It really is wonderful.
The third day of our trip was the most exciting for the whole family. This is the day we went back to their old home town, Stavanger. We all put on matching t-shirts, which were designed by my very talented designer friend (shout-out to Kait Robison), and headed off the ship to meet our bus driver. An old family friend surprised my grandparents by meeting them at the dock, which was so sweet. Another surprise was when my Papa met the bus driver. The bus driver looked at my Papa and said, "I remember you, I used to be a helicopter pilot that flew you out to the oil rig years ago." This wasn't planned at all, and it was a happy coincidence. Our first stop of the day was at the old house my family used to live in. We walked around the neighborhood and met the old neighbors, who still lived there! After that, we went and did some touristy things by going to see the Three Sword Monument, and went to a spot to that over-looked the city. After lunch, my Papa, dad, and husband went to take a tour of the ConocoPhillips office that my Papa used to work for while the rest of us went to the beach to tip our toes into the frigid North Sea. Our last stop of the day was back in town, where we met and had tea with some old friends from Norway.
Our last day of the trip was spent in Flam, which may have been the best day in terms of seeing God's awesome hand in creating nature. We woke up early to see the fjord as we came in, though we actually missed most of it because we arrived early. However, the view we did get while docking and then at the end of the day when we were leaving was truly something to behold. Words can't really describe the beauty, it's something you just have to see for yourself. We took the Flamsbana (a train) through the mountains for an hour long tour. The view was truly breathtaking. I would love to go back one day so that I could actually spend more time there and hike through the mountains. The rest of the day was spent perusing the gift shops and buying souvenirs.
All in all, the week spent with my family in Norway will be one that I will never forget. I can't thank my grandparents enough for making it all happen and giving us such a special memory. This trip was so special (I think especially for us grandkids) not just because we got to see where our parents and grandparents used to live, but to really see first hand what a strong impact they had on the people they knew. It was very touching to hear the stories that these old friends shared of how much of an impact my family had made in their lives and that they were never forgotten. My Papa has often told me that he worked hard to build up the Ingram family name and that it was the responsibility of the grandkids to keep it up. Now I know first hand how true that statement is and I am more driven to do just that and make my Papa proud of me.