Friday, March 15, 2013

First Stop: Tonsberg, Norway

March 13th:
Steve and I flew to London, walked miles through Heathrow airport carrying our luggage that we needed for this two month trek through Europe. Yes, we are off again thanks to Steve's sabbatical and his lecturing in 13 different European cities. I continue to be a fortunate woman who is lucky enough to be married to a man who is an expert at marketing his skills. Yay for me!

We then flew from London to Oslo. So far stress free if you don't count countless hours of travel breathing in fetid airplane air, being seated next to the plane's bathroom (light on, light off, door slams) and constantly rewinding a scene in my head with Elaine from a Seinfeld episode.  We survived and still smiled.

In Oslo we had to get a train to Tonsberg, Norway where Steve will present at a journalism conference. We loaded our 4+ bags and  settled in for our two hour train ride when the conductor came on and rattled off something in Norwegian.  We thought he was just announcing a stop, but everyone got up and started to get off the train. We sat.  A sweet Norwegian woman told us that we ALL had to get off the train and get on buses because there was a problem on the tracks. Clearly this happened often because no one complained. (okay...Steve and I sighed a bit.) We hauled our baggage outside and waited for the bus. Did I mention it was 18 degrees. Oh yes...and it was snowing. This is Norway. Brrrrrrr. (I heard it was 92 degrees today in Phoenix, but a dry heat!)

 The bus traveled for close to 30 minutes only to take us to a waiting train that would finally take us to our destination. When we reached our stop in Tonsberg,  the conductor announced over the loud speaker that he hoped his American passengers (the Doigs) enjoyed Norway...and to be sure to get off on the right side of the train. Everyone laughed. The Norwegian people are wonderfully nice to Americans.

 We arrived at the conference hotel looking quite frightful after 36 hours of travel. We got there in time to join 50 plus people for dinner in a small room with very loud people. We had an incredible dinner (slices of rare roast beef with cherry tomatoes for an appetizer, cod over a pumpkin puree for our main course, and a creme brulee for dessert, and of course, copious wine) and great conversation, although I was afraid at any moment my head would fall in my plate from sheer exhaustion. I dreamed of my bed!

I slept for 12 glorious hours and woke to find a steaming cup of kaffee creme beside the bed. (oh, thank you Steve!).  I quickly (okay...slowly) got dressed and Steve and I headed out for the snowy covered streets. He was careful to tell me every five minutes to hold on tight so I wouldn't slip on ice patches. Hmmm, it was Steve that managed to slip twice. Good he was holding on to me :) The weather was brisk and beautiful and Tonsberg, although not the most picturesque town in Norway, is very nice.

the town square

Among the few sights is a whaling museum and a fortress close to the hotel. The ruins of the old fortress lies on a hill in the middle of the town. You can get a marvelous panoramic view of Tønsberg and its surroundings, and walk among ruins from the Viking era.

Tonsberg Fortress 
 However, the purpose of our walk was to find the local bakery and coffee shop. We succeeded! There was no way I would leave without sampling a Norwegian pastry!



Steve chose something that looked like a lemon doughnut frosted with a dusting of coconut flakes and powdered sugar.  I opted for a hazelnut, raisin wheat roll with my kaffee.  Both were yummy!

Of course, there is ALWAYS a MacDonalds to be found wherever in the world we go. I am only posting this picture for my wonderful friend Bonnie, who can never travel anywhere in the world without eating at this establishment!

Tonight we a nice dinner with Jim Steele (from Barlett and Steele), who is an extremely accomplished investigative journalist and author and David Smallman (attorney for Investigative reporters and editors, attorney for Valerie Plame from the CIA, writer and producer of documentaries) They were on a fascinating panel tonight speaking about the government's mistakes, manipulations and lies leading up to our involvement in the Iraq War. Everyone should check out the link!

Our dinner and conversation was spectacular. We ate at a restaurant called Becks and ate some orgasmic seafood dinner with fabulous wine.

our restaurant

Three of us had this incredible seafood feast in a creamy sauce

a wonderful Chardonnay, pinot grigio blend from Italy

David Smallman, Ellyn, Steve, Jim Steele
All in all, a fantastic evening!

Tomorrow Steve does two talks and then we are off to the Oslo airport and on to Paris!!!!!!!