Thursday, April 26, 2007

No place like Norway

As many of you know, my dad is Norwegian.

He was born in the tiny village of Todalen, located on the country's West Coast, at the end of a long fjord.

A two-hour drive south of Trondheim, the place is stunning and one that holds a thousand memories for me.

View of the family house and South side of the village of Todalen

Memories of being a little girl in a foreign country, of seeing and hearing my dad speak Norwegian with his brothers and sisters, cousins and aunts, parents and nieces and nephews. Of cutting down Xmas trees in the cold snowy forests. Of riding a sleigh at a 2PM sunset. Of hearing stories of trolls under bridges and neighbourhood gossip (guess who's sheep gave birth?). Of feeling like though it was all so unreal to my young head, I knew in my heart I was of this land.

Ten-year old me and my Bestamor (Grandma)

I went back to Norway two years ago. I spent two glorious weeks in Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen and Floro. And, of couse, Todalen. Sleeping by myself in the family houe that my dad gew up in, loitering in the empty kitchen that still smelt like the waffles my then 96-year old, non-English speaking Grandma would make me. Freaking out at the sounds the old house made in the night. And poking around forgotten corridors, drinking expensive Norwegian beer and perusing old photo albulms.

Photos of the house...
The house

My cousin Arvid's dog Knuten and I on the front lawn

The street (house is at the end, on the left)

My cousin Bebe and I, on the steps of the house

Where I slept, my aunt's old bedroom

getting into old chests of wardrobe

The sky at Midnight by the fjord

Next week: A photo essay of the town....

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Saturday, April 07, 2007


I will not be writing in this blog for a while, until things in my personal life get better.

But I will be back one day and hopefully with a vengence.

After all, travel is my one cure for a broken-heart.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Staying in Carcassonne

I am crap.

I apologize.

Life and work has me by the imaginary balls and, thanks to this looong weekend, I am free to properly blog.

Anyway, sorry for my neglect of this blog (for you select few who read this).

I am going to blog about Sid's Mum's Backpackers in Carcassonne. Or rather, just outside of it.

I will get into the WONDERFUL town of Carcassonne next week, but because I feel rushed and tipsy, I should first blog about this wonderful backpackers.

For anyone going to the medieval village of Carcassonne - and I am sorry but ALL visitors to France MUST make time for this place - Sid's Mum's (Sidsmums) is the place to go.

Of course, I may be biased because they gave me free (leftover) champagne upon my arrival....

And of course the cabins were a wonderful place to get some shut-eye....

And the nearby landscape of vineyards and lavender fields were soothing to the soul...

And the hostel itself is a beautifully rustic farmhouse of open spaces and relaxing grounds...

And if you don't believe me, read the following:

SIDSMUMS is a small, English family run hostel (backpackers) located in the tranquil village of Preixan on the northern foothills of the Pyrenees. This circulade village (500 people and 1,000 years of history) is just 10 kms (6 miles) south of the famous medieval Cité of Carcassonne, overlooks the Aude River and the woodlands and vineyards of the Malapère region.

The function of a hostel is to provide a comfortable and affordable base from which to explore the surrounding region. Having explored the area ourselves, we are happy to help you plan walks and tours and to provide detailed maps of the area. We have our own excursion book which we hope you will help us to expand and improve, and we can point you towards castles, caves and abbeys, we can hire you a pushbike or even lend you the dog! From the best biking roads to the most spectacular view, we are in the know.

When your day of exploring is complete, we are confident that you will find Sidsmums to be a welcoming place where you can relax and unwind - and it is our sincerest hope that you will make some new friends - or get re-acquainted with old friends - while doing so.

We offer a large, well equipped kitchen so that you can eat the food that you want, whenever you want, and at supermarket prices. You may choose to prepare a picnic - ask us to suggest some wonderful places to eat it - or perhaps join with us and other guests for a BBQ on the terrace.

We provide fridges so that you can stock up for a couple of days at the supermarket on your way through town. There is a "boulangerie" in the village for French bread and croissants, and there's a small general store in the next village 3 kms away. We provide tea and coffee and you can pick your own herbs in the garden to give your food that special French feel ..

Also in the village, the Relais de Preixan offers excellent traditional French cuisine and a small bar. Close by there is a Pizzeria/Brasserie and a Routiers (truck stop).

For those who crave a little respite from the often hectic pace of backpacking - we know, we've been there - there is a large garden behind the hostel where you can work on your Mediterranean tan or read a book under a tree. A small library of books is available; we have cards; we have board games; you can even try your hand at pétanque (boules).

Town (cafés, restaurants, bars, etc) the infamous O'Sheridans Irish Pub and the medieval Cité are 10kms away. The hostel provides a lift each day into Carcassonne to complement the buses which operate to and from town every day, except on Sunday.

The hostel itself accommodates 6 people in three twin bedded rooms. In addition there are four cabins available for bookings of two to four people each. We provide bedding at no extra charge.

What do you say? Go to Sidsmum's today!

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