Thursday, October 28, 2010


Okay, so catching up with all our travels because I am WAAAY is our Norway adventure!

While Kai was at BYU, he had a roommate from Norway named Eivind. Kai always told Eivind he would come visit him in Norway, but lets be honest, I think it was mostly talk at the time. But, since we are in London, we figured we might as well take a trip here, so we did!

Our flight left at 6am (which meant the gate closed at 5:30am), and the airport is a little over an hour away from our place, so we decided we would just go up the night before and sleep in the airport.

When we got there, there weren't many people around, so we put down a fleece blanket in a corner, and tried to fall asleep. That was at about 11:30pm. I woke up at about 1:30am and the place was packed with sleeping people. There was a family next to us who brought blow up mattresses to sleep on! Seriously, I had no idea that many people sleep in airports!

Anyways, in the morning, we packed up our stuff, got on our flight, and flew to Norway! Two hours and one crappy flight later we were in Norway!

After landing, we hopped on a bus to get to Oslo where Eivind met us. Not sure if I missed the memo, but they were both wearing pretty much the same outfit! Black hats, plaid jackets, dark jeans, and white shoes.

We walked through the city center and got free scrambled eggs on toast since apparently it was Egg Day in Norway! Then we headed up to the Royal Palace. I learned that all Norwegian boys have to serve in the military for 1 year (Eivind had been an Air Force Pilot), and this boy was lucky enough to be a Palace Guard...which meant he got to march back and forth with another guy ALL day!
From the Palace, we went to Eivind's place to drop off our stuff and by that time...we were pretty hungry. In order to get to the bus stop, we had to walk down this hill with houses that have been around for a LONG time. Apparently Norwegians were really short back then because all of the houses were tiny! Just in case you don't believe me, look at how tall I look (i'm 5'1" for those who don't know) at these people's front door! At the bottom of the hill, we got on the bus and headed to the local mall for some food.

I had heard that Norway was expensive, but I figured that since everyone says London is expensive, it would be about the same -- I couldn't have been more wrong! We went to a FAST FOOD Chinese food place and paid 20 pounds, which is like $30!

Then, we went up to this place that overlooks Norway (check out the jumping picture). I can't remember what it is called, but they have this huge ski jump thing that is apparently going to be used for a big competition in 2011. It was awesome!

Back at the bottom of the hill, we went to this huge park with tons of statues made out of marble (once again, I can't remember the name of the place). It was really pretty amazing since all the sculptures were made by one guy, but it was FREEZING (see how I look like Rudolph -- it was that cold).

This was where I learned that I do not travel well when I am cold. I wanted to check out the park, but I honestly couldn't take the cold anymore, so we headed back to Eivinds place, ate some pizza, and went to sleep.

Eivind had taken off work for the weekend, so we decided to take a road trip to a place called Stavanger. From the pictures I saw, it was really pretty, so we got in the car the next morning and started driving. The drive was sooo beautiful and it was full of lakes, trees, and long windy roads. I'm not gonna lie, it made me kind of homesick for good old PTown since it totally reminded me of driving up the canyon in the fall!

Seriously, I really wasn't lying...Norway is sooo pretty in the fall!

Anyways, after driving ALL day, we got to our hotel, which was nice, but tiny! The hotel was running a special, so we got our room for about 50 pounds, which was seriously a steal of a deal. We dropped off our stuff, and then headed out to find a dinner place. The hotel recommended an Italian place close by, so we went, ate, and then came back to the hotel. There were a bunch of people out and about and it seriously boggled my mind how they could all be out at that was soooo cold! Regardless, I was glad to get back to the warmth of the hotel.

This is Kai in our hotel room -- notice how close the TV is to the bed!

The next morning, we woke up and went down to breakfast -- the best deal of the entire trip! Apparently breakfast is always included when you stay at hotels, so I was expecting the standard 'Continental' breakfast...boy was I wrong. This place had tons of stuff: crispy bacon (just the way I like it), scrambled eggs, pancakes, fresh breads, yogurt, juices, Salmon (yup, salmon filets for breakfast), a bunch of different cheeses including goat cheese (Kai's favorite), fresh fruit, and the list could honestly go on and on. It was awesome! I made Kai load up on breakfast so we wouldn't have to spend another fortune for lunch and dinner :)

From there, we headed to a place called Priekestolen.

Kai in front of the Stavanger cathedral -- notice how foggy and cold it is
Leaving Stavanger on the ferry
When we got off the ferry, the weather wasn't looking any more promising....
Then, as we turned up to Preikestolen, the sun came out and the weather was AMAZING!!!Us starting the hike...

Halfway point -- The water was so pretty, I told Kai we needed to take a picture and when I looked over, this is what he looked like -- can you say Asian tourist?! Bahahaha!

Almost there...check out the drop!

We made it! Check out the view! It was sooo pretty and definitely worth the hike!

Now for the funny part -- Kai is always the daredevil, but for some reason, this place scared him. I wasn't scared at all, so I went to the edge to look over and take pictures and Kai was terrified! After a little, actually, after a LOT of prodding, he finally made it to the edge and took some pictures.

We got really daring by the end!

Check us out!

After hiking back to the car, it was time to start the trek back to Oslo (did I mention that it was a 7 hour drive each way on WINDY roads)? As we drove out, check out the beautiful view!

We drove for what seemed like FOREVER to get back to Eivinds, but we finally made it after a few pit stops. One stop was in the middle of nowhere...literally, it was pitch black -- no street lights or light of any sort. BUT, we saw soooo many stars! It was sooo really does feel like you are in the middle of a huge dome, with millions of stars everywhere!

Anyways, this is getting a little long, so lets just cut to the chase...we all slept in the next morning and then had to pack up our stuff so Eivind could drive us to the airport. Before we left, I we walked through this huge cemetary that was right across the street from Eivinds (It sounds creepy, but this cemetary was sooo beautiful with the trees and awesome tombstones).
And, just for randomness, when we were leaving for the airport, we drove past the EY Norway office, so I had to take a picture -- I did just get my promotion bonus deposited into my bank account! I love getting money for not working...its about time! :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ikea Happy Hour

A few weeks after we moved to London, I was looking online for an Ikea so we could get some household stuff. I found one, and happened to check the actual store page, where I saw that they were having a 'Happy Hour' during the month of September. Every weekday, between 6pm and 7pm, there were different specials in the store. Wednesday's special said, 'Whatever you spend in the restaurant you get off products'. To me it sounded like a great deal, but in my mind, I figured there would be a catch. Regardless, we had to go, so one Wednesday night we took the tube up to the Wembley Ikea. I asked the girl at the front desk what the happy hour meant and how it worked and she had no idea, so she told me to go to the Customer Service desk. I went there and the lady didn't know, so she asked her supervisor and it was true...she said you have to save your receipt from the restaurant and show it to the cashier who could then take off the amount from your total. The only catch was you had to eat in the restaurant and pay for your items between 6pm and 7pm and by the time we found out, it was 6:40pm!

Kai and I figured the best way to do it was to grab all our stuff, then buy our food and then Kai would wait with the food, I would go pay, and then come back up to the restaurant and we could eat. Seriously, it was the fastest I have ever gotten through an Ikea since we were on a time crunch, but by the time we got to the restaurant and paid, there was about 4 minutes left. So I rushed down, got in the line, and got to the cashier exactly at 7pm. After showing her my restaurant receipt, she said she had no idea what I was talking about with the happy hour and that she couldn't do anything. I asked her to talk to her supervisor, who also said she didn't know what was going on, so I just paid, and then went back to Customer Service.

I found the lady who I had talked to and she gave me a refund, so it ended up being a great deal! We spent about 45 pounds, and got 15 pounds worth of food (which is a lot at Ikea).

So that is part 1. Part 2 is funnier. Our first Happy Hour experience had been the first week of September and by the last week of September, we needed a few more things and since we knew how nice the Happy Hour was, we figured we would go back one last time. Being smart, we got there exactly at 6pm, got our food. This time, we were apparently more daring because our total came out to be about 25 pounds -- kind of ridiculous for 2 people! Then we went to go pay. Apparently the rules had changed since our first experience because now you needed to have some sort of voucher printed and signed off, so the cashier sent me back upstairs to the restaurant to get the voucher.

Long story short, I had to talk to 5 different people before I made it back to our cashier. So our cashier goes to discount our food off our bill, and surprise...our stuff totaled a little over 26 pounds, so at the end of the day, we paid like 1 pound! I felt so embarrassed...especially when the cashier's eyes got big and noticed how much we ate! He looked at us and was like 'You really ate your way through your goods!'

Anyways, maybe you had to be there to get it, but we definitely made our moneys worth from Ikea...not too shabby!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Madrid Part II

So this is way overdue and I am already behind on the trip reporting, but here goes the rest of our time in Madrid!

Saturday morning, Kai and I were ready for another big day. We headed out to Puerto del Sol again and walked down another street.

There were a bunch of street people, like this guy who was covered in mud and looked like a statue, a lady singing opera and playing an accordion, and this 6 man group of musicians playing.
Looking at them, they look like a totally random group of guys that you wouldn’t think would hang out together, but they were seriously sooo talented! Their violinist must have had every single song memorized because he didn’t have any music and played with his eyes closed most of the time!

AND, check out this ham store!
They had them everywhere in Spain – just huge ham hocks hanging EVERYWHERE! You can’t tell from the picture, but the store was decent sized and their walls were covered with ham.

Also, there are TONS of old churches all over Madrid.
It was crazy to think of how long they had been around for. We would be walking down a street and there would be 2 huge doors to what looked like a small, run down building, but then we would walk through the doors, and it would be a massive cathedral with huge, ornate decorations.

Ffter checking out a bunch of the churches, we stopped in the Palace Gardens to eat our lunches.
The grass was a little wet, so everyone was sitting on cardboard boxes. We just had to wait our turn and then when a guy left, we snatched up his cardboard. I was so exhausted, but cold (It was super hot and all of a sudden, it got super cold.) since I was wearing a dress, so I used Kai’s jacket as pants and took a nap.

Can you tell who the homeless person is?

The park was right next to the Royal Palace, which we didn't go into, but we walked around it and it was really pretty.

From the Palace, we went to a huge cathedral (forgot the name, but it is right next to the Palace), bought tickets to a flamenco show at Las Carboneras, bought some treats at a bakery, and took them to the Royal Park.

Isn't the park pretty?!

From the park, we went to El Templo del Debod, which is this Egyptian Temple that was donated to England from Egypt a long time ago. It is on top of this hill that has amazing views of the city!

Finally, to finish the day off, we went to see the Flamenco show at Las Carboneras, which was really cool -- definitely worth the money.

Sunday we decided to try and make it to church. In order to get to the church, we had to take the train and get off at the Bull Fighting Stadium. When we got off, there was a ton of people protesting the bull fight. This was no ordinary protest though...there were hundreds of guys in speedos and girls in just black bikini bottoms -- no tops. They painted their bodies brown and were sitting in front of the stadium. I definitely took a double take cause I didn't really believe it, but its true...the girls were flying free! And all this on our way to church :)

After making our way through the crowd, we walked around looking for the church. It was in a completely residential area and we were lucky to actually find it since it had no sign and is on the ground floor of this apartment building. On top of that, it is gated, so we had to ask these women inside to let us in, and after some broken spanish conversation, they came and opened the gate. It was my first time being in a sacrament meeting where I didn't understand much of anything, but the members there were so nice.

After church, we bought some tickets to the bull fight (yup, even with all the protestors) for that evening, and then headed back to the city center. We walked down El Rastro, which is basically a huge swap meet with tons of stuff! We walked around, ate some empanadas, and then walked toward El Parque del Retiro. On our way, we ran into this huge bike race. Tons of bikes went flying past us and we were hooked. 12 laps later, we had gotten some free hats, and were cheering on the side when an American took first place!
From the bike race, we headed back up to the Plaza del Toros for the fight. It was beautiful weather and the stadium was awesome! It isn't their 'season' right now, so we were able to get pretty good seats for pretty cheap. There was an old Spanish man behind us who spoke no english, but knew all about bull fights, so Kai and I talked to him in our broken spanish to figure out what was going on. For some reason, I never realized that: (1) the bull dies every time, and (2) that more than one bull fights at each event (There were 6 on our night), so I was kind of sad at the beginning because the bulls really have no chance, but there were cool aspects. Overall, I am glad I went, but probably wouldn't go again.

Also, funny story from the fight...the stadium wasn't packed since this wasn't a high profile fight. The seats in the sun were really cheap, but we decided to get the seats in the shade due to recommendations from people at our hostsel. Anyways, there was a couple who were sitting halfway up in the sun. No one was anywhere near them since we were all in the shaded seats, so I figured they would move down since they looked miserable in the heat. You could tell they wanted to, but for whatever reason they didn't.

Halfway through, they tried to move down, but the usher came up and told them they had to move back up! It was so ridiculous, but funny at the same time...On our side, there were a bunch of old men, who would sit in seats until someone came to claim them. Then they would move to a different seat. Anyways, they kept doing this until finally, this usher lady came over to tell them they needed to find their real seats. The old man looked at her, reached into his bag and gave her some pastry, and then she left them! So we had an usher who could be bought with sweets, and another who wouldn't let people move down when no one was near them!

After the bull fight, we headed up to the train station to take our night train to Barcelona!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

One Year Older!!!

Its true...I am now officially a quarter of a century old! This was a big birthday for a few reasons: (1) I am in LONDON, (2) It was my first birthday as a married person, and (3) 25 is OLD!!!

Kai loves birthdays, so the night before my birthday, we had a pre-celebratory dessert night by going to my favorite local dessert spot...McDonalds!!!

When I was little and living on 9th East in Provo, my mom and dad would take us to McDonalds (which was on 9th east where Golds Gym is now). Back then, the apple pies were not baked, but deep fried -- soooo tastey! Those good old days have been long gone, so I forgot about them and learned to like the baked apple pies. A few days after arriving in London, we had gone sightseeing with some friends and stopped by McDonalds on the way back for a snack. I decided to get an apple pie and ice cream. The guy handed me the pie and I recognized it as my childhood favorite fried apple pie!

Anyways, back to the story...we got fried apple pies and ice cream and I was soooo happy! After that, we headed back to our place and watched 'The Other Boleyn Girl', which was really cool, since we are in London. I ate my popcorn and had my diet coke and then right before midnight, Kai paused the movie and surprised me by getting out my presents. We had shots of soda to celebrate and I opened my presents -- some books, a box of delicious belgian chocolates, 2 sweaters (that I picked out since I am PICKY with my clothes), and a gift certificate to this day spa in Notting Hill. It was lots of fun and I was excited for my big day.

The start to the day was eventful, but not as eventful as the morning after. We finished the movie and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, to my horror, I was itching EVERYWHERE and when I looked at my arm, it was COVERED with red bumps! I woke Kai up and he looked and found tons more. My worst nightmare was true...we had bed bugs in our hell hole apartment!

Of course, Kai did not have any bites ANYWHERE. He felt so bad for me and was so nice and understanding, but it still didn't change the fact that I was completely miserable. I took a shower and got ready thinking it would make me feel better, but nothing worked. After writing an email to the property management company, we went shopping!

Shopping was fun, but getting there was another question. It was cold, rainy, and extremely windy, so walking was a challenge. My umbrella was getting flipped inside out, my hair was flying everywhere, and the rain was soaking through my boots! After going to all the shops, we stopped at Whole Foods, got some tastey samples and carrot cake, and then headed back to our place.

I had been craving steak, so we decided to go to Maxwell's in Covent Garden. It was still raining, so we piled on our jackets, got our umbrellas, and walked to the tube stop. When we got there, there were TONS of people waiting for the Central line...apparently there were major delays because someone had gotten hit on the tracks! Luckily, the train came and we got on. Each stop, the train was fuller and fuller, so there was no room to move! I started getting hot in my jacket, but couldn't do anything :P

Finally, we got to our stop and we got off. As we walked to the exit, there was a sign that pointed to the lifts (elevators) and stairs. A sign said, There are 193 stairs so carry your luggage carefully. I saw a huge line for the lifts, so not really thinking, I started up the stairs. About 25 steps in, I realized that this was going to be quite the hike. The spiral staircase seemed never ending and I was dying by the time I got to the top!

Luckily for me, the restaurant was close to the tube stop. We were seated and ordered our food. We got our drinks, calamari (which was sooo tastey), and then I got a filet, and Kai got a ribeye. All the food was great (or we were just starving)! Our waiter even sang happy birthday to me really really loud all by himself and let me blow out 2 candles on my apple pie dessert :)

After a great dinner, we walked around and finally got on a bus to get home. As soon as i sat down on the bus, the tiredness set in and I was out. Kai woke me up right before we had to get off. Once we got home, I realized that I would be bait for another night! Kai was so nice and put tape around the bed to hopefully get the bed bugs when they climbed onto the bed, and then he woke up every hour to check me for bugs.

And that, is the story of my 25th birthday!

The best present was when the exterminator came by our apartment this afternoon and sprayed our apartment to kill the stupid bugs!