This weekend we went to Rasmus’s hometown, the picturesque Ålesund Norway. The occasion? To celebrate Rasmus’s grandpa’s 96th birthday!
Per is extremely healthy… he lives in a house, still does yard work, goes for a daily walk and is very easy going. He has three children (one of his sons is Rasmus’s dad), and was married for many many years until his beloved wife passed several years ago.
We went to visit him at home yesterday, and I think his lifestyle has a lot to do with how happy he is. We entered his narrow driveway, went in the front door where we took off our coats and shoes (it was freezing down there!), we then climbed a flight of stairs and were greeted by Per. I was in shock by the view. He spends his days in this upstairs living room which is encased in windows overlooking the sublime snow covered Norwegian mountains of Sunnmøre. The room was warm and sunny, and the walls and countertops filled with photos of his beloved children, family members, wedding photos of loved ones, his grandchildren, and great children. There were sheepskins and reindeer hides covering most of the sofas and chairs, and a copper bin embossed with jolly gnomes beside the chimney holding firewood.
Per offered us coffee and cake, and gave us a tour around his kitchen, wood paneled breakfast nook, dining room, and then led us back to the living room. He explained many of the photos to me, and the put in a video he has received after a visit from his American sister in 1994. It wa so charming and featured a little boy version of Rasmus! The video followed their trip that weekend in 1994, taking carriage rides on a Fjord horse, popping champagne at a picnic, visiting glaciers, and a sad goodbye. He loved sharing this with us and it was so kind of him to do so.
Rasmus then uploaded some photos from us all together at Naia’s baptism the other weekend to his digital photo album, and we looked at more of his photos. He brought out an album to show us as well that had baby pictures of Rasmus and his brother Lars Kristian, and asked us to keep it and share the photos with his family as well.
After this visit we went home to Rasmus’s parents house where we are staying and got ready for dinner. We picked Per up (although he still has a drivers license and does drive!), and headed to one of Norway’s most famous fish restaurants. Per chose this location for his birthday because he loves fish – especially klippfisk (dried and salted cod)… I knew he wanted me to try fish tonight so I was very nervous! I have never liked fish!
The restaurant was called Sjøbua. It was nestled along the famous Ålesund canals, and a small red door with a modest sign welcomed us. As we entered we hung our coats, and sat beneath a polar bear skin beside a fireplace while we waited for our table. The hostess took our name and brought champagne, the restaurant only works off of reservations and books out weeks in advance. Rasmus’s family ran into many family friends – they seem to know everyone!!
We were brought to our table, the restaurant was packed! I had no idea because it was so quiet! The ambiance was calm, elegant and dark – brought to life by candles and exposed beams. Gunnar (rasmus’s dad, said that when they renovated 3 years ago they chose high pile textiles to help absorb sound – thus the velvet chairs and wall to wall carpeting). I chose the main dish that mentioned bacon and carrot purée because I once heard that anything with bacon is edible! Boy was I right. My dish came, klippfisk, a pure white fish, with a thin layer of cheese, carrot purée, diced bacon, celery and 100 pounds of amazing paired with white wine. It was possibly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Topped off with a lovely dessert. Thank you Gunnar for the amazing meal, and happy birthday Per! And thanks Per for making me eat fish ☺
Also – earlier that day Rasmus took me out to practice for my driving exam! It is very strict here in Norway and they have different road signs, round a bouts, and some other new things. We also stopped by the local riding center and saw a horse show!