The land at the end of our toes…

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, the room is dimly lit by one ceiling lamp and two small candles. Make that one candle by the way, one just went out. A small coffee plant is showing small vibrations in the leaves caused by my movements as I’m writing. My son is whispering in the dark just above me in his bedroom, the sound of his whispers are sometimes drowned by the howling wind outside. Tall evergreen in my neighbours garden are dancing to a beat that I cannot hear, while a large uncut shrub of some unknown, maybe even undecided, kind is bending over our fence, stretching it’s long thin arms through my recently repotted herbs. My nasturtiums seems to have surrendered to its aggressive attack already, while little rosemary gallantly stretches upwards and forwards as if to dance herself away. It doesn’t look much like summer. I’m contemplating a cup of tea, but it’s already quite late. This morning I was out picking tomatoes in the front garden, it feels like the wind has stretched my conception of time, and that the tomatoes I ate, fresh from the plant, were picked many days ago.

We have had a long summer this year. It started already in April. I cannot remember ever having a summer like this, even the long sunny summers of my childhood had rainy days where we picked berries in the garden in our wellies, jumping into summer-warm rivers with raindrops dancing in the water around us. This year the only rain I’ve had was in Italy. Or so it seems. Maybe it’s just me getting older, my memory becoming selective and picky about what it decided to store for the future. I am definitely getting older. I have a full time job now, for the first time, starting next week. Until now I’ve done a bit of this, a bit of that, not ready to define myself and ‘what I want to be when I grow up’. But now I have, sort of. I cannot guarantee that it’s permanent. It will be for quite a few years, but for the rest of my life? No, ‘the rest of my life’ is a definition and thought that scares me more than the howling wind outside ever has.

The land at the end of my toes an early morning a few weeks ago, on my way to buy breakfast. A small country road in Italy a kilometre or so from the shore of lake Garda.

The land at the end of my toes an early morning a few weeks ago, on my way to buy breakfast. A small country road in Italy a kilometre or so from the shore of lake Garda.

I’ve spent the last days and weeks with my family. Both extended family and our little family. It’ been tough coming home after having been gone for almost five weeks. But both the kids and I have enjoyed getting into the routines at home. Routines that will dramatically change the coming week. There’s so much happening this autumn. Every autumn has alway brought something new into my life. I’m very excited this year, very excited. I’m trying to prepare for it, all trying to get ready, without really knowing what I should and could do. But I’m calm and mentally prepared for it all. Very ready to meet many new and wonderful people, broaden my horizon and adapt my way of thinking. I love the influences of new friendships and social groups. It will be a good year.

I will take you with me, sporadically as I always do, and I will change along the way. Adapt, improve, and change as the land at the end of my toes goes on and on, and on and on.

Home is on the horizon

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The setting sun as we leave Denmark. On the ferry going home

August is here again, and so am I. The past five weeks I’ve spent only a few nights at home. I was planning to write an ‘I’m home’-post, but I’ve left again. I’m close to home though, and it’s good, it’s good to be (close to) home again.

We started with a few days with bestemor and bestefar, my husband’s parents in the south of Norway. Then early one morning we took the ferry to Denmark, over to Hirtshals and the same day drove to Hamburg. In Hamburg we took the train to Munich, the Autozug, before we drove via Austria to Italy.

We had four stays in Italy: first we spent two nights at Ai Casoni, an ‘agroturismo’ near Treviso; second, we spent a week in Cavallino, just north of Venice; third was a hotel in Tuscany along with mormor and morfar (my parents), two of my brothers and their girlfriends; fourth and last was a short week by the Lago sea. We had one more stop in the very south of Germany, before taking the train back to Hamburg and then the ferry from Denmark.

The journey has been amazing; memorable, fun, and exhausting. The children have been wonderful and they have seen and learned much. We spent just about four weeks abroad and we have and still are visiting family before and after our roadtrip. Pictures and more bragging to come. This summer has been absolutely wonderful!

Lago di Garda

Autumn is here and the rain has set in. The little heat we had over the summer is disappearing fast and the temperature is just above two digits most of the days (actually ranging between 12 and 17 – but it’s getting cold). I like these days. I’m quite handicapped and have to spend most of my days indoors. The dark cozy evenings that I can spend snuggled up on the sofa with a huge cup of teas I welcome with open arms. And I can always dream about the paradise we visited this summer.

I’ll leave you with a few photos from the Garda lake area. Don’t let the dreary weather get you down!

Brenzone – on the banks of Lake Garda

After a few days near Gardaland we travelled further north along the Garda lake up to Brenzone. Brenzone consists of many small villages and we stayed in Magugnano. A very picturesque village with tall mountains running steeply down towards the lake. I was in heaven. Clear mountain air, a crispy greenish-blue lake, fresh locally grown fruit everywhere, and the temperature was just perfect.

We stayed at a hotel called Due Leoni (I’ll come back to that in a later post) where the olive trees grew everywhere around us. We had five minutes to walk down to a small supermarket, where we bought breakfast every day. Giant hams lay on display in a cooler, and were sliced while we watched. Every day started with freshly baked rolls (perfect, but they could have substituted some of the white flour for some whole grain…) and a variety of Italian delicacies; prosciuttio di parma, prosciutto cotto, salame.

In the middle of the village was a small market. I believe this was only open once a week, but we were lucky enough to stumble upon it while out walking. I bought kilos of apricots and nectarines grown in and around the village. They were recently harvested and a kilo worth of fruit often included a small twig or two, and at least a few leaves from the trees; exactly the way I like it! There were all types of vegetables and fruits sold, and these made me dream of spending a month in the area, having time and the utilities to cook every meal from scratch using the best of produce.

The village was vibrant and full of life, as were the surrounding hills. It was a little magical walking in the streets looking at everything around us, knowing that the same streets had been roamed for centuries. Evidence of the long history of the village was found in shape of a small church adjacent to the market square. Murals inside it were about 800 years old, and apparently the church had been built on top of an older church. Every small village in Brenzone had a similar story to tell, all stretching back many centuries, making the area so much more than a gorgeous, adventurous tourist magnet.

Hotels in Italy

The two hotels mentioned in this post were Annia Park Hotel near the Marco Polo airport in Venice. The other was Gardaland resort, connected to Gardaland, which is (if I’m not mistaken) the largest amusement park in Italy.

Annia Park Hotel is absolutely recommendable. It is a bit pricy, but if you arrive in the middle of the night, like we did, and want a comfortable room, guaranteed air condition, and a good breakfast, then this is a good place to stay. It’s very close to the airport with free shuttle going back and forth, but is situated otherwise a bit in the middle of nowhere. I would never stay for a length of time, but for one night it was absolutely perfect!

Gardaland resort had a very cool pirate-themed room, but except for that we didn’t really like it all that much. The hotel has an outside pool (where we all had to wear swimming caps), which is fun for kids and adults alike, but the entertainment planned for kids was much too late in the evening for small “jet-lagged” Norwegians who normally put the kid to bed around 7; the show didn’t start until 9pm. The food was also very good, both the breakfast and the dinner buffet were absolutely recommendable, but as pricy as the rest of the hotel. If planning to go to Gardaland I would next time stay somewhere else.

Italy

We have returned home to where we all fluently speak the language after having spent two weeks in Italy. Husband’s been here once before, I’ve been there about 15 times, while Son has his heart set on returning for a second time. We return home with a suitcase full of memories, a slight tan, and an improved Italian vocabulary.

We spent a week by the Garda Lake (Lago di Garda) and then a week in Bibione; a small town some kilometres from Venice. The first week we spent alone, just the three of us. The second we were joined by my entire family. My father just turned 60 and invited all children and grandchildren to spend a week in Italy.

We have had tons of fun, eaten well, and spent the most part of every day outside in the sun. Perfect temperatures of between 25 and 30 degrees have truly set the mood. More to be told in the days to come. Enjoy the summer!