Monday, May 17, 2010

Fishing Trip, Part Deux

Hei hei folkens!

So, instead of my usual play-by-play of events for this blog, I decided to switch it up and go to list format.

A List of Favorite/Most Memorable Experiences from Our Fishing Trip, May 3-7

-SNOW. That’s what we woke up to the first morning, and we got to go fishing with it too. That was a first: fishing on the open water in a boat with snow falling. The wet snow and tiny hail weren’t too miserable because it wasn’t especially cold and there was no wind. The weather wasn’t the best in the beginning of the trip (snow, hail, rain…), but the last few days were absolutely gorgeous.

-Gullstein feriested. This is the name of the guest house that we stayed in, and we were happy to find it homey and cozy and rustic. It had lots of character and, according to Birger, a friendly ghost named “Thomas” that we were supposed to greet each morning. The beds were comfortable and warm, and the house had everything we needed, so it was perfect for our stay. The housekeeper/owner even put a delicious cake and slab of smoked salmon in the fridge to welcome us! Nice Norwegian hospitality, don’t ya know.

-Card games. When the weather was less than pleasant or the sun had gone down (not until about 10:30 pm or so) we played cards. Lots of cards. Uwe taught hearts to those of us who didn’t know how to play, and Birger taught us “farmers’ bridge” (which is known to one of our American friends as “bid,” if you’re familiar with that). I had forgotten how much fun playing cards is. I even almost beat Birger at his own game (lost by only six points!)

-Sexist fish. The fish were being choosy, apparently… not a single female on the trip caught a fish! And I refuse to blame it on our technique; we were using the same techniques as the guys who caught fish. Andrew was the champion fisherman of the week, but even though we congratulated him, we envied him behind his back for his nice fishing pole with the pretty blue fish lure on the end.

We tried our hand at using fishing lines attached to wooden handle things… I’ll put a picture up so you know what I’m talking about. There were three shiny or gummy lures attached to the end with a weight. The technique we were taught was to drop those to the bottom (we knew we were there when the line became slack) and then pull them up a meter or so, tug on the line, pull in a few more meters of line, tug, let back out, repeat. Mitch, Uwe, and Birger all caught fish this way, but the rest of us couldn’t quite master the technique, I guess. (Or the fish were being sexist, as previously stated.) Shelby did catch the Norwegian coast a few times, and something nibbled off my worm and clam bait. So I would say we weren’t completely unsuccessful! And we had an absolute blast and learned a thing or two about fishing. Speaking of learning things…

-Learning how to fillet fish! Okay, so Shelby already knew. But it was my first time, and I can proudly check that off my bucket list now. My fillets weren’t half bad, either! Good icky fun, cleaning fish. The noisy, anticipatory seagulls thought it was fun, too. They got to eat all the guts and fish heads. Yum. Speaking of fish,

-Learning how to make Bergensk fiskesuppe (a variety of fish soup from Bergen) with Birger. Shelby and I got a fun, private cooking lesson with the entertaining and knowledgeable Birger. I can’t tell you the recipe (not because “then I’d have to kill you,” but because I don’t remember…) but there was cod, salmon, shrimp, onions, and carrots, all in a creamy sauce. It was decadent. Birger has the “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” and “how does that taste to you?” method of cooking, which is one of the best ways to cook, in my opinion. Birger also made us his famous bacalau one night, which comes from Portugal but is a well-known dish in parts of Norway, too.

-Campfires and grilling. We got to grill hamburgers and hotdogs and make s’mores over the fire. Delicious outdoor fun. Sitting by the campfire after when the sun was setting was nice, and from where we were sitting we had a beautiful view of the water and the mountain.

-Geitbåtmuseet (The Goat-boat Museum) in Halsa. We drove and took a ferry to the Geitbåtmuseum where we were shown around by Jon, a friend of Birger’s. “Why is it called a “goat-boat?” you say? Well, it’s not because the boats were used to transport goats (although they do have plenty of those in Norway). The “goat-boat” gets its name from the shape of the bow of the boat, which curves upward like the neck of a goat. This type of boat is native to the area we were in, Nordmøre. In the museum, there were around 30 wooden boats, some of which dated back to the 1800s.

The museum is not just filled with antique boats; in the next building over, the Husasnotra, there is a full-fledged workshop that was really interesting. We had the opportunity to see goat-boats, log cabins, and shingles being built and formed. Jon showed a huge stack of wooden shingles (they last for a really long time and are really expensive) that were going to be used to build a church in Oslo. We also saw a geitbåt and log cabin being built. Jon showed us examples of many of the joints used in building that are native to the area. The workshop has an apprentice program, too, so much of the knowledge of traditional building methods are being kept alive or revived.

While at the museum, we had the amazing opportunity to try our hand at:

-Rowing antique wooden boats. It wasn’t windy enough to put the sails up, so we rowed instead. There were four people who sat two-by-two and each had an oar, and one person who sat in the stern as a skipper to point us in the right direction or a bailer for when water came in the boat. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water, and we got some good exercise. It was also a fun bonding experience; by the end we definitely had the timing down and were “heave”-ing and “hoe”-ing in unison. The wooden boats aren’t kept in the water (they last longer that way) so after we were done rowing we had to lift them up the incline out of the water and over to the museum and shed where they belong. More teamwork—those boats are heavy!

Things we learned at the museum:

-Cod liver oil has many uses. Not only is it drank to keep one “frisk som en fisk” (healthy as a fish), but it is also used as the base for red ochre paint used on many buildings in Norway, including the workshop at the Geitbåtmuseum. In the olden days, Norwegians would use goatskins coated with cod liver oil for watertight raingear.

-Many nautical words come from Norwegian. “Starboard” comes from the Norwegian word styrbord or “steering-board,” and the word means the right side of the vessel because the rudder was on that side. “Port” is the left side because the boat would always come in to port on the side opposite the rudder.

-“Helm” comes from the Old Norse word hjalm. The helm is in two pieces- the tunge (tongue) which we call the tiller or handle you steer with, and the ror which we call the rudder.

-Visiting a nursing home. We had the opportunity to visit an alders- og sykehjem in Gullstein. The facility was very nice, and the head nurse, Elisabeth, gave us a tour and talked to us about the system in Norway. Because Norway is a welfare state, Norwegian citizens are protected “from cradle to grave.” The care that Norway gives the elderly (which some say is the mark of the wealth or quality of a country) was apparent in the nursing home; the staff appeared to be very friendly and caring with the residents, the rooms were all well-lit and tidy single rooms with a bathroom, and the food at the cafeteria was such a level of quality that it won a prize.

Elisabeth explained how important it was that the residents feel at home—the entrance to each room looked like the exterior of a house, complete with a red brick wall, large colorful door, lamp, and post box. There were also paintings outside each of the rooms portraying a recognizable place from around the area. While we were visiting, we had the chance to hear some of the residents sing songs including “Ja, vi elsker dette landet,” the national anthem of Norway. We had an impromptu little concert for them, too. It would have been nice to have more interaction with the residents, but the language barrier may have been a little tricky.

-Hiking up the mountain on a beautiful day. Birger led us down the road to where the trail started and off we went, up the mountain. The views were stunning, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. The hiking wasn’t too strenuous and muddy only in a few places. We didn’t see any wildlife, except for some insects. It took an hour to our destination: the cabin. We ate our matpakkes and then went to check out the cabin. I was expecting a little dinky wooden building with bunks, but building I saw exceeded my expectations, to say the least. The cabin was big with beautiful wood floors and plenty of space. There was no electricity or running water, but there were oil lamps and a stove, and the “do” (outhouse) was about as nice as they come. The prices for staying overnight weren’t exactly cheap, but it would be a nice, cozy place to stay on a vacation.

-The Flink. Flink means “clever” in Norwegian, and the Flink was the shrimp trawler that our hosts owned. We had the opportunity to go out on the water aboard the vessel. And even though we didn’t trawl any shrimp, we did fish some fish. Well, some people fished some fish, and the rest of us (as already stated) just fished… without results. But it was a beautiful day, so we didn’t complain. And it was entertaining to watch those who were a little more flink at fishing reel some nice catches.

All in all, it was a spectacular week, and a nice vacation in beautiful surroundings.

Kyss og klem,

Kjerstin (and Shelby)

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