I’m all over the place! I’ve been back a full day, and yet my brain is scattered into a million pieces. I want to share so much. I want to write so much. I want to put my feelings down in black & white but I can’t find a place to start and let it flow.

Last weekend Tess & I flew to Norway to be there for Alana, my bonus kid this year, for parents weekend. Alana’s parents are stationed in South Korea and that is way too far for a weekend visit. Even a Thanksgiving-long weekend visit. So Tess & I stepped in and were pretend-family. Though. Really. We are kind of real family. The way the whole military is our family. After so many years overseas, you become each others ride or die.

The flight to Norway is a quick & easy trip. Even if it has a stopover in Amsterdam. Yet it’s an whole new world. A white, cold, beautiful world. We arrived in the middle of a snow storm. Sparkling icy streaks flew by outside my window. I’d grabbed the window seat from my daughter, hoping to see the fjords as we flew in. I’d forgotten we were in the dead of winter, despite it officially being Fall, and Norway, even southern Norway, barely has six hours of daylights. Even at 4 pm, especially in a snow storm, it was dark. There were no fjords to see.

We exited the plane, grabbed our baggage, our budget rental car, and headed to Oslo all in the first hour. Such a small, efficient, warm airport. Outside it was not warm. It was still snowing and the roads hadn’t been plowed. Luckily I had a snowtired-all-wheel drive volkswagen, just like Dave’s, and it handled the conditions beautifully. Despite driving slower & more cautiously than usual, I found downtown Oslo and our hotel in less than an hour.

I did not find parking quite as easily. After my fourth swing around past the hotel. I parked illegally and kicked Tess out. She ran in, asked for help, and was given directions to the secret door. I backed up, again illegally, swung a right and the secret door opened just past the sidewalk. A dark, inconspicious door hiding in the wall. I inched my car through and into the small tunnel leading underground.

As the secret door closed behind me, I regretted my life choices. This small tunnel was tiny. The car barely fit. Making the first turn, going deeper underground, I briefly worried the car would get stuck. Wedged sideways under Oslo, lost forever. But I made it. I made it to spaces designed to hold smartcars. Or children’s toys. But. Yay! My big, all-wheel-drive station wagon had a backup camera!

After sawing back & forth for hours, I finally parked the beast and Tess & I escaped the secret dungeon and made our way up into an adorable, charming, affordable hotel less than a block from the centrum. Even better? Our parking was free! A big deal in a city. A big deal in expensive Norway.

We checked into our small but perfect home, with side-by-side narrow (uber comfortable) beds. Brushed our hair, and teeth, and went back into the bitter cold night for a Thanksgiving dinner away from home. My first-ever Thanksgiving dinner not home-cooked. My first Thanksgiving dinner not cooked by me since I married.

Across the street from our hotel was a sister-restaurant. An Asian restaurant. A restaurant with a discount for hotel guests. I’d planned to splurge for Thanksgiving dinner. Just me & Tess. Out on the town like worldly women. It was worth the splurge.

The restaurant was warm, inviting, a wonderful holiday ambience with candles, a Christmas tree & music, and mu shu duck. Tess had never had mu shu before. It may be her new favorite. We had an amazing meal, for more than I spend in a week on groceries for four, I admit I blinked when I saw the bill. Even with the discount. But. It really, truly was delicious. I know it will be a Thanksgiving neither of us will ever forget.

After we strolled through the Christmas market, sadly already closed for the evening at 8 pm. We even stepped out on the ice rink and skated in our boots. It was a beautiful, almost magical evening. It was the perfect start to a perfect weekend.

Our fancy, delicious, Thanksgiving appetizer for two

Mu Shu crispy duck with mango! Turkey who?

Our small & perfect room at the Inn

First Christmas market! Who cares that it’s closed LOL!

The fancy hotel, at quadruple the cost, a block away. It *is* really pretty though.

The national theater right next to the grand hotel. I wish I had reason to dress up & go. I wish I had a fancy dress to dress up in!

Now I’m sad. The moose burger stand is closed. I’ve never had a real-moose, moose burger.

The handpainted ornaments are gorgeous! At 30 euro a pop, I’m glad this stand is closed!

There is no way to capture the beauty of the lit arched walkways. But I tried.

Oh! An impromptu serenade! I wish I’d caught it all on film. Their deep, happy,  singing warmed me up from the inside out.