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Top five Christmas 2013 memories



Last Christmas 2013 was amazing. Fantastic. Superuber wonderful. It should have been: my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Europe. We went to Switzerland and Norway. Today I’m listing our top five trip moments.

 #1. Having our luggage arrive with us on our numerous flights across Canada and Europe

I’ve flown both Air Canada and WestJet and both carriers have managed to screw up my baggage on various North American trips. Imagine my surprise when our bags made it to our destination in Oslo, Norway despite plane delays.

Our flight originated in Zurich, Switzerland and we had to switch planes in Berlin. The Air Berlin flight was late leaving Zurich and we thought the gate for our connecting Air Berlin flight to Oslo would be nearby.

Nope. Not a chance. We had to change terminals!

We had about 15 minutes to get from Point A to Point B and a bunch of smoking and slow-walking airport people in front of us. We also had to go through security…again. With a long line ahead of us it was all we could do not to push through to the front. But we made it on the plane, keeping the reputation of polite Canadians intact but imagining the worst for our luggage.

To see it roll down the conveyor belt in the Norwegian airport was an awesome sight.

#2. The Spengler Cup

I play hockey and watch hockey: both NHL and the Spengler. In my twenties in Nova Scotia

Vaillant Arena in Davos. Look at those beams.

Vaillant Arena in Davos. Look at those beams.

we would tune into the European hockey tournament Boxing Day and I would think how silly the uniforms were with all the advertising on them. But it didn’t take away from the play under the magnificent cathedral ceilings of the Vaillant Arena in Davos, Switzerland.

Being in the arena was a dream come true. I got to see lots of good hockey and enjoyed seeing the Red Army take to the ice. Alex Radulov is a fantastic player even if he gets tired after 30 seconds of having the puck.

#3. The view from our friends’ house

Two generous friends allowed us to stay at their beautiful mountain home in Fanas, Switzerland while they were away for Christmas. Fanas is spectacular and photos don’t do it justice. We spent New Year’s Eve there and it was a sight to see (and hear).

View in Fanas.

That’s just one side of the amazing view.

Fireworks went off up and down the valley and from peak to peak for miles. The sky was illuminated from 11 p.m. until almost dawn. Church bells rang out not just at midnight but for hours and hours. The whole experience was just like out of a story book.

 #4. Seeing friends

I worked as a sport reporter at the Vancouver 2012 Olympic/Paralympic Games in Whistler. I met and lived with people from around the world. In Switzerland and Norway I got the chance to meet up with some European friends again, a month before the 2014 winter games.

 #5. Norway


In Oslo at the Akershus Castle and Fortress. This part sort of reminded me of the Halifax Citadel.

I felt at home in Norway as did my husband. The country’s capital, Oslo, is easy to get around in and there’s much to see and do. We took buses to museums and the subway to the outskirts of the city where there’s a quaint and cozy restaurant called the Frognerseteren. I had a delicious meal of fish cakes (which aren’t like Maritime fish cakes but actually pancakes with fish in them) and my husband had an elk burger. We had our lunch beside a roaring bright fire. Truly a meal (and price) to remember.

This Christmas will be decidedly duller. Calgary is home though and we have lots of friends here even though we’ll be far away from family.

Merry Christmas everyone.

A trip down memory lane

Most couples after their wedding usually go on a honeymoon. My husband and I decided to delay our special trip a year and a half and go when we had saved up some money. This past Christmas holiday we took off for Switzerland and Norway, both snowy places, or so we thought.  I’ll share some memories with you along with photos.

Spengler Cup game.

Final Spengler Cup game saw CSKA Moscow take on Genève-Servette. Genève won 5 to 3.

We enjoy winter and like to watch hockey so our first stop was the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. I had been to Switzerland before and was happy to return with someone who had never been. We were headed for the Spengler Cup, the oldest invitational hockey tournament in the world. It’s been taking place in Davos since 1923. Canada won the cup last year in 2012 and we were hoping Canada would win it again with us watching in the stands. They did win the game against the Rochester Americans (the AHL team for the Buffalo Sabres, which has a roster full of Canadians) but Canada lost to Genève-Servette in the semi-finals.


Canada Corner at the Spengler Cup.

The fans in the Vaillant Arena are fantastic – much better than NHL fans. The Davos arena is a small venue but the spectators make it seem large. They sing along to the pre-puck drop music, they do the wave around and around again, they whistle (instead of boo) when they don’t like a ref’s call. In short – the fans made a good experience – great.




If you look closely in this photo you can see a red sail in the top middle of the photo.

Our home in Switzerland belonged to friends who were away. They live in the most unbelievable beautiful village called Fanas. The houses are built right into the mountain and when the bus dropped us off in the main square I thought I was going to fall off the side of the town. There was no snow in Fanas and it felt like spring most days. The birds sang their Swiss songs and there were goats bleating “guten tag” (hello) and the earth smelled so rich. Some people take a tram even higher up the mountain to paraglide and fly by the house. One guy was metres away and waved hello to us on the balcony.



Yikes! Not much room to pass. The other view from the bus window was the side of the mountain - no guardrails.

Yikes! Not much room to pass. The other view from the bus window was the side of the mountain – no guardrails.

The bus trip from Fanas to either the town of Grusch on one side, or Schiers on the other, was a bit scary. The roads are narrow and winding and there’s not a lot of room for both a car and the bus. There aren’t many guard rails either but after a couple of trips we got used to it.






Just a nice photo of a swan (are European swans bigger than Canadian swans?) on Lake Zürich (Zürichsee).

Lake Zürich (Zürichsee).


I tried new food every day in Norway.

Off to Norway where I tried a new food every day. As a Maritimer it was my duty to check out the fish – for breakfast. Not bad, very salty just like the blueberry milk I also tasted another day.




Many afternoons were spent by the fire in Norway.

Many afternoons were spent by the fire in Norway.

Many afternoons were spent by the fire in Norway. A British senior talked with us one day and told us we made a great memory for her – the Canadian honeymooners sitting in the warm glow of the flames while the sky outside darkened. (It was dark a lot in Norway and only light from 9 a.m. to just after 3 p.m. Even in daylight the sky was dingy.) The funny thing was, the hotel put us in a room with twin beds.


Here I am at Karl Johans Gate, Oslo.

Olso is a nice city and people are friendly. There was no snow here and it was an anomaly for Norway. We were told it’s been the warmest winter in over a century. Olso is on the same latitude as Yellowknife and yet, Oslo was above freezing when we were there. Unlike the Northwest Territories (and the rest of Canada) that was experiencing the “polar vortex”.

Found the harbour! I always gravitate towards water being a true Bluenoser (Nova Scotian).

Harbour in Oslo.

Harbour in Oslo.

Akershus Fortress.

Akershus Fortress, Olso.

Speaking of Nova Scotia, Akershus Fortress reminded me a little of the Halifax Citadel. The medieval Olso castle is near the harbour and was first used in battle in 1308 when besieged by  a Swedish duke. (I was besieged by my stupid boots that I had to wear all the time since I didn’t bring any other pairs of shoes. Alas, who knew Norway wouldn’t have snow?)





Akershus fortress is still a working military area.

Akershus Fortress is still a working military area.

Akershus Fortress is still a working military area and there is a changing of the guard that we managed to catch one afternoon. The procession moves to Kirkegaten to Karl Johans Gate and on to the Royal Palace. Click here for a poor video I shot of the changing.



Viking Ship Museum.

Viking Ship Museum.

We checked out the Viking Ship Museum. Wow, incredible. This is the Oseberg ship that was excavated in 1904. There are three ships that were found in burial mounds around Norway. Two are complete and look to be in fantastic shape. However, some of the wood is degrading from the inside out and the Norwegians are researching how to stop this from happening. Human bones are also on display and I wonder what kind of stories their souls would tell. If they could…



Glass of wine on table near fire place.

Tusen takk (thank you in Norwegian) for the great memories.


One afternoon we took the Oslo Tunnelbane (T-banen, the metro) to the outskirts of the city. A friend of a friend who lives in Olso said we must go for lunch at the Frognerseteren Restaurant. It’s a popular place to end a good day of cross-country skiing, when there is snow. We enjoyed our last meal out in the charming rustic Norwegian place. Tusen takk (thank you) for the great memories.

“[O]ur honeymoon will shine our life long: its beams will only fade over your grave or mine.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

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