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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Autumn plans – for studies

I received a letter from the University of Bergen today confirming that I have been accepted into the two year correspondence program “Nordic language and literature”, starting in September this year. So that’s what I’ll be doing when it comes to studying this autumn, and next spring, and next autumn, and the spring after that again… I think it will be interesting (I ought to, it’s my chose to study this topic) and very useful to me as a writer to get to know my literary heritage better than I do now. I fear though, that after having done the MA Creative Writing – nothing will ever be as exciting as that.

Monday, June 25, 2007

But what does it mean?

I’m really into Bon Jovi (again) these days, and I’ve especially been listening a lot to “Bed of Roses”. I really like that song, but I’m not sure why. It seems to be a love song, about some guy on tour probably, missing his girl-friend at home. Some of the lyrics just make me wonder though:

“With an ironclad fist I wake up and French kiss the morning”

My English has become quite good over the last years, but I still can’t grasp the meaning of this. This might not be that strange, as I always seemed to be struggling a lot in workshops at uni as well when I had to give my opinion and interpretation of poems that other people had written. It always seems that in poetry, and very often lyrics are also poetry, there are so many hidden meanings in the chose of words, which are very hard for a non-native speaker to grasp. I have heard about dictators that rule their countries with an ironclad fist, and to me this chose of words seem to indicate anger and violence. I just can’t make out what it has to do with French kissing the morning – which probably means something completely different than the words used.

I’ve been searching the internet to see if Jon Bon Jovi has ever given some explanation or background history for the lyrics in “Bed of Roses”, but I’ve had no luck.

So, now I’m posting this on the internet, hoping that some of my English speaking friends, or other people just passing by, can explain it to me.

Friday, June 22, 2007


As I told you about my tooth problem yesterday, I thought I’d just follow that one up today and letting the world now that the dentist did not pull any teeth from my mouth today. He said that I’ve got an infection, gave me some antibiotics and said that when I’m through with that we’ll have to have another look at the tooth and see if it needs to come out. I hope not. I used to be terribly afraid of dentists, I’m not anymore – I still don’t like having teeth pulled though. For now I’m waiting for the antibiotics to kick in and make at least some of the pain go away – and whilst waiting for that, I’m eating painkillers.

And I’m not going to Strömstad for the weekend, but as the weather kind of… sucks… I’m really not that upset about having to change my plans and stay at home. I might try to get some writing done, or just watch some movies. I’m very good at buying DVDs all the time, but not that good at getting around to watching them. At the moment, I’ve got the following movies on my shelf waiting to be watched:

Big Fish
The Wind that Shakes the Barley
28 days later
The Grudge
Dawn of the dead
Oljeberget (A documentary about the Norwegian Prime Minister)
Seven years in Tibet
Gangs of New York
Road to Perdition
Master & Commander
Black Books (The 1st series)

And I’ve also recently bought ‘9 ½ weeks’ which I’m meaning to watch again soon. Haven’t seen it for at least 15 years and I quite enjoyed it the last time so thought I’d give it another go.

Hmmm, seems like this blog post ended up being more about other stuff than about going to the dentist, so perhaps I should consider changing the title…? Nope, just can’t be bothered.

It’s about time…

I’m starting to feel like it’s about time that I fell in love again. It seems as if there’s something missing in my life. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m looking for a relationship, I might, I don’t know, but what I’m thinking about right now is the emotional side of being in love with someone. I can read what I used to write about being in love, and I can of course sort of still remember how it was, but I just miss the feeling.

It must be 3 – 4 years now since the last time I was really truly in love with someone. Now, that wasn’t all happiness, and actually probably caused me more pain than anything else, and it didn’t end well either. Still, I wouldn’t have been without it. I miss the butterflies in the stomach, getting weak in the knees, feeling light-headed, giddy, giggling like a teenager – all those things that happen to you when you’re mad about someone. It’s the best kind of high, isn’t it?

There has been a couple of guys in the last year, that I was thinking, “well, he might be interesting, maybe I could fall in love with him if there just was more time” – but there wasn’t so nothing came of it with neither of them. And I am curious, is it possible to lose the ability to fall in love? I’m not being dramatic here and saying I think I can’t fall in love anymore, I’m pretty sure I can when the right guy comes along. It just seems that the older I get, and the more “set in my ways” I get, the harder it is to find that right guy to fall in love with. I still remember vividly what it was like being a teenager (and the things I can’t remember I can read about in my diaries) and I was, it seems, always in love with at least 3 guys at the same time, sometimes more. Perhaps when you get older you get more cynical. I used to be able to fall in love with a cute smile, warm eyes, an infectious laughter, a good dancer – there was always this one thing that would make me fall for someone – and now it seems that I want all the things, in one guy, and my brain keeps telling me it doesn’t work that way.

I guess what brought these thoughts on in the first place is that I got a bit bummed out when seeing “Pirates of the Caribbean – World’s end” on Wednesday. Even though it is an action movie, it is also very much a love story, and even more so in this third movie than the first two, and Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley both do a very good job at playing Will and Elisabeth in love, and I was just sitting in the cinema thinking, I wish I could feel that way about someone. And after the movie that thought just doesn’t seem to go away.

But, as I strongly believe that you can’t go out searching for this feeling, searching for someone to fall in love with, I guess I will just have to let things run its course, and… oh, well… it’ll happen when it happens.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

And not feeling so good.

I just wrote in my previous note about feeling good, there’s one thing that’s not good though. For the last couple of days I’ve been growing another tooth; a wisdom tooth (and here I was thinking I was smart enough already (yeah, I know, I’m just soooo funny sometimes!)) – and it still hasn’t even started to surface. And when I feel the area it’s supposed to come up, I’m pretty sure that there’s no room for it. It kept me awake most of last night, this evening I’m going to bed on painkillers.

Of course I’ve thought about the dentist, called him today, and got an appointment tomorrow. This probably means that my trip to Strömstad this weekend is off though. If they decide that the tooth needs to come out tomorrow and will remove it, I can just begin to imagine how much pain I’ll be in. And even if they don’t decide to remove it and will just let it run its course, it still means that I’ll be in pain – and I’m not really in a party mood when I’m in pain. Just ask my friend Dorthe who had to be on vacation with me when my back was bugging me (and that’s a lot better now, by the way). The painkillers I’m using are pretty good though, and I’ll be going to bed with a couple of those soon, and hoping they’ll keep me asleep till morning.

I feel good…

I knew that I would…
Just thought that I’d share with the world that there is one thing on my list of things to do this summer that I can, well, not exactly cross off my list, but at least it means that I’ve started on it. I signed up with the local gym on Monday, went back for a session with an instructor on Tuesday, and today I had my first proper full work out, and it was great. It just made me wonder why I haven’t been in a gym for… well, a pretty long time… and I really can’t say. It just seems that even though I really like being at the gym, there are other things in my life that keeps me occupied as well. There are days when I go to bed I feel I’ve spent most of my day thinking about stories, or staring at the computer trying to find words, and I guess it just means that when I get completely drawn into other stuff, I just forget that my body needs exercise as well, and not only my mind.

My goal to begin with is going to the gym three times a week; feel free to ask in a couple of weeks if I’m sticking to my plan. Remind me to get away from the computer once in a while!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean – At World’s End

Finally I made it to the cinema and got to see the third Pirates movie, and I was not disappointed. I’ve read several critiques on the internet where people haven’t enjoyed this third movie as much as the first two. I can’t say I agree. It was a bit different than the first two movies; where the two first movies have been weird; this one went beyond that at times. I’ve also felt that even though Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elisabeth Swann have all been major characters in the first two movies, Jack Sparrow has sort of always been THE main character, the one the movies are about. In this third movie I felt that the focus was a lot more on Elisabeth and Will and their story and that Jack came a bit more in the background, perhaps this is also the reason why some people don’t like it as much?

I laughed a lot, I cried a little bit (oh yes, I’ve no trouble admitting to crying at movies!) – and I wasn’t necessarily all too happy about what happened in the end of the movie, but I’m afraid I’ll have to say this: I’m hoping for a fourth one. I’m still not fed up with Pirates, and definitely not with watching Orlando Bloom in the role as Will Turner. I believe he was more handsome than ever the way he looked towards the end of this movie. I tried to find a photo of him, on the internet, from those final scenes of World’s end, but as I didn’t manage I’ve just used another photo of him here where he also looks drop dead gorgeous!

As for the movie, if I was to give it points, I’d say 5.5 points if 6 is the maximum!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The strangest thing

Well, not really the strangest thing, but still, a bit strange…

When I moved back to Norway from England on the 25th of May I had a bit of a negative surprise at the airport. I had known for quite a while that I would have about 25 – 30 kg over weight to bring on the plane. Because of this I did check with several companies, among those, how much they would charge to bring a suitcase to Norway for me, the best offer was about 80 NOK/kg (£1 = approx 12,3 NOK, 1 Euro = approx 8 NOK). But when I checked SAS’ website, which I was encouraged to do when I got the confirmation email on my booking, their information said that they would only charge 40 NOK/kg, so I decided to haul the extra suitcase back to Norway myself.

On the 25th of May I got to the airport about 3 hours before my flight. I know from previous experiences that travelling with extra luggage can be time consuming, where you usually will have to go to one place to check in and have your luggage weighed, then you have to go somewhere else to pay the extra charge, then you have go to back to the first place to finally get your luggage checked in. This was also the system at Heathrow terminal 3. And I was happy and prepared to pay the extra charges, and suddenly not so happy when SAS’ representative behind the counter informed me that the cost now was 80 NOK/kg. I protested a bit and said that this was not the information on their website, but she just said that the rates had changed over a month ago and there was nothing she could do about it. Obviously I didn’t really have much other choice than to pay the charge – suddenly not so happy anymore.

When I got home to Norway I went on SAS’ website again, to find that the rate quoted there was still 40 NOK/kg. This made me a bit… not exactly angry, but a bit annoyed. I used a form on their website where you can either make a complaint or complement about their services, and told them that I thought their customer service sucked. I explained all about how I had actually considered using other means of transport for my luggage but that I had ended up using them because of the false information on their website. And then I went on vacation to Playa Del Ingles and pretty much forgot all about it.

Today a nice lady from SAS suddenly called me. She said she was sorry that it had taken so long to get back to me, but if I would be as kind as to give her my account number she would transfer 930 NOK into my account in the next couple of days! They agreed that the fault had been theirs and that I shouldn’t have had to pay the extra charge!

What can I say but wow! I wouldn’t have believed it before I experienced it myself. And I went onto their website later today and checked, and yes, their website is now updated and now you will have to pay 80 NOK/kg when travelling with too much luggage around Europe.

What I will be doing next…

People keep asking me what I will be doing now when I’ve come back from England, where I’m going to live, so I thought I’d share a couple of thoughts on that.

First of all, where I’m going to live, in the long run, I’ve got absolutely no idea. But for now I’ll stay put in Solör for another couple of months, at least. The flat in my parents’ basement is a quite nice flat, and the rent that we’ve agreed upon isn’t that expensive compared to other places, so I don’t see why I should be heading out searching for something else before I know where I want to live.

And I guess where I’m going to live depends a bit on what I’ll be doing. I am really curious to see what happens with my novel, and keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that even if I don’t win the competition, that the publisher might still want “The Battle” and the other books of the Viking series that I’ve promised to write. So if I end up being a full time writer this means that I can pretty much live anywhere I want. If that doesn’t happen it probably means that I will eventually start to work in a more regular job again, but as I’ve still got about 1 ½ year left on my redundancy, I don’t think I want to start working again till early next year. I still want to spend some time, full time, working on my writing.

My immediate plans for WHAT I’ll be doing next though are…

First of all I’ll have to finish my final dissertation for the MA. I need to rewrite parts of the 16000 words of my novel that I’m handing in as “the piece”, and I need to finish the 4000 words commentary on the piece. But I need to do some more research before I do this. As the story is set in the Viking Age in the area around Trondheim in mid Norway, there are basically two things I need to do pretty soon:

I need to go to the Viking museum in Oslo. For some reason I’ve never been there. It seems like everyone I know has at some point been taken there on school trips, but my class never went, as far as I know anyway. And I want to see some real Viking artefacts and some real longships.

I also need to go to Trondheim; more importantly travel a bit around the Trondheims fjord. I’ve been to Trondheim, the city, once, many years ago, but I’ve never been around the Trondheims fjord. I feel that one of the things lacking in my novel are more physical details from the nature surrounding my characters, and I think this would be easier to describe if I go there and actually see it for myself. Ideally I’d be able to find two places where I can envision Borghildr’s father’s farm in Steinkjer, and her husband’s farm at Örland.

That’s the studying thing I’ll be doing this summer.

Next weekend I’m off to Strömstad in Sweden to celebrate Midsummer, which supposedly is very big in Sweden, but I’ve never been there for Midsummer before so it should be interesting.

The weekend after that it’s the annual fair at Flisa called Solör Mart’n, and if the weather is good, this should, as always, be a huge party.

The weekend after that (we’ve now come up to the weekend of 6 – 8 July) I am together with lots of my friends having our annual camping trip into the forest of Finnskogen. Tents, beer, mosquitoes, midnight swimming, BBQ…

On Tuesday 10th of July I’m going to Oslo for the Metallica concert.

By mid July I expect to be making my trip to the area around Trondheim.

On the 26th of July I’m heading to Denmark and Germany for a couple of weeks. Those who’ve been reading this blog know that this is also an annual thing.

I am still considering whether or not I’ll be travelling to England by mid August to hand in my final dissertation, or if I’ll just send it to the university by mail.

The last weekend of August I’m going to the island Håøya outside Tønsberg for a long weekend.

These are all the things that I can pretty much specify with dates, some other things that I’ve been thinking about:

I want to take up horse riding again, eventually; this is something I might be doing during the next 2 – 3 months.

I’ve lately become somewhat curious about golf, and I’m thinking that I’d like to do one of those introductory courses that are offered at golf clubs around Norway. So when I can find one not too far from where I live I guess I might be doing that as well.

I’m this week becoming a member of the local gym again. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been a member of a gym, and with my back now troubling me it just seems like a good idea.

And I guess this is pretty much it, what I’ve got planned for the next 2 – 3 months. I’ve got more plans after that, but I’ll get back to those in another posting on this blog when they’ve become a bit more fixed.

Going to the doctor – in Playa Del Ingles

Somehow I almost forgot to tell you about going to the doctor in Playa Del Ingles.

Since the middle of May my back has been hurting in periods for then to become better again. I didn’t really give it that much thought, as all people have back problems at one point or the other in their lives. When I was in Norway between England and going to Playa Del Ingles my back was fairly well so I forgot about how it had been kind of bad in the middle of May.

Going to Playa Del Ingles, it turned out, was not something my back appreciated. Already on the second day there the pains were returning, and after a week they had become so excruciating that I was in pain standing up, lying down, sitting, walking, everything. It says something about the level of pain I think when on the evening of Tuesday the 5th I couldn’t drink alcohol because I was in so much pain!

So on Wednesday the 6th when I got up in the morning after a very bad night I decided that I had no other choice but go to the doctors. One of our friends at Dunes & Tunes had suggested the Centro de Salud in Maspalomas, which is the main public doctor/hospital in the area. I had of course brought my European Health card so I could’ve gone there, but I thought that since I had paid quite a lot for my travel insurance, I wanted to get something out of that, and I thought going to a place with Scandinavian doctors might be a good idea. Not because I necessarily think they’re better doctors than the Spanish one, simply because, as I’ve stated before, I don’t speak Spanish, and then it seemed easier to explain my problems to someone who speak Scandinavian.

I called the Clinica Scandinavica and they said I should just come in to the clinic, which was a three minute taxi ride away.

What I found out when I got there and presented my travel insurance was that they wouldn’t accept it. And here I was, naïve enough obviously, thinking that when you’ve got travel insurance, well, you’ve got travel insurance. What they told me was that they had no contract with my insurance company so they would not accept it, and that I would have to pay for the doctor myself and then claim the money back from the insurance company when I got back to Norway. This wasn’t a problem financially this time, of course, the meeting with the doctor cost me 72 Euros, but what if I had been really badly injured and had to be hospitalized and the costs would’ve been several thousand Euros – would they still be saying “no, you need to pay for this now and claim the money from you insurance company when you get home”? I guess I would’ve worried more about this if I was going to keep having this insurance in the future, but I won’t. It’s a one year thing. When I went to England last autumn, I bought something called ANSA (ANSA = Association of Norwegian Students Abroad) Insurance which means that I’m insured through a Norwegian company called NEMI. The reason why I changed my insurance was that they could offer me a complete solution with home insurance, travel insurance, theft insurance, really all the kinds of insurances you might need when living abroad for a year. Regular travel insurance just won’t cover that.

Anyway, back to the doctor. As it turned out, I didn’t get to see a Scandinavian doctor, I saw a Spanish one, but a Swedish nurse came with me and did the translation so I got to describe fairly well where the pain was and how it felt. The doctor made me turn one way and then another, then she put a finger on my back and found the exact point where the pain was and pressed at that (which made want to turn around and hit her because it hurt so much, I didn’t of course, I’m pretty much your non-violent type). Then she told me that this very often happened to people coming to warm countries on vacation, it was a nerve that was caught in a place where it shouldn’t be, and this had probably happened when I was going from lying very warm in the sun and then jumping into a slightly colder pool and the muscles would retract. I wasn’t really convinced that this was the reason, since the pain had been there on and off since May, still, I thought that if she would just give me some medication, I would get through the rest of the vacation.

Then the doctor said that she needed to give me a shot, and I’m sure both her and the nurse could see my face go visibly pale. I’ll admit it, I hate shots, I’m a total baby when it comes to these things. Fortunately I was allowed to lie down on the bench, and then the doctor gave me a shot in the behind! It didn’t really hurt that much either.

I don’t know what was in that shot, I probably should’ve asked, but honestly, as much pain as I was in, I was prepared to accept anything that would ease the pain – and it did. About five minutes after I walked out of that doctor’s office the pain in my back was gone! I am of course aware that this might not only be the shot, but also my mind playing tricks on me, being so relieved that I had finally done something to sort this out. I also got a prescription for a couple of kinds of pills and a cream to put on my back, and they all worked fine. For the rest of the vacation I could still at time vaguely feel that my back was not as it was supposed to be, but not really any pain at all.

First thing last Thursday when I’d come home to Norway I went to see my own doctor here in Norway, and was told that we should just wait and see for now how this develops, and that I should keep using the same medication that I was given in Playa Del Ingles.

So, now I’ve tried going to the doctor in another country – AND I’ve learned something new, and worrying, about travel insurance.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I’m afraid I’ve been a bit useless when it comes to writing while I’ve been away on vacation. I had all the good intentions in the world before I went to Playa Del Ingles that I would try to get a bit of writing done, and all I managed was about 10 pages in my notebook, and these pages aren’t really that big. I did come up with an idea for a new story, not sure if it’ll be a short story or a novel yet, but it’s an idea I’ve found intriguing so far, and I’ve been working a bit on that. It’s kind of a creepy story, taking place on Playa Del Ingles and in Dunes & Tunes actually. I might be showing you an early draft of a few paragraphs of it in the next couple of days, or I might not – I am not always comfortable showing early drafts of things to people, especially when I’m not sure if the idea is going to develop into something more than the few paragraphs. So far I’ve got 4 pages of notes and several paragraphs from different places in the story.

And I’m not even sure if I’ll have time to work on this story now. I definitely have to finish my final dissertation for the MA and get that sent to England, and I am eager to get started on the second novel in my Viking Series. I’m pretty sure I’ll be writing the second book even if Schibsted should decide that they don’t want to publish my novel “The Battle”. I’ve had such good feedback on this story, I am actually quite confident that if this publisher doesn’t want it – I will be able to find one that does, eventually, and then being able to present book number two at pretty much the same time might be a plus.

I am trying to put the competition out of my head, because the beginning of July seems to be such a long time away, yet, and I don’t even know what they mean by the beginning of July, is that the 1st or the 14th – the difference is 2 weeks long!!

What I will be doing now that I’m back home again is to try and set some kind of daily schedule for myself that involves at least 3 – 4 hours of writing every day from Monday to Friday. By experience it’s just too easy to get up each morning and then suddenly the evening is here and I find that I’ve done nothing to be proud of that day.

Hmmm, don’t think about the competition, don’t think about the competition, don’t think about the competition….

Don’t eat there – part III

And just when we thought we were safe… And had made it through our holiday without any major food poisoning, we got Las Palmas airport on our trip home.

We were both thoroughly unhappy about going home, so I guess it just fit in with our theme song of the day, sung very ironically “It’s such a perfect day…”

Even though we had had a big breakfast before our long day of travelling back to Norway, by the time we got to the airport we were actually a bit hungry again and decided to have some food before getting on the plane. There were several places to choose from, and we were just thrilled that they were all open, because the last time we went home, in the evening, we discovered that most of them were closed.

So, we decided on pizza from a place called sbarro. It certainly smelled very nice, and looked very nice with all the different kinds of pizzas that they had on parade. I discovered a kind of pizza roll that I’ve never seen before, it very much looked like a pizza slice that had been rolled into a roll – and we both decided to try this out, with ham and cheese. It looked very nice; they even put it into the pizza oven to re-heat it before serving it to us.

And then we sat down to eat. The first bite from one end was nice, but still there was something odd about the pizza, it seems to contain an awfully large amount of cheese, very sticky strange tasting cheese. My friend suddenly almost blew a bobble with a large chunk of it. And then suddenly we both realized that what we were in fact eating was dough!!! The pizza was completely raw in the middle. Yes there was quite a lot of cheese and ham in there as well, but mostly it was dough! This gave us some many ideas about how the cheese and the ham could’ve been prepared and what this might possibly do to our stomachs on the 5,5 hour long trip back to Norway, that suddenly we weren’t hungry anymore. We discussed going back to the counter and complain, but was afraid that we would be offered even more pizza as a replacement – and if you’ve had one thing and that’s off, you don’t really want to try something new. So we threw it out, and left – and as I said “Such a perfect day….”

sbarro at Las Palmas airport – Don’t Eat There!

Dunes & Tunes

I could of course not write about our two week trip to Gran Canaria without mentioning our favourite bar ”Dunes & Tunes” – the Irish bar on the beach. Some of you might remember that I’ve mentioned it before…..

We did of course go back there this time as well. No, not every night, what do you think we are, pathetic? Out of 14 nights in Playa Del Ingles, we did manage to stay away two – 2 – nights!! One of those nights was when we stayed in to make sure we could get up and go to Las Palmas the next day, and the other night was when we went to Sioux City.

Coming back to Dunes & Tunes was great as every, though a bit on the quiet side this time. As was all of Playa Del Ingles for at least the first 10 days when we were there. Everywhere we went we hardly saw any people. Some might argue that this has something to do with the time of the year that we travelled to Playa Del Ingles, but we went there in June last year as well, and even though we did recognize that it was a bit quiet it was by far not as quiet as it was this year.

We did read some disturbing news in the Norwegian free newspaper “Dag og Natt” that the statistics show that during the first 4 months of this year, Gran Canaria has experienced a loss of 100 000 tourists compared to the same time last year. That’s a lot of people. I do hope this is a trend that won’t continue. Even though I’m not the kind of person who likes places to be completely loud and crowded, I still like there to be a bit more than on average 5 persons around except me.

Back to Dunes & Tunes. As I said, during the first 10 days not many people there, which caused them to close early compared to what we’re used to, sometime around midnight. And it also meant that they only had one of their singers on every night. The first couple of days the singer was Murphy, who we haven’t met before, but who turned out to be a really good guitar player as well as a singer. On our third or fourth night there, Archie came back, and on the fifth or sixth evening we finally got to here John sing as well. Archie was on every night after that, John would come in and sing when there were “enough” people – and we did miss him a lot on the evenings when he didn’t come. But, well, being an economist (yes, I do have the papers to prove it, even though I don’t like to talk about it!) I can understand why.

The last couple of nights of our vacation it seemed like people had finally started to discover Playa Del Ingles again and it seemed to be a lot more people everywhere, in Dunes & Tunes too. We can’t wait to go back this autumn! And I can still highly recommend to anyone to go there for some great music, good atmosphere – and really friendly and fun staff!

Sioux City

Every Friday in Sioux City there is an evening show with country music and BBQ. We went to experience this on Friday the 8th June.

For those of you who doesn’t know: Sioux City is a western city built on Gran Canaria. I’ve been there once before during the day and found that it was, oh, well, ok. It actually pretty much looks like those cities you see in old western movies and there are animals and so on there. Still, during the day I wouldn’t call the visit more than ok.

Now we decided to go back for the evening show on Friday. We were a bit sceptical, but thought that we should at least try it once.

It turned out to be great!

It cost 48 Euros to get in, that includes everything, even as many drinks as you can handle (and they serve beer, wine and booze). To some people this might sound expensive, but coming from Norway, with the beer prices we’ve got here, I’d say that’s not bad – I hardly moved about from the bar the whole evening through!!!

Lots of people, about 10 full buses I’d say, were there on the same night as us. The BBQ started at 8 and around 9 there was country music in the saloon, with line dancing! The western show started at 10. This included cowboys, Indians, can-can girls, villains and heroes, and horses. I quite enjoyed it, even though I wasn’t really convinced by the Indians juggling florescent hula hoops.

But I’d say this is a good evening out and I will most definitely recommend this to others on vacation in Gran Canaria. There were lots of families with small children there as well and the children seemed to be enjoying it a lot too. I am perhaps a bit sceptical to bringing children to an event were there’s “free” alcohol (especially when there are Norwegians around who know how to get their money’s worth!!) – but I do realize that more than anything this event is special to the younger children, and perhaps not as special to the older children – like me!


On one of our days in Playa Del Ingles we decided to make a visit to Arguineguin, which is a small town about 10 minutes by taxi from Playa Del Ingles. Arguineguin has been fairly recently developed as a tourist resort, it used to be just a quiet town where mostly local fishermen and their families lived. Now this place is also starting to be taken over by tourist, and not just any tourist, Norwegian tourists!!! We went to Arguineguin because we had read in the free Norwegian newspaper for Gran Canaria, “Natt og Dag” (“Night and Day”), that there was a women’s clothes store there called Chantal that should have clothes in all types and sizes with cheap prizes.

Coming to Arguineguin was a strange experience. There were Norwegian names on lots of stores and cafés and pubs, and everywhere you walked you heard people talk Norwegian, we were even approached by a man who was obviously local, but still spoke to us in Norwegian and asked if we needed help. This was when we were searching for Chantal, which we in the end did find – just to discover that what’s called cheap is very individual. We didn’t buy anything in the store, but if you’re willing to pay the price, I guess the selection of clothes was quite good.

We walked around Arguineguin for a little while but didn’t really stay there that long. Still, it very much gave me the impression that at least parts of Arguineguin is a Norwegian ghetto. I don’t care much for ghettos no matter what kind of nationalities live in them. I think that when you live in another country you should try to interact as much as possible with the locals. Meeting up with people of your own nationality, and going to stores to buy food from you own country is fine – but if too many foreigners are too heavily concentrated in one area I think that can be a hinder to learn the local language and customs. I have seen on Norwegian television documentaries about Norwegians abroad in Spain who live in mostly “Norwegian” areas and they refuse to learn Spanish, they talk badly about the nationals of Spain and they try to make sure that the so called foreigners can’t move into “their” neighbourhoods. This I don’t like. Arguineguin might not be like this, but still, if I am ever to stay for a longer period of time in Gran Canaria, I don’t think I would opt for Arguineguin, because I would be going down there then to experience something new – not something Norwegian!! I’ll admit to though, being happy about stores that sell Norwegian food stuff – after having lived 9 months in England, I do know how much you can come to miss your favourite foods from home!

”The 19th Hole” – Maspalomas

On one of our visits to Maspalomas we stopped by an Irish bar called “The 19th Hole” for lunch. This is probably the place where I’ve had the best food ever in Gran Canaria, the food is just excellent! And the price is not that scary either, about 13 – 14 Euros for a filet steak dinner.

We did however have a guest for lunch that we did not appreciate that much, you can see a photo of him here. Both Dorthe and I were pretty tough as long as he was about a metre away, but when he suddenly turned and came directly for our table we were up and running – who knows – this could be a toe-biter after all! The waiter tried to calm us down and say that these are everywhere in Gran Canaria (and how come I’ve never seen one before) and that they were not dangerous. But when I asked him if there was any danger that they would bite, he wouldn’t answer that!

But “The 19th Hole” was still such a nice place, and really nice people working there as well, even though I did get a strange question from one of the waiters:
“You have such a lovely hair. Is it real?”
“Of course it is!”
“Can I touch it?”
That was a new one, but I suppose it somehow was a compliment, and yes, I did allow him to touch my hair.

We went to this place twice and enjoyed it a lot both times. I expect next time we go to Playa Del Ingles, we will be going back, perhaps even in the evening, when they have live music which reportedly is very good too.

Don’t eat there – part II

Just a very short note to make sure that everyone who read this never goes to the restaurant called ”Die Westfahler” in the Cita shopping centre in Playa Del Ingles to eat. We tried that one day, and we didn’t feel well till the next day. I bought pizza, which I’m sure they’ve probably bought in one of the stores in the shopping centre and may or may not have kept properly cooled before preparing it for me, it didn’t really taste off – but it didn’t taste nice either. My friend had a toast sandwich with chips, and the chips were so soaked with old oil they almost fell apart on the plate, and the sandwich was as she described it, just strange.

So, please, don’t eat there!


One of the things that always break my heart when on holiday in Gran Canaria is all the homeless cats. It just hurts to watch them and knowing they have no one who feeds them, cares for them and loves them.

One day as I was just about to lay down for my siesta I heard miaoing outside the door. Our apartment was on the 2nd floor so I thought “it can’t be”, but when I opened the door a black and white cat walked in as if it owned the place. It looked pleased go finally find a door that would open. And it broke my heart having to turn it around and put it outside again.

There were signs all over this hotel telling us not to feed the cats, and I had to respect that.
On earlier trips down here when there hasn’t been any signs and we’ve lived on the ground floor I have been know to feed the cats with ham. Some might argue “but what about when you leave and the cat has gotten used to you feeding it?” Well, we’re usually there for one week, I don’t think the cat will forget how to fend for itself in one week anyway – and at least I know it will be fed during those days.

The cat that tried to move in with us had a red collar, I checked it, but there was no name of cat or owner – but I can still hope that the collar somehow indicated that someone actually owned that cat, and that it would eventually find its way home.

Mr Cranky Pants

So, we’re on vacation and in this really lovely hotel called Taboga with the most excellent view of the sea and the desert from our 18 sqm balcony.

Our typical luck: Mr Cranky Pants decides to spend his vacation in the next door flat. Or perhaps he’d prefer to be called Herr Böse Hosen or what ever because he was undoubtedly German when, out of the blue, he started yelling at us, from the other side of the yellow plastic wall that divides one balcony from the next, for being too loud! This was on day 3 or 4 of our vacation.

Honestly, I don’t think we were that loud. We’re not teenagers anymore, we can pretty much tell the different between loud and not. We did play music but not louder than we could easily carry a conversation, and we were talking and laughing. More importantly, was 8 in the evening, in Playa Del Ingles – who in their right mind expects the hotel to be completely quiet?

I chose not to start an argument though. I said “sorry” – in German – and turned the music down. But Mr Cranky Pants had obviously got himself started now and kept yelling at us for another two minutes or so, then promptly walked into his apartment again and shut the door.

That was pretty much the last we heard from him and his wife. As there’s a wall between the two balconies, I never saw either of them so I couldn’t tell if they ever left the apartment after that either. But I do of course have two theories about this:

his rage got the better of his heart and when we left he was still rotting in the next door flat while his wife was out celebrating her freedom.
he was so worried about what his two Norwegian neighbours would eventually do as a revenge for ruining their fun that he didn’t dare go outside anymore.

Either way, I’d say his vacation was pretty much done.
As for us, we could not care less, we kept the music down and our voices low but were still having fun and would never allow Mr Cranky Pants to ruin our holiday.

But, just think how much better his holiday could’ve been if he’d rather than yelling at us happed popped his head around the wall, introduced himself and politely asked if we would keep it down. Then he would’ve avoided the stress and got to meet some new people as well.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Las Palmas

Before we went to Gran Canaria this time we had decided that this would be the trip down there when we finally made it to the capital of Gran Canaria: Las Palmas. We’d been to Gran Canaria thrice since April 2006 and every time we’d planned on going to Las Palmas but never found time to do so, and now it was almost starting to get a bit embarrassing not having made it there.

We were so serious about our “project” that we even stayed home the night before (and watched the two first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies on DVD) to make sure that we would get up in the morning and not be hang over.

The trip to Las Palmas was surprisingly short, a little over an hour on the bus, and relatively cheap as well: about 5 Euros (the reason why I say about is that we paid two different prices going there and then coming back). We had done a little bit of research before going to Las Palmas, and knew that we should get on the double-decker tourist bus to get a sightseeing around the city, and that the house of Columbus, the older part of the city and the shopping centre El Corte Ingles might also be worth while seeing.

When the bus came to Las Palmas we got off at the wrong place according to our plan. We had planned to head to the centre of the city, to the main bus station, and get on the tourist bus from there. However, when the bus came to the bus station in the old part of Las Palmas we thought this bus station looked so big we thought we were in the centre of the city. Anyway, when we discovered where we were, we decided to get on the tourist bus from there – which according to everything we’ve read about it, shouldn’t really be a problem. Want to guess if it was as easy as described in all brochures and on internet?

We asked at the information office at the bus station where we could get on and they pointed us helpfully in the direction of the bus stops. We actually managed to find the right bus stop with the sign for the tourist bus, and we waited. Surprisingly we didn’t have to wait very long before we could see the tourist bus at the lights just 50 metres away, and eagerly we waited for it to pull up. When the light was finally green, what we hadn’t really noticed were the two regular busses in front of the tourist bus, which, as it turned out, also wanted to stop at our stop – and which caused us to disappear behind these regular buses and the tourist bus went on without stopping. So, we waited for the next one to come along, about 20 minutes later – to have the same thing happen to us again. You should think that these tourist buses should take care to wait and then pull over at their stops even if there are regular buses there when they arrive – because I mean – we can’t possibly have been the first ones ever that this happened to? Well, we decided to try for the tourist bus later and rather go on and do the sightseeing bit in this older part of Las Palmas.

We looked at the map and strolled into the city. Very nice old looking houses, and we managed to find Columbus’ house without any problems. This house is apparently a place where Christopher Columbus stayed on several occasions before travelling across the ocean to the new world. There were lots of old maps, and one of the rooms had been made to look like his cabin on board one of the ships. I guess it was fairly interesting, I would’ve liked to have taken some photos, but that was forbidden, so I thought I’d buy some postcards or something at the souvenir shop – but there wasn’t one! I did take a photo of the back of the house because that looked kind of nice.

We walked on to Santa Ana square which is said to be very popular with young people in love. There were hardly any people there at all when we came there, and honestly, I don’t get what’s so special with the square at all. There’s a huge cathedral next to the square, which we both would’ve liked to visit, but it was closed! This was when we decided that we were a bit fed up with walking around looking at old houses, and that NOW was the time for getting on that tourist bus that could take us to the centre of the city and El Corte Ingles.

Before we got as far as back to the bus station we sat down in a very busy pedestrian street with lots of shops for diet Coke and a Fanta Lemon. I got a Coke, my friend got a regular Fanta, they were warm, ridiculously small – and we had to pay about 5 Euros for them!! Which is just extremely expensive.

Oh, well, time to get on the tourist bus… or so we thought… want to guess what happens next????

We had no luck getting on the bloody bus this time either. I might of course just be us, but what on Earth are you supposed to do to get the attention of these busses, run into the middle of the busy 4 lane road when they come driving?

We decided to take a taxi to El Corte Ingles. We scanned the area around us and found that not very far from where we were standing at the useless bus stop – there was written in large white letters on the asphalt “TAXI”, so we assumed that that would be a good place to hail a taxi. Happy about our decision, we walked over there and started looking for taxis. Several of them passed us by while we were waving desperately for attention. Finally, one of them stopped to let a person off and we rushed over. I leaned in and asked, in English, if this taxi was now free. I got a very long answer – in Spanish! So I asked again, in English, “are you free?” but the man did not seem to understand what I was talking about. This was when I tried out one of the few Spanish words I know “libre”? He finally understood what I meant, said a lot of words, still in Spanish, and pointed across the road. Where we could now clearly see plenty of taxis lined up to pick up passengers. Apparently we were at the drop off spot!

Not very much later we arrived at El Corte Ingles.

We had heard a lot about El Corte Ingles before coming to Las Palmas. It is the biggest shopping centre not only in the Canary Islands but in all of Spain: 13 floors of shopping in two buildings. In our heads we imagined a large shopping mall with lots of different stores, and we were very disappointed when it turned out that El Corte Ingles is more like… “Army and Navy” for those of you who know English stores, and like “Steen & Ström” in Norway. Not really our kind of place for shopping at all. But as long as we were there, we decided to have something to eat, so we headed for the café on the 7th floor. This is where we get to the part which I’d like to call:

Don’t Eat There – Part I
The café at El Corte Ingles looks like the canteen in a medium sized industry in Norway. Plastic chairs, and plastic looking tables. There is something very strange with the big room as well, because there were only about 10 people there – but the noise was overwhelming, it sounded like 200. The strangest thing of all though: the waiters were all dressed in black suits – as if they were working in a five star exclusive restaurant. We made the wrong decision of course, and decided to sit down and have something to eat anyway.

We both ordered burgers, cheese burgers and chips. I can with no doubt in my mind say that that is the most bloody awful burger I’ve ever had in my whole life! I have a sneaking suspicion that it had been heated in a microwave oven, it was dry and pale in colour and completely tasteless, and eating it was like chewing on rubber. What I don’t get, if they heated it in a microwave, why on Earth could they not put on the cheese before the put the cursed burger into the oven? Because the cheese, a bit fat slice of it, was cold and had never ever been near anything to heat it. The chips were soggy from fat. We tried but not matter how hard we tried we could not force down the food, and at that price, oh, yes, we did try!

When the meal was over we both needed to stop by the Ladies room just to find that neither of the locks on the two stalls worked! That was when we decided to leave El Corte Ingles behind and never EVER go there again!

We walked from El Corte Ingles towards the centre of the city, without a big plan on what to do next. We checked the time and found we’d been in Las Palmas for a little over 4 hours, and so far we’d been so disappointed in it that we didn’t really feel inspired to try out anything else. Eagerly we headed for the bus station, which we couldn’t find, because it was under ground – but we finally made it there after having asked at an information office. On our way to the bus station we passed the starting point for the tourist buses, where no less than 3 buses were lined up and ready to go – but we were now so fed up we wouldn’t risk getting stranded in Las Palmas. When our bus to Playa Del Ingles arrived, we found that it was 50 Cents more expensive to get home than it was to get to Las Palmas – but we decided it was still a cheap price to get out of there!!

So, that was our trip to Las Palmas. We’ve been there, but didn’t enjoy it very much I’m afraid. I very much realize of course that you can’t really judge a city of 350 000 people based on a 4 hour visit – but I still think you can sense something from the atmosphere of a place whether you like it or not. I don’t think neither of us will ever fall in love with Las Palmas. We might still go back there at some point though, to check out other parts of the city that we just didn’t find energy or enthusiasm enough to visit now – but I don’t expect it to happen in the very near future.

Friday, June 15, 2007

No hablar Espanõl

I am soon getting to the stories from my vacation in Playa Del Ingles, but first I have to share what happened in connection with the tickets we should’ve been using for our originally planned trip by the end of April. The trip we had to cancel because of my friend’s accident.

At that time we had booked tickets with Iberia to fly from London via Madrid to Las Palmas. By mid April when we realized that it would not be possible for us to travel by end of April I needed to contact Iberia to cancel our tickets. They were the cheap kind of tickets where you don’t get you money back, but I still needed to cancel them to get the money back on my travel insurance.

I thought contacting Iberia by email would be the easiest way to do this – but Iberia has no contact email listed; you need to call them. So I called their London office and got to speak with a woman who spoke English fairly well. When I had made her understand that I wanted to cancel our flight AND that I totally understood that I wouldn’t be getting any money back, I asked if she could be as kind as to send me an email to confirm that I had cancelled the flight. She could do no such thing. To get a confirmation that I had cancelled the flight I needed to write to the head office in Madrid Spain. I argued that I didn’t need anything as official as that, I simply needed one sentence in an email confirming that I had actually called and cancelled the tickets. No she told me, I needed to write to the office in Spain – then she went on to spell out the address, in Spanish!

I don’t speak Spanish, I know about 20 words or so in Spanish, and for some reason I seem to be pronouncing them so well that every time I use them to communicate with Spanish people the automatically assume that I actually speak Spanish and go on with many more words, that I don’t understand. As the cleaning lady at our hotel did on one of the first days when I gave her some money and said “for you” in Spanish, and she was so delighted to find that I could speak Spanish she went on and on, and I gave her the money with a bright smile and went back to the balcony! And as one of the taxi drivers that took us from Maspalomas to Playa Del Ingles also assumed when I said “Centro Commercial Cita Por Favor” and he said something about speaking Spanish “muy bien” and threw himself into this really long speech, and I had no where to run at the time so I just nodded and smiled.

Well, back to this woman at Iberia trying to spell the address to their head office in Madrid. I asked her if she would be as kind as to send me an email with the address, and she said, no this was not possible. Surely, Iberia’s employees must have access to email in their offices? Anyway, we spent the next 15 minutes going over the address over and over again, until both of us were fed up and thought that this will have to do. So, I sat down, and wrote a letter to Iberia, in English, including all the details about flight numbers, dates, times, airports and reasons for cancelling the flight and why I needed a confirmation and all sorts of documentation and I sent it in mid April. Since then, Iberia’s been quiet. By the beginning of May I contacted my insurance company and found that they don’t really need a confirmation from Iberia that I cancelled the flight so I went ahead with my insurance claim without the confirmation from Iberia.

Yesterday, finally, a letter from Iberia arrived. A letter which I’m pretty sure is also a very nice one; it certainly starts with “Apreciada señora Bakke” and this I understand to be quite a friendly greeting – as for the rest of the letter, that’s in Spanish too! You would think that Iberia, which by now also is a pretty international company, with offices around the world, would have someone in their head office in Spain who would be able to reply to a letter written to them in English – in English?

Oh well, as I said, I don’t really need it anymore, but I am curious as to whether or not this is the confirmation that I wanted, perhaps the letter states that they don’t give such confirmation, perhaps they ask for more information before they can send me such a confirmation, I don’t know. I am thinking about replying to it though, in Norwegian, and carefully explain to them, that I did not understand a single word in their letter, because I DON’T SPEAK SPANISH!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


It's half past one in the morning and I've just come home from my holiday in Playa Del Ingles. Will tell you all, well, not exactly all, but a lot of what happened there in the next couple of days and post some photos.

But now I'm going to bed!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

We´re not beach people

It always looks very exotic when people go for (voluntary) walks in the desert.

Our appartment (with an 18 sqm balcony) has an excellent view of the ocean and the sand dunes of the Maspalomas desert. After having watched for 3 days how people seemed to really enjoy their lazy strolls in the sand we decided this was one of the things we needed to cross off our list of things we´ve done in Playa Del Ingles.

I wondered about foot wear, but as we were heading through the desert and to the beach I opted for flipflops.

The spot where we chose to leave the paved walkway and enter the desert had a little hill down, and then quite a big hill up, of sand, of course. There is no way of lazily and comfortably strolling up a big wall of sand. We probably should have thought twice about the whole project and turned back then, but we thought that once we´d managed the climb, it would be nice and down-hilly on the other side.

We made it to the top, not in style, but we made it.

Coming over the top of that dune we now entered the side of it that the sun was hitting - where the sun had been doing its work for hours and hours already.

One step - two step.
"The sand is a bit warmer here!"
Three step - four step.
"Damned this sand is hot!"
Five step - six step.
"What´s that smell?"
Seven step...
"Bloody hell, my toes are on fire!"

That last thing did not actually happen, my feet weren´t on fire, they just felt like they were.

We came down that hill stumbling, screaming, cursing - and not in any way lazily elegantly strolling - and at one point we just had to take a break...

So, there we were, stranded! in the Maspalomas desert; standing on our beach mats and wondering why this seemed such a good idea in the first place? NOW we considered turning back, but that would mean climbing back up the wall of fire, so we had to keep moving forward.

Somehow we made it to the beach and I lived to tell the tale.

As it turned out, we didn´t really enjoy the beach much either and have now decided we´re definitely NOT beach people, and aboslutely not when the beach is so huge it´s turned into a desert!!

Next story to come: Worst burger ever at El Corte Ingles in Las Palmas.