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Drammen was the last destination on our list for this trip to Norway. If I'm being honest, it was probably my favorite too. Bergen was gorgeous and a must-see place, but I'd label it more of a "tourist" area. I wouldn't necessarily want to live there. Stavanger was also really great-- but for some reason, Drammen stole my heart. If we were to ever move to Norway, we'd probably live in Drammen. Taylor's ancestors actually emigrated from that specific part of Norway-- so he's got roots buried deep there (maybe that's why it's his favorite part of Norway too).

We spent 90% of our time in Drammen with families that Taylor had met while he was on his mission. So we put down our cameras and made the most of the short amount of time we were given to spend with them. That being said, we don't have a whole lot of photos from this portion of the journey-- but we do have some.

We spent an entire (rainy) day walking around the city. Taylor held my hand tight and told me stories about his favorite people who lived in the area and why the city held such a special place in his heart. Everyone kept apologizing to us because it was raining (they wished we had better weather so we could "better enjoy" our experience in Norway) but we absolutely adored the rain. We're kind of odd, though. Our favorite kind of weather is overcast and rainy. Besides, that's basically how Norway is year-round, so why would we want to experience it any other way?

Taylor made sure to introduce me to his all-time favorite food from his mission: kebabs. There are little restaurants that sell kebabs everywhere you go and everyone makes them in their own unique way. BUT, a to sum it up, it's a pita with lamb, lettuce, corn, cucumber, and a whole bunch of special sauce. We ate at two different places while we were in Norway. The place in Drammen, however, served their kebabs with a handful of french fries on top as well-- pretty unique. It's funny because kebabs aren't even Norwegian-- they were brought to Norway by immigrants from the middle east. But their popularity in Norway is pretty significant.

The 17th of May is Norway's Constitutional Day, or, in other words, Norway's birthday. People walk the streets wearing gorgeous bunads (traditional clothing) and participating in various celebrations such as children's parades, dancing, and firing off cannons. We spent that morning driving to various overlooks in Drammen and experiencing the celebrations from a distance-- listening to all the sounds of celebration occurring in the city below. I loved getting to see all of the different styles of bunads. There were so many different kinds and each one was absolutely stunning. Most Norwegians only wear theirs a couple of times a year (depending on the person), so I considered myself lucky to be there on the day that everyone wears theirs. It made my experience that much more special. I'm a sucker for things like that-- seeing the traditional clothing of different countries and cultures make me extremely happy because I feel as if it teaches me so much about the country I am visiting. I wish I had snapped a couple of photos to share but I felt weird about photographing random strangers against their will-- so just look up the hashtag #syttendemai on instagram and you can creep on random people's photos of Norwegian traditional clothing.

While he was on his mission, Taylor sent me a photo of him sitting on a bench overlooking the city accompanied by the words, "Someday, I want to show you this incredible view." I remember feeling little flutters of happiness as I thought about going to Norway with him someday. Actually sitting with him on that bench was one of my favorite moments of the entire trip! We heard music playing faintly and series of cannons exploding in the distance as we cuddled up close. Birds were chirping as they danced playfully through the trees. My heart was so full of gratitude; I was grateful for Taylor and I was grateful to be married to him. I was grateful for the opportunity to travel with him-- specifically to Norway. I was grateful to be sitting on that bench with him. I was grateful to get to experience a major Norwegian holiday in Norway. I was just grateful.

As we sat there on that little bench, I was reminded of how important I think it is to travel-- especially to places that hold a special place in your heart. I always hear people making excuses as to why they "can't travel," but in all reality, traveling is something that is possible for everyone; you just have to make it a priority. When you spend your time making plans rather than making excuses, you'll be amazed at how simple and easy traveling really is.

Life is so short. If we sit around waiting for the "perfect moment" to accomplish our goals and reach for our dreams, we'll find ourselves sitting on our death beds and wondering why we never got the chance to do what we wanted to do with our lives. I could ramble on and on about my beliefs regarding how we should never put off doing what we want to do with our lives and how we should always be working towards our biggest dreams-- but I'll just direct you to a book that can ramble on for me (but much much better than I could ramble about it). Click here if you want to read it!

Like I said, we spent most of our time among friends in Drammen, so I don't have many photos. But I left with a heart full of love and a head full of memories that I will never ever forget. I think that my favorite part of our whole trip was the opportunity I had to meet the people that Taylor grew to love while serving his mission. They welcomed me in with open arms and enthusiasm for our marriage and our coming baby.

As we were leaving Drammen and driving to the airport, I told Taylor that I felt at "home" in Drammen. Oddly enough, it felt as if we were leaving home when we began to make the trek back home to Utah. I could honestly see us living in Drammen. I spent such a short amount of time there but it became a home to me.

We ended up wrapping things up on our trip a little earlier than we had initially planned because, well, #pregnancy. Traveling while pregnant is 100 percent doable and 100 percent worth it-- the problem with this trip was merely the fact that we had planned this trip several months PRIOR to finding out we were pregnant. So a lot of the things we initially planned on doing were a little too adventurous for my pregnant body to handle. Plus, I'm a little sicker than we thought I would be-- blah, blah, blah, you get the point. 

That being said, our home travel plans ended up being a little chaotic and, thanks to the irony of the universe, those airport peeps made things a million times more difficult for us than they had to be. Thankfully our exhaustion made us more giggly and less grumpy, though, because we were laughing the entire time rather than yelling at strangers and making fools of ourselves at the various airports we were forced to pass through. But I believe it's necessary to document all of the ridiculous hoops we had to jump through in order to get home.

Taylor has always talked about how "efficient" and "convenient" it is to go through airport security in Norway. A good part of his mission was spent in airports and going through security-- so he's had his fair share of experiences regarding Norwegian airport security. BUT this time (which just so happened to be my first experience with it) was a wee bit messy. I must be bad luck. We only took four bags on our trip-- two carry-ons, our camera backpack, and a small backpack to carry our kindles, laptop, etc. We had no bags to check. We're pretty good about packing our backs perfectly according to the TSA rules and whatnot, but for some reason the security in Norway felt the need to dump out EVERY SINGLE ONE of our bags and rummage through all of our belongings. They even went as far as to dump out the smaller, organizational bags I had packed that were located inside of the bigger bags (such as the bag containing all of our phone chargers, Taylor's toiletry bag [even though it contained strictly travel-sized things] and so forth). Taylor couldn't believe it. We spent 3x's as much time going through security than every other individual and family that passed through at the same time as we did. Taylor was utterly baffled.

Needless to say, we were anxious to get to our gate and board our plane. We arrived at the airport bright and early to catch our 6:00am flight... but conveniently enough, our flight got delayed until 9:00am. So we spent excessive amounts of time just lounging in the airport. Thankfully we had things to do in order to entertain ourselves (like read and talk about baby stuff). We even caught a quick breakfast (which, if I'm being honest, was way better than I expected an airport breakfast to be).

When we finally were boarding our flight, we got stopped by one of the attendants because one of our carry-ons was "too big." I couldn't believe it because the bag they stopped us for was actually the smallest of our two carry-on bags (insert massive eye-roll here). Taylor went through the line first (with the bigger bag) and made it halfway through the bridge to board the plane when he realized I was no longer following behind him. I got stopped by the grumpiest attendee there ever was-- and she stopped five other people behind me. She had me drop the bag in the little measuring device; I did and the bag fit a little snug, but it definitely fit. I turned to look at her to get the confirmation that she had made a mistake and that I was free to continue boarding the plane but NOPE, she merely said, "It needs to just slip in there and not touch the sides." I couldn't believe her because as she was saying that, I watched six other people who had larger bags than I did walk on by us and board the plane.

Taylor came back through and was signaling for me to follow him, but the lady was insisting that I pay a large fee to get the bag checked for the flight. Another woman she stopped was throwing a fit about how she'd flown with this exact airline before and hadn't been stopped for the same bag she was getting stopped for. The attendee then said, "Okay, well rearrange your bag and see if you can make it fit better." At this point, Tay had fought his way back through the crowd of people and was standing beside me. He asked the attendant if we could also rearrange our bag to see if it could fit. She rolled her eyes and with a great deal of attitude said, "Whatever." We moved a total of two things and said, "Is this better?" and, rolling her eyes, she waved us through the line to finally board the plane. Conveniently enough, we were the last ones on the flight and there was no more overhead space-- so we had to store all four of our bags at our feet for the duration of the flight (thankfully it was only a 45 minute flight to Sweden).

For the entire hour and a half layover in Stockholm we were fighting through huge crowds of people and standing in various lines. It was awful. We had to get our passports checked three different times JUST to get into the area where our gate was located. For some reason that airport was extremely strict about who they let into certain areas of the airport-- more specifically who they allowed near gates that were headed to the United States. International flights were located in a high-security section of the airport and the international flights to the states were located past yet another security checkpoint-- it was madness. Thankfully our flight to LA was pretty relaxed.

The LA airport, on the other hand, was not relaxed at all (which we expected because... well... it's the LA airport). The bad thing about living in Utah is the fact that you almost always have to fly through another airport to go internationally. So the traveling seems 100x's longer than it actually is. In my opinion, the worst part about flying is all of the in-between stuff you've got to deal with-- things like customs in the LA airport. We even made it through it record time (but that's not saying much because it usually takes a million years anyway). We were plowing through large groups of people the entire time and everyone was grumpy (including us).

Our flight back to Utah was on the tiniest plane (because no one really wants to fly to Utah from LA, apparently). We had to run to the very far end of the LA airport (after getting stopped in security AGAIN because of the large "unidentifiable" object in our bag-- which happened to be the collection of chocolate bars we brought back for family and friends from Norway. But ten other people got stopped before us so we had to sit and wait for quite some time before they sent us on our way.) When we got to the farthest corner of the airport we then had to jump on a shuttle that took us to a different, more obscure part of the airport... and that's where our gate was located. We made it there a mere ten minutes before everyone started boarding. But from the moment we were seated on the flight back to Utah, things started going smoothly (finally).

After about 20 hours of traveling we were elated to finally look out the plane window and see Utah County sprawled out below us. We didn't realize how much we had missed Utah until we were sitting there staring at it from above. And can we talk about how gorgeous Utah is for two seconds? We live in such a uniquely beautiful place-- we've got it all: sand dunes, red rocks, mountains, salt flats waterfalls-- you name it. Every time we travel somewhere new the little place in our hearts where our love for Utah resides grows a little bit bigger. You don't have to go far looking for adventure when you live in Utah, that's for sure. It made me excited for all of the fun summer plans we've got that are just waiting to happen here in our beloved home (well... maybe once it warms up a bit. I mean, come on, we're halfway through May and it's still cold outside?). In the meantime, wish us luck as we battle off jet lag and travel exhaustion. We're going to need all the help we can get .

Norway, we love you. We'll be back again soon.


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