Saturday, January 25, 2014

Oslo Maker Faire

So I'll skip the introduction and cut to the chase. This past week we went to Maker Faire in Oslo. What is Maker Faire you ask? It's a fair where makers from all over the region get to come and bring what they do to show off and meet like minded people. Pretty cool.

There was everything from 3D printers

to vacuum formed Storm Trooper uniforms,
(And yes, Jango Fett made an appearance along with Darth Vader a snow trooper and a pilot.)

 and people making Steam punk and other types of costumes.

There was also a miniature Carnival that lit up and had music and rides that moved.

And a man making things out of bike parts

A Gecko Puzzle

And all of this was housed in the Oslo teknisk museum which contained among other things a full sized train, most of a passenger type jet and this unique little biplane that I'm guessing is one of the ones that can land on water.


So that was Maker Faire, it lasted two days, just enough time to go to all the speeches and talk to all the people who caught your interest.

If Maker Faire seems like something you want to see or participate in here's a link to their website. They also have a write up of the Oslo Maker Faire here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oslo: A Speedy Overview

Friday January 17 - arrived took the train to city centre and trudged through the snow and dark to our hotel. (2 young women with Google maps on their phone helped us find our hotel)

Saturday January 18 - bought 7 day Router bus/tram pass for everyone.  Took the bus to the Norwegian Teknisk Museum for the first day of Maker Faire.

Met Eric Stackpole of OpenROV  fame and from the cover of Make magazine on the bus and Vendrit an Indian - US trained aeronautical engineer working in wind power generation in Norway. Vendrit was spending the day at Maker Faire.  Eric and Sam talked Lego. (a lady at the metro station helped me buy passes for the bus)

I sat in on a presentation by Stephen and Fritz the Coke and Mentos guys - and caught the last half of Dale Dougherty's presentation "Year of 100 Maker Faires" He had lots of encouragement for hacking your education. If you click on only one link in this post click on this one: 

Sunday January 19 - returned to Maker Faire. I learned to solder and so did each of the kids. I got a chance to look at some of the exhibits in the museum and to hear Eric's OpenROV presentation and one by Erik Thorstensson

The beautiful thing about Maker Faire is talking to the Makers and seeing what is achievable.  While there was a commercial aspect to this event - it was very understated.  Everyone understood that this event is about sharing projects and talking about ideas.
Monday January 20 - Robot and UFF for a little retail therapy, Akershus Castle, Oslo Domkirk Cathedral ( a young woman at the bus stop offered us help when we weren't sure which stop to use)
Tuesday January 21 Norwegian Folke Museum - amazing and enormous, then to the Viking Ship museum, After supper Cam and Nicole bought a waffle maker at the mall.
Wednesday January 22 National Gallery We saw Van Gogh's self portrait, Edward Munch's The Scream (famous but I preferred some of his less famous work),  a couple of Picasso's and Rodin's The Thinker, then to the Kon Tiki Museum where we got to stand beside a replica of an Easter Island "head" and Thor Heyerdahls' boats

Thursday January 23 After a night interrupted by a fire alarm in the hotel (pulled by a drunk we heard), we had breakfast, took the bus to the Central Station, the train to the airport, the plane to Istanbul and the car home. We were in transit 12.5 hours.  It was a long day. (a man saw we were having difficulty figuring out which train to take to the airport and offered his help) (a man in the Turkish restaurant we had supper at  translated my supper request to the waiter - this NEVER happens in Turkey)

Before we left for Norway, I read about how unwilling Norwegians are to help tourists. The two young women who came to our rescue on our first day, even asked if I found that to be true. I have to say that we were well treated in Norway.  People were kind and helpful.  In a couple of instances, people saw us dithering and offered help.  When I approached people for help I always got a kindly helpful response. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Akershus Fortress - Oslo, Norway

Part of the harbour near Akershus Fortress

Sidewalks were snow covered and slippery.

The girls figuring out where we are and where we want to go.

It was possible to walk around inside the fortress, but all the buildings were closed, except the interpretive center.

Oslo is a city of sculptures.

Two doors but how do you use the top one?

This fortress is also used by the Norwegian military - so watch for traffic.

More interesting architecture.

A better view of the waterfront.

Cannon facing the shore.

A WWII captive wrote about his experiences on TP - this art installation at the Resistance Museum (also closed) remembers him.

Soldier keeping a watchful eye.

He must be frozen. It was a bitterly cold day.

Inside the interpretive center we learned about the history of the fortress as a castle and then as a prison.  However these felt covered foam cushions caught my interest.
I also quite liked the block of wood + sheep skin = chair idea.

But the block of wood with rope handles + round sheep skin was good too.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Oslo so far

What I like about Norway:

Clean and efficient
Public transportation:  miss the bus, take the tram or the train or even the metro
When pizza is on the menu it doesn't taste like every other meal I've eaten in Turkey - Italian herbs and spices - yeah!
Snow! And a biting wind that makes it feel like home
My new wool and fur hat doesn't look like over kill
Nobody stares - we just blend in
English! Spoken everywhere by everyone.
Norsk I already know ten words or so!
Ham and bacon for breakfast along with caviar and pâté if your tastes run that way
Ham and cheese on my sandwich at lunch
Ham and mushrooms in my calzone for supper
Maker Faire!
Skis and toboggans on the bus
I could go on and on!

Friday, January 10, 2014

It is Turkey

There are loads of cultural differences between the people we know here and the ones from home; and we often explain them away by saying "it is Turkey".

Friday night sometime between midnight and 4 a.m. we were awakened by the sound of four gunshots.  It sounded so close that both Nicole and I got up to look out our windows.

Cam often sees hunters roaming the forest on his way to the lease locations. Just the other day our site manager was out by his chicken pen with a gun and the first year we were here there was a man with a gun who strolled by our place regularly.

The police carry machine guns and the military men we see in town carry sidearms.

None of that explains why someone would be firing a gun after dark in our holiday village.


We really splurged in Istanbul. One of Cam's suppliers directed us to Macro Center in the Florya Mall. We found bacon (4 x 150 g packages), maple syrup (2 x 250 ml), Oreos (2 x 15 cookies),  Reader's Digest, marshmallows (1 bag) and together they cost 1/2 of our usual weekly grocery budget!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Bought a Bracelet at the Grand Bazaar!

I was going to post this two weeks ago but I miss placed the bracelet before I could take a picture of it..... BUT I found it!

The same weekend we went to the Dolmabahce Palace, we went to the Grand Bazaar.
Almost as soon as we entered the Bazaar a guy flagged down Dad. Long story short Dad bought a lined leather vest and Mom got a furry hat.
Fast forward about an hour or so:
Johanna wanted to look for weights for her scale so we then headed over to the antique section of the bazaar. We found a little café there so we sat down and had a snack and a drink. They had tasty cake/pie and good hot chocolate.

Once we were done we found a guy who had the kind of weights Johanna wanted. While Johanna shopped Sam and I wandered around. Sam and I passed a small shop with jewelry in the window and two men working in the back. We went to the end of the row and then back tracked, I paused in front of the same shop and one of the men working saw me and invited me in.
When I got there there was only one man in the shop, he showed me what they were making, which turned out to be pendents and little metal halves of beads.
In his limited English he told me about the bracelets he was selling.
I thanked him and left, determined to come back and buy something.
I came back and I decided upon this neat fish bracelet.

 His original price was 30TL but I got it for 25TL :) 
Once I’d paid for the bracelet I asked if I could take some pictures, and he kindly agreed. 
 Smile for the tourist.


"What is she doing?" Seemed to be what he was thinking here.




 Tools of the trade

Phew! So that is a very shortened account of my second trip to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul :)

-Nicole =)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

We Visited The Dolmabahçe Palace!

We went to Istanbul last weekend, we visited the Grand Bazaar, and the Dolmabahçe Palace.
The palace was amazing! So much detail, and gold and crystal, just wow! They have a giant crystal chandelier that weighs 4 tons!
We toured the Palace and the Harem, both were neat, but I liked the Harem tour because there was a guy in our group that looked like Andy Serkis. Sadly they don't allow pictures inside, but here are some snaps of the outside.

 The front

 The side
Hey! We were there!

What is that on top of the gate??

Oh, hi random seagull!

The palace is only 150 years old (only!), but the beloved Ataturk lived there for five years, and it was also the residence of six Sultans.

The palace is right on the water (you might be able to click on the picture and in large it)

-Nicole =)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

To Istanbul, Dolmabahce Palace, Grand Bazaar, Galata Bridge

On the way to Istanbul (Friday) we stopped for a break and a bite to eat.  Johanna and Sam ordered Tekirdag kofte. The rest of us had soup.  Kofte comes in many shapes and flavours vary from restaurant to restaurant.

This restaurant had good food; it was clean, well built, and had spotless bathrooms.

The view from our hotel room. I don't think I've ever seen blue sky in Istanbul.  If it isn't fog, it's smog. We left the hotel about 9:30 a.m. Saturday and split the day between Dolmabahce, the Bazaar and Galata Bridge.

This is the clock tower outside the Dolmabahce Palace gates.

Palace gates.  The palace was built in the European fashion by European tradesmen for the Sultan about 150 years ago.

Hoof prints in the marble at the entrance perhaps so the horses have traction?
Waiting in line - everyone must wear shoe covers to protect the floors in the Palace.

Waiting for mom outside the palace.

Fountain looking back toward the gate.

Outside after our 50 minute guided tour of the palace.  On the way to the tour of the harem.  No pictures allowed inside - I think we were the only people who actually obeyed this instruction.

These gates lead to boat dock.

Cam and I.

Bamboo growing in the Harem garden.

You can touch the bamboo ... but not the things inside the palace.

Clock museum in the background.  Johanna really wanted to go but of course it was closed. 

We could tell it was closed because all the doors were tied shut with what looked like binder twine.

There was an aviary on the grounds.  Chickens are weird.

In the garden.

Fountain in the harem garden.

Foot sore

What you can't see is the peacock paparazzi surrounding this fellow! Tourists hmm!

Cast and wrought iron.

More Big Doors

The Sea Gate

Looking at one end of the enormous palace from the sea gate.

Johanna and Sam at the main gate.


Taking a break in the Grand Bazaar.

Johanna likes Turkish coffee - especially when it is served the traditional way with chocolate and a glass of water.

The Grand Bazaar: a covered market (mall) constructed in the 1400's.  Shop owners pay their rent in gold.

More Grand Bazaar - See the TV Screen and the sign for Polis?


Shops selling gold.

 After Domabahce Palace and the Grand Bazaar we walked to Galata Bridge. The Bridge has two levels; on top is a road and sidewalks, below are restaurants catering to tourists. While I was standing by the railing on the lower deck this boat pulled up.

Then a man zipped out from the restaurant and met the man from the boat who was carrying a tray full of dirty dishes.  They made the exchange over the railing and boat the pulled away. 

In the restaurant you can choose a fish.  They weigh it at your table and give you a price.
We ordered the fish baked in salt. Cam had seen this or heard of it somewhere, but we'd never been to a place that would prepare it.  Turns out the whole fish is stuffed (parsley, herbs, mushrooms, onions), and wrapped in foil. The foil wrapped fish is covered in salt, which the waiter had to use a chisel and hammer to dislodge.

Then they carefully removed the fish bones and served us all a morsel.  It was delicious.

Yeni Cami (New Mosque - built in the 1400's) with the new moon over head from Galata Bridge.

Back at the hotel Cam took the kids to the "pub" to play chess.