Published: February 12th 2012February 12th 2012
I thought it was finally time to sit down and write an update of what has been happening with us as the blog page has been gathering dust since November last year.
I’ll try to keep it to the point, but it does require that I go all the way back to the beginning of December, so you may want to grab a cuppa before diving into this.
At the beginning of December, I packed my “ABAYA” (cultural dress) and headscarf and flew off to Saudi Arabia. I had to get special permission to get a visa as normally married women are not allowed to visit the country without their husbands. The purpose of the visit was to attend the 1st
Annual Saudi Arabian Audiology Congress which was held in Riyadh. For a first time conference it was particularly good and I had the chance to meet with some big names in audiology from around the world. I ran a one day seminar on evoked potentials (my speciality area) together with the very well-known Dr John Ferraro from the USA. My colleague Michelle and I got around in our abayas and headscarves and had no
problems at all there. In fact, both the men and women that we met during our stay were lovely and there is a good chance I will be going back again this December as I have been invited to present at the congress.
Just before Christmas, we drove approx 3.5 hours to Hamburg in Germany to see the Christmas Markets. It was a short weekend trip and we spent most of the time drinking mulled wine and eating the goodies they had to offer at the markets. We also managed to visit St Michael’s Cathedral and view the city from the top. Due to our lack of pre-trip reading, we found out when we got back to Denmark that we missed seeing the Miniatur Wunderland, a miniature wonderland of model railways, city and an airport etc, the largest of its kind in the world! Doh! So, I guess we will have to take a trip back there sometime
Dan and I had been planning to go to Sweden for Christmas, to meet up with Rosario and Andreas (Daniel’s sister and brother in law) and the kids (Agneta and Amadeus), but with flights and accommodation
around that time of year, it turned out better for us to plan a visit to see them in Andorra in January.
Instead, we gratefully accepted the invitation of my friend Maria and her husband Sebastian to come join their family for a traditional Danish Christmas. This was a very special invitation as Danish families do not normally invite friends to join them for their Christmas Eve Dinner. Here in Denmark, families celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, with a dinner starting in the late afternoon, followed by dancing around the Christmas tree, then present opening. The food was amazing, including the mandatory “Ris-alamand” a very popular rice pudding eaten at Christmas time. There are lots of small chopped up almonds in the rice pudding, but one whole almond that if you get in your plate you win a prize (similar to the coin in the plum pudding tradition). By chance, Maria got the whole almond but hid it from us all until Dan said he’d take a second helping to find the whole almond. For that, Maria gave him the prize and now we have two little “Nese” which are the elves that come out before Christmas in
Denmark and report back to Santa if the children are naughty. It appears most parents are able to get their children to do almost anything around Christmas as “the nese are listening”. I think that is one tradition we will be adopting into our Christmas when we have children.
December, my sister Amy arrived in Copenhagen and after picking her up and the long drive back to Assens, we celebrated Christmas again with a half Australian, half Danish baked dinner. Amy was here for 10 days and it was great to catch up, go shopping in Odense together, visit a few towns around the island of Fyn (Borgense, Helnæs etc).
On the 4th
January, Amy flew back to Australia (and managed to score a business class upgrade on Emirates) and on 6th
January, we flew out to Barcelona in order to get to Andorra to visit Rosario, Andreas, Agneta and Amadeus. The journey was quite long, with an early morning start, a transit in Amsterdam airport and then a bus ride from Barcelona airport to Andorra as unfortunately there is no airport there. Oh, unless of course you have the money to
take a helicopter J For those of you that have never heard of Andorra, it is a very small country situated between Spain and France. The main two attractions there are the duty free shopping in Andorra La Vella (capital city) and skiing.
As the main purpose of the visit was to see family, we didn’t do a lot of sightseeing, but we did manage to go into Andorra La Vella for a day to check out the stores, and went up to two of the ski fields to have a look from the high mountain tops. We also attended Agneta’s first skiing lesson and we’re sure she’ll be going down the big slopes anytime soon!
After our Andorra visit, we headed back to Barcelona to check out the city and stay for one night. We stayed close to La Rumbla and found it easy to walk around and see some of the sights from our hotel. We visited Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s Casa Batillo, the Picasso Museum and ate some great tapas and market foods.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, we were all geared up to buy a
house here, and we even looked at a few, but have since found out that the banks won’t offer us a loan due to our investment properties in Australia (unless we sell them). Here in Denmark, it is very uncommon for anyone to own more than the house they live in and for the lucky ones, maybe a summer house too, so they don’t really understand the concept of negative gearing and having property as an investment strategy. So, it looks like we’ll be staying in this apartment for a while yet, although we might look around to see if there is a house we can rent or an apartment that is a little bigger with a proper second bedroom for when guests come to stay.
Since we got back from Andorra, we’ve been enjoying some weekends at home and I have particularly enjoyed this after being in Bangkok for 7 days for work. Luckily, I managed to have half a day spare last Saturday when I arrived, so I booked myself in for a cooking class. I now know how to make Tom Yam Goong (Spicy Prawn Soup), Tom Kah Gai (Chicken in Coconut Soup), Thai
Green and Red Curry Paste, Fried Rice and Stir Fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts. Will have to head to an Asian supermarket in Odense next weekend so I can try and make my first Thai curry here in Denmark solo.
No other big travel plans for us this year except our visit home to Australia in September. We might go to Amsterdam over Easter for a few days as we’ve found cheap tickets (it’s either Amsterdam, Stockholm or Basel for cheap tickets at that time).
I’m off to Boston at the end of March to attend a big annual audiology conference where I will be presenting twice. One is for a small in-house study I have been doing so I’m looking forward to showing my findings and hopefully enlightening clinicians about new ways of testing hearing.
Time to sign off before I hit page three in this word document where I’m typing. We hope you all had a great Christmas and that you’ve had a good start to 2012.
Love Jes & Dan xx
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