A Tale of Tonsillectomy

The Norwegian hospital is no place for privacy. You get there and put on “the outfit” – pajamas, a bathrobe, blue plastic covers for your socks, and sit and wait in a cramped waiting room. The nurses, the anaesthetist and the surgeon come by to advise the patients of their fates. If you are lucky they transfer you to a smaller room with curtains between people.

Like in a factory, people are continuously coming in, being collected and later rolled back in another state.

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Caribbean blue

I sat there studying a picture of an olive branch, listening to Enya, my fav album for falling asleep. My will was drawn up and I was very calm. The sedatives were starting to kick in.

At 1 PM the nurse collected me and put me on the slaughter bench. They asked if I had metal, I pointed to the twice fractured wrist. Then fast into narcosis I went. There was no count down, thirty seconds and I was gone.

Barely remember walking up. Recall I told the nurses I dreamt of London. Saw my mum after but didn’t manage to speak much, heavily sedated and spitting blood.

Night at the hospital

The nurses decided to keep me overnight, too much blood. Huge risk of heavy bleeding after tonsillectomy, means returning to narcosis and burning shut the wound again. Think mum was relieved. Must have fallen asleep again, all of a sudden it was 6 PM.

Had fantastic care that night, intravenous pain killers and check up every three hours. Very little sleep due to snoring roommate and hunger. Eventually at 11 PM I was allowed a popsicle and an yoghurt, 30 hours after my last meal.

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Homecoming

The morning after my knees felt stiff. Mum had returned to collect me. The following three days all I did was record my pill intake, eat sorbet and stay in bed. Tried to read magazines, but too tired. Tried to watch Stranger Things, but too tired.

The pain level was alright, more like discomfort when swallowing. A lot of spit. Did not manage to get much sleep or nutrition.

Mum left Monday night, having stocked up my fridge on soft and liquid food. Legend!

Must the pain go on?

Day five and six the pain intensified greatly! It travelled up to the ears. Impossible to sleep and eat. Had the vampire look going.

Got the shivers while making oat soup and had to lay down. Totally understand why they automatically put you on two weeks sick leave.

Will it blend?

Day seven I started desperately craving proper nutritious food. Hard to speak with a swollen uvula. My friend Tone stopped by with some ready-made meals; cod with potatoes and carrots, and meatballs with mashed peas and taters. Down the blender it went and it smelled amazing. The best thing however, was the silky smooth chocolate pudding for dessert. Lord.

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The weekend

Dad came to town, brought me tulips, more pain killers and a pack of eggs. Did what dads do, started fixing things around the apartment. Still hadn’t slept much since the surgery. The following seven days he came by every noon.

Week two, Monday

Forgot I hadn’t had any coffee since before the surgery. Hadn’t even left the house for ten  days straight. Finally managed to get some proper sleep. Started to worry about the daily ration of sorbet and diabetes. Most food items just got stuck or was too acid to swallow. Had some porridge for the first time.

Tuesday, bloody Tuesday

Woke 04:45 AM with a weird sensation in my throat, like choking in your own spit. Stumbled into the bathroom to get painkillers and saw the blood. It kept pouring from the wound. I was spitting and spitting and it wouldn’t stop. My mind was going worst case scenario; ambulance, narcosis and so on. Called up the hospital for advice as I was rinsing my mouth in ice-cold water to stop the bleeding. Was advised to put on an ice pack and wait it out a few minutes.

Luckily it eventually stopped after about twenty minutes. I hadn’t bleed to death, but was exhausted. Too much action. Was scared to fall asleep for the rest of the day.

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Are we there yet?

Decided to stick to the soft, cold food a little longer after that bloody scare. Wednesday my friend Stefan made me a tasty creamy soup of peas, broth and mozzarella. Perfect! Then on Thursday dad came carrying a surprise, an advent calendar. Never too old for certain traditions. Got by on one singular pill today, the pain has left the building. And tomorrow is day 14!

Sum up

Got out and watched the hilarious Book of Mormon in the theatre at the weekend, Monday I was back at work. Extremely tired all week. Lost about 5 kilos in total, which I quickly gained back when eating normally again. Fingers crossed the endurance was worth it!

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Places to eat in Rome

Allora! First time visiting Rome. Lived up by Piazza del Popolo and walked everywhere, bellissima! To keep it short, but dolce, here are the places I can highly recommend:

I Pizzicaroli

Not far from Piazza Navona you`ll find an abundance of delicacies from Umbria and Abruzzo, served on a plank. A very long plank.

Osteria delle Coppelle

This is a gem! Few blocks from Pantheon. Book a table! Outside is nice, inside is buzzing with a great vibe. Delicious ravioli and tuna steak. Try the starters too, a mouthful each.

L’Arcangelo

Incredible refined dining behind Castel Sant´Angelo in Prati. Supplizio and cauliflower soup with sprinkled coffee for starters. Gnocchi all`Amatriciana with sauce made of cured pork cheek to die for. Everything on the desert menu sounds intriguing. And the wine, top notch. Expect to spend good money here…

Colline Emiliane

Mentioned in the 2017 Michelin guide. We got lucky, but do make a reservation. Without exaggeration the best pumpkin ravioli I have ever had. Sublime. A stone`s throw from Piazza Barberini.

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Breakfast and lunch

Giacomelli Patrizia

Favorite breakfast place close to the Spanish Steps! Smooth cappuccino, nice omelette and fabulous pastry counter. Friendly staff and lots of locals!

Cacio e Pepe

Had half a portion of delightful cacio e pepe, spaghetti with pecorino and pepper. Did not see any other tourists at this popular spot in Prati, close to Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini.

Ai Tre Scalini

Overate on caprese, mozzarella and tomato salad at this cosy trattoria in Monti, filled with locals. Chinotto Neri on the side, an Italian bitter coke.

Mercato Centrale Roma

Foodie heaven inside Termini station. Food hall run by artisan chefs with high quality products on every stall. Get you cheese and salami vacuum packed for the flight home and everything else to go.

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Pizzarium

Hole in the wall few blocks behind the Vatican. Well forth the stroll for super tasty pizza al taglio. Crowded.

Gelato Paolessi

Had both good and not good gelato in Rome. This place in Monti was outstanding. Fantastic flavor and freshness of the ricotta and pear, and the pineapple gelato.

Fatamorgana Corso

Great place with organic gelato. New flavors every day. Loved the Aztek chocolate, the pistachio and the ricotta. Close to Piazza del Popolo.

Gelateria la Romana

Go there just to see the interior! It is old school and chic at the same time. The least touristy gelateria. Check out the one in Prati.

Gelateria del Teatro

Another place with pure natural flavors and fresh gelato. Visited the one by Ponte Garibaldi.

Casino del Lago 

The cosiest, tranquil little coffee shop in Villa Borghese. Lots of delicious pies on display.

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Nothing sucks more than a sold out gallery or fully booked restaurant. Next time I will definitely book these in advance:

– Galleria Borghese
– Armando al Pantheon

Best not believe the hype: 

Nonna Betta

In the Jewish quarter. Fried artichoke and red bacalao. Nothing special.

Da Francesco

By Piazza del Fico. Totally average, touristy place.

Testaccio Market

Few interesting food options here. Mostly clothes and fruit.

Hotel Eitch Borromini

The rooftop view is astonishing. The 25 € cocktails below average, even with names like La Grande Bellezza.

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Emotional stuff

Ridding myself of material things was an easy enough task. Dealing with emotional baggage seems to be much harder. I´ve been pondering for the last two months which approach to take in terms of health and diet. The scales show plus 7 kilo since leaving London. For every one centimeter I carry one kilo, and I am a petite person.

Some friends have success with the 5:2 fasting diet which is very alluring for a control freak like myself. But haven´t I learned anything from a lifetime with fitness addiction and food restriction, emotional eating, binge drinking and such?

The complexity of life

I guess I have learned something. I do know what triggers these unhealthy obsessions with becoming “perfect” or hitting that magic number on the scale where all shall be glorious. So why can´t I stop with the improvement regime?

Let me cut myself some slack right there! Is it not human to want to better oneself? I do care about my health, not just appearances. I enjoy working out. And I can acknowledge why I had the urge to drown my feelings today, health is much more complex than diet and exercise alone.

What YOLO really means

My brother was diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial condition aged twelve. We are a year and a half apart. There is no cure or medicine for his condition, no known life expectancy and symptoms get worse with age. He has muscle weakness and pain, migraines, impaired vision and hearing, and stroke-like episodes.

In 2011 the latter hit and he spent six weeks in hospital. I thought I would lose him back then. In 2014 he was back in hospital and we hung out there all of Easter. We made a pact then; when they let him out we`d get him a cat, a very much wanted companion. He got two.

Coping with death

Death has been lingering in our family since I was ten years old. My coping mechanisms has been to toughen up and go explore the world. To live a little harder without thinking consequences. And to really go after what I want. It has made me super-independent, driven and brave.

On the flip side I haven´t learned to deal with or express difficult emotions, but suppress them. Fear of loss, in addition to other anxieties, has made it difficult to open up. Which has made me struggle with romantic relationships. I´ve escaped from anyone who got too close. Read More

Goodbye Things

I am no idealist, that’s not why I got into minimalism. I don’t necessarily purchase a lot of items, I just hold on to things because you know, everything might become useful someday. I think this mentality is a result of moving houses and countries every so often. Fourteen times in thirteen years to be precise. Before buying a flat I´d never invest in furniture or valuable items because I´d share with my flatmates and I knew it was a temporary home. Moving is a hassle so it’s better to hold on to things than dispose of them to later have to replace them, right?

Culture takes its toll

Returning to the motherland there are certain cultural ideals that are hard to ignore, like owning a home. 80 % of Norwegians own their homes, the state subsidizes homeowners with tax reduction on mortgage rates. The cultural consensus is that it’s a sound investment. Another thing that is common is comparing salaries. Until three years ago the tax statistics where public, anyone could check their neighbours net income and capital, and the papers would print excerpts. Now how do we show off our status and high income when everyone is well off?

Subtle bragging

In Norway we spend an awful lot of time and money on renovating and redecorating our homes. On average kitchens tend to be ten to fifteen years old. It makes perfect sense considering our homes are our investments, we will not let them drop in value. Then we fill them up with expensive items, to portray our good taste and status. And that is where I got lost, all this energy spent on choosing furniture, comparing this item to that. Comparing my life to others. Thinking about the endless possibilities for decorating my small condo. How easy it is to fall into the spending maelstrom. A £ 2000 sofa seems insignificant when purchasing a £ 300 000 flat. This materialistic focus clashed with my inner nomad, I want to be able to pack up and go in a day, rent out my flat and not worry about my stuff.

Break with the norm

Friends and family don`t always get why I have to do things my way. In our wealthy society having the newest gadgets, trendy interior design and traveling to trendy destinations is the norm. What I want to do is to change my mindset and be more conscious of where my funds go and not owning more things than I need. Also letting go of past personas that I no longer identify with in the process. This means donating, borrowing and not accumulating more, but also letting others know that the only gifts acceptable are those consumable. For every load I carry to donation, I feel a bit lighter.

Becoming Minimalist

It’s only been five months since the last big clean up but still feel like my space is filled up with things. Thought I got rid of the excess before moving houses, but seem to have a hard time parting with belongings. Started reading up on minimalism as a counter-reaction to months focused on new furniture, painting, decorating and everything that goes with buying a flat. Becoming conscious of the effect of consumerism on the human mind and thus the decluttering journey began. Recommend these two as starter literature if you are curious of the concept:

Natural Born Hoarders

Hoarding is definitely a family trait. My parents` house is full of collections of books, vinyl, DVDs, CDs, cassettes, VHS, comics, electronics, toys, gadgets, tableware, you name it. Nothing ever leaves that house, everything can become “valuable”. My grandfather was similar, he enjoyed spending his hard-earned money on his grandchildren. While I see nothing wrong with hoarding, is not how I want to live my life. So I started where it all began, I went home to clear up the clutter.

Goodbye Things

My carefully selected collection of books, comics, movies and music was easy to put in boxes for donation. I don’t need them to portray who I used to be. The knowledge is in my head, the music digitalized and movies always available on demand. The favourite teddy bears and toys I photographed as a sideproject. Endless piles of paper went to recycling: notebooks, letters, travel memorabilia, cards. A travel blog that I deleted ten years ago but printed in paper just in case. I don’t need the items to savor the memories. Two full days of decluttering.

Round Two

Came back to my own place and had a second look at what I couldn´t part with last time. Clothes that no longer fit, from my fitter days in London, had to depart. My outworn Nikeys witnessing hours and hours of dance training from the years at the dance studio. I had been holding on them because I didn´t want to part with that person I used to be. Old glasses. Unused kitchen ware. Gifts from loved ones, given with the best intention but never needed. I donated it all and put up for sale what I thought had value. This process is giving me some peace of mind. I am becoming aware of why I hold on to things forever, my spending pattern and why I purchase items. Seldom because I need them.

Chi-city, ridin solo

Managed to sneak off to Chicago for a few days in between painting walls and moving apartments, before starting the new job! 


This is a tribute to all the women who are independent, to quote an old favorite by Destiny`s Child. Lots of firsts lately; first apartment, first mortgage, first time painting walls. First time rebooting my router and investing in an index fund. Empowering stuff and all my single friends seem to be great at DIY too. 

Ridin Solo 

First time I’ve traveled solo to a brand new city knowing absolutely no one, to hang out by myself. And I do enjoy my own company. Always seem to meet and talk to random people and find Americans to be very approachable in general. It was tempting to download a certain dating app, but resisted and went old school to socialise. 

Abnormally warm winter  
Mid-Feb Chicago was on fire! 16-18 Celsius and no sign of the dreaded blizzards Windy City is known for. Swopped the boots for sneakers, rented a city bike and strolled around town five days straight. Saw Sue at the Field Museum, largest T-Rex ever found. Walked from Logan Square to Wicker Park. Had artisan coffee and Cuban food. Played around in “Silver Clouds” by Warhol at the MCA. Did drinks at the roof terraces at Cindy and London House. Very walkable city and easy to get around on public transportation.


Foodie time 

Randall, whom I studied in Cairo with ten years ago linked me up with Kirk, who he met traveling in Scandinavia last summer. He showed me a fab Italian dining experience, Eataly. Enormous dining hall with own birreria- brewery, gelateria, osteria, pescheria, grocery shop, five restaurants and proper stone baked pizza. Got some intel on areas and the Chicagoean way of life! 


Flying home for Christmas 

Nothing gets me more into holiday spirit than packing my suitcase and heading for the airport (except perhaps a certain song by Mariah Carey). Love hanging out at festive decorated transit halls in anticipation of returning home to my winter wonderland Tromsø in the Arctic North, where my parents live, to see family and friends. Everyone will be home for Christmas.

Same procedure as last year, James

This holiday travel tradition has been constant for twelve years. I’ve been coming home from London, Bergen, Cairo and Oslo every year except that one time I decided to go to East Africa for a month and celebrate in Kenya with newfound friends. Not to my mothers liking. Christmas is a super sacred family time in Norway. There are traditions that have been kept for decades. We watch the same Christmas shows on rerun every year and the most peculiar combination of movies: Love Actually, Gremlins and… Die Hard 2! There are certain traditional dishes we just must have, though my mother is pretty chill with menus and we`ve had everything from reindeer to halibut. Even adults get advent calendars, and they aren`t exactly cheap. Good thing we pay half tax in December.

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And some new traditions

Northern Lights tourism has exploded up here. Locals alike go out searching for it. Whale spotting at Kvaløya is also very popular, which you need do in the blue hours of twilight. The sun will stay away and nights will be polar till the 21st of January. I`ve taken friends from the UK, the US and Spain up here in wintertime and they all survived at 69˚N. Poor Jenny even joined on an icy hike up the mountain when the cable car was out for maintenance. It was a slippery slope down again without spikes. Nothing beats the Arctic in winter.

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Finally after one years absence I will return north. Been so many trips to uncharted territory in 2016; China, Paris, Sicily, Amsterdam, Faroe Islands. And a wedding in Portugal. Haven`t had time for what the Lonely Planet described pretty well in one sentence: “Simply put, Tromsø parties.” Also found this, one of the funniest guides to Tromsø ever! A poor man`s connoisseur guide to the best and “Wurst” of the coolest city in the North, except perhaps Reykjavik, with grateful thanks to the gulf stream.”

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Let it go! 

My friend told me to snap out of the housing bubble, so let me tell you fabulous travellers why Oslo is your next destination.

Perhaps you’ve seen an animated movie about two sisters, Elsa & Anna, who live in a frozen kingdom. Disney came to Norway for inspiration for that. We got Arendelle right here at Akershus fortress. It`s like an urban winter wonderland.

Affordable gourmet

The restaurant and bar scene is booming. You can have a six-course meal at Michelin starred Kontrast or wonderfully quirky Pjoltergeist for 850,- NOK (100 $/ 94 €/ 80 £). Oslo is not cheap, neither is London, New York, Dubai, Paris or Tokyo. And it shouldn’t be! The cost of production and minimum wage is high in comparison in our oil-fueled economy. There are so many options for budget travelling today, you can find affordable accommodation and food.

However, we have heavy taxation and strict marketing laws for alcohol preventing things like 2 for 1 and happy hour. It used to be a Lutheran Protestant country, go figure. The trick is to get spirits at the airport duty-free, pre game and after party like most Norwegians. Or go to student bars.

The underdog

Oslo is a rough diamond. It has all the typical Scandinavian things but also an art scene and modern architecture developing with the speed of light. The city is growing rapidly which is evident by the numbers of cranes inhabiting downtown. Reminds me of a docu produced by my former colleague Sam at Cartoon Network “the Solitary Life of Cranes“.

There are an impressive number of concerts and happenings in Oslo. Just like back in jolly old London, I enjoy going to the Opera to watch modern dance, to music- and film-festivals and to try out new eateries, bars and places. I work at Visit Oslo, though I write this blog entirely on my own time, at my own expense, and get no benefits or encouragement for it whatsoever. No free meals. I am more biased towards my hometown Tromsø, up in the Arctic North.

Anything you’d like to know about Oslo or Tromsø? Leave a comment!

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Carrie Bradshaw moment 

Four weeks tracking and the rare snow leopard finally revealed itself in shape of an apartment within shooting range. To illustrate the insane feeling of winning a bidding war on Black Friday and buying my first apartment, here’s a retrospective: Since leaving home after graduating college twelve years ago I’ve lived in:

  • 3 countries
  • 5 cities
  • 13 flats

with

  • 50 flat mates in total from 12 different nationalities!

and I`ve never lived all by myself.

Turtle wins the race

After a six-hour slow and tormenting bidding war ticking in on SMS while I was A) attending the office Christmas lunch B) on the tube C) in a meeting with the general manager of a major bank D) in another meeting and E) walking home, the broker finally called. It was the most surreal conversation you can imagine “Congrats, you are now indebted for the rest of your life.” Pop the champagne!

Here is my balcony and view to be.

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When you wish upon a star…

I’ve been dreaming about decorating my own place since collecting paint colour charts as a kid. Envision ripping out the floors and laying down some hardwood dark oak. Painting walls in petroleum or “Oslo” blue. A gas grill for the balcony for all year round halloumi. Growing plants. Putting posters into frames. Keeping a dog.

My new neighbourhood is multicultural Grønland. Vital stats:

Metro – 2 minutes walking
Office –  15 minutes walking
Sørenga seawater pool – 20 minutes walking
Nearest gym in Bjørvika – 10 minutes walking
Central station – 10 minutes walking or one metro stop
Ski slopes – 38 minutes on the metro or less depending on direction
3 Michelin starred restaurant Maaemo – 5 minutes walking

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The Oslo housing market

It looks like a bubble. It talks like a bubble. Is it a bubble? Prices have gone up by 18,5 % in the last year alone. Loaning money is practically free at 2 % inflation-adjusted interest rate. The “bubble” is only partly driven by speculation, the overwhelming majority of the houses are bought for the purpose of living. Parents are bailing out first time buyers. The rental market is dominated by small owners and the Norwegian tax system strongly encourages owning with 25 % tax deduction on mortgage interest rate. 10 000 people move to Oslo each year but new builds are not keeping up. Owning your own home is culturally determined as the highest good in our social democratic society. Bubble or not, the prices are utterly bonkers for sure.

All around Oslo

Been traveling a lot within my own city lately, viewing apartments in this crazier-than-the-US-election housing market. It’s like a new hobby taking up all my time. Discovering the different neighbourhoods. Becoming bad ass at logistics trying to get from east to west in time for the next viewing. Flirting with handsome real estate agents. Carrying around tons of printed prospects. Feeling anxious and sickened by the hysterical bidding wars. Bricks are the new gold standard.


Imagine that

Viewing houses is like daydreaming about the future life I can have in that apartment, in that neighbourhood. I’d eat more vegetables for sure in Grønland with all the cheap immigrant shops around, maybe befriend more Muslims, practice Arabic and spend even more time at the urban seawater pool at Sørenga, my favourite place to worship the sun.

In Grünerløkka I’d be surrounded by hipsters and perhaps feel a little proper? Spend way to much on eating out and having cocktails in bars. Maybe I`d begin to give a fuck about fashion, who knows! St. Hanshaugen is a real diamond, a hidden gem with a luscious green park overlooking the city and the fjord. And in walk-able distance to everything central. It will break my heart to leave it after five years but its not within price range.

Here I am at the hippest restaurant (Pjoltergeist) in Oslo, in my wannabe hipster sweater with pretentious print…


Sometimes I look at places far out, like a good half an hour on the metro. You know those places in the middle of nowhere where there is definitely an IKEA. I’m used to walking to work every day so that’s pretty suburban for me. I’d get a big husky, like one of them direwolves. We would go hiking in the forest, pick berries and make jam, cross country skiing in winter, and it would be the end of my social life as we know it. The struggle is real. Soon I`ll start to offer exclusive guided tours of Oslo including demographics and crime stats.