My colleagues at Ruralis have been extremely inclusive and friendly to me. The stereotypical taciturn Norwegian isn’t so common here, they are cheerful and social.
Two of them organized a “sommer blåtur” for everyone who wanted to come. “Blå” literally means blue, but in this context it means “blind” because the destination and activities were a secret–like into the great blue sky, maybe. “Sommer tur” is a summer tour or excursion. We were told to dress for the Norwegian weather (very common in any outing instructions, klær for norsk vær).
The afternoon started with snacks and beers in the conference room at 3pm! Everyone had a few and even brought one on to the tour bus, and of course it is good practice to eat, and dinner would be much later. Although they are already a cheerful and social bunch, the alcohol really improves the mood. Then a long bus ride, but intentionally longer than necessary so that we were guessing about where we were going along the way. At one point the bus entered a tunnel (there are lots of tunnels), and this particular tunnel has a traffic circle inside–then the bus went around the traffic circle twice, and went out the way that we came in! Norwegian traffic circle humor! I was glad that I wasn’t drinking yet, because I didn’t want to be the one to get bus sick!
Finally we arrived at a farm that is known to be one of the first human settlements after the ice ages passed. We had a little welcome from the owner and he took us up on a short hike that had signs posted where water levels or ice levels were at various points in human history.
We arrived at a gathering space with covered tables, a wide open courtyard with a huge fire, and a big deck looking out toward the fjord (pics farther below of the view).
Then the games began! They hired a kind of comedy/music/group teambuilding duo that are elementary school teachers by day. They lined us up by “original” hair color, then made the blonde team and the dark team–with such a high proportion of blondes, I made the dark team. First, we got these foam puzzles–we had to make a cube out of the pieces, show the judges, then put them back together in the puzzle again. I made mine in the nick of time!
Then we went into the forest to do some physical challenges–moving from one platform to the next by only stepping on wooden planks that we could put down on the ground, but there were not enough to make it to the other side without picking one up from behind you. Heidi had good technique. I made it, but not at a record pace. After several more silly games, we had a delicious dinner of several types of salad and protein options, most from the Trønder region, with wine, beer, or other drinks.
Then our musical duo entertained us with Trønder music from yesterday and today. I didn’t get all of the references and couldn’t sing along like everyone else, but they were darn good and funny (from what I could catch, anyway!) We even got lighters with their logo to hold up during the slow songs!
The guitar player fired up some back-up music and his electric guitar to play pop/country songs, lots of people danced on the deck as the summer solstice sun shone on it. Most of us stood around and chatted. We got so lucky with the lighter cloud cover, it had been cloudy and rainy all week. But it was darn cold out there, outside for about 6 hours. The first and the dancing kept people warm.