We do stick to the first part of our plan, the book tour in Europe. We are canceling our rental house, although this is partly a necessity. In fact, the owner wants to rent the house out through Airbnb during the summer months and hopes to make more money that way. In the fall, we may rent the house again. We may put our belongings in the barn temporarily, though. Just after Easter, we leave by train and boat for the south. For three weeks, we cycle through Germany and give some talks along the way. Once back in Norway, we immediately hit the road again. We are organizing our very first leadership trip in Sweden. Like the winter trip, it is a trial in which we want to discover and learn. Yet it feels much more real than a trial because there are six participants going with us who are paying for the trip. It is a big step outside our own comfort zone. We find it quite exciting, but begin the week confidently. And what a week it will be. Not only is the weather fantastic, but the participants, the program we have put together, the learning moments and the experiences we are able to share also contribute. Afterwards, we evaluate the week and have to decide that we don't really need to change much next year. We are bursting with energy. This week brings together everything that makes us happy. Being outside, taking people on adventures, sharing our lessons learned, inspiring and helping others along the way to make their dream life a reality. If finding your calling is: doing what you love, in a place you love and with the people you love, then we have found our calling. Immediately afterwards, we plan two new retreats for next years.
After the leadership trip we travel back to Norway for a while, but again not for long. Zoë's sister is getting married and Olivier's grandfather is turning 90. We will spend the whole month of July in the Netherlands and Belgium. Zoë has to be there by the end of June for her sister's bachelor party. Olivier has an extra week and that is just enough to get to the Netherlands by bike. Moreover, the ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen has a super deal. For barely 5 euros we can go to Copenhagen, including a cabin on board. For a moment we think it's a scam, but we really get tickets. In Copenhagen, Zoe takes the train and Olivier gets on his bike. He has 8 days to cover 1,000 kilometers. Zoe is not at all jealous of those long daily distances and is looking forward to her train ride where she can spend hours knitting. Of course, as part of the immigration process, Zoe has to learn to knit, pretty much national hobby No. 1 in Scandinavia, along with cross-country skiing and spending weekends at the cabin. In the winter, Zoe knitted her first socks, followed by a buff, and now it's time for the real thing, a sweater.
We say goodbye at the train station and each go our own ways. It will be Olivier's longest solo journey to date, though he's not worried about it. He's just looking forward to being able to set his own pace, stop when and where he wants and to be on the road. After only 15 minutes, he notices that he has looked at his watch three times. This way, it is going to be a long trip, he thinks.
During our leadership journey, all participants put their phones and watches in an envelope. How wonderful that was! Olivier takes off his watch, puts it in the handlebar bag and from now on lets his feelings determine the time. Lunchtime is not when it is one o'clock, but when he is hungry. Break time is not when he has cycled for two hours, but when he feels like taking a break. Time is so relative.
While Olivier grinds the miles through Germany, Zoe's time is 100% dedicated to her sister. First there's the bachelorette party and then all the final preparations for the party. It's a to-do list to be despondent about, but for some reason they still get it done. Zoe's sister has decided to do everything herself, but really everything. She made all the appetizers for the party, the wedding cake, grew her own flowers, carved the invitations out of wood and even made her own wedding dress. Anyone who has been married once can surely imagine how much extra work that is.
The wedding itself is beautiful, bloody hot at 35 degrees, perfectly organized and a great party. Zoë didn't get to enjoy the party itself so much, but the satisfaction of being able to help and see her sister shine like this is the most beautiful memory.
The end of July marks Grandpa's birthday. Proudly he says, "It took a while, but I made it to 90. Now I may add a few more years as well." It's nice that we can attend such family celebrations. Zoë's last grandmother passed away about 10 years ago. Since then, Olivier's grandfather has also been her grandfather. A long time back, Grandpa, who was a colonel in the Air Force, told us that when he was on exercise in Norway, he got salmon with cream. An unprecedented luxury in those days. He added that he also wanted to try moose or reindeer. Olivier immediately wrote it down as a birthday present.
Now we have a perfect opportunity so we brought reindeer meat from Norway. We translate a Norwegian recipe and buy all the other ingredients. Grandpa beams up to his ears when he gets the whole package. Despite being 90 years old, he still cooks himself and this dish, finnbiff, he also prepares himself. A few days later he tells us honestly, as he always is, that he is not the biggest fan of mushrooms and creme fraiche after all. Next time we'll bring a piece of moose roast!
We are so used again to Holland and Belgium, to doing everything by bike, the cheap prices in the stores, being close to family, that it almost feels strange to go back to Norway. Besides, the search for work and a house awaits there, and the stress that comes with that.