A Bit of Bodø / Vistas de Bodø

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

WE WERE IN the Northern Norwegian city of Bodø (population around 50,000) during our travels in August and September. San Geraldo had hoped to dig up some information on his maternal great-grandfather who was said to be a fisherman from Bodø, but nothing was found. Still, we got to visit with very special family who had recently moved up from Bergen. And the city, although almost completely destroyed by German bombing during World War II and rebuilt cleanly and efficiently but not necessarily aesthetically over the years, remains charming. So, here it is.

The English title of this post reminds me of a tongue twister.
Here’s the original version from 1899.

Betty Botter bought a bit of butter;
“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter!
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit o’ better butter
Will make my batter better.”
Then she bought a bit o’ butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit o’ better butter.


ESTUVIMOS EN LA ciudad de Bodø (población alrededor de 50.000), en el norte de Noruega, durante nuestros viajes en agosto y septiembre. San Geraldo esperaba desenterrar información sobre su bisabuelo materno, que se decía que era un pescador de Bodø, pero no se encontró nada. Aún así, pudimos visitar a una familia muy especial que recientemente se había mudado de Bergen. Y la ciudad, aunque destruida casi por completo por los bombardeos alemanes durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y reconstruida de manera limpia y eficiente pero no necesariamente estética a lo largo de los años, sigue siendo encantadora. Asi que aqui esta.

El título en inglés de esta publicación es una reminiscencia del siguiente trabalenguas. Aquí está el original de 1899.

Betty Botter bought a bit of butter;
“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter!
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit o’ better butter
Will make my batter better.”
Then she bought a bit o’ butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit o’ better butter.

Hotel entry. An elegant, beautifully located hotel, much of whose staff need to be trained in the art of customer service.
Entrada al hotel. Un hotel elegante y bellamente ubicado, mucho de cuyo personal necesita capacitación en el arte del servicio al cliente.
View from behind our hotel. German-built WWII fortress on the island.
Vista desde detrás del hotel. Fortaleza construida por alemanes durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.
My reflection behind the hotel.
Mi reflejo detrás del hotel.
The Bodø City Museum, a surprising gem of a museum. Built in 1903, one of the few buildings to survive the Luftwaffe bombings of 1940.
El museo de la ciudad de Bodø, una joya sorprendente de museo. Construido en 1903, uno de los pocos edificios que sobrevivió a los bombardeos de la Luftwaffe en 1940.
Bodø Museum was originally a fishing museum with preserved fish like these. Much of the collection was lost or damaged during the Luftwaffe bombing.
El Museo de la Ciudad fue originalmente un museo de peces con peces preservados como estos. Gran parte de la colección se perdió o se dañó durante el bombardeo de la Luftwaffe.
Sardines from Bodø.
Sardinas de Bodø.
Bacalao (salted cod) from Bodø. Very popular in Spain and Portugal, and primarily imported from Newfoundland.
Bacalao de Bodø. Muy popular en España y Portugal, y principalmente importado de Terranova.
Photo from City Museum of Bodø. Viking Long House (restored) discovered nearby. Dating from 500–900 AD. At 83 meters, the longest building from the Viking Age — a house and a barn with five rooms — enough space for a feasting hall and 500 cows.
Foto del Museo de la Ciudad de Bodø. Casa larga vikinga (restaurada) descubierta cerca. Data de 500–900 DC. Con 83 metros, el edificio más largo de la Época Viking — una casa y un granero con cinco habitaciones — espacio suficiente para un salón de fiestas y 500 vacas.
The center of town and statue of King Haakon VII as he appeared in 1940 when Bodø was bombed and Norway was occupied by the German army.
El centro de la ciudad y la estatua del rey Haakon VII tal como apareció en 1940 cuando Bodø fue bombardeado y Noruega fue ocupada por el ejército alemán..
Library, left, and harbor, right.
Biblioteca, izquierda, y puerto, derecha.
Opposite the library.
Enfrente de la biblioteca
And views from our hotel roof terrace.
Y vistas de la azotea de nuestro hotel.
The library is the building in center foreground.
La biblioteca es el edificio en primer plano central.
This is Olav. He’s 6. Olav is my second-cousin-twice-removed (in-law). Olav studies English. He wanted me to play a computer game (Super Mario) with him. I said I didn’t know how. He said he would teach me. He explained while we played. Entirely in Norwegian. I lost. Olav is clever.

Él es Olav. Tiene 6 años. Olav es mi primo-segundo-eliminado-dos-veces (de la familia de SG). Olav estudia inglés. Quería que jugara un juego del ordenador (Super Mario) con él. Dije que no sabía cómo. Dijo que me enseñaría. Explicó mientras jugamos. Completamente en noruego. Perdí. Olav es listo.

A Very Yerry Christmas

San Geraldo’s maternal grandparents were both Norwegian, his grandmother from Bergen in the south and his grandfather from way above the Arctic Circle. His grandmother, Gudrun, focused on becoming “American” and couldn’t understand why her grandson, who to this day refers to her as “Gramma” Nelson, was so interested in her past in Norway.


I never met Gramma Nelson. She died just before I met her grandson, around the same time my sister, Dale, died. But over the years I’ve heard many loving and funny stories about her.

No matter how hard she tried to become solidly American, Gramma Nelson never lost her Norwegian accent. Of especial difficulty for her was the “J” sound. Her grandson Jerry was always called “Yerry.”


Wednesday afternoon, while we waited for Judyshannonstreetwhat (click here if you haven’t met her) to arrive at Málaga Airport, we had overpriced Starbuck’s cafe mochas and overpriced stale Starbuck’s pastries. At least the staff was nice. When he ordered our drinks, San Geraldo gave the name “Jerry.” When we received our drinks, we knew Gramma Nelson was right there with us.

From another Nelson… Gee, ain’t it funny how time just slips away?

Why Move? Why Leave? Why Spain?

To the first and second “why” questions, there are so many answers.  But, the easiest responses are, because we can and because we want to (or vice versa).  We have talked for years about living in Europe.

I thought of moving to England in the late ’70s.

Jerry and I considered the Netherlands in the ’90s (those “Bush the First” years).  Coming from San Diego at the time, we decided we could if we had to, but the weather would be an adjustment.

Then in the “George Jr.” years, we considered Ireland (a job prospect in Dublin for Jerry) but again decided the weather would be an adjustment, along with some social/political/religious issues.  Not to mention the fact that we weren’t a legally recognized couple and I, therefore, would have no legal right to go/stay with him.

Our next thought during the George Jr. years was Norway.  Specifically Bergen.  We thought, well, we love Seattle.  And Bergen reminds us in so many ways of Seattle.  We figured, we can tolerate the weather in Seattle (well, no, we really can’t), so how difficult could Bergen be?  Our family in Bergen loved the idea of having us as neighbors (no, really, they did).  But they thought we were nuts if we believed we could tolerate the weather.

We then did some research and learned that Seattle gets 37 inches of precipitation a year.  The total isn’t significant except that it’s continual drizzles.  (Seattle Rain Festival: January 1-December 31).  But, Bergen, hold onto your hats, gets EIGHTY-NINE INCHES OF PRECIPITATION a year.  And it’s almost all rain.  And the rain falls sideways. There’s no escaping it.

Southern Spain is a popular and easy-to-reach tourist destination for Norwegians.  So, we thought we could spend half the year in Bergen and half in Southern Spain.  But that still meant at least, unscientifically speaking, 45 inches of rain.  And, as I just mentioned, in Bergen it rains sideways.

So, we’re still here.

Until we had our hotel in Palm Springs from 2000-2003 (that requires another post), we had talked a lot about retiring there.  And when we returned to Southern California from Vegas last year, that was back as the top possibility.

But the problem was that Palm Springs, although beautiful, just didn’t excite us anymore.  There isn’t anything new for us.  So, we bought “Retirement Places Rated” for the U.S. and studied.  And we still couldn’t find that spark.

A few months passed and we started to talk about Europe again.  We decided to list out our requirements in order of priority and then narrow down to regions, countries, and cities based on those factors.

The top priority (I’ll admit to being a bit shallow on this one):
We realized a pleasant climate — a la San Diego — was what we required.  That knocked off a whole bunch of countries.

The second priority was political/social climate:
Admittedly this went hand in hand with weather.  Cuba’s sunshine and ocean breezes can be quite charming, but we’re not rushing off to live there.

Other requirements (and no longer in order of priority) were:
An interesting culture and history; a population that welcomes outsiders; safe and secure living conditions; a language we could learn; national/nature parks; good healthcare; good public transportation–local, regional, and national; easy/cheap access to other parts of Europe; and I can’t remember what else right now.

That led us to Southern Spain–Andalucia.  But we didn’t want to end up in an expat community surrounded only by other non-Spaniards (and Andalucia has a number of beautiful communities filled with expats).  So, we did more research, talked to more people, and finally narrowed down to Sevilla.  After deciding on Sevilla, we re-opened the discussion (we re-open discussions a lot) and decided to look in the outlying area for smaller cities where we could more easily relax (and where our money would go further).  We decided to follow the train line down from Sevilla to Cadiz.  And there it was, Jerez de la Frontera.  Home to sherry, the horse, and the flamenco.  Also  home to the Motorcycle Grand Prix (not really on our list of interests).