LANDMARK: Tower bridge across the Thames is the symbol for London. The bridge has been attempted sold to Americans and Arab oil Sheiks by con artists on several occasions. To the right you can see a glimpse of the dome of St. Pauls Cathedral.
Many things change when one departs on a voyage like ours. The world changes accordingly, and at an ever increasing pace. In times like these, one really learns to appreciate old, dear traditions, spending time with ones loved ones and good friends. Obviously, for us this has been a very different Christmas. For a long time, we thought that we could manage to get to Brazil for Christmas, and celebrate there. But our almost-capsizing in the North Sea, combined with the harshest weather conditions in 20 years in the Irish Sea, made this an unrealistic task, and we decided to go to London for our Christmas celebrations instead. In London they have a very large and active Norwegian Church Abroad, and they have al ot of things going on during Christmas, Norwegian traditional food and traditions. We decided to go there and pay them a Christmas visit!
LONDON: The Christmas holidays are ususally the time when you miss your relatives and friends the most. The food, social life and family traditions go deep inside most people. So also for us at Underveis. We weren´t prepared to take any chances, but got on the train to London and the Norwegian Church Abroad there, where we had the most Norwegian style Christmas in our lifetimes.
Norwegian Christmas in London
FULL SPEED: In the kitchen everything went at the speed of light through the day, and many had volunteered. We peeled 40 kilos of potatoes and a lot of swedes before we could finally sit down around the table.
After having berthed Underveis safely in Brest, we got on the famous TGV-train via Paris to London, where we spent five days enjoying ourselves in the world metropol, singing Christmas carols, eating Christmas food until we almost burst and enjoying a large chunk of "little Norway" to the fullest extent. This Christmas we have broken several records. Among them, a speed record, even though it was without the ship. The TGVs do 187 mph, and make even their fastest Norwegian counterparts seem like a steeming pile of fat old hippos in comparison. In addition, we have, as you might already know, sailed above sea level on our journey across Scotland. Well, now we have also been under water, as we travelled under the English Channel What will the next thing be? We can only wonder.

The Norwegian Church abroad is well known among travelling Norwegians around the world. This goes especially for the one in London. It became a rendez-vous point for Norwegians from all layers of society during the trying years of 1940-45. This is evident in the church. In the library hangs a thankful letter from the late King Haakon VII, and the very beautiful church is very up to date, sporting a large kitchen, internet facilities, IP telephone, Norwegian TV-channels and newspapers. At any given time, more than 10,000 Norwegians find themselves in London. This has made the church a place where Norwegians gather also today, and both retireds wartime mariners, businesspeople, tourists and au-pairs come by the church every day. Several societies and voluntary organisationswork in the church, and the spirit of getting together and working for the common benefit of the church and its users is very high.

More than 100 volunteers regularly make their contribution, laying down time and effort for the church. We couldnt be any worse, of course. besides making photos and stories for their webpages and monthly newsletter, we were almost instantly put to work peeling 40 kilos of potatoes and a similar amount of swedes. Former soldiers as we are, we had no choice but to get to work, if there was going to be a proper Christmas. And we did so with pleasure!

Paris, 28.12.2006
WITH A "REAL" JESUS: - Earlier we have had to resort to a plastic Jesus for our play about the birth of Christ, but this year we were able to borrow a real jesuschild, sailors chaplain Torbjørn Holt joked to the congregation of more than 100 people.
JESUS AND SANTA: The traditional Norwegian Christmas is a mixture of Christian and pagan customs, but in the Church abroad there is room for everybody, no matter which faith or background they have. Also for Christmas, when hundreds of expatriate Norwegians visit the beautiful church in the Docklands of London.
GOOD FORTUNE AND HAPPINESS: Rune lights a candle for his niece Silje Elisabeth back in Norway. Silje is two years old and a real heartbreaker. Uncle thinks about her and misses her every day, on board and ashore.
VOLUNTEERED TOGETHER: Klaus and Kristine Sandvik are both Norwegian, and volunteered to work here for a year. - Exciting and different, they say to
AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE: After dinner we sang old and dear Christmas carols.

CELEBRITY: Pianoplayer Gisle Børge was visiting his friend from childhood, Paul Kristian Steiro, who works as an assistant at the church in London. Børge is famous from Norwegian TV for many years in the Norwegian state TV channel. - This is the second year I celebrate and play the piano Christmas here in London, he says.
As we speak, we are back in Paris, where we intend to stay for a few days and enjoy ourselves before we celebrate New Year and start thinking about setting sails again. A very nice surprise for us was the Christmas letter from 5th grade at Røst Elementary school, containing drawings and a Christmas decoration. We really appreciate it! They have chosen our voyage around the world as their three-year geography project, and will be following us closely on our journey. The weather in the Bay of Biscay has been very bad of lately, but we are optimistic as always. Rune has to go to Baku for a short time, to organize his next and final semester at university, and a couple of small repairs have to be conducted on board, before we are good to go again. A new year is approaching, with new cards to be dealt. Soon Underveis will be on her way again, her bough pointing to new horizons, new sunsets and new exciting encounters with people from many countries and cultures. We look very forward to that. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a Happy New Year and all the best for the future!
CHEF: Chef Monica had visitors coming from Norway. her parents Kato and Astrid brought several Norwegian fish dishes in their luggage.
FINAL INSPECTION: Little Magnus (8months) checks that the decorations are all ticketi-boo before Christmas service.

# The church is a voluntary organisation, founded in 1864, and affiliated with the Norwegian State Church. Its main office is in Bergen, Norway.

# The church consists of 32 churches, five students chaplains, four vickars and eight priests catering for the oil industry in the North Sea.

# The church and its mobile service is present on all continents, in 16 countries and areas. Every year, 700,000 Norwegian citizens use the services provided by the 49 units world wide that make up the Sailors Church - Norwegian Church Abroad.

# The church is a Christian, cultural and social rendez-vous piont for all Norwegians abroad. They have competence in the fields of crisis- and emergency services, networkbuilding and counseling in marriage.

# As the Norwegian society has changed, so has the church. From being primarily a church for sailors, the church today caters for all Norwegians staying abroad for a shorter or longer period of time.

# All the Norwegian Churches abroad perform baptisms, confirmations and funerals. Many of them also conduct wedding ceremonies.


CHRISTMAS GRUB: Chef Monica Kvarv had prepared the traditional Norwegian Christmas menu for a month already, and nothing was missing!
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