When the world tunes in Friday for the Opening Ceremony of the biggest Winter Olympics in history, I’ll be watching, too.
But I’ll be thinking about another Winter Games exactly 20 years ago.
In a roundabout way, it was the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics that inspired an upcoming trip in celebration of my husband’s 70th birthday.
Usually he lets me plan the vacations, which often revolve around visits to family or to the West Coast, where I’d like to move someday.
“I’m easy,” he’ll say, when tapped for suggestions. Or, “There are a lot of places I’d like to see, but we can’t see them all. So San Francisco (or Monterey or Vancouver) is as good as any.”
Once, frustrated by what I felt was his lack of introspection, I pressed him on the topic.
“Surely there’s someplace special you always wanted to go,” I prodded. After thinking a minute, he came out with a stunner: “I always thought Norway would be nice.”
Norway? I thought, wondering just who this stranger was that I’d married. In all our years together, he’d never mentioned the country.
But since then, Norway has been in the back of my mind as a “someday” destination. Meaning someday when Scandinavian air fares come down from their mile-high prices.
Then a friend mentioned “Lilyhammer,” a new Norwegian series on Netflix that came highly recommended by her friend.
It’s set in Lillehammer, host of the Winter Games I remember for the fairy-tale story of young Russian pair skaters and husband-and-wife team Katerina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.
A year after they took the gold, Grinkov died of a massive heart attack, leaving behind their little girl and a broken-hearted public.
Politically incorrect, moderately violent and surprisingly funny, the series is filmed in some of the very locations created for those Olympic games.
A parody of Norwegian life and of an unlikely American’s attempt to fit into it, it stars E Street Band drummer Steven Van Zandt as a New Jersey mobster who enters the witness protection program and relocates to “Lilyhammer,” as he calls it.
Now we and our friend get together a few Sundays a week for “Lilyhammer Night.” We devour European style cold-weather comfort food like raclettes and crepes, and gorge on the series’ spectacular scenery — three or four episodes at a time.
So when my husband and I discussed where we might go for his milestone birthday, Lillehammer (and Oslo and Copenhagen and Stockholm) immediately jumped to mind.
A recent Scandinavian airlines “supersale” sealed the deal.
Now, as I count down the days to Sochi, I’m also counting down the days to Lillehammer.
Contact Marta Hepler Drahos at email@example.com