Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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happy wedding maegan & joe


My cousin Maegan got married in July. Evelina and I were among those in attendance and we had the best time! The wedding was out in the country by a big old barn (renovated for just such an occasion). We could not have asked for better weather or a better hype guy.


You know the guy at a party or club that gets everyone into it? Yeah that guy was amazing at his job. He kept the night rolling and all guests entertained. We danced away, the bride and groom cut the cake, and there was a great entrance sequence. Not necessarily all in that order, but you get the idea, it was a night to remember. Don’t worry, there’s even picture proof.


Congratulations to the happy couple!

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oh canada

At the end of June/early July 2013 Evelina and I were in Canada for a very exciting event. Not Canada Day. Well, actually we were in Canada for Canada Day, but we weren’t there to celebrate that. I’m rambling. Our friends Trudy & Brian tied the knot! This is clearly old news by now, but on June 30th we had the joyful opportunity to celebrate Trudy & Brians nuptials. It was beautiful.

Trudy & Brian 1

The ceremony was conducted in a church unlike any I had been in before. The pews faced each other, which lead to a wonderful viewing experience. The blushing bride and the handsome groom make quite a couple. My favorite part was towards the end when the duo came to stand among us, in the middle of all the pews to declare their love for each other among family and friends.

Trudy & Brian 2

The weather was on our side as the newly weds cut the cake and christened the dance floor with their first dance. Thus the festivities began!

Trudy & Brian 3

I clearly had a great time. As I’m sure Evelina, and the rest of the guests did as well.

Trudy & Brian 4

I even had a chance to get a picture of the bride, Kallie and Evelina. This bad ass trio, untied again. It was certainly a day to remember.

On our way home, for we had a 10 hour drive from Toronto to Boston, we stopped at Niagara Falls. I had never been, and I wanted to bask in the glory that is four million cubic feet of water cascading downward every minute. It was also beautiful.

Niagara Falls

Evelina and I spent our Canada Day 2013 just barely on the Canadian side of the Falls. Don’t worry we had Tim Horton’s while we were there. Who knows when our next trip to Canada may be. Possibly sooner than you think.

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across the atlantic

Again, I have made the trip across the Atlantic. This past April. The alliteration here is ridiculous – that just has to be said.

This most recent time I returned to my side of the ocean to celebrate my cousin Katy’s wedding. Katy lives in Chicago, and that’s where the wedding was. It was a beautiful ceremony with a great party to follow. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.

Getting to Chicago.

This April I was flying Lufthansa. About three, maybe four days before I was scheduled to travel one of the top news stories was a pilot strike with Lufthansa. I had a mini-freak-out and checked my reservations. No worries, my flights from Sweden to Chicago were via United.

No worries, or that’s what I thought until 6am the day I’m trying to leave Stockholm. That’s when my flight isn’t listed on the flight board. That’s when I have a super-freak-out. I rushed over to the Lufthansa counter. Didn’t have to wait in line because there was only one other customer, and multiple personnel waiting and ready. In a panic I explained my situation – which was that I had no idea what was going on, and where was my flight, it shouldn’t have been affected by Lufthansa strikes seeing as it was a United flight. I was booked through Lufthansa on a United flight which was operated by Lufthansa, the woman at the counter explained. She would see what she could do. There was a United flight I could get on. Or wait, they had inserted Lufthansa flights into the schedule, flown by non Lufthansa pilots, apparently. As she clicked away on her computer, called the United desk, asked her colleagues questions, clicked away some more, my anxiety slowly rose. Eventually I got on the Lufthansa flight, leaving at 9:00am, meaning I could have slept for another 3 hours instead of getting up at 4:45 for the taxi. But that’s neither here nor there.

I was on a flight! And that’s what mattered. I killed the time by enjoying Starbucks coffee and calling my dearest. I then read my book by the gate. Our departure time changed to 9:15. Nothing to worry about, flights get slightly delayed all the time, I’d still make my connection. Then it was delayed to 9:30. My “killing time” turned into anxiously staring at the flight information screen hoping the flight wouldn’t be further delayed.

We took off from Arlanda at 10. This was really cutting it close. Upon landing the kind airline personnel who helped me find my seat made an announcement. “All passengers continuing on to Chicago please make your way to the bus in front, all other passengers please board the second bus.” Okay, I thought, no big deal. Get on the first bus.

We had checked all our hand luggage over a certain size, so after retrieving my bag I made my way to the bus. Which turned out to be a car. The man waiting outside hurried over and put my bag in the back. I jumped in. As did he. Strange, I thought, shouldn’t he help the others with their bags. As he started the motor and drove off, I realized that when the kind airline personnel announced all passengers she really meant the one passenger, me.

I was driven directly from one gate to the next, where my driver brought my bag to the customs agent. Who was quite rude to me upon presentation of my passport, until I said I lived in Sweden, at which point he got very cheery and wished me a nice trip. The driver showed me to the next security point, waited patiently as I passed through, and brought me to my gate. Waiving farewell as I entered the boarding tunnel.

happily in my seat

That’s what I call service. I would certainly fly Lufthansa again. I made it to Chicago safe and sound. Much thanks to the excellent service provided me.

I arrived in the city a matter of minutes before my father and Ryan arrived. We found each other in the airport and made our way to the hotel. The three of us enjoyed dinner out and a relaxing night at the hotel. The following day was the wedding, and it was to be quite an event. But not before Ryan and I went on a 9 mile run! If you ever get the chance to run through Chicago in early spring, it’s a great way to see the sights.

Chicago by storm

Then it was time to get ready, so after primping and pruning the family made our way over to the ceremony. As I said, the ceremony was beautiful. The local was amazing, with an outdoor terrace with an amazing view. There was excellent food, touching speeches, and dancing fun. Everything you need at a wedding. Plus, my cousin looked absolutely magnificent. Congratulations again Katy!

Katy's wedding.

City views & Dad

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nine. go to mexico

This one wasn’t an easy one like the last one. Or at least it’s not an easy one if you’re starting in Sweden. Standing in the south of Texas would also make this one pretty easy. But that’s neither here nor there, seeing as we live in Sweden. 
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Evelina and I travelled to Mexico to celebrate the wedding of our dear friends Kallie and Justin. (All names changed to protect identity – duh.) It was a ridiculously beautiful beach wedding at sunset. Being in Mexico for a week didn’t hurt either, with a beautiful hotel, snorkeling and Mayan ruins to be seen, fun was certainly had.
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We loved Mexico, and would love to go back. There’s more adventure waiting, seeing as we still have the Aztec and Inca ruins to visit!
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gotland: a how to

Remember that list I have? Of things to do in Sweden? (It’s up there on the menu at the top.) Well, guess what? I’m here today to give you a guide on how to do Gotland.

First, the background info. Gotland is the largest island in the Baltic Sea. (Wiki fact, no idea if that’s true.) What I do know is true is that Gotland is an island off the East coast of Sweden:

Gotland

Map of Sweden found here. Edited by yours truly. Yes, that is a ram.

Gotland is indicated on the map above. I have chosen a field of azure with a ram holding a cross staff to mark Gotland, because that is the Gotlandic coat of arms. Fancy, I know. Yes, that white there in the middle is a ram. The flag is actually flying all over Gotland. So it’s totally legit.

Evelina and I traveled to Gotland to visit our dear friend Johanna this summer. Now I’m here to explain to you how to do Gotland the right way.

Step 1: Take a train and or bus, and or combination of the two to Nynäshamn. (Taxi is acceptable, if that’s your thing.) The ferry to Gotland leaves from Nynäshamn rather often in the summer months, so choose a ferry time that fits nicely with your schedule and budget. (Hint: cheap ferry tickets are at inconvenient times.)

Nynäshamn

(Pre Step 1: Be in Sweden. Europe is acceptable.)

Step 2: Enjoy a relaxing ferry ride. It takes about 3 hours, so bring activities. They have wi-fi that you can purchase, but it’s no good for playing games or streaming videos – I asked.

Gotland Båten

Step 3: Upon arrival, take the chance to explore Visby. The biggest city on Gotland. The entire city is enclosed by an ancient wall, which gives the place a very historical feel. Definitely check out the wicked cool pirate ship docked there. (Not a guaranteed landmark, as this particular pirate ship still savages the high seas.) Luckily the Medieval market will be in town, so enjoy people watching and having a good laugh at a guy accidentally whipping himself in the back with his newly purchased whip. (Not guaranteed to be in town.) After an afternoon of exploring celebrate with some ice cream, or glass as the Swedes say, at one of Visby’s biggest ice cream parlours.

Visby 1

Step 4: Drive with your friends to wherever you will be staying. I highly recommend staying in the side house of someone who resides on Gotland. Extra points if they have a beautiful garden, horse, and lovely patio for outdoor meals.

Humble abode

Step 5: After a good night’s sleep, wake up refreshed and ready to explore the island. A hearty Swedish breakfast is recommended before adventuring.

Breakfast

Step 6: The adventure should consist of the following things: driving along the Stone Coast, stopping by the Blue Lagoon and hopping in the water. Lunch is to be eaten at Lergrav. The scenery is to die for and the food is even better. The smoked salmon and smoked shrimp you will eat there will be better than any you’ve had before. Take this opportunity to climb up the rocky hillside across from the restaurant, and pose for pictures in the famous rock formations there. Continue the car trip to Furillen, a hotel by an old factory. The entire concept of the hotel is unique, so it is certainly acceptable to pose for more pictures. On the way home be sure to stop at Rute Bakery, the bread you buy there will be top-notch.

Adventures Day 1

Step 7: Join your friend’s family for a crayfish party, which is a yearly tradition in Sweden. Before dinner a game of brännboll is in order. A Swedish “sport” that is similar to baseball, only there are four bases, the bat is tiny, and you get to pitch to yourself. After lots of good fun it will be time to eat! During the month of August Swedes across the land get together, enjoy some crayfish, alcohol, singing, and general merriment. This is not an experience to be passed up.
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Crayfish & Brännboll
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Step 8: Upon your return home be sure to rest up for another adventure filled day to follow!
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Step 9: Start the day with a visit to the sheep! There are more sheep on Gotland than people, so this shouldn’t be overly difficult. It helps if the people you’re staying with have a few of their own.
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Sheep!
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Step 10: Later, a visit to Lummelunda Grotto is in store. Before venturing into the Grotto take a peek at the mill on site, worth the small entry price. After a very educational video about the origin of the grotto, and how it was discovered. As well as some facts about caves, stalactites and stalagmites (and why you shouldn’t break them – hint it takes an eternity for them to be created). You’ll then continue on a tour of the Lummelunda Grotto. Listen up, the tour guide has some interesting things to say!
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Lummelunda Grotto
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Step 11: Stop by the metal shop and buy an authentic Gotland ring. The story behind the ring is fascinating, and the ring is beautiful. Ask the man who sells you the ring to tell you all about it. Directly following the ring purchase it is time for lunch.
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Gotland Ring
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Step 12: Drive to Krysmynta Garden, where you will be seated by a beautiful glass wall and therefore able to enjoy the beautiful scenery, and lightning, as a storm will roll in just around lunch. The caesar salad comes highly recommended, so eat that.
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Krysmynta Garden
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Step 13: Continue on the road to the Roma Cloister Ruins. This is another great place for a photo-op, so get your model on. There are also a few little shops to explore, including a glass blowing shop and a Swedish clothing store. Of course there is also fika to be had, so hunker down over a plate of saffranspankaka, a Gotland classic.
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Rome Cloister Ruins
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Step 14: Return to your abode and enjoy a lovely dinner on the patio, with excellent wine and the aforementioned bread. The wine is highly recommended.
Step 15: After dinner a road trip into the woods is a good idea! Drive to Gyle where you can see a stone wall which has been built up over time. The story goes that a terminally ill woman would walk along that beach every night, and as she walked she would choose one stone and place it aside, slowly building up a wall. After she passed the people who visit the wall set one stone up, continuing on her tradition.
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Stones
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Step 16: On your final day rise early in order to drive back into Visby. This way you’ll have plenty of time for touristy shopping as you walk through the best-preserved Medieval city in all of Scandinavia.
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Visby 2
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Step 17: Say your farewells as it is time again to board the ferry back to mainland Sweden. Pass the time on the boat by reminiscing on all the fun that was had in the past days.
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It really is that simple! By following these 17 steps you too will be able to experience all the wonders Gotland has to offer. ❤

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mexican wedding

As promised here comes the post about the wedding in Mexico. As I said, it was beautiful. Ridiculously beautiful. The ceremony and reception took place on the beach. The sand and breeze coming off the water created the most perfect atmosphere. It was a small ceremony and that made it feel all the more intimate. The ceremony concluded just as the sun was setting. It was breathtaking. Don’t take my word for it, here is a selection of the photos I took.

Mexican wedding

(Took these with my camera, that I’ll be sure to tell you more about soon – pretty sweet pics, eh?)

Not only was the wedding amazing, but the entire week in Mexico was really more than I could have dreamed it to be.

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