Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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memory lane: the fourth of july

Won’t you take a walk with me? A stroll down memory lane?

In 2013 my littlest brother graduated high school, and I crossed the Atlantic to celebrate with him and my family. I like to call him my littlest brother because I used to make a habit of leaning on his shoulder. You see his shoulder was at the perfect elbow height for leaning. But we’re going to take a left at this fork in the road and continue our stroll along memory lane in the direction of the Fourth of July 2013.

Evelina and I travelled together across the Atlantic this time, and celebrated the Fourth of July on Lake Winnipesaukee. Celebrating the fourth at the lake is always awesome. There are fireworks, boat rides, water skiing, lobster, and volleyball. It’s basically a weekend of fun, no matter what. Yes, even if the Fourth isn’t on a weekend, it still feels like a weekend.

The Lake

Side Bar: That July we were actually even in Canada for Canada Day.
Which I don’t really know anything about, so let’s get back to the Fourth.

Evelina and I started the day by spending the morning at Fenway Park watching my most favorite baseball team.

Fenway 2013

Sox game

We then high tailed it up to the lake in time for fireworks.

sunset boat ride

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fireworks

The next day I managed to convince Evelina to try water skiing, and it went wonderfully. The rest of the weekend was full of swimming, ping-pong and puzzling.

Water skiing

Wakeboarding

Fun in the sun

Until next time!

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the land of ice

After the wedding comes the honeymoon!

Evelina and I traveled to Iceland this past August to celebrate our love for one another. Also all the adventure!

We were in Iceland for five days, and while there we stayed in Reykjavik. It’s a beautiful city, our hotel was very central, so everything was within walking distance.

On the first day, after landing, getting ourselves into Reykjavik, and checking in to the hotel, Evelina and I walked up to the Church of Hallgrímur. Or as they say in Icelandic Hallgrímskirkja. OR as they say in Swedish Hallgrímurs kyrka.

Side bar: there are clear similarities between Icelandic and the other Scandinavian languages (not Finnish), however since they’re all on their lonesome on that island out in the middle of the Atlantic, Icelandic developed more as an outsider. This means I understand zero Icelandic. To be fair, my Danish and Norwegian are not good either.

Anywho! You can ride the elevator to the top, take the stairs up a few more floors, and get a great view. Evelina and I enjoyed wonderful views of, basically the entire city from the top of the church.

Iceland church

On the second day we did a bus tour of the Golden Circle. We rode to see the national park Þingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss, and the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur.

Golden Circle

We even saw huge glaciers and volcanoes from afar. In Haukadalur we visited The Great Geysir, as in the geyser who named all geysers. Seeing as Geysir is so great he graces us with his presence quite infrequently. Strokkur on the other hand was also in the valley and erupted something like every 7 minutes. It only took about a million tries to get this photo.

Geyser

And lots of patients. Seven minutes is a long time. Since we were so good at keeping time we got to see an extra waterfall at the end.

Day three we took it easy. We walked around Reykjavik and did a little shopping. By a little shopping i mean I bought a scarf and Evelina bought a hat. It is cold in Iceland, even in the summer.

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Can you see the puffin on Evelina’s hat?

 

We ate lunch at a super great little café which I recommend to all of you. Get the soup of the day with grilled cheese, you will not regret it. We liked the place so much we returned there for another meal later in the week. The soup of the day was tomato both times. If you do go, please let me know if they ever change the soup of the day. I suspect they do not.

Mmm, noodle soup

We also ate here on our first day. It was tomato then too.

 

We then tried to go on a whale watch. Okay we did go on a whale watch, and tried to see whales. Unfortunately we did not see any. We did see some puffins though! Since we didn’t get to see any whales we got a free tour which is good for up to a year. If you know anyone going to Iceland, we’ve got whale watching tickets, as we were unable to try a second attempt.

We were litterally wearing all of the clothes we had packed, so it was really great they had these jump suits for us to keep warm.

We were literally wearing all of the clothes we had packed, so it was really great they had these jump suits to help us keep warm as we patiently awaited the whales.

Dinner was eaten at a local Icelandic style restaurant. I say Icelandic style because they served some traditional Icelandic food (fish and lamb – though not in the same dish), but also because it was cold as hell in there. The Icelandic people apparently think their summers are warm, and therefore do not require indoor heating. I do beg to differ.

Dinner Iceland

On the fourth day we got to do what we came to Iceland to do. Or at least what one of the big reasons was why we chose Iceland. We went on a helicopter ride. Even before we had planned the wedding Evelina had seen an information pamphlet about helicopter rides over Iceland. We had decided we wanted to do this before we had picked a wedding local, or dresses, or pretty much everything. So it was a dream come true to have the opportunity to go on that private helicopter ride. Oh man was it cool! We got cool headgear to wear. We got to see ridiculously amazing views of Iceland from above. And we had a great pilot who made the experience even better than we had imagined.

This was such an incredible experience. Plus, my aviators got to be used for their original purpose. Win-win.

This was such an incredible experience. Plus, my aviators got to be used for their original purpose. Win-win.

Our fifth and final day was spent a very long and relaxing day at the Blue Lagoon. You can buy tickets from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon and then to the airport, which is exactly what we did. After checking out of the hotel we bussed our way out there. The weather was unbelievable, and the water was oh so warm. There are massages to be had, facials to be gotten, and a world of relaxation. We had dinner at the restaurant there after an exhausting day of relaxing in the sunshine. The food was quite good. We left the Blue Lagoon very satisfied with our choice to visit, and made our way home to Sweden.

Views from in the lagoon and atop the viewing deck.

Views from in the lagoon and atop the viewing deck.

Iceland was the perfect honeymoon spot. I can’t wait to go back.

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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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