Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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memory lane: welcome to spain dracula!

Spain part 3 of 3. The final installment. Join me today along memory lane back to my 25 before 25 list. Number 16: visit a friend at their new residence.

“Welcome to Spain Dracula!” Katie shouted to me across the bus station.

Not really. But maybe she should have.

Since we don’t live in a fake Tina Fey improv session, when I arrived in Don Benito Katie walked across the train station and introduced herself to María-José. As you remember, my new friend.

Spain pt. 3.1

After saying farewell to María-José, Katie and I made out way to Katie’s place of residence for the past year. The difference between Madrid and Don Benito was striking. Just taking the short stroll through the city center to Katie’s apartment made that clear. Don Benito is a charming little city, where Katie was working for the year as an English teacher. Her time in Spain was coming to a close, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to travel Spain with a new native. (You become a native in a year….right?)

Spain pt. 3.2

Katie’s front door

The view from the balcony

The view from the balcony

After getting to Katie’s apartment (and checking off number 16 on my list), I dropped off my bags and we went back into town to drink tinto with Katie’s friends. The next day we were heading down to Sevilla so it wasn’t a late night, but it was great to meet the people Katie had spent the past year with.

Yummmm....tinto

Yummmm….tinto

Little did she know, a sun burn was on its way

Little did she know, a sun burn was on its way

Sevilla was hot. This was May, and I had just recovered from a Swedish winter, so believe me when I say, Sevilla was hot! We meandered through the city taking in the sights. Ate often at this little chain restaurant they have in Spain, 100 cervezas, where you buy tiny little sandwiches and get a pint of beer at ridiculously low prices. We drank more beer on the beach, and I managed to get ridiculously sun burnt (as I failed to heed the advice from María-José who warned me of this on our ride). Over all it was an awesome time.

Spain pt. 3.6

Spain pt. 3.7

In the evenings we ate dinner in charming little spanish squares. Where the tall buildings surround us on all four sides, yet the squares are still big enough to harbor small trees. Small children run through, laughing loudly, aided with extra energy at the late hour because of their timely siesta earlier that day.

It was in one of these squares that Katie and I had one of our conversations that I will never forget. There was the sound of a guitar trickling out a nearby open window, and Katie asked me how I knew Evelina was the one. I grinned, sipping my Spanish red wine in the moonlight and explained: It’s like I’ve found this person. I am hers, and she is mine. And everything else in the world, all the noise, it will settle down. It will resolve. there’s no need to think or worry about that. Because, forever, there will be us.

I had never before put my love to words for another before, and that evening is a moment I will always remember. For this I will always love best friends, and Spain, and red wine, and moonlight.

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eurovision song contest

If you don’t recall my other post about Eurovision, read up here. There I explain all about how the contest works. Guess what, one week ago today, Sweden did it again!

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This post won’t be quite the same detailed run-down as my previous post was, but I will have you know that I personally think that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was the best one I have ever seen. Every country that made it to the final really stepped it up. Every single song and artist was truly amazing. And I’m pretty hard to please, seeing as I’m a native English speaker I’m hard on artists. If they can’t sing in English, I’m a firm advocate for them singing in their native tongue. This year, however, no one’s English caused me to cringe or want to turn off my TV. Everyone brought their A-game.

That being said, here are the results, as well as links to the songs from the official ESC site.

ESC(picture found here)

  1. Sweden – Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes: 365
  2. Russia – Polina Gagarina – A Million Voices: 303
  3. Italy – Il Volo – Grande Amore: 292
  4. Belgium – Loïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside: 217
  5. Australia – Guy Sebastian – Tonight Again: 196
  6. Latvia – Aminata – Love Injected: 186
  7. Estonia – Elina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday: 106
  8. Norway – Morland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me: 102
  9. Israel – Nadav Guedj – Golden Boy: 97
  10. Serbia – Bojana Stamenov – Beauty Never Lies: 53
  11. Georgia – Nina Sublatti – Warrior: 51
  12. Azerbaijan – Elnur Huseynov – Hour of the Wolf: 49
  13. Montenegro – Knez – Adio: 44
  14. Slovenia – Maraaya – Here For You: 39
  15. Romania – Voltaj – De La Capat/All Over Again: 35
  16. Armenia – Genealogy – Face the Shadow: 34
  17. Albania – Elhaida Dani – I’m Alive: 34
  18. Lithuania – Monika Linkyté and Vaidas Baumila – This Time: 30
  19. Greece – Maria Elena Kyriakou – One Last Breath: 23
  20. Hungary – Boggie – Wars for Nothing: 19
  21. Spain – Edurne – Amanecer: 15
  22. Cyprus – John Karayiannis – One Thing I Should Have Done: 11
  23. Poland – Monika Kuszynska – In the Name of Love: 10
  24. United Kingdom – Electro Velvet – Still in Love With You: 5
  25. France Lisa Angell – N’oubliez Pas: 4
  26. Germany – Ann Sophie – Black Smoke: 0
  27. Austria – The Makemakes – I am Yours: 0

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Definitely click the link to listen to Sweden’s song, and I even encourage you to click all the links. Form your own opinion. Learn a little about European music. Although I thought this year’s performances were above and beyond, as per the usual I did not agree with this year’s voting.

If I was the Queen of the Eurovision Song Contest this is how I would have ranked the songs:

My list

This year’s song contest did not occur without a little drama. Half way through the contest Russia was winning. The audience did not like this, and they started booing when Russia received points. The TV hosts reminded the audience that the song contest is completely outside of politics, and all artists should be supported. A bit later on a Sweden chant began.

Little awkward, but the ESC has been very pro LGBTQ, and Russia these days is the opposite of that. So, although awkward, not unsurprising in the least. I do think that what the hosts said was important though, the music is the focus, and the music this year was GREAT.

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I’m super glad Sweden won, and if any of you readers can get me tickets to the song contest next spring I would be forever in your debt!

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the sweatiest bus trip of my life

Spain part 2 of 3
(part 1 found here)

While in Spain I experienced the sweatiest bus trip of my life.

I’m almost hoping that when you picture a sweaty bus trip you picture an old, half run down, bus with all the windows down and its occupants just sweltering. Fanning themselves with exhausted arms in a half stupor from the heat. Admittedly, it is warm in Spain. However, what I hope you’re imagining is no where close to what my reality was.

They have very effective air conditioning systems in their busses in Spain. On my bus trip the temperature was actually verging on chilly in there. I became extremely sweaty on this bus trip for none of the reasons you’d expect.

The trip by bus from Madrid to Don Benito takes four hours. By law bus drivers in Spain must take a break after two hours of driving. That means half way between the two cities we stopped at a rest stop. Up until that point my bus trip was very low-key. The woman to my left spent the time sleeping, and I spent the time taking wonderful scenic pictures of the Spanish countryside while listening to tunes on my iPhone.

See how wonderful!

Spanish Landscape

Take a good look at these pictures. Doesn’t it look, just a little bit, like we were driving in circles? In retrospect I seriously wonder if we did that a little bit. Probably not. Who knows. Anyway…

Moving on!

At the half way mark everyone got off the bus, as required, and the bus driver locked the bus. We all hung around a rest stop, some people buying snacks, most everyone using the facilities. Had I known what I was about to embark on during the second half of my journey I would not have nonchalantly basked in the Spanish sun. I would have been studying. Studying the Spanish language.

Little did I know my travel companion in the seat next to me was quite the chatter. I did not know this, because, as mentioned, she slept for the first two hours. For the second two hours it was time to chat. Can you guess where this is going?

If I thought that I got nervous while speaking Swedish to Swedes it was nothing compared to how nervous I became while trying to differentiate in my brain between Spanish and Swedish. In general English isn’t very widely spoken in Spain, so if you think a broken blend of Spanish, Swedish and English is at all understandable to anybody, you would be wrong. (This is not only applicable in Spain, but rather exactly everywhere on Earth.)

Despite our hindrances, that is to say, despite my hindrances, and sweatiness, I ended up having a lovely conversation with María-José. She explained about the different areas of Spain. Where she had travelled and lived. The stark differences between the Spanish countryside and Madrid (which I had actually picked up on – believe it or not). Told me about how her daughter had travelled to the US and was now working there. My big input in the conversation was commenting on horses. I’m sure she was simply blown away by my intellectual contribution. I did successfully explain that I was from the US, now lived in Sweden, and was visiting a friend who lived in Don Benito. (She was wondering why on earth I would travel to Don Benito.)

Map of Spain

A clear written explination of our discussion on Spain

I don’t think my sweatiness bothered her. I say that because once we arrived in Don Benito she stuck around with me until Katie arrived at the bus station. Safely leaving me off with someone who knew the area. María-José, thank you, I will always remember our bus trip together.

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the 100th

Hello and welcome to Enjoy Not Knowing’s 100th post!

Wicked cool text graphic courtesy of WordPress

Wicked cool text graphic courtesy of WordPress

What I should say is WELCOME TO THE PARTAYYY!

Since this is an online blog, which reaches people across the world (apparently! – how cool is that!), this party will have to take place wherever you, dear reader, live. The requirements are as follows (WARNING: this is a drinking game):

  • Read through the entire blog
  • For every noun you find, take one sip of beer.
  • For every adjective you find, take one sip of wine.
  • For every verb you find, take a shot of vodka.
  • If you’re still standing: YOU WIN!

What does one win? A hug. From me, in Sweden. (Not redeemable for cash, No expenses paid. Must be over 18 in most countries 21 in the US, and essentially of drinking age to participate and compete. Adequate evidence of completion must be provided on demand. The definition of what is adequate is subject to change.) Good luck!

In case drinking games aren’t for you, you can read some fun facts about my little corner of the internet instead:

Wicked cool map picture courtesy of WordPress

Wicked cool map picture courtesy of WordPress

  • Top 10 countries who have viewed ENK since it’s inception:
  1. Sweden
  2. USA
  3. Canada
  4. Spain
  5. Italy
  6. Philippines
  7. United Kingdom
  8. France
  9. Australia
  10. Germany

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  • Top 5 tags and categories:
  1. Life
  2. Family
  3. Celebrate
  4. Love
  5. Tied for fifth: Spain, wine, laughter, warm, memories, anniversary

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  • Top 5 search engine results that have led you to ENK:
  1. James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing
  2. Palacio Real de Madrid
  3. James Potter book
  4. James Potter books
  5. The Giver

.

  • Total number of views to date: 4, 435
  • Total number of comments to date: 177
  • All time high views in one day: 111 (on this post)
  • Number of followers: 40

A big THANK YOU to all you readers for stopping by every once in a while.

That’s it for me.

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5 years

I was once asked, while sipping wine in the warm Spanish evening, how I knew I had found the one.

A smile made its way across my face, as I replied:

It’s like I’ve found this person. I am hers, and she I mine. And everything else in the world, all the noise, it will settle down. It will resolve. There’s no need to think or worry about that. Because, forever, there will be us.

there will be us

Looking back on that night, first, I think that was a damn good answer. Second, I think what I have found is peace. In this person I have now been with for five years. I have found my peace, my missing piece. Happy fifth anniversary dear.

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paella is good, but tinto is better

I promise this is the last time I’m going to talk about it. But heavens to Betsy it is cold! Since I can’t go outside without freezing my toes and my boogers, I’m going to handle the situation how I handle situations best. Denial.

In that light, I’m going to take a stroll down memory lane, and in the coming days I hope you’ll join me. To scorching summer sun we go!!

Spain part 1 of 3: Madrid

What you’ve all been waiting for. The much alluded to, and previously mentioned, trip to Spain! This past May Evelina and I embarked on an adventure to Madrid.

While we were there we did touristy things. Like live in an apartment building that, upon our arrival, we were locked out of for an hour. While the guy who had our key walked/ran from his apartment to give us keys and instructions about our stay. It was classy. Luckily we felt just like home, seeing as our apartment was on the top floor of the building and had slanted roofs. (Those of you lucky enough to visit our Linköping apartment know.) The similarities ended there, however, as it was approximately 107 degrees up there. Celsius. (Possible hyperbole in action.) Oh, and everyone in the building spoke Spanish. Not Swedish.

During our stay we made our way up and down hills to see touristy things like:

Go in the Catedral de la Almudena (Almudena Cathedral)

Visit the Catedral de la Almudena (Almudena Cathedral)

And go to Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace) This is the view from the Cathedral.

And go to Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace) This is the view from the Cathedral.

Enjoyed the astounding view of Madrid from the Almudena Cathedral.

Enjoyed the astounding view of Madrid from the Almudena Cathedral.

We searched out the best shopping, and the prettiest buildings.

We searched out the best shopping, and the prettiest buildings.

We procured our favorite American coffee drinks!

We procured our favorite American coffee drinks!

Took a stroll down to Palacio de Comunicaciones (City Hall)

Took a stroll down to Palacio de Comunicaciones (City Hall)

We explored some amazing churches.

We explored some amazing churches.

Wandered on over to Puerta de Alcalá (Alcalá Gate). Unfortunately not at night, that's on the list for next time.

Wandered on over to Puerta de Alcalá (Alcalá Gate). Unfortunately not at night, that’s on the list for next time.

Visited Museo Reina Sofia (Reina Sofia Museum) I WAS SO PUMPE FOR THIS!!! Saw my favorite painting in real life!

Visited Museo Reina Sofia (Reina Sofia Museum) I WAS SO PUMPED FOR THIS!!! Saw my favorite painting in real life!

Besides my favorite painting, we also got to see other art. This is clearly art.

Besides my favorite painting, we also got to see other art. This is clearly art.

It was a little bit exhausting trekking around Madrid in the heat, but totally worth it. Most importantly we found El Corte Inglés. Where we bought Evelina’s mom a birthday present. And, well, obviously, we bought ourselves some presents. Evelina bought a beautiful watch. And I, in accordance with my 25 before 25 list, bought a pair of wicked-super-awesome sun glasses. Ray Bans. They’re blue. Don’t take my word for it, check out the pics.

sunny sun glasses

photo 2 (3)

chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’, all cool

In the evenings we ate paella outdoors and sipped tinto late into the night. Strolling along the restaurant lined streets in a comfortable warm breeze. One thing, at least, that Spaniards have in common with Swedes is the desire to eat out doors. In the summer this is an awesome way to dine.

Part one of what we’re now calling “The Spain Trip” went swimmingly. I had an amazing time in a foreign land with my dearest. I highly recommend Madrid for all you city lovers. A city vacation isn’t for everyone, but Madrid has the big things a city vacation needs: beautiful architecture, fun landmarks, museums and castles, and shopping. I recommend all of this to all of you.

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32 hours in the air

Between the end of May and the end of July I had spent a bit of time in the air, flying about. I was thinking about this the other day, and by other day I mean in August. Yes, this is yet another insertion from the list of things I’ve been doing.

This is what my flight schedule looked like:

Stockholm → Madrid

Sevilla → Barcelona → Stockholm

Stockholm → New York City → Boston

Boston → Washington DC

Washington DC → Boston

Boston → Amsterdam → Stockholm

Nine flights in two months, that’s not so bad. Really it is. I cringe to think what my carbon footprint looks like. I choose to never think about it. And recycle a lot. I also choose to look at the silver lining. Just think what it will look like in 5 years. Or 10! I do plan on visiting my family across the Atlantic between now and then, at least a few times. (If they’re lucky – If I’m lucky I’ll be able to afford it.) So really, right now it’s not so bad that I fly all over the place. Just think how bad it’ll look in 10 years!!

I really hope the world decides it’s worth it to continue to reduce emissions…and also making flights faster would be excellent. Like this supersonic jet Aerion SBJ.

I would not mind making the cross Atlantic trip in four hours. Opposed to 20. (To be fair that is including a surprise 12 hour layover in Iceland…) What would be even better would be if the seats were cheaper.

And not that I’m against Airbus’s progress and future ideas (because they are talking about cheaper faster flights), but I may be the only person I know who would want to sit in the front row of this plane.

My brothers would probably sit with me, but that’s only because they’re equally as crazy. If not more so.