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.



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.



katie visits

This past weekend my wonderful friend Katie came for a visit. (Check out her awesome blog here.) She is the first of my friends from the US to come visit me in Sweden, and is therefore leading on the friend scoreboard by about 200 points. This will be a tough lead to beat, but my birthday is coming up, so we’ll see what happens. (I’m not even pretending to try to be subtle here – embrace it.)

This is what the awesome weekend of awesomeness looked like:


11:42: Katie landed – AWESOME (okay, I’m done.)

11:55: She made it off the plane and into Arlanda.

12:00: Bus into Stockholm city.

12:45: We met Evelina at Central Station. After taking an intended tour around the train station, and through a portion of the city. (Read: unintended, Evelina was on the phone trying to figure out where the hell I had led Katie off to. I maintain I knew exactly where we were the whole time, and only took her that way because it was, in my mind, the best way there a.k.a. the only way I was sure about.)

13:00: After a short discussion we decided that going to Max was the best option for lunch. Starting Katie’s trip off on the right foot was important to me, so exposing her to Sweden’s version of Burger King and McDonalds seemed like the right move.

13:45: Explored Stockholm and went shopping, Evelina bought some fabulous shoes.

Let’s get some SHOES . . . shoes

 14:30: Coffee break. Mostly initiated by me. Okay 100% initiated by me seeing as neither Evelina nor Katie bought anything. (Neither of them drink coffee. . .) I was starting to lag, and the coffee was just calling my name.

15:00: We were lured out of the coffee shop by a commotion on the square. If you’ve seen the flash mob to Michael Jackson’s Beat It then you know where we were standing. If not, and now I’ve piqued your interest check it out here. There was a large group of school aged children (yes I’m including people aged 18 in this ‘children’ category, which feels weird, seeing as I swear I was 18 about two seconds ago – but it works.) It became clear that they were a dance group, a very very large dance group. There were drummers, and lots of loud music playing, and before we knew it they all broke out into choreographed dance. It was excellent. Or at least marginally entertaining.

15:20: Wandered around the old part of Stockholm, saw the castle and other places of interest.

19:00: Arrived at Vapianos. One of my favorite restaurants, they serve Italian, which I just can’t get enough of. The wait was 45 minutes, but we passed the time by enjoying some beverages at the overcrowded bar, where one bartender seemed to be doing about 3/4ths of the work.

19:45: Right on cue we got our table. And then we were moved to a different table. It’s okay, I forgive them. We enjoyed some excellent pasta, pizza and wine, as we looked out onto the city through the windows that made up the back two walls.

21:30: Walked back to our hotel/hostel class room

22:55: Watched the boxing match between Frida Wallberg vs. Amanda Serrano – big win for the Swede, featherweight champion of the world!!


you go girl!


9:00: Breakfast!! Free food is the best food, I always say. (Even the fruit.) Was it included in the price of the room? Maybe. I prefer to view it as free.

10:30: Checked out ans walked down to Central Station

10:40: Bought train tickets to Linköping, fortunately I had the opportunity to pay extra, since the last-minute tickets were sold out. (To be fair, Katie did pay a little more for her ticket to even it out – greatly appreciated!)

10:55: Creeped at a church.

Hello . . . ?

 Unfortunately we would be on the train during their next organ concert.

11:05: Shopping part two, Katie bought an excellent pair of shorts, as did I. Neither were quite as beautiful as Evelina’s shoes though…(I’m trying to contain my jealousy.) On our way around Stockholm we also saw a 6 v. 6 soccer game being played outside, and the changing of the guards. Horses and all. Not to leave out the out-door art display.

12:45: Bought hot dogs and enjoyed them in the sun on some steps outside the government buildings.

13:30: Took a tour of Parliament, the highlight of which was a German man enthusiastically explaining governmental systems in Germany; information our guide didn’t quite know what to do with. Plus, we had a great view.

14:30: Went back to the old part of Stockholm, where I stealthily purchased a dalahäst. We continued to enjoy the sights, and some ice cream, until it was time to head to the train station.

16:45: Boarded the train to Linköping, managing to get a table, which enabled us to play Spot it! and Bananagrams during the ride.

19:05: Arrived at the apartment, where we enjoyed each other’s company and played a few friendly games of Settlers of Catan into the night. (Such a fun game, play it immediately if you aren’t already. Rather, read the rest of this post, then go play.)


9:30: Made an early start out to Tinnerö Eklandskap to see the releasing of the cows. (Note: this is a direct translation of kosläpp, my English is apparently going down hills, so I can’t think of a better name for it.) What happens is at 10 (delayed to about 10:45) the farmers let their cows out of the barn. Where they have been for the duration of the winter. (The cows. The farmers can come and go as they please.) The cows are very excited about this, and run on out, and proceed to jump around with glee in the fields. Never seen a cow jump? It’s impressive. They are large animals. Apparently when you get them excited, they just can’t help but to jump for joy.


Before the releasing they warned the spectators that they were turning on the electric fence. After which I asked inquisitively how strong a current they really send through there, and I admit I wonder what it feels like. Evelina assures me that it’s not much of a shock, just enough to make the cow want to back off. Luckily, while trying to get a good picture of the calves, I got to experience the feeling first hand. (Honestly not that bad, I’ve shocked myself worse on two occasions.)

11:30: Headed back to the car discussing what we would eat for lunch. Deciding on hamburgers we stopped at Coop on the way home for the ingredients. We were all unsure about how we felt about eating hamburgers just after seeing all the cute cows roaming around in their new-found freedom – but the smell of the hamburgers they were selling on the farm were just too much to resist.

13:15: Walked into the city, first walking around the river just a few hundred meters behind our apartment building.

You can see the city from a bridge, quite a view.

 14:25: After walking through most of the city center we walked up to Domkyrkan where we spent time walking through and admiring not only the architecture but the beautiful stained and carved glass windows.

14:50: Went back down into the city to roam around the malls, not settling on buying anything, but there are a few items I have in the back of my mind to go back to look at again later (;

16:05: Relaxed on some benches in the sun while Katie and I waited for Evelina to catch up with us; we had left her in a store, where she went on a small shopping spree. While enjoying the break from walking a number of Evelina and my teammates turned up, so we introduced them to Katie. The meeting was short-lived though because it was just about time to head off to dinner.

17:15: Arrived at Aioli, which is a tapas bar. Evelina and I were hesitant about bringing a resident of Spain to a Swedish tapas place. But Katie assured me that it would probably be so different it would be like eating at any restaurant with good food. Seeing as it’s my favorite place to eat in Linköping, that’s all the convincing it took. We enjoyed a variety of small dishes, where I inevitably ordered more than I could possibly eat. But eating outside in the sunshine and sipping Spanish wine was very, very enjoyable.

19:20: We left the restaurant and made our way back to the apartment.

19:45: After stopping at Hemköp for chips and other evening treats we made it back to the apartment, and prepared for game night part two. Evelina and I taught Katie how to play Carcassone (another awesome game) that Elizabeth generously sent me for birthday last year. (Thanks again!!)

00:00: After a wonderful night of games and talking we hit the hay early(ish) in preparation for our drive up to Arlanda the following morning.


7:50: Departure for the airport ): After gassing up and checking twice that we had what we needed (Evelina and I were planning to stay in Eskilstuna until Tuesday night), we were on out way! Katie only fell asleep in the car twice.

10:25: Arrived at Arlanda, after a slightly confused conversation about where to park we went on in.

10:40: Katie checked in to her flight and printed her ticket(s – technically two flights but they were both on one ticket, smart. . .unless you lose the one ticket.) Since Katie is an excellent packer and only had carry on items it was a quick process.

11:00: Settled on a place to eat lunch, or rather two places, but it was a food court style set up so everyone could get what they were looking for.

11:55: We said our farewells by the gate, and Katie was on her way back to Spain! Not before Evelina and I presented her with her very own dalahäst to bring home as a souvenir. I must admit I am surprised at my success in purchasing it without her suspecting a thing. Who knows though, maybe the shock was all an act for my benefit. Regardless, I love giving gifts! (:


Over all an absolutely amazing weekend. Seeing old friends is like nothing else, and leaves a unique happiness in your heart. Thanks for coming Katie!!

So who’s coming next??

( Wallberg picture found here; dalahäst photo found here; airplane picture found here )