Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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the 200th

Well here it is. Much sooner than I thought.

text graphic courtesy of WordPress

text graphic courtesy of WordPress

When I started out on this grand adventure, I never could have imagined what my blog would become. And now, only three months away from my three year anniversary, a lot has changed. Not only on the blog.

Since day one I’ve written 30 book of the month posts. (And read as many books!)

Since day one I’ve completed 17 things that I’ve always wanted to do. (Check out the 25 before 25 and 30 before 30 lists to read about them!)

Since day one some things have happened. I’ve learned a new language, I’ve travelled, I’ve made memories, and met people who are impossible to forget. I’ve used this blog to catalogue the great things. The adventures and smile bearing small moments.

There have been some bumps along the road, some that I’ve casually mentioned, but I try not to dwell. I do hope you fabulous readers do know that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. I do prefer to highlight the good though. Positivity builds on itself to create more good. So when I’m down I can pick myself back up by taking a little peek at my own corner of the internet. It usually works.

Let’s start a tradition then, and focus on the good, like how many different places in the world my blog has poked it’s nose into your lives.

Stats 200

statistics courtesy of WordPress

That’s 75 countries y’all. How many views does your country have?

I hope you enjoy what you see.

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lindsey visits

This past weekend my friend Lindsey came to visit! My oh my was I excited. Lindsey is the first friend to come visit Evelina and I from the US at our Eskilstuna abode. (Yes, Ryan came to visit last winter, yes, he is a friend, but first he is a brother. Yes, Katie came to visit us in Linköping, and she will forever hold the award for first North American friend to visit Sweden.)

I suppose Lindsey had it easy, since she technically only came from Denmark where she’s studying for her semester abroad. I mean really technically she came from the US originally, so it still counts. Also, no points were deducted from Katie for having flown to Sweden from Spain.

I can’t help but to break down our weekend as I did Katie’s.

Friday:

12:50: Lindsey landed in Sweden, and promptly bussed it to Stockholm Central Station where she trained it to Eskilstuna. She did all this on her own, and I must say I am greatly impressed. (My own personal difficulties in getting on the correct SL trains is a story for another time.)

14:45: I met Lindsey at Eskilstuna’s Central Station. After which we walked to Evelina’s and my apartment to drop off Lindsey’s things before taking a stroll in to the city.

17:00: Dinner at Papas Tapas. This is my number one favorite restaurant in Eskilstuna. It’s a combination of Spanish and Mexican food, and you almost always need to book a table if you want to eat there. So good.

19:30: The three of us, after returning home for a quick change, went over to a friend’s housewarming party. Don’t worry, I told everyone they had to speak lots of English so Lindsey could follow along. I was pleasantly surprised at the over all English skills at the party. (Just kidding guys, I’ve always know y’all are good at English.) But seriously though, give a Swede a few beverages and the English just starts flowin’.

Saturday:

7:00: Early wake-up call today, because it’s time for Three Kronor Hockey School! Just enough time for a quick breakfast before our ride came to get to the rink.

8:00: Arrival at Smehallen. Last Saturday was the first day of hockey school for this season. Evelina and I are coaching the girls, so our attendance was mandatory. Lindsey stepped up and was a big help on the ice. She asked about a few key Swedish phrases to help her talk to the little ones.

  • Stand up! – “Stå upp!”
  • Walk like Daffy Duck – “Gå som Kalle anka!”
  • Do you need help? – “Behöver du hjälp?”

Now you also know all the phrases necessary to teach a small Swedish child how to skate!

TKS

10:30: Still at the rink, our team’s practice started at 10:30. Lindsey was absolutely up for a go at it on the ice, and it was certainly a success. Evelina’s and my teammates were impressed, and most importantly so were our coaches. Lindsey officially has an invitation to come play in Sweden when she has completed her studies in the US. Seriously, Lindsey, you should come.

12:15: Lunch time. Evelina and I did our best to impress Lindsey by showing her the finest cuisine of Sweden. Just not at this meal time…left overs it was.

14:30: After lunch and a little down time we walked into the city again to look around at the shops. There’s a bit of construction at the main square in Eskilstuna right now, but City Hall is still pretty, and there was a lot to see. We were on a quest for shoes, so we visited all the shoe stores. Unfortunately we did not find what we were looking for, so we recharged with a little fika. It was necessary.

The classic Swedish fika, coffee and a chocolate ball

The classic Swedish fika, coffee and a chocolate-ball

16:00: Still on a quest for shoes we walked out to the mall.

The walk there was beautiful. Peppered with views of the changing trees. Fall is here!

The walk there was beautiful. Peppered with views of the changing trees. Fall is here!

Where both Lindsey and Evelina were lucky enough to find some fall shoes! Shoes…let’s get some shoes!

18:30: Once the mall closed we joined Evelina’s mother, Maria, back in to town. We had been invited for dinner, so we enjoyed some classic Swedish home cooked food. Followed by apple pie, coffee and tea. You could say it was slightly better than the lunch we had to offer… In fact you probably should say that.

Sunday:

9:00: Wake up call! Although it wasn’t too late of a sleep in, Lindsey and I had gotten train tickets in to Stockholm for Sunday morning, so up and at ’em! After packing up and saying bye to Evelina we took a stroll through some parts of the city we had missed before on our way up to the station.

10:30: Train departs from Eskilstuna Central Station.

11:45: Arrival in Stockholm. We (I) decided we should walk down to the water and take a look at the old part of Stockholm City. It is one of my favorite places in the city, and not something you should miss. When we first left the train station and looked right we got a good view of Stockholm’s City Hall. My fun fact was that they had recently cleaned all the gold on top of the buildings in all of Sweden for the crown princesses’ wedding (other probably factual things I know about the royal family found here). Along the way in to Gamla Stan (the old town) you get a glimpse of Riddarholmskyrkan, which is most known for as a burial-place for kings. (I say “most known for” I mean most known by me, as in it’s the only thing I know about it. More informed people might have other opinions.) On our way in to Gamla Stan we also walked past Riksdagshuset, or the parliament building. (This time we didn’t venture in side.)

Gamla Stan!

Gamla Stan!

There are a ton of cute little shops in Gamla Stan, so we slowly made our way through.

12:45: After exploring Old Town we arrived at Vapiano. Still my favorite Italian place to eat in Stockholm. The Vapiano in Old Town is my favorite of the three in the city because of the location and the atmosphere. This is how excellent and fabulous the food looks:

photo 3 (3)

13:15: Once we had eaten our fill of excellent Italian food we took a stroll down to the water again to loop the other way through the city. Looking across the water we saw Grona Lund, some beautiful boats, and the National Museum.

Another breathtaking fall foliage view.

Another breathtaking fall foliage view.

Stockholm on the water

Turning back up to the city by the Royal Castle, we arrived just in time for the ceremonial changing of the guards.

changing of the guards

After which we made our way through the commercial side of Stockholm and saw all the stores and shopping. Since we weren’t looking for anything in particular we had a nice opportunity to have fika outside Ahlens and people watch.

more fika

We then made our way back to the train station.

14:05: Arrived back at Central Station and went over to the Arlanda Express tracks where Lindsey and I said out good byes. I hope you had an awesome visit to Sweden, Lindsey, come back soon!

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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:

Friday:

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!!

Wallberg

you go girl!

Saturday:

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.)

Sunday:

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.

Freedom!!!

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.

Monday:

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! (:

Hejdå!

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 )