09 August 2009

Sweden

I have to be honest - before this trip I felt close-to-zero desire to ever go to Scandinavia. But, now I am a true believer! Hello, my name is Kristina and I am in love with Sweden! Seriously, I could (and would!) move there!

We arrived by the skin of our teeth (see end of previous post for barely-making-it-to-the-Berlin-airport story) into the Copenhagen airport, where we easily found our train into Lund.

We settled in nicely but then at the second stop a flock of 18 year old-ish ladies, dressed like they were headed to a bachelorette party, collapsed on the train next to us. Along with their giant purses full of makeup and perfume and who-know-what, they were each carrying very large grocery bags that were bursting with alcohol bottles. Seriously, between these 8 ladies they could have filled a wheelbarrow! We didn't' know what to make of it, and since neither Ryan or I speak Swedish/Danish/Dutch, we just continued our train ride, trying not to be distracted by the one especially scantily-clad girl who kept inadvertently flashing us.

We arrived in Lund and were greeted by our very gracious hosts Tobi and Carolina! They took us by car through Lund and toward their home in the countryside. En route, they explained that this night was the "Witches Festival" and many, many teenagers would be out all hours of the night drinking and partying. Finally, the flashers on the train were explained!

Tobi and Carolina own a lovely 3-level home in the Swedish countryside. We slept very comfortably on the lower level, with the living room and kitchen being on the main level, and 3 more bedrooms up top. One thing I really love about European beds is everyone has their own comforter - this was the same in South America too. For anyone who has ever slept with me, you'd certainly appreciate this, because I am an unapologetic cover hog!

Our first night we stayed in and made BBQ. For the most part, it seems like BBQ in Sweden means food on skewers. My favourite (notice, my European spelling, because I'm worldly!) skewer food was a fig wrapped in bacon! Seriously, try it!

However, in order to cook these tasty morsels of goodness, the men had to first assemble the DODGE BBQ! That's right, you read that correctly, DODGE! Here are the boys beginning assembly in the living room. Finished! Just imagine the wicked grill patterns you could grill into a steak! Men - so proud whenever they build something! After dinner we swapped stories, comparing how things are in American vs. Sweden (Swedish women get up to a year and a half for maternity leave!), and shared our pictures from recent travels. When I fell asleep during pictures of Tobi & Carolina's recent ski trip to the Alps, I knew it was time for bed!

The next morning we enjoyed a traditional Swedish breakfast! Eggs, rolls, cheese, meats, and pate. Plus different yummy juices to drink! Now, speaking specifically to the cheese - let me just say that it comes in a tube and it is DELISH! Tobi & Carolina had the cheese with ham in it, but as you can see from this picture we took later at a grocery store, there are many, MANY different meat-infused cheeses to pick from. My favorite choice from this cheese-wall: Cheese with chunks of Lobster! Awesome. After breakfast the four of us headed into Lund, which actually reminded me of Bozeman, insofar as it's a college town. Carolina kept apologizing for the "mess". A fair number of beer cans, etc, were overflowing from trash cans, due to the festivities the night before. Many people were up walking around but we did also see some over-indulger's laying passed-out on the ground still. Hope they remembered to put on sunscreen!

On Campus there was this beautiful building proudly flying the Swedish flag. Some sort of big celebration was going on as well. There were speeches, singing, and further down the walk we saw this little band! Go Clarinets! Although I have to admit, those outfits are BAD. I take back any whining I ever did about my various marching band uniforms! After enjoying a few songs of the impromptu concert, we walked around a very beautiful park that was blooming with tulips! I was trying to practice some photography skills with this one. We continued our walk and happened up on this traditional old Swedish house with a thatch roof. If you've never smelled it, it's difficult to describe, but the roof had it's own very distinctive, earthy smell. This is one of the more famous (read: expensive) streets to live in Lund. These houses are hundreds of years old! After all of this walking - boy were we famished! And where does one go to eat in Sweden you ask? Why, IKEA, of course! Look at all these signs in Swedish! So authentic! For those of you who have had Swedish Meatballs in the states you know how good this is! To be honest, it tastes almost the same in Sweden, just a little better, because, well, you're in SWEDEN! After stuffing our bellies (only Ryan and I actually, Tobi and Carolina showed self restraint and didn't order the giant plate of meatballs, another different between greedy (fat) Americans and Swedes) we headed into Malmö. Malmö is the third most populated city in Sweden sits just across the water from Denmark.

While walking through the town centre, we happened upon a classic American car show. Apparently, collecting old American cars is very popular in Sweden and the collectors resemble and old-school biker gang, clad in heavy leather jackets and accompanied by inappropriately dressed biker-wannabe girlfriends. You have to hand it to them though, some of these cars are in great shape! Just past the car show, we came upon these little marching band statues. They had a clarinet, trombone, trumpet, and of course drum major! I couldn't resist showing off my seasoned high step! Here's Carolina and I, enjoying some sunshine, even though it was chilly that far north! Finally, we headed towards the water to check out the most expensive real estate in Sweden. I don't understand why anyone would want to live here because this walkway was super crowded, there was no parking, and everyone walking by can see right into your house! Here's looking across the water to Denmark. Behind us is the "Twisting Torso" building - quite a feat of engineering! Here's the whole group, great long arm photo Tobi! After our big day we headed home for another lovely evening feast of shrimp and BBQ, wine and ice cream. Let me just say again that we could not have had more lovely, gracious hosts!

Now, off to Copenhagen!

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