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Toby & Maureen go to Sweden.

Posted by Maureen Tuesday, September 23, 2008 Labels: , ,

Photo courtesy the web (our own photos to come later)

Last week, Toby and I flew to Stockholm from our respective homelands and met for a week of travel and time together. I don't have photos yet, as we used his camera so he's sending me a cd-rom once he gets them uploaded back in Nairobi. Check back in a week or so. In the meantime, here's a short summary of our trip if you're interested:

First of all, Sweden is gorgeous (so is Toby)! The architecture is just phenomenal. The countryside is spotted with tall cathedral steeples all across the horizon, and the city is lined with Scandinavian style homes and buildings, both new and old. Stockholm has tons of waterways and beautiful bridges. And I didn't realize this until Toby pointed it out, but another thing that makes it so beautiful is there are no overhead power lines! All underground--it makes a huge difference in the aesthetic. (Aside: On our first "date", Toby asked me what I thought about overhead power lines. Strange first date question, but I must have liked it...now I know why.)

After I went through a gruesome flight departure from KC and Chicago (see previous blog), I finally made it to Stockholm--eight hours after schedule and without luggage. But Toby was there, so thats all that mattered. We visited the Royal Palace in Stockholm and then the next day were off to Jonkoping (pronounced yen-sher-ping) where Toby's distant family lives. His cousin, Stine (Stin-a) hooked us up with a significant discount at a hotel she used to work at, which ended up being less than the youth hostels! The second night we stayed with her parents, Hanne and Per. Stine took us out for traditional Swedish--meatballs, potatoes, and lingon berries--so good! We also went to the Huskvarna Fabriks Museum. Perhaps some of you have owned a Huskvarna sewing machine or chain saw (who doesn't?)? Evidently they're quite widespread in the US. Our visit with his family was great--highlights included Per's broken English, referring to the US as "United", snow as "snee", and deer as "bambi", among other hilarious bloopers. E.g. "You know, in United the vinter has much snee and sometimes you see the bambi." They were a wonderful family of 2 parents and 4 kids, the eldest of whom are my age.

From there, we traveled (by bus) to Vastervik, a small town on the coast of the Baltic Sea, south of Stockholm. We stayed in a little cabin there, at a summer resort which is really cheap in the non-summer months. We rented bikes to get around, as the town was about 3km away. It was really nice, although mostly cold and rainy. We saw a movie, visited some castle ruins, ate a lot of sausages, rode our bikes, and played some speed scrabble.

Then, we were back to Stockholm. We attempted some shopping but everything was too expensive (Sweden is home of IKEA and H&M)= shopping let-down. We ate ice cream and more sausages= sausage satisfaction. We visited Scandinavia's "Largest Open-Air museum" called Skansen, which is basically a theme park that shows traditional Swedish life in life-size form. There are tons of little shops that are either replicas or have been picked up and moved from somewhere else in Sweden--like a furniture making shop, glass-blowing, pottery, bakery, old-style restaurants, etc. Also there was a small aquarium and a Nordic Zoo, with animals like wolverine, bears, reindeer, etc. Toby saw three animals that he'd never seen before in real life (which says a lot for an animal-lover like him): Naked Mole Rats (weird), wolverine (I thought that was only an X-men character), and reindeer (again, actually exists outside of Santa Claus).

And that was the end. Toby came down with his third bout of malaria at the end of the trip, but seems already to be recovering. He's on his way back into Sudan tomorrow.

All to say, it was a fantastic trip. I'll post a few photos when I get them.


swen said...

So great to read of your travels, but it makes me want to book a ticket and go back tomorrow!

Did you make it to Gamla Stan (Old Town)? One of my favorite spots ...

And yes, I'll want to see your pictures and talk more when you're back and have time!


Maureen said...

Yeah, we went to Gamla Stan to visit the palace and just walk around a bit. Its cool!

My favorite part of the whole city that I saw was probably walking across the bridge from the Karlaplan train stop to Djurgarden. Not sure what that area is called. But that canal was breathtaking. Maybe I'll see you Sunday!

Hailee said...

Sounds like a great travel trip.