A reflection of our time in Sweden

As soon as we left Sweden, I Googled, "How to become a Swedish Citizen" almost immediately. The easy way is to get a job in a high-demand area, and one of the areas is teaching across all grade levels. Yes please!

It was very hard for me to leave Sweden for a number of reasons. We have become very close with our "Swedish Family," (the family of the exchange student we hosted from 2013 - 2014) and loved spending time with them. We were also blown away at how absolutely beautiful Sweden is, and how much is reminded us of Oregon (but with more cozy houses). Everything was very, very clean, we agree with many of their governmental policies, parent time to raise a family is very much valued and prioritized, the exchange rate is good, and families are everywhere spending time together. Sweden has wonderfully fresh food, a relaxing pace and an appeal that is hard to find anywhere else in the world that we have been so far. And of course they are home to Timothy's favorite things:

1. Swedish meatballs
2. ABBA
3. The Swedish Chef
4. Volvo

I miss Sweden already, and we cherish the memories we made while visiting there are we're exploring other parts of Europe.

Another cultural habit and tradition is the Fika time put into each day. They explained to us that Fika is a time to take a break, sit and rest, enjoy conversation over coffee and bread or coffee and a dessert, and relax a little while before continuing onto the rest of your day. You can almost tell instantaneously when it's "time for Fika;" you get that feeling that a coffee and dessert are needed at just the right time.

I also enjoyed the later evenings and later morning starts that we had during our trip which allowed us to become better acclimated to European time. (Although, now that we're in Germany, the Germans have been strict with their lunch times [from 11 - 2pm only, then the kitchen is closed], so our lazy, late lunch habits from Sweden have gotten us in trouble a couple of times when we've searched for lunch at 3pm!)

If you caught a glimpse of the TV show that was on last year, "Welcome to Sweden," it encapsulates much of how we felt and some of what we experienced. ;)

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Overall, we spent 6 days in Sweden which was perfect for a first time visit. We flew into Gothenburg in the evening, after escaping the Tube Strike madness on our last day in London. (Our last day wasn't anything special: We saw the Tate Britain and then walked and got lost everywhere before getting a frozen pizza to microwave and eating it in the cab of our two hour ride to the airport due to the strikes!)

Emma and her dad met us in Gothenburg the following morning to show us around the town and experience the Swedish culture for a bit while we did so. I discovered almost immediately that I LOVE Swedish home design products, and quickly began to collect shopping bags full of items to bring home with me. Some of my favorite Swedish stores are Design Torget, Edblad, Indiska, Design House Stockholm, Ahlens, and many more.

After a half-day tour of Gothenburg and sharing a meal together at a restaurant called Bee Bar, we made the hour and a half drive from Gothenburg to their hometown of Jönköping. It is an absolutely beautiful town with a lake, hills, impressive architecture, hiking trails and more. Before dinner, we hiked around the paths overlooking the lake near their home and enjoyed really spectacular views. We had a delicious meal around the table and stayed up late in to the night sharing stories and reconnecting since the last time we saw each other. We toured around Jönköping the following day, and saw Emma's school, went shopping downtown, enjoyed Fika, had lunch back at their house, and visited a Swedish supermarket as well. They are very cool! It was a great day to just relax and hang out together. We also visited a small town called Granna which is famous for making hand-created peppermint sticks and candies which are very delicious. 

After two days in Jönköping, we drove together for a mini-vacation to Stockholm. Stockholm is 3 hours from Jönköping and is a gorgeous, clean city. We walked around a lot, had Fika of course, went on a haunted ghost tour, took a ferry through the Stockholm Archipelago (a must-do!), visited the premier Scandinavian sailing town of Sandhamn, shopped around some more and enjoyed exploring and learning about a new area. 

We also discovered a love of a German pasta restaurant called Vapianos which is a chain apparently all across Europe, but it is similar to Chipotle and the food is delicious. We went there two days in a row and it's the perfect "I'm hungry but I don't feel like a formal meal" type of restaurant. 

Our final day was the day we were to fly to Germany, and Emma's dad is a pilot for a European airline. He had to work that day, too, so he offered to drive us to the airport in the morning since he is also based out of Stockholm Airport. We thanked him for an amazing trip and hugged him goodbye, then headed for our gate to fly down to Dusseldorf for the driving portion of our trip. When it was time to board the plane, lo and behold he comes out to greet us and surprises us that he was going to be the pilot of our flight! We had some special privileges because of that and had an experience we will never forget. 

(And the picture load begins...)


Downtown Gothenburg
Hej!

The Gothenburg Fish Church
Lunch at Bee Bar


New friends!

Walking through the beautiful rose garden near their home

The lake near their home

The hotel meet & greet

Taking a walk to Emma's high school


Time for Fika!

So much delicious food....

The shops downtown of Jonkoping

Stockholm!





A beautiful day in Stockholm



More Fika...









The "Haunted" Ghost Tour






The Royal Palace

The view from our bedroom!


Stockholm Old Town





On the ferry to Sandhamn

Vauxhall






Picturesque Sandhamn



















Surprise!


Until next time, Sweden! 


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