I'm finally getting the chance to blog about my trip to Sweden. It's been difficult these days trying to get enough "me" time on the computer due to the fact that we have a foster son, who'd 16 1/2 and spends most of his waking hours consuming all the game time he can (when he's not at school).
Anywho, my trip (accompanied by my big brothers) was nothing short of fabulous. The weather was mostly sunny, breezy, and cool but we packed in quite a bit.
Having left Newark at about 5:30pm on May 1, we arrived in Stockholm the next morning at 7:15am (Sweden is 6 hours ahead of us). We acclimated ourselves to Arlanda Airport and I made my way to the nearest coffee shop. Yum...good,strong, Swedish coffee! Then we exchanged our $$ for Kronor and finally, found where to get tickets for the Express train to Stockholm. N Period could got a senior discount and Caboose and I got a "twofer" deal.
The express took 20 minutes to deliver us to Central Station and while I waited for my friend to meet us, the boys checked out a few things and bought tickets for our train trip to Goteborg on Monday. I finally figured out that I was waiting in the wrong area and found my friend Maggie and we had wonderful hellos and then it was off to the "T" to take the subway to the bus station and then to Maggie's apartment. Maggie was the ultimate host, having bought us tickets for the T and bus (same ticket!) on her senior discount. We hung out at Maggie's for awhile and while she stayed at her sister Eva's apartment across the way, we napped then headed over to Eva's for a fabulous dinner.
On Sunday, I went with Maggie to her church in Stockholm. What a gorgeous place. It was built sometime in the mid-1700's and is just the most beautiful church I've ever seen. The choir is professional and it was like listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And there were only about a dozen or so members! And like every Lutheran church, we had coffee hour after the service. It was just grand! People are so nice there. After returning to Maggie's, the boys and I took a foray back into Stockholm and visited Gamlastan (Old Town). There are cobblestone streets and buildings from early 1600's. There's a restaurant that's operated since about 1641 in the same place that serves a lot of "authentic" Swedish fare, but it is a bit pricey for this tourist on a budget. We saw the Royal Palace and visited at least a dozen gift shops. On Sunday evening, we had another delicious meal with our hosts and then took a leisurely walk around the grounds of the apartment complex. There are walking/biking trails all around and you can go for miles! We even heard a nightingale singing. It didn't get dark till almost 10pm.
On Monday morning we headed out to go back to Stockholm to catch our train to Goteborg. The ride to Goteborg (Sweden's 2nd largest city) took about 5 hours and was the smoothest ride any of us had ever had on a train. Once in Goteborg, we took the tram (a "light" electric railway) to our hostel. We had a private room with one twin bed (mine) and bunkbeds. There was a sink in the room as well as a small table and it was quite comfortable. A bit of advice: rent the sheets and towels. Once settled, we walked about the neighborhood since we were a bit away from the downtown area. We got food, ate, and chatted about our first impressions (WOW) and then went to sleep. The next morning we ended up walking to the downtown which gave us a chance to explore a bit better. The architecture is awesome and old and be sure you don't walk in the bike path. The boys explored the trains at the central station a bit more. We saw the XJ200 which is rather expensive but our 5 hour trip would only take 3 hours on this. Also a Danish train that takes you straight to Copehagen. Many of the train cars are named after no one in particular.
We ate at an Irish pub restaurant that evening which was quite good (especially the beer). Back to our hostel and some time to relax and take it all in before bed.
More tram riding the next day, this time to the end of the line in one direction and then the other. The scenery is just beautiful being by the sea. We also took a bus to Kungalv, where our grandmother was born and raised. I was able to take pictures of the church she attended with her parents and 7 siblings. I wanted to visit the cemetery where many of the family is buried but it was too far to walk and time constraints had us leaving too soon. We marveled at the simple homes which made us feel like we were at our mother's or grandparents' homes. The same little decorations in the windows and many homes have a flagpole in the yard that flies the Swedish flag.
We left Goteborg on Thursday and although it was a bit rainy, I thought it cool that there didn't seem to be a place to park one's bicycle at the plaza in front of the central station. This seems to be a very healthy country. We didn't see any really overweight or obese people either. Must be all that biking and walking they do!
When we got back to Stockholm, we put our luggage in a locker at the station and did another walking tour of the city and ended up back in Gamlastan where we had dinner in of all places, a Mexican restaurant. It was pretty good, the price was right and we thought it better than some back home. We made it back to Maggie's and the next day another trip back to the city. This time Maggie came with us and we took a boat to get to the Vasa museum. This is a huge ship that foundered 15 minutes after it set sail in 1648. It was raised in 1964 and restored a bit. Many of my pictures didn't come out because of the dim lighting which is so because the ship is deteriorating. All in all, it was quite fascinating and I highly recommend a visit if you ever go to Sweden. We also went to the National Museum but only to the gift shop since the admission was more than we wanted to pay. More walking around Stockholm and then back to Maggie's apartment. We took our host and her sister out to dinner at the nearby mall and it was a wonderful meal. And they didn't "overfeed" you with food. The portions were generous but not so you couldn't eat most of your food and feel overstuffed. We spent the evening at Eva's apartment with Maggie watching TV (the programs were in English with Swedish sub-titles!) We said our goodbye's and went back to Maggie's apartment and to bed.
We arose very early and through the rain and dragging our luggage, caught the 6am bus back to the T station and then back to Stockholm to get the express to the airport. I did manage to buy a small bottle of Aquavit which I think is Swedish moonshine. It's strong and the mere aroma will give you a kick! After a long 8 hour flight home (and the food was good on the plane!) we were back in Newark to a very warm, humid day. We went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant in Gillette,NJ and we were all fast asleep by 8pm.
I have promised my soon to be 16 year old grandson that I will take him to Sweden for a graduation gift (in 3 years) which should give me enough time to save up. He says he's looking forward to it and maybe this time we can actually meet some of our cousins.
So says Amma today.