received July 28
(Written by Steve July 24th, 2005)
Sweden: A nation of tall,
attractive types, famously open minded. This country is full of athletic folk, living
on the edge of technology and well cared for by the state, spending their long
summer days eating meatballs and listening to Abba (O.K. the last bit I took
from the Lonely Planet and it might be taking it just a bit too far).
get me wrong, the folks here are pretty darn good looking but we were expecting
that. Take the police for example; every police car has the standard 2
officers, one guy and one gal. The guy is like some kind of WWF, 6’5” chiseled
god-like creature and all the women seem to be all around 6 feet with steel
blue eyes and long blonde hair. Let’s just say they both look like something
from the Barbie collection, except for the Glock they
have strapped to their waist. They are
very blonde and very blue eyed, and the rest of the world does not seem to have
many people with both of those (natural) features.
We did our
usual big city sightseeing in Stockholm,
we took a hop-on hop-off tour bus around the city. The old city was like many
European old towns, but without all the people. We love this city; it is so hip
and beautiful that if you are coming to Scandinavia
you must see it. The city lies on the Baltic Sea and if you look really hard
across the water you can see Finland
and Latvia?. O.K. not quite, but it is only one long ferry ride away.
If we had more time we would have done it for sure.
Capital = Stockholm,
Population = 9 million, Area 449,964 sq km, language is Swedish of course,
Currency = Krona, National bird = mosquito (Just
kidding) but there are some monster bugs up here.
wonderful things this country has to offer are their 28 national parks,
28000kms of trekking and bike paths and ten royal castles. The Castle in the
old city is where the king lives and we were told it was a must see, but we felt
it was a tad over-rated. The old city on the other hand was fantastic! Narrow
streets, tons of restaurants and Café’s and fully loaded with people. We have
been to so many large cities in the last few months maybe we are a little tired
or just a bit spoiled because we could only handle a couple of days in this
city. We are glad we saw Stockholm, but all four
of us would rather be back in Sundsvall if given only one
choice, we really miss that great farm.
Day 2, July 17 2005)
said that, here we are; driving over 2000 km in less than 3 days and yesterday
we drove 1145 km from the border, but it was soooooooooo
worth it. We are staying at Anders and Gunilla’s
House, actually a small 2 bedroom cottage in the back of their farm. We are 10
minutes outside of Sundsvall,
400 km above Stockholm
and about 20 miles (Swedish ones) from Peter Forsberg’s home town. We are also
only 10 km from the Swedish Hockey team Modo, if any
of you hockey fans have heard of them.
distance from north to south in Sweden
is about 1,575 km (about 980 mi), and from east to west about 500 km (about 310
mi). The coastline totals about 3,220 km (about 2,000 mi) in length. Sweden may be
divided into six topographical regions. In the northwestern section are
extensions of the Kjølen
Mountains, which form part of the
boundary with Norway.
The highest point in the range, and the highest point in Sweden, is atop Mount Kebnekaise
(2,111 m/6,926 ft).
of northern Sweden
is considerably more severe than that of the south primarily because it has
higher elevations and because the mountains cut off the moderating marine
influence. The average temperature in February, the coldest month, is below
freezing throughout Sweden,
with an average temperature range in Stockholm
of -5° to -1°C (22° to 30°F). In July, the warmest month, the average
temperature range is 13° to 22°C (56° to 71°F) in Stockholm The proportion of daylight hours
increases in the summer and decreases in the winter as the latitude becomes more
northerly. In the one-seventh of Sweden
above the Arctic Circle, daylight is
continuous for about two months in the summer, and continuous darkness occurs
for about two months in the winter. Where we are right now in Sundsval, it does not get dark. At about 8 pm it starts to
get just a little dark, but actually it stays light out all night and the sun
comes out around 6 am.
Goofing around on the Ljungan
is relatively low throughout Sweden
except for on the higher mountain slopes. In Stockholm the average annual precipitation is
540 mm (21 in); in Göteborg it is 790 mm (31 in).
Rainfall is heaviest in the southwest and in the mountains along the Norwegian
border. Most rain falls in the late summer. Heavy snows are common in central
and northern Sweden.
The first day we arrived (the 1145 km day) it just poured and we even had to
slow down on the highway because there was so much water I was afraid our
little bread wagon was going to hydro plane.
is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and made up of really
special people. I say this because on our way up to Sundsval
we tried several times to find a bank machine that would take our bank card,
but we had no luck. We were low on fuel and needed to phone our friends so we
pulled into a gas station about 100 km before Stockholm. We got gas and asked if we could
try our bank card, and again it would not work and we had to use our credit
card. The gal at the station was closing up but stayed to allow us to use the
phone. Helen asked if we could use our credit card to pay for some water and
snacks and the gal said she had shut down the cash register and was now closed.
She then said,” it is no problem, just take what you need”, and she would not
charge us, we did not take anything, but her offer was very nice. We have met
several other incredible people since we have arrived here, and so far do not
want to leave. This country is a place where you would go in a fairy tale to live
happily ever after. We love it!
eating wild berries out in the jungle (as she calls it)
I will have
more to say in a few days but the internet does not exist out here in this
beautiful land and you know, it is kind of nice
without it. We will be heading back to London
in a week so we will just soak up what we can here before we have to choke on
all that technology again.
was fantastic. As we were driving into
Northern Germany towards Sweden
we were reminiscing about all the wonderful memories and experiences and we
were remarking how everything went so smoothly while we were there. As we were talking I looked down at my leg
and noticed something sticking out right below my left knee. I thought it was a piece of wood or a skin
tag and tried to yank it out but it wouldn’t come off. It was the size of a large grain of rice but
it was black. As I looked closer I
noticed that this “thing” was sticking out completely perpendicular to my leg
and upon closer observation I noticed that it had LEGS!!!!! I had a tick in my leg! It was sitting there with its head burrowed
into my leg and its body sticking out.
It was so shocking, I started laughing.
Then, of course, my mind went to work and all the horrible diseases that
I vaguely remember reading about that are associated with ticks came crashing
through my brain. Lymme
Disease, arthritis, encephalitis. And
then wasn’t there something about being very careful when you take them out;
not to leave the head inside. Needless
to say I kind of panicked and told Steve to take me to a doctor or a hospital
right away. But where? We stopped at a pharmacy but they were closed
so Steve asked at a gas station and they directed us to the local
hospital. We had no idea where to go
because the signs were all in German so we just started walking around and soon
saw a lady and I asked her where I could go with my problem. She was very nice as I could tell that she
was on her way to her break because she had a lighter and a cigarette in her
hand. But she was kind enough to
actually walk us all the way to the emergency department and it was a very long
walk. We thanked her profusely and she
handed us over to another nice lady who took all my info and then brought me to
the nurse’s station and explained my dilemma to them. Fortunately they didn’t laugh too loud and
they were very nice and told me not to be embarrassed because a tick can be a
very serious thing. I still felt very
silly coming to Emerg for something so small but they
brought me into a big room and the RN took it out with some tweezers. She showed me the head and by now the body of
the tick was like a balloon as it was full of MY blood. The doctor, who looked about 20 years old,
came in, looked at the bug, looked at my leg and told me all the symptoms I was
to look out for in the next few months.
He said that they have lots of ticks in Germany
has even more. Oh great, that’s where we
were headed! He told me that I will most
likely be just fine but he made me aware of the symptoms so that if they arise
I am to go to the doctor immediately for a blood test and antibiotics. They
asked about our trip, typed me out a letter and sent us on our way. Being the hypochondriac that I am I, of
course, started to experience each and every one of the symptoms the doctor
told me about. After a few hours I was
able to calm myself down and all the symptoms disappeared! Oh the mind is a powerful thing! So that was
my last memories of Germany
and that’s too bad because I had such a great time there. I will write more about Germany later as Steve has asked me for the
tenth time to write something about Sweden
so I will come back and write about Germany later.
This is one
country that I always wanted to see. It
is a place that, for some reason, I thought I would really like. Steve had kept in contact with our friends
Cecilia and Houtan from the QEII and we found out
that they were going to be home in Sweden in July.
Our Swedish cottage
(background) where we are living
It was a long way to go but we really wanted
to see Sweden
and more importantly we really wanted to see Cecilia and Houtan
again. We decided to head out and try
our best to make it all the way to where they lived which is half way up this
very large country. We drove from Dortmund in Germany and couldn’t decide which
way to go. We had two options. One was a bridge which linked Denmark and Sweden
and the other was a ferry that linked Germany
and Sweden. The bridge of course would be more driving
but we had no idea where or how to catch a ferry. We had stopped at the airport in Hamburg to ask a
question about something else when Steve decided to ask the guy at a rental car
desk about ferries. It just so happens
that the guy’s mom lives in Sweden
and she takes the ferry very regularly so he gave Steve all this valuable
information. We drove to the city that
he told us to and found the ferry terminal and waited in a line to get to the
booth only to find out that the ferry was totally booked today and the
next. It was the weekend and most people
book well in advance. The lady said that
we could drive through and turn around and try and lift one of the barricades
to let ourselves out because there was a huge line-up of cars behind us and we
couldn’t back out. Well, the barricade
would not lift up and when Steve went walking up to the booth the lady told us
to wait for a few minutes to see if we could get on. Well, we ended up waiting for two hours and
at the last minute she told us that she had one cabin left and that we could
get on the ferry. I was a little leery
and very tired because it was now after 9 pm and I kept thinking about our B.C.
Ferries at home and envisioning this very uncomfortable 7 hour journey. Well!
What a surprise. The ship was
beautiful. It looked like a mini cruise
ship. It had two floors of sleeping
cabins and the main floor had a beautiful bar/lounge, a cinema, a duty free
shop, a kid’s area and a huge buffet restaurant. We were starving so we went for dinner and
all your drinks are included in the price.
It was delicious. Then we went to
our cabin and it was perfect. Two sets
of bunks beds, a small desk and a small bathroom with a shower. We showered, fell into bed and had a great
sleep while the ship did the driving for Steve.
It was so smooth it felt like we were in a hotel. Now that’s my kind of cruise!
We woke up
the next morning to a wake-up call at 6:30am and went for breakfast and were
off the ferry by 8am. Highly
and noticed right away that there are Volvo’s everywhere. Even their police cars. The other thing we noticed is that there
really are a lot of blondes in this country.
They are so blond that some of them look white. The countryside was quite flat with rolling
hills and clumps of evergreens everywhere and either a river, lake or part of
the ocean around every corner. It was
beautiful. As we drove along we noticed
that unlike Germany
there are very few little towns and cities along the way. We pretty much drove through wilderness until
we came to Stockholm. We didn’t stop so we will talk more about Stockholm when and if we
stop there on our way back down.
We drove for
twelve hours with only a couple of short stops and everywhere we did stop the
people were very, very friendly and they all spoke English very well. We drove through some major rainstorms and
some blue, sunny skies and finally made it to Sundsvall and
waited for Houtan and Cecilia to come and get us.
us to Cecilia’s parent’s farm and when we arrived her parents were waiting for
us with smiles and handshakes. They are
such warm and wonderful people and we felt instantly comfortable and welcome in
their home. They live on the edge of a
breathtaking valley and are surrounded by wilderness and farmland. They live in a house that Cecilia’s father
was born in and they were gracious enough to give us their grandmother’s
cottage for us to stay in. She use to live in it when she was still alive and it is about
10 metres from the main house. Our little cottage is absolutely
perfect. It has two bedrooms with four
beds, a bathroom with a shower, and a big bright kitchen with stove, fridge and
microwave. In one corner of the kitchen
is this huge stone oven that they use to bake breads and cakes in a long time
ago. It doesn’t work anymore but it sure
looks great. We keep saying that it
would be great to bake a pizza in. The cottage is so cute with its wooden
windows and doors with pretty little white curtains hanging a quarter of the
way down. We are truly living in a
little spot of paradise here and I understand now why Naslund
wants to move back here from Vancouver!
picked up some pizzas on our way back so we all sat at the big wooden kitchen
table and had dinner with Cecilia, Houtan and
Cecilia’s mom and dad. We had lots of
wine and her parents speak a little English and we had a great first night with
these incredibly wonderful people.
we went to bed and it was so strange because it was sooo
quiet and it doesn’t get completely dark here as it is so far north. We had a great sleep and got up the next
morning to fresh country air and the kids got to pet this amazing brown horse. It was so great to see the kids running
around outside in the fresh air. They
have cats and the kids love petting them and it has just been so lovely and
peaceful here. We spent the day touring
around the countryside going to the river and lake. Nik went fishing in
the river and Danika and Cecilia picked wild berries
that I have never seen or eaten before.
They are so tasty and they smell fantastic. They are about the size of a cherry pit and
they look somewhat like tiny strawberries but they have a very different
and Nik loved them.
Cecilia taught them to string them on a piece of tall grass and eat them
like they were candy necklaces. Her dad
also told us some of the history of the area as he was showing us around. The area reminds us of home so much with all
the beautiful lakes and rivers. It
resembles the Caribou country back home.
Maybe that’s why we love it here so much. It reminds us of home!
Last night we played Texas Hold’em Poker until one in the morning and we had so much
fun. I totally suck at that game (bad
poker face) but I ended up in the final two.
Me and Houtan and I
think I won! Casino !