Along the Away

a traveler's tales

Archive for July, 2012

After a few days hanging out in Almhult we travelled to Gothenburg with a couple of friends. I was looking forward to visiting this town as a year before I was considering doing my Masters in a new Business Design Program they have at the University of Gotherburg. Life took a different course with new work opportunities but I had done a lot of Googling about this city so was happy to get to visit.

This was our first road trip with Sverige doing the driving – I like it!

We went to Liseberg Amusement Park which was heaps of fun! Rollercoaster, beer, ferris wheel, ice-cream, rollercoaster. Repeat, repeat.

We also wandered around the city centre, I loved the beautiful stoned laneways and all the European stores – eeeey!

We had an awesome lunch in the most charming cafe – The bread! The brie! Why are my highlights always about food?

I was super impressed with the tram we travelled on – we paid for our tickets by mobile phone text message while at the tram stop! Sydney is so behind in respect to transport innovation… :-/

We went out for drinks and dinner, went to the movies, lots of holiday meandering. Gothenberg was really cool!

Once back home in Almhult we spent more days hanging out, with friends dropping in and out, lots of walks with Göran, plenty of fika, BBQs and junk food. We played video games and watched movies. Talked and talked, practiced my Swedish (Tack! Fän! Helvete! Bra!) and read and relaxed.

Then we packed to go on our summer holiday to Gotland! Here is what a pug’s face looks like when he is saying ‘I do think I would fit in your bag!!’ (Sorry Göran, Sverige’s packing too many shoes, no room for you.)

Wait til you see Gotland’s photos! Coming soon!

Hej Sweden

July 18, 2012 Hej Sweden, Travel Comments

Finally arrived in Sweden via 24 hours in transit and then reunited with my friend (my Sverige, that’s Swedish for Sweden you know) at Copenhagen Central Station (just like a scene in a movie, I ran across a path of people, smashing my rolling luggage into their legs for the big hello hug!) It is so strange to see a friend again when you have not seen each other for two years. Lots of life experiences have rolled out for the both of us in that time, but then it seems like no time has passed at all. I only knew my friend for about ten months in Australia, but sometimes life is like that – you just connect with someone and that is it. We were sitting in the sun in Nyhaven drinking Carlsbergs and it felt like I’d just seen her last week!

After an afternoon in Copenhagen we got the train to her hometown of Almhult which happens to be the birthplace of IKEA! Her fiancé met us at the station and we went to her house and I met the famous Göran! What a charmer!

I gave him a kangaroo toy which after inspecting for awhile he was pretty chuffed with :-)

And I met the pretty Inga-lil, the funniest little thing I have ever seen, hee hee.

My first full day in Sweden we went for a forest walk which was so enjoyable. I love being out in nature and go for a bush walk every morning back at home. A forest walk is pretty much the same thing but sounds so much more whimsical doesn’t it? The terrain was different though, a lot more berries for one thing.

We stopped for a picnic in the sunshine and drank a delicious berry drink and ate Swedish cinnamon cakes (yum!) I was in summer holiday heaven. It was so nice to have Göran with us entertaining us with his antics. We picked and ate berries, sweet and warm in the sun, as we walked back out.

Göran – are you wearing a daisy chain necklace?

Then we went to Linnés Råshult which was the birthplace of Carl Linnaeus, the 18th century botanist who gave us the naming classification for all the plants and animals that we still use today. His passion for botany, science and medicine was astounding – he formally classified and named 8,000 plants and 4,000 animal species as well as minerals – crazy town!

We wandered around the plant and herb gardens which have been faithfully replanted in the exact way he had them when he was alive – he documented his garden so precisely that an exact replica was possible.

There was a small cottage that I believe was where he lived (maybe even was born in?), plus a cafe, gift store and museum.

There were some really fun garden features there.

I also read that Linnaeus is sometimes known as ‘Mr. Flower Power’ in Sweden – so I have a little soft spot for him in memory of my beloved former boogie board (RIP) which was affectionately (comically?) known as Flower Power by my group of beach buddies (well it did have flowers all over it and the words ‘Flower Power’ splashed across it – did I mention it was a kids board? But wowee, could it fly over those waves.).

In the afternoon we went to my friend’s parent’s house, they were both very friendly and down to earth. Sverige always said to me when she was in Australia that my parents reminded her of her parents and I could see why when I met them, they were very kind and welcoming. Her mum even gave me some Swedish lollies and some napkins with strawberries on them :-)

We had Fika which is the Swedish custom of having coffee with a treat a few times a day. I suppose it is like having morning or afternoon tea, though more frequently. It is, of course, right up my alley! And also explains why my friend and I spent so much time in cafes in Australia. But doesn’t explain how the Swedes are generally so slim. But anyway, her mum made a blackberry pie right there with us standing in the kitchen and we ate it fresh out of the oven – oh my! It was beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

We ate it with coffee, not the kind of coffee I usually drink in Australia, much more intense than a latte and the sweet coffee they make in India – but surprisingly I really like it like this, it tastes simpler – fuss free.

We went into the garden to help dig up some veggies to take home for dinner (by help, I mean I took photos). The garden fences are much more neighbor friendly than the high backyard fences common in Australia. It is fun to observe all the little differences and similarities when visiting somewhere new.

When we drive in the car Göran travels in the back – aw look at this face!

The next day Sverige and I drove to the town Växjö and went shopping and ate lunch and had fika in some cosy cafes (I see a theme here). We sat in the sun at a footpath cafe and drank coffee and felt lazy. What are summer holidays for? No pressure!


July 13, 2012 Hej Sweden, Travel Comments

Here I am on the plane, heading to Sweden via Copenhagen.

I have to say, it was with an immense sense of relief I finally got on the plane, sat in my seat (window, three to myself, thank you universe) and turned my iPhone on to airplane mode. It was quite the flurry of last minute emails and frantic calls from work, texts to friends and calls from family. I think I may have finally pushed my super casual, laid back organisational style to the limit. After a hectic few weeks at work, preceded by an intense couple of months, I took it right to the wire, only getting back to Sydney after visiting my family on the Central Coast at 11.45am. 90 minutes to pack, shower, find my camera and get on a train to the airport where I checked my baggage without a queue (suspect I was the last), fielded last minute crisis work calls, hugged my awesome twinny who came with me to the airport, rang my mum (mandatory before getting on an aeroplane), found the bathroom (ditto) and joined the last stragglers boarding the plane. Not a recommended strategy, probably won’t do that again.

I do hope I didn’t forget anything (other than my toothbrush, which I already remembered I didn’t pack).

I scheduled this first time trip to Sweden to visit my friend, aka ‘Sverige baby’ (Sverige is Swedish for Sweden) two years ago. We met at a Meetup event, a Kubb BBQ – ironic no? An Aussie and a Swede bonding at an outdoor BBQ playing a Swedish lawn game. She was working in Sydney for a year (at Ikea, for real) and went back to Sweden in 2010. I promised to come for a visit after I had been to India (check!). Now we will spend three weeks exploring her beautiful country, as we did mine a few years ago.

We did quite a few road trips together back then, including the Great Ocean Rd, Victoria and in Tasmania, as well as a visit to Melbourne. I’ve missed her a lot since she left Sydney. We are similar in some ways but really different in others. I like the side of myself she brings out – do you have friends like that? With her I feel less earnest, more sassy. Less zen, more gregarious. Less earthy, more sensual. Is this Swedish Donna? I don’t know, but since the past few years of my life have been filled with a lot of work and professional projects, I am really looking forward to four weeks of holidays and the time I will share with my friend, her fiancé, her puppy and meeting her family and friends. Helvete ja!