Where I’ve been

 

You know something is wrong with your blogging routines when your mother says, “You were in Stockholm? I didn’t even know you went to Sweden!”

So, yes – I was in Stockholm for work and our event started at 8 a.m. which meant I had to leave the house before 7. Marita was legitimately impressed with me managing to be up and running at what is a super early time for me otherwise. But – if you start early you can do so much! By mid-afternoon, I had checked off the event and four meetings off my list!

Social media had informed the world that I was in the Capital of Scandinavia which prompted a former co-worker to write to me. “I assume you are already completely overbooked?”, she asked and when I replied I actually was free for several hours on more than one day, I think she secretly thought some alien had taken possession of what used to be Helen. Keeping a somewhat freer schedule (compared to other people it might still have been cramped) was nice though because it gave space to this kind of spontaneity.

Dance like a mother

What also enabled spontaneity was the fact that my host parents, eeh, friends Marita and Fredrik are the most hospitable people on earth. Not only do I always get to live there and feel very much at home (actually, I kind of want to move to their house so I can always have that life), I also get to have spontaneous parties in their apartment. Saturday saw the finals of Melodifestivalen, the Swedish pre-selection for Eurovision which is a huge deal in the country. I asked if we could watch it. Sure! And maybe could William join? Certainly! Now Paul is free, too, and would like to come. That’s not a problem! Evelina can only meet during the evening, how about we invite her too? Go ahead, the more, the merrier! Umm, she’d have to bring her dog. We love dogs! 

You get the idea.

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The songs had rather interesting lyrics: “I’m gonna dance like a mother, you hear my party voice” or “I feel your love coming at me like a train on a track”.

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Long-ice-skating

I don’t even remember how I came up with the idea that I want to test winter sports. Maybe it was something I read about how when you live in Sweden, you have to embrace the winter instead of hating the cold. Or maybe I was worried I wouldn’t get to tag along the next time my friends would plan a ski holiday. In any case, I suggested to go to a friluftsgård and rent equipment to do cross country skiing. Only that when we got there, they didn’t have that kind of skis and instead offered us långfärdskridskor. Living up to my new-found adventuresomeness, I was all like, “Let’s try it!” Långfärdskridskor are a kind of ice skates, just that their blades are longer than normal. Let’s just say this: Marita and Julia were not only much better than me, they were also very supportive. (“Well done, Helen! Look at you, going two metres all by yourself! Hooray!”)

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It does not look like it but I was actually a bit better at sledding than at ice skating

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The muscle soreness from one hour on the ice was, to say the very least, intense for two days

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There is an association for people who are extra sensitive to electricity in Sweden. In the church at the ski place, they arrange technology-free concerts and lunches. All electricity is turned off and phones may not be taken inside.

Shopping

I was very surprised to find that there was close to nothing worth buying this time in the Swedish stores. Some patterns and cuts were made for people either much more or much less boheme than me (depending on the store and item).

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Second-hand stores in Stockholm. Look like noble boutiques in Germany.

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I strolled through Fältöversten which used to be my local mall. They’ve redone it beautifully and now they put it light therapy lamps and are counting down to equinox,

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“Now we’re counting the days until they are longer than the nights”

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Small wooden Easter witches to hang up

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Something I noticed with great interest was the popping up of very nice restaurants in transit. At the airport, at the central station – bars and restaurants you’d actually want to hang out at.

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Not a bar in transit, instead the Stockholm Brunch Club Bianca took me to, adding, “This place is very instagramable!”

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Hello darkness, my old friend

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Geez, it’s gotten so dark so quickly?! I kept pretending it’s still summer, I live down here south after all, and then the shadows fall before eight and there’s no denying it: autumn. It also shows in the rain that’s pouring down like nobody’s business which makes me almost regret I didn’t buy that rain coat at Lindex last week. (It had no zipper why is why I did not buy it.)

But really, a bunch of good things happened at work today and autumn means lighting candles and switching on window lamps inside and cuddling up on the sofa (when all the U.S. series finally resume), so it’s not the worst of seasons after all.

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In Stockholm, I of course wandered into Svenskt Tenn, the store with my favorite patterns, even at the bike stand

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I don’t wanna be nagging, but Swedes don’t know Swedish anymore. This is the fifth mistake I’ve seen in a week.

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Exploring the Dizzel surroundings, I visited Solingen which, somewhat surprising, has very cute houses and very nice cars.

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My tomato plant on the balcony has grown exactly one [green] tomato in 5 months. So I harvested vegetable elsewhere.

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When I moved to Dizzel I thought I’d be going to fancy bars for after work cocktails all the time. It happened for the maybe 8th time in two years this week, with the always lovely Anja.

 

Immortalizing summer

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Today, I saw a sign in a gallery for tasteless photo art that said, “Immortalizing summer”. I couldn’t really understand how it related to the photos but it occured to me that my attempt to immortalize my lovely Swedish summer was kind of washed-up the moment I landed and started, almost compulsively, working off my to do lists again.

Actually, my trip back already began, let’s say, interestingly. I was planning to check in online and add a bag only to find that I was no longer booked on the 12-am-flight with airberlin but on the 9-am-flight with Eurowings. After 52 minutes in their waiting loop, they told me I should have gotten an email about that. Well, I didn’t.

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On my last night, Stockholm saw a lovely rainbow. The end of the rainbow is in Farsta. I am not surprised because that’s where my dear Marita lives.

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This last weekend I also attended my friends’ wedding in Örebro. So much love!

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They had lots of beautiful decorations around the theme music but this one was my favorite. We all had different parts of the song “Vilar glad i din famn” (I rest happily in your embrace) around our cutlery. Internet tells me it was written for Crown Princess Victoria’s wedding. No wonder I like it so much. “I stand holding hands with you / Darkness falls and you shine so […] Where you wander / my yearning wants to live […] Close to you I want to be / calm with your warm soul […] I look for you / I call out your name everywhere/ until I rest happily in your embrace”.

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Malin, Axel, Kristina and I were the Uppsala-choir-friends attending. Malin took a photo of Axel of me that looks as if I had just inaugurated something at Axel’s extremely successful company/super important state authority/very historic family castle.

And now that’s all behind me, the remote lakes, the best friends, the shopping sprees. Work made its demands on me the second I walked in, and it’s a lot these days, but it’s also the place where I was greeted so enthusiastically this morning that it almost makes up for not being Stockhome anymore.

Back in town

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The second last day på landet I woke up to this breakfast Joraine had prepared for me, tasted am-az-ing!

And we’re back in town! Or actually two different ones, Joraine continued to Gothenburg and I stayed where I belong, in the capital. It is quite a difference to be in the city after a week of no make up, same clothes every day and biking as the only means of transportation. Now the city’s pulse is capturing me again and we’ll see how long I can make the countryside calm last.

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Of course we browsed the shops upon return. Designtorget sells nice stickers these days!

The new attraction

When I moved to Germany, I said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back when the new commuter station is done”. Two weeks ago the new pendeltågsstation opened in the central station and at Odenplan – and I still live in Germany. Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans and all that.

But that did not keep me from inspecting the new station, of course. Well, first I got lost twice when just using the trains. I felt like such a tourist, it was awful. The third time I went down there, I came to show my mother the art that is part of the stations. All metro stations in Stockholm have art, making it the longest art gallery in the world, and even the commuters now get to experience new creations. The info material about Citybanan explicitly states that the stations are built with regard to “security, space, light and beauty”.

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All signage has been updated too and is now continously bilingual, a trend that I am observing in the whole of Stockholm.

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This video screen shows something special every half hour, like e.g. the pictogram people having a party.

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Hard to capture, but these combs have mirrors from all sides, creating a special picture

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Rather random sausage.

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“Vi kan väl bara gå till Gamla stan och titta in på olika restauranger och bestämma var vi vill äta.” “- Som turister?!” “Helen, helping or hurting?”

“Man kan inte stå ut med Grinda när ingen gifter sig där, det är så tråkigt”.

“Ursäkta att jag är sen, jag var i krig”. [aka spelade Battlegrounds]

The sound of summer

 

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When my mother said she would want to visit me this year in Sweden to experience what she had only seen on the blog so far, one of the things that immediately went up on the list of items of “real Stockholm summer experience” was Allsång på Skansen. It was my fourth or fifth time but I felt like a true Allsång Ambassador because I brought six people there that had never been before: my mother, my friend Linus, Lil’ Pesto and Amalia, his girlfriend, his mother and Amalia’s parents. Everyone had great fun, and my mom’s summary was very to the point: It’s a intergenerational fun evening with a broad variety of artists, but the hostess “sounds so strange” (i.e. Southern Swedish).

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Strolling around beautiful Skansen

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My paradise

My mother wanted to see the Stockholm archipelago. “I only ever get to go to Sweden in February and November”, she complained. So I took her to what is paradise for me, and the weather gods gave us their (somewhat unexpected) blessing.

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As you guessed, this is still the vibrant town of Norrtälje where we stopped before going to the uttermost parts of the sea.

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I particularily liked this street name, “uphill”.

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In the Swedish country side, mail boxes aren’t at the houses but at the central spot to make things easier for the postman.

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The best window views I know are the ones from the archipelago boats

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Does a teacher live here?

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Someone got married at Norröra that weekend. We found their traces everywhere, like here where the signs say “Ceremony” and “Party”.

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The rose petals were still in the tiny chapel from the wedding

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To the Lord give glory and let his praise be known on the islands, it says above the altar

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Coming back into Stockholm in the unique Nordic evening light

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