Are there still people out there waiting for the rest of my Easter Break? It’s been a while, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s no one there, and I do apologize for anyone who could have been waiting! Now, to continue with my adventures, we go to Aberystwyth:
Since Mom and Steve had decided to stay in London longer, I had a day to simply relax before I left for Sweden. I did laundry and enjoyed some cool spring sunshine by the beach that day. I had thought that I had time to go see “Oz, the Great and Powerful” at the Commodor Cinema before I left, but I had the times mixed up and so at the time I would have gone to see the movie, I would have missed my train back to London! Instead,I bought some snacks for the trip, and was off to the train station by 7 pm.
The train ride wasn’t too remarkable; there were happy people going home after a holiday and drunk people off to bigger cities for better parties on the train, but no one bothered me. I made it on to the train to Gatwick Airport before a drunk person noticed me and spoke to me. It was about 1 am at that time, so I moved next to a mother and daughter couple who were headed back home to Greece. They were very nice and it seemed like we bonded over trying to avoid encounters with the one or two drunks on the train. We said good bye and good luck at the airport train station and went to our separate terminals.
My bag had bomb making traces when I went through security, so I got a full pat down and a second, more thorough scan from the airport security. It wasn’t a big deal because apparently their equipment isn’t properly cleaned and so their scans can misread samples, which was the case for my luggage. They smiled, cleared me, and sent me on my way. I was hungry for real food by then, so I went to one of the only restaurants open, Weatherspoons, for a sit down meal. I ordered some hot chocolate and eggs Benedict with salmon and then took a nap in a series of open chairs, waiting for my gate to be named. The first flight to Sweden wasn’t too bad, albeit cold, but while I was waiting for the second plane from Stockholm to Ornskoldsvik, I got gravely ill. I don’t think the salmon at Weatherspoons was up to par. I feel bad that I was a bother, but the stewardess and the old man across the aisle were very kind and understanding about my situation. I got extra water and a few free bags out of it, at least.
Once in Ornskoldsvik, Sofia and her boyfriend Markus picked me up and drove me to their home town. We stopped at a grocery store to pick up supplies for dinner, along with sweet treats, but I had to politely navigate around smelly foods and actually eating the sweets bought for us. I felt puny, but I enjoyed catching up with Sofia. Talking with her is remarkably easy, and she pestered Markus in to speaking only English around me; one, to make me feel included probably, and two, to help improve his English. It was incredibly sweet, and I found that Markus’ sense of humor was similar to mine. Unfortunately, Sofia didn’t always understand the jokes that we cracked at each other. It was all good fun though.
I requested nap time when we got to their house. I was staying in their computer room, and when I brought my stuff in a bed was already made for me. I said good night and slept off the remnants of that nasty salmon. I got up, worried that Sofia and Markus were waiting on dinner for me, but it was unnecessary because they were both napping too, which was a relief! I charged my electronics and was playing with their cats, Little Brother and Busse, when Sofia came in and started dinner. We were having tacos! I helped with slicing the veggies while Sofia made the meat. Markus was in charge of music and dancing, and later going back to the store to pick up chips. Dinner was delicious, and I did the dishes to show my gratitude.
Sofia and I went on a walk after that. It was beautiful out there in the country. There was snow on the pine trees, and the mountains looked like snug little paintings with lit up windows against the twilight sky. It was gorgeous. And Sofia and I talked and talked, about zoos in space, my room mate, goals for our future, memories of winters that have passed…. It was tons of fun and I enjoyed spending time as a “typical” Sweden with Sofia and Markus.
I got a proper tour of their house after the walk. They share a house with Markus’ grandmother, she lives on the first floor and they live on the second floor, and so after seeing their half of the house, we went down and said ‘Hello” to his grandmother. She was nice and said hello back to me, but she didn’t know very much English so it was a short greeting. Apparently, everyone that Sofia and Markus told, about me coming that is, really wanted to meet me. It was rare to meet a person who couldn’t speak any Swedish, apparently. People who could speak English tried to practice on me when ever I met them, like Markus’ mom and uncle, and those that were limited spoke politely through Sofia. It was all good fun, and everyone was very kind and laid back. After we went through Markus’ grandmother’s half of the house, they took me to the basement where Markus’ hobby was kept. You see, Markus is a fish man, and he has two 50 gallon tanks in the basement filled with fish from Africa and from South America. The tank stands and interiors were all designed and made by Markus, and he even makes his own fish food. He says that his food makes the fish’s colors brighten up, and he gave me a block of it to feed to one of the tanks. The fish came right up and nibbled on my fingers! It tickled terribly, but it made me happy at the same time. We went to bed soon after that and I feel like I collapsed into one spot and didn’t move until the sun rose the next morning.
My fear about being the last one awake got me up at around 8 am, which rewarded me with being the ONLY one awake. It was alright because I got to play with the cats and browse the internet for a while, which was incredibly relaxing after the stress of travelling from the previous two weeks. Sofia and Markus got up a little while later and laid out breakfast. Sofia wanted me to try a boiled egg on hard bread with a tomato/caviar paste item, something that she would eat every day for breakfast, and I had to politely decline. Still a little weary of eggs, you see. I had bran cereal and hard bread with wineberry jam instead, which was absolutely delicious! We then got our things together and suited up for an expedition to Sofia’s parents house. We were going to stay there for two nights and experience a true Swedish winter. We were going to go hiking in the woods, snow mobiling, have cook outs on frozen lakes, the whole shebang! I was excited, and so was Sofia. It seemed like she couldn’t wait to show off her home to me.
We went to Markus’ parents home to pick up his helmet and snow gear, and then had to drive back to his house because Sofia forgot her own snow gear. We teased her a bit because her greatest asset, she says, is her memory, while Markus does not have a good memory. We then drove over bumpy roads to Sofia’s parent’s house where we were greeted by a mother and daughter pair of Cocker spaniels. They were the sweetest dogs and loved on anyone who would love on them. Once inside, Sofia formally introduced me to the dogs and to her father, her mother worked at nights and so I would meet her later once she had gotten up from sleeping. I was shown to a room that I had all to myself where I changed into my borrowed snow clothes and plugged in my itouch. When I went back down stairs, Sofia was picking out boots and a helmet for me and Markus was getting the snow mobiles ready. After I was in a full suit of snow armor, I went out to help Markus pack a picnic of fire wood, sausage, and ketchup. Sofia came out a bit later and before we left for a lake, we took the dogs for a run, with the snow mobiles! I sat behind Sofia, and after a while we had to switch snow mobiles with Markus. It turns out snow mobiles will over heat if you travel too slowly, meaning you have to travel fast to cool it down, and since the dogs could only run about 20 km/ hr, we had to switch 2 times on the 5-7 km run. It was very educational, and I enjoyed watching the dogs try to out run us. Markus was off driving in the forest, every now and then crossing our path, making sure we were going the right way. I waved at him everytime, but it was hard to tell if he saw it or not.
We took the dogs back before we drove to a secluded and frozen lake. There, we found a public 3-walled cabin and built a fire. Sofia then assigned Markus and I to fire-cooker-stick-finding duty and so we walked through the deep snow to find some young saplings or dead branches that would do the trick. Sofia managed to keep the fire alive and we all ate a lunch of cooked sausage and ketchup, sometimes with a light seasoning of charcoal when our sausages fell into the fire. They still tasted good.
Sofia and Markus wrestled a bit in the snow, trying to decide who should go back and pick up a sled to drag behind a snow mobile. After losing 2 out of 3 games of rock paper scissors, Sofia left to go get the sled. Markus and I chatted about manga and fish while we waited, which was nice. Sofia came back and hooked up a rope and a thin mat to the back of the bigger snow mobile and then told me to hop on.
It. Was. Terrifying! I screamed and closed my eyes and held on for dear life. Actually I held on because of my pride, you see. Sofia had confiscated my camera and so I COULD NOT let her get a picture of me falling off the sled on my first try. It was rough, but it was also a blast! Markus took it easy on me the first time, so I think that’s why I fell off every single time after that, but I wasn’t the only one. We all took turns falling off: me, Sofia, Sofia and I at the same time, Markus, Markus and Sofia…. We all were a bit evil, and so we intentionally went a bit faster here and there to knock the people on the sled off. But rest assured, no one was injured! After a while, they let me drive the snow mobile by myself, and I had a good time with that, more specifically, I did NOT break it in any way shape or form.
We packed everything up after that and headed back to Sofia’s house. When we walked inside, her mother was awake and making dinner. We had moose with a cheese sauce and potatoes! It was DELICIOUS. I would eat moose more often if it were available in Indiana, because it wasn’t gamy or tough in the slightest! And the cheese sauce was so….. decadent!
The entire meal was spoken in Swedish, but I didn’t mind at all, in fact it was so cozy and homey I felt like I was really back in the States. We made a rhubarb cobbler for dessert and we all grudgingly had to save a slice for when Sofia’s mom got off of work the next day; it was that good! We finished the evening by watching a Swedish game show where contestants had to do hard and weird tasks to make money. I couldn’t understand anything, but it was entertaining none the less.
The next day, I got to sleep in, and I didn’t feel guilty about it! I got up and had breakfast with Sofia and Markus, and then we spent the morning lounging in our sweat pants and watching TV. A wonderful way to spend a snowing day! Sofia and I went out for a walk in the woods with her cockers, and she pointed out all of the different kinds of tracks that we passed: there were lots of fox tracks, rabbit tracks, mouse, birds, and even moose! It was a very educational walk.
Afterwards Sofia and I took out a snowmobile and just drove around the fresh, snow covered, forest hills. I drove a bit, and I specifically did NOT run the snow mobile into a tree. Repeat: DID NOT. But I did get it stuck in a snow bank when we got lost on one of the trails… It’s hard to see the path when fresh snow is covering up the old tracks, you see…
Sofia got us back on track though! And we spent the rest of the time speeding on quiet frozen lakes to our heart’s content.
When we came back, we had sandwiches for lunch and then we, Sofia, Markus, and Sofia’s father, played a few games of pool. I haven’t ever been good at pool, but Sofia is a bit competitive, so we ended up playing doubles with 9 balls; Sofia and her father (because he’s really good at pool), and me and Markus. Markus and I lost the first two games, but we decided to play the best 3 out of 5. I found out later that Sofia’s father lost the 3rd round on purpose, to keep the game going. Which was his mistake because Markus and I came back and beat them at 3 to 2! Ahahahhhaha, it was a sweet, sweet victory.
Dinner with Moose followed our games, and then Sofia and I made another Swedish dessert; a bread roll filled with sweet almond paste and topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream. It was goooooood. We all watched a movie after that before heading to bed.
The next morning we all had breakfast together, gathered our belongings, said good bye to the dogs, and loaded ourselves into the car. Sofia’s mom got up early that day and I got to give her a proper hug before we left. I had a wonderfully relaxing stay with them and I wish I could have thanked them in some significant way, other than a hug.
Sofia and I came back and then went out cross country skiing at her town’s local out door track. I only fell down twice over the entire 7 kilometers that we skied. I was pretty proud. Although at one time I was doing some painful splits, and instead of helping me, Sofia took a picture with my camera… But hey, what are friends for, right?
We went back to Sofia’s house and spent the early afternoon deciding on a movie to watch for the evening. To Markus’ dismay, the only viable option was “The Host”, because it was Sofia’s one and only choice. His movie, Oblivion, wasn’t going to come to the theater until later that week, and so he settled into going with us to “The Host”.
The movie theater was located in an outdoor mall, so we did a little shopping before the movie. I got postcards from a paper shop, and then we browsed books in a book store, after which, Sofia and Markus decided that they needed to go to the library. It was nice being surrounded by books again, but most of them were Swedish, and I couldn’t read them, even the children’s books. I felt like an illiterate, and it was a little lonely. But I was saved by the manga section of the library, which had lots of manga in English for me to read! Markus checked out a couple of fish books and then we went out to dinner, my treat. I wanted to thank Sofia and Markus for letting me stay with them and for feeding me, so I had them drive to a nice restaurant and bought them a scrumptious dinner.
We stopped at a grocery store to get our own candies before we went to the theater. (it seems we couldn’t get enough food on this vacation!). Sofia paid for our tickets, and I paid for drinks and a popcorn to share. The movie itself, wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed it, and wouldn’t mind reading the book, and I said as much to Sofia. I even asked if I could borrow her copy, but her face fell and said that her copy was Swedish. It wasn’t a big deal, and I told her I could find it at my local library sometime.
The next day we were going to go swimming at “Paradise Cove” a water world with a lap-swimming pool, water slides, a lazy river, and bunches of hot tubs. We played in all of them, and even competed against each other in the lap pool. I tried winning at some of the competitions, but there was a LOT of cheating going on. On everyone’s parts. But I think that was part of the fun.
We ended the day with the movie Prometheus that Markus had downloaded, which, in my opinion, was Nonsensical! I could rant and rant about that movie, but I’m not willing to be up until tomorrow to do so. Needless to say, I was not impressed and so I argued with Markus about the movie. We went back and forth about it, before going to bed with the plan to get up and go to Markus’ parents house the next day.
Markus planned on running to his parent’s home, so Sofia and I packed up the skiis into their car and drove over early. She and I were going to ski up a mountain to a tepee like cabin that Markus had built, and then Markus would follow, first running to his parent’s house and then snow mobiling up with lunch for all of us. It took a long time, since I’m not used to skiing and the snow was very sticky, but we made it up to the top after about 2 hours. The door to the cabin was frozen shut, and so Sofia and I spent some time simply hacking away at the door before we got into the tepee. Apparently, Sofia, Markus, and his parents had all camped in his cabin a few summers ago, and they had all been quite comfortable. The cabin itself was nice, with a wood burning stove in the middle of it, and supplies laden on benches that were wide enough to sleep on. We didn’t have to wait long before we heard the rumbling sound of a snow mobile in the distance. We waved at Markus as he brought the snow mobile to a stop, but we were dismayed when we saw that he didn’t have the backpack full of food that Sofia had made that morning! We chastised him, and got into a wicked snow ball fight, which ended with him and Sofia tumbling down a hill and wrestling on lower ground. We stopped throwing snow at each other and rested inside the cabin before setting out again: Sofia and I on skiis, and Markus on the snow mobile.
The way back down was much much faster than coming up, so much so that I fell an exuberant amount of times. It was embarrassing and a little painful after a while! Stopping seemed to be a difficult concept for me… Sofia on the other hand was thrilled at going down hill super fast, but if I gained even the slightest amount of momentum, I was down! I accidentally bent one of Markus’ ski poles, at the very end, but thankfully Markus didn’t care for skiing, so a bent ski pole gave him an excuse to not go. Which I was very grateful for!
Sofia and I made it back to the car and our sandwiches after about a half hour of down hill skiing, Markus, the cheater, got hot food from his mother while we were skiing, but that left a bit more for Sofia and I, so I guess it worked out… We packed into the car again, Markus included, and made our way back to Sofia’s house. Everyone took a shower, and then Sofia made a second lunch of mushrooms, cream sauce, and noodles, which was absolutely marvelous! If I knew what a professional pasta dish tasted like, I would compare it with the lunch that Sofia made for us that day.
We lazed about the rest of the afternoon, my last afternoon, in fact, in Sweden for the week. It was wonderfully relaxing. In the early evening, Sofia and I made a blue berry pie, while Markus went to a soccer practice, and then we made dinner and discussed our futures again. It’s a fun topic for Sofia and I because we’re both slightly unsure and nervous about our futures outside of college, but we love day dreaming about different options that we have at the same time! I can’t remember what we had for dinner that night, but we ate lots of blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream and then watched another movie before going to bed. I wouldn’t get to sleep in the next morning because I was flying home that day, and I had an early flight to Stockholm, and then to Birmingham. Breakfast was hard bread and wineberry jam, and the drive to the little airport was a little fuzzy because we were all a bit sleepy.
There weren’t any long, drawn out good byes, because for one, Sofia would be seeing me later that weekend after returning to Aberystwyth as well, and Markus is a man, and men don’t cry at good byes like these. (or so I’m told)
The flight back to Aberystwyth was much less painful than the flight to Sweden, and I was very grateful for that. I ate safely at a McDonald’s at one of my layovers, and bought a snack of dry biscuits and water, in case of any queasiness. I didn’t have any problems with traveling, and I found myself being joined on the train back to Aber by many other students, returning from their own Easter Breaks. It was crowded, but it wasn’t unpleasant.
I got back to Aberystwyth later that night, and simply took a shower before falling into bed and not moving until late the next morning. It was a wonderful vacation in Sweden, and Sofia and I are much closer friends because of it. We’re exploring and exercising buddies now!
I spent the rest of the weekend eating, sleeping, and going to the public library to read different books. I was inspired by the movie “the Host” to read the book, but I couldn’t find it! And so in my search I found other books to read. I don’t have a library card, so I ended up just sitting in the library for a couple of hours just reading a book or two that I’d find. It was a good way to end an interesting Easter break, I think.
Well, that was my trip to Sweden! It has been a long time in coming, and for that I am sorry, but I hope you all have enjoyed reading about my adventures! I hope all of you get to enjoy a vacation of relaxation too sometime. I also hope that I’ll catch up with this blog before I go home too! I promise I’ll try!
With Love From,