Tuesday, May 31, 2011



This week Dale and I are in Benelux! Benelux is the region consisting of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. We have some friends in the area we are meeting up with so that should be a lot of fun. We are also taking some time to hop around the area on the train, do some beer and chocolate tasting (and making!), relax on the beach, who knows! Well, you all will know when we are back. Until then, I made this map to share with you all a rough idea of areas we are thinking about visiting.

View Benelux in a larger map
It looks like a lot of places that are far apart but Belgium is roughly the size of Maryland so it's not really so far. Anyway, hope everyone in the States had a great Memorial Day weekend. Hope everyone in Sweden had a great Mothers Day weekend. And hope everyone everywhere else just had a great weekend!
Love Always,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


Today I feel like sharing my favorite poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Elliot:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats        5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …        10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,        15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,        20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;        25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;        30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go        35
Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—        40
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare        45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,        50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—        55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?        60
  And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress        65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets        70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!        75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?        80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,        85
And in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,        90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—        95
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
  That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,        100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:        105
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  “That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.”
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,        115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …        120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.        125
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown        130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

(copied from: http://www.bartleby.com/198/1.html)

Do you like it? Hate it? I like the descriptions and all the details. I can picture the scene perfectly. What's your favorite poem?

Love Always,

Friday, May 27, 2011



I received a request to do a post about something weird in Sweden. Konstigt is the Swedish word for weird. I've had to think a lot about what I think is weird because to be honest, I don't think things really are so weird here or even so different really. So, here's the best I could come up with. I included something I think is weird about the US too because I think that's only fair and I like things to be fair. :)

The Swedes talk about something called the Swedish mile when discussing distances. This threw me for a big loop. At first I assumed it was just like every mile but it turns out the Swedish mile is 10 kilometers or about 6.2 English miles. I think that's pretty weird. But when you think about it an English mile being 5280 feet is pretty strange. Let's all just agree on one universal measurement and stick to that, deal?

In the US identity theft is a big problem because if someone else gets a hold of your card or just the card number then they can go crazy with it. But in Sweden (and all of Europe and probably even more of the world) they use debit cards with chips in them thus eliminating this problem. You have to have the card with the chip and the pin code to be able to get in to the account, even when checking the balance online or making an online purchase. There are portable chip readers at restaurants and I even have a chip reader here at home to check my balance. I think it's pretty weird that so many other countries have found an easy solution to this problem and the US doesn't seem to make any steps in the right direction.

What do you think is weird about where you live?

Love Always,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Visiting Drottingholm Slott


This past weekend Mark and Andrea visited, I love visitors! We had a great time walking through the narrow cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan in the morning. I just love all the beautiful old buildings.

We ended the walking tour at City Hall and the trees there right now are an intense green. I thought the trees  looked really great with the sun shining through them. From City Hall there is a pretty cool view of Södermalm which I've shared just below.
In the afternoon our friend Olov and his cute-as-can-be daughter Jane met up with us and we took a boat over to Drottingholm Slott. Drottingholm Slott is the palace of the Royal family of Sweden and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The palace was much bigger and more beautiful then I thought it would be. Dale and I visited the royal palace in Germany (http://theadventuresofmatilda.blogspot.com/2011/04/berlin-day-3.html) and the palace was not so impressive so I was surprised to find the Swedish palace was.
As soon as we got to the palace we stopped for a picnic in the park at the palace grounds. The weather was great and it was so nice to spend an afternoon in the sun with good friends, I hope we can do that more often! Once we were feeling rejuvenated we walked around the palace grounds to see the gardens and the Chinese Pagoda.
Then we stopped for fika and the girls got ice cream and the boys got coffee. We meandered back to the boat and returned to Stockholm.
This was my first time on the water in Stockholm and it was nice to see the city from the water and get a better idea of where all the places we've been are located relative to one another. For instance, the picture above is just near the floating restaurant we went to the other week.
I wasn't feeling like much of a photographer but I did get this almost group picture!
We ended the day with Swedish meatballs with lingon berry sauce and princess cake for dessert. This was definitely ong of my favorite days in Sweden so far and I'm so excited for our next visitors in just over three weeks!
Love Always,

Monday, May 23, 2011



This past Saturday Dale and I walked to T-Centralen to run some errands and watch Quarnevalen. Quarnevalen is a parade put on by our employer KTH, The Royal Institute of Technology. It only happens once every three years and different student groups make their floats for the parade in the week or so before the parade. There were all sorts of different floats.
Human powered:
Mousetrap style:
Mobsters (my favorite):
Marching Bands (ok, not a float or a student group but I liked their outfits!):
Mario (probably Dale's favorite):
There were also a lot of politically motivated floats, mostly making fun of the US, but that's no surprise! Quarnevalen calls its self the 'biggest carnival outside Rio'. I don't think that's quite true, but it was pretty neat to see the creativity of the students.
Love Always,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood!


I got a request to share some pictures of our neighborhood so here they are! We live in North Stockholm by the North toll to get in and out of the city so the area is called Norrtull. The nearest subway stop is Odenplan and it's 2 or 3 blocks from our house. Sorry, I don't want to share our exact location, you never know who is reading this! Anyhow, I'll start with a couple more pictures in the building. We have a spiral staircase and a tiny old elevator. As far as I can tell all the buildings in Stockholm have both as well.
We also have, what I consider to be, a pretty great view out our balcony. It's the view of a typical old street in Europe with multicolored buildings. But I thoroughly enjoy it. And it's towards T-Centralen (downtown Stockholm) so now that tourist season has started I can watch the hot air balloons over the city from the balcony! Here's a picture of the view, sans balloons.
Below is the same street view but from the other end of the street looking back towards our apartment.
And finally, here's a typical street in Stockholm. Hope that helps you all get a better image of where we are these days. Let me know if anyone else has any requests for more info!
Love Always,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Getting my hairs cut


I've been living in Stockholm for 4 months now. I can no longer put off the need to get my hair cut. I've been too scared of what the language barrier would make my hair cut end up looking like. But I finally bit the bullet and went with Dale to a place near campus at the corner of Valhallavägen and Surbrunnsgatan.

 At 180 SEK (that's about $28) for a trim, it's one of the more reasonable places around town. And there's no shortage of hair salons in this city! On the average city block you are bound to find 4 or 5 hair salons. I have no idea how they all stay in business! We went on a Saturday and most of the salons were closed for the weekend so we had slim pickin's. Anyway, when we got to the salon I asked in Swedish for a trim and explained as best I could what I wanted. But my Swedish is limited and it quickly became obvious the hair dresser spoke limited Swedish as well, and she didn't speak English, she was Iranian. It was a little scary not being able to communicate what I wanted but I figured with a trim not much could go wrong. In the end she did a pretty go job, I did find one bit of hair she left longer then the rest and had to fix that at home myself. I've never had to to that before but all things considered I guess that's a lot better then it could've turned out! Dale ended up with a shorter do then he had in mind but grew to like it. I doubt I'll go back to this location but at least I'm over the fear of the hair salon now!
Love Always,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Dirt on Sweden


The Swedes are big on recycling and there are two different ways they recycle here. The first is by returning the aluminum cans and plastic bottles you've paid a deposit on at the grocery store. Dale is demonstrating for you how that works. You simply put your recycleables in this machine and when you are done press the button for your ticket. At the larger grocery stores they have seperate machines for plastic and cans. When you check out you present your ticket to the cashier and you get the total taken off your bill. Pretty simple. 
The other method is for all other recyclables, paper, tin, glass, etc. In many places through out the city you can find these recycle centers, ours is about 200 feet from our front door. These you just drop your recyclables into like normal trash bins.
The rest of our trash goes in the trash bin in the hallway. I've only seen these things in the movies before but it is pretty nice to be able to use those little shopping bags for something instead of just have a growing collection under the sink. Not fighting about who takes the trash out, since it's just outside the door anyway, is pretty great!
So there you have it folks, the dirt on our trash situation in Sweden! Titillating fo sho! :)
Love Always,

Sunday, May 15, 2011



Sigtuna is a small town about an hour North of Stockholm (on public transportation). Last weekend Dale and I ventured to Sigtuna to check it out. Sigtuna was founded in 980 and is the oldest city in Sweden. This picture below is of the oldest street in Sweden, storagatan.
We visited the Sigtuna museum where we learned that just after Sigtuna was founded Sweden's coins were minted there and it was also the Royal residence. My favorite thing in the museum was a reindeer antler carved with unusual detail into what is known as the 'Sigtuna Viking' but it is believed that this is probably supposed to be a portrait of King Eric Segersäll
The town has many ruin stones throughout the city and Dale and walked around to find them all and check them out. Ruin stones are stones with inscriptions or designs carved into them and were a viking tradition from the 4th to 12th century. They usually pay homage to a deceased person but sometimes people made them for their selves  so they would be remembered after their death. 
Sigtuna is situated on the shore of lake Mälaren and we stopped for a mid-day break on the shores. It reminded me of New England a lot.
Finally we walked around some church ruins and then headed back to Stockholm. It was beautiful weather and we had a great time exploring this little old city.
Love Always,

Friday, May 13, 2011

If you want to sing out, sing out


This weekend Dale and I went to go see Cat Stevens! A while ago he changed his name to Yusuf Islam and recently changed his name to only Yusuf, but he's still Cat Stevens to me! It was the opening night of his first tour in over 30 years and he did not disappoint! He doesn't have his long curly hair anymore but he can still sing! He even did a preview of a Musical he is writing based on his songs (like ABBA and Mamma Mia). Someone else in the audience posted a video of the musical preview and you can see it here:

The concert was in Hovet in the Globe Complex in Stockholm. Apparently Cat Stevens' Mother was Swedish and he lived in Sweden for about a year when he was 8 or so and saw Elvis in the same Complex in Stockholm and that was one of the main reasons he decided to pursue a musical career.
 Anyway, the venue was packed and we enjoyed a great show. He played a full array of his catalog and we enjoyed singing along to the classics and listening to the new songs. Here's a picture of Dale and me, all smiles after a fun night relaxing and listening to good music!
The building on the right, Hovet, is where we were and on the left is the Globe. Everyone likes to talk about the Globe so I suppose it's a landmark of sorts. There are concerts, sports events, etc. held inside the Globe and outside is an elevator that travels from one side up and over the top to the bottom of the other side which is a kind of unique construction.

Hope you are able to find some time to relax and enjoy some music!
Love Always,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011



Friday night Dale and I ventured to the island of Kungsholmen in Stockholm to get dinner and drinks at Malarpaviljongen. We were initially going to a meet up but when we got there it was busy and it wasn't apparent where the meet up group was. So we found a stop to settle down and we were so happy we didn't bother trying to find the group. We both got cheeseburgers and they were the best burgers we've found so far in Stockholm! And they were reasonably priced (for Stockholm that is) at about 170 sek, which converts to almost $30 USD. Which reminds me I need to do a post about the cost of living here! Anyway, back to beautiful Malarpaviiljiongen, the picture below is my delicioso cheeseburger. You can tell it's mine by the wine. :)
The restaurant its self is floating on the water and the land it is connected to is a park with big beautiful trees. Here's a picture from our seats looking towards the shore and the glassed in pavilion whcih is the restaurants namesake. 
Looking to the left of the pavilion we watched a beautiful sunset from the river. I love being on the water! It's so peaceful. Even if it is just from a floating restaurant!
A little bit more to the left of our spot you could see the bridge to Langholmen (and the crowd of people).
You all remember when Dale told you that Stockholm is as far north as Anchorage Alaska right? That means it doesn't get terribly warm here. So a lot of the restaurants have blankets for you to keep warm in if you are sitting outside. The OCD part of me thinks there is no way that can be sanitary but I love being warm and I think it's down right sweet of the restaurants to want their customers to be warm! But the heat lamps that have taken the States by storm are no where to be found. Personally, I like the blankets better then the heat lamps anyway, as long as the restaurants are washing them!
Malarpaviljongen is definitely one of my favorite spots in Stockholm! Good food, good location, good atmosphere, and not too pricey! I see many summer days here in our future!
Love Always,

Monday, May 9, 2011

Learning Swedish Update


I have now completed the A1 level of Swedish at Folkuniversitetet! I was planning to continue with the A2 course but the class that fits my schedule is on a break for the summer so now it's back to learning via Rosetta Stone. I'm understanding a lot of words and feel like I catch a lot when I listen to conversations, watch Swedish tv, or read the newspaper. But I know talking is what I need to work on to really improve. So, anyone out there willing to do a Swedish language exchange with me? Or know where I can set one up? I know it sounds easy. I'm surounded by Swedish speakers. But when I try to speak Swedish they quickly realize I don't know much Swedish so they switch to English and I don't feel like I can ask my co-workers to practice Swedish with me because a large part of why I was hired at this position was to help them practice their English. I think I've already made a lot of progress with Swedish and I really think I can get a hold on this language in the time we are here so I will definitely keep trying. Until I find someone to practice with, I'll be practicing with my computer!
Love Always,

Saturday, May 7, 2011



Last Saturday, April 30th, was Walpurgis. This is not a holiday I had ever heard of since it's not celebrated in the States but all the Swedes were really excited about it. None of the Swedes I've met really knew what the holiday was for other then the unofficial-official end of Winter. What I've learned from my research on the internet is that Walpurgis is named after Saint Walpurga (and English missionary ca. 710 - 779) who was cannonized May 1 870 and in Sweden holidays are celebrated the eve the day before just like New Years Eve is celebrated the night before in the States. May 1 is also a Witches Sabbath dating back to the middle ages which was celebrated with drinking and dancing. Walpurgis in Sweden today is celebrated with a bonfire in a local park and the residents come together to watch the fire, sing folk songs, celebrate the end of winter, and maybe even drink and dance too. We had heard Uppsala, a college town an hour north or Stockholm, has the best Walpurgis celebrations but Dale and I were both sick from a bug we caught on our trip to Switzerland so we opted for the more calm local park celebration 3 blocks from our house at Vasaparken. When we got to Vasaparken there was a decent amount of people, mostly families with children. There was a stage with a classic/folk choir singing, some activities for kids, candy stands, and of course the bonfire ready to be burned. 
We bought some candy and sat down to listen to the music until the lighting of the bonfire occurred. Well, I bought some candy. There were all different flavors of this candy and it's a bit like licorice, maybe gummy licorice. Not sure how else to describe it, sorry. 
Then they lit the fire and everyone cheered and sang along to the songs.
Here's a new move for the blog, I made a video of the event for you all! I didn't edit it or anything, it's just raw footage but if I do more videos I'll work on my video skills. In the mean time you can get a feel for what the folk songs were like.
We didn't stick around too long after the fire was lit so I don't know how long everyone kept singing. But we had a good time at our first Walpurgis experience! Sunday was May 1st, May Day, and I'm told that in Sweden this is celebrated as the official day the Socialist Party protests. We didn't go check it out so I don't know what they were protesting but the rest of Sweden celebrates May Day by planting their garden. It snowed the next day so hopefully the gardens pulled through!
Love Always,

Thursday, May 5, 2011



For our last day in Switzerland we traveled back to Zurich and walked around the city. We had a super early flight the next day and nothing we really HAD to see in Zurich anyway so we just wanted to take it easy. It was Easter so most places were closed, we weren't in town to go shopping so we weren't so disappointed. We did a walking tour of the city, mostly following a suggested route from our hotel. The tour started in Old Town Zurich which had beautiful tiny winding paths.
Then we walked along the riverside for a little bit. It was another hot day so lots of people were picnicking along the banks of the river. It was nice to see so many people enjoying their day. As we continued the path we found ourselves at the base of Fraumünster which is the church on the right side of the shore in the picture below. They didn't allow pictures inside so I can't share what it looked like inside but the convent was first built in 853 and the main reason people visit the church is to see a set of five stained glass windows by Marc Chagall in 1970. I love Chagall's work and didn't know about these pieces so that was a great discovery!
As I mentioned it was Easter and I had my eyes peeled for some kids dressed as witches since I was missing that experience in Sweden but alas, I did not find any witches. The most Easter-y thing I could find was only in chocolate shops showcasing their chocolate bunnies. But my oh my did these look like top of the line chocolate bunnies. Sorry fans, I don't have more news on what Easter in Switzerland is like. All I could tell was that it was a time to relax with family and not do much. But that sounds like a good holiday to me!
Not far from the church, our tour took us to a park overlooking the city and river. In the park were a dozen or so groups of people playing bocce and we had a lot of fun sitting and watching them play. I could definitely get in the habit of Sunday afternoons picnicking in the park with friends and playing a little bocce!
Finally we ended up back at the Central Station. Switzerland was such a great trip. The rail system there is so elaborate. Dale and I couldn't stop talking about how cool it would be if Colorado connected all the mountain towns by rail like Switzerland has. Come on Colorado get on it! And could you put in a subway before I move back too? Thanks! Hehe. It was also nice to finally get some time outdoors in the sun. Seeing the Alps was so great but in large part just because it reminds me of home. Definitely made me miss my friends and family but I know I'll be home before I know it!
Love Always,