Monday, August 29, 2011

The French Basque Coast


We recently had the great pleasure of visiting our dear friend and ex roommate Edu in his home town of San Sebastian, Spain. His wonderful family was even kind enough to let us stay with them and treated us to some delicious Basque food. On our first day visiting, the weather in San Sebastian was mediocre so we took a ride over to the French side of the Basque coast where Edu promised there is a micro-climate so the weather would be better. So off we went to the beautiful little town of Biarritz where the weather was indeed better.
We parked at a parking lot on the top of a cliff and walked down to the beach and around to the town center where there is a nice rock formation in the water with a platform to walk around on. Here's Dale and Edu smiling in Biarritz.
We continued walking around the harbor and then through the city back to our car.
After we were done in Biarritz we continued on the coast back towards San Sebastian and stopped in the town Saint Jean de Luz.
I just loved the town center in Saint Jean de Luz, soo Basque with the old traditional houses and the towns colors on display. We walked along the beach and through the town here too and then headed back to San Sebastian.
Dale really liked the Basque signs. The Basque language looks nothing like Spanish and looks difficult to pronounce. 
Love Always,

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Medieval Times


After our blissful weekend Dale had to go back to work so we all accompanied him for a tour of his research laboratory. Afterwards we were all going, huh? You're really smart Dale and pretty darn cute too!

Then we took it down a notch and went to lunch for some pizza. Pizza's in Sweden are huge and are meant to be per person but I can never eat more then half, tops. So of course I was yet again the foreigner asking for a take away box and getting silly looks. But it was worth it because I just love the thin crust and piled high with cheese pizza here. 
After lunch while Dale worked the rest of us went to the Museum of Medieval Stockholm. It's a free museum underneath the Parliament. The museum has some pretty cool artifacts, and some pretty creepy artifacts. You can see the original wall that surrounded the whole city to prevent it from being attacked, a viking boat, and some real gallows. We had a good time learning the history of Sweden. 
While we were at the museum there was a Baltic States meeting in the Parliament so we got to see all the big wigs from all the Baltic countries exiting the building. Although, we aren't up to snuff enough to recognize any of them. 
Unfortunately this was our last day with Katie and Martin and they were off to Italy next where Martin proposed. Congrats you two! Can't wait for the wedding. Our time together is always too short but maybe there will be an opportunity at HP? ;)
Love Always,

Thursday, August 25, 2011



For each visitor I try to plan something fun and unique to do with them. For Katie and Martin this was a weekend trip in the Archipelago. After indecisively flipping through the archipelago ferry guide book and calling several cottages for rent. I finally found a tiny cottage on the outer banks of the middle archipelago that would work just perfectly for us. We hopped on the ferry for our 2 1/2 hour cruise to our destination in which we played copious amounts of Euchre  and ooohh-ed and  aawww-ed to each passing island and sailboat. I will return and sail in these islands someday!
Once we made it to our destination, Söderholm, we quickly changed into our swimsuits and headed to the beach. Ok, this wasn't our rental cottage but it was about the same size! It didn't matter though, we were all in our happy place with plenty of zen time.
We took a short path from the cottage and found a private alcove with smooth rock 'beaches' and several sailboats moored up for the evening. The sun was starting to get low in the sky but the boys dove right in to the cold Baltic water. Katie and I dangled our toes in but didn't go any deeper then that. 
As we watched a gorgeous sunset on the islands we grilled up some delicious summer veggies and Euchred some more on the patio. 
Finally the sun went down and our blissful day in the islands was drawing to a close. I wish I could freeze time in that minute, it was such a peaceful and happy experience. 
Love Always,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buffaloes who roam


Sorry for the lack of posts this week. My college roommate Katie and her boyfriend, now fiancee yippee!, Martin were visiting. Then Dale and I went to the Basque country to visit our ex-roommate Edu. So it's been a bit busy with no sign of slowing down. But as always we've been having a blast.

On Katie and Martin's first day in Stockholm I sent them to the Vasa Museum and met up with them for lunch afterwards at the always amazing Rosendal's Tragarden. I just love strolling through the flowers and enjoying whatever tasty dish they are serving.

Then we went to Skansen to see the zoo and the outdoor museum, but mostly to see the zoo animals. Since Katie and I are alumni of the University of Colorado at Boulder, we were particularly excited to see the buffalo! European buffalo are surprisingly different then American buffalo, they are much smaller here. All the animals had recently given birth too so it was fun to see so many baby animals.

Since the weather was good, we made our way to the beer garden at Södra Teatern for happy hour overlooking the city and to meet up with Dale after work. As we went to the beer garden we made our way through Gamla Stan and of course I took the cheesy Stockholm picture at the Royal Palace - and it's too cute not to share!

We had fun catching up and taking in the view. Dale and Martin talked lasers and accounting while Katie and I chatted about more serious things, like shoes. :) Finally we ate dinner at Herman's which is a vegetarian buffet overlooking the city. The food was amazing and our hands down favorite was the eggplant lasagna, yummy! After so much adventure we decided to call it a night and we strolled back home to enjoy a night cap on the patio.

Love Always,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stockholm Pride


Pride in Stockholm was a whole week long event with lectures, movies, and parties at night. I just love when the buses have flags and in Sweden they have flags for Swedish holidays, EU holidays, the royal family's birthdays, and apparently for Pride too. I was soo excited that the buses were sporting rainbow flags all week. It's the little things in life.
The only event Dale and I went to though, was the parade. The Stockholm Pride Parade is supposedly the largest event in Scandinavia. It was definitely the most people we had ever seen in Stockholm. Just before the parade began people walked the parade route selling coffee from a dispenser on their backs in case you need your coffee fix while watching the parade, you are covered here. They love coffee so much! It is pretty obvious that Scandinavians are the highest consumers of coffee in the world (and after surviving a winter here I know why).
What surprised me the most about the parade was that it was very political. It was mostly made up of different political groups marching to express their beliefs.
And of course they hauled people around in garbage trucks. If there is one thing I've learned in Sweden, it's that they think it's really fun to haul a group of people around in the back of a truck. In May when the high schoolers graduate they ride around in the trucks as a tradition. It's pretty silly I think but they all seem to be having fun so that's good.
Of course, there was some of the more American pride parade festivities like dressing up crazy and having a good time. But in my opinion there wasn't enough of that. Of course, I was first introduced to pride parade's in the Mecca of pride parades - San Francisco.
I don't know if it's really the largest event in Scandinavia but it was a lot of people!
Love Always,

Monday, August 15, 2011



I have a no cooking on Friday nights policy which we're trying to maintain in Stockholm despite the high cost of eating out. The most recent restaurant we've tried for our Friday night adventures is Svinet. I had been bugging Dale to try this place as soon as I read about it. It's only open for two months a year in the summer and they only serve pork - Svinet is the Swedish word for pig. Plus it's in the heart of Gamla Stan and I'm still not tired of strolling those beautiful old streets.
When we arrived there was a pleasant atmosphere. They had jazz playing, colorful strings of lights, and lots of plants everywhere. The weather was nice and it was a great evening to sit out on the patio, the only option at Svinet. I ordered the ribs which fell right off the bone and had a nice subtle bbq flavor.
Dale got the Iberico shoulder cut which did not disappoint.
As a side for our meat, all meals come with Munich salad which was very good.
We were most skeptical about the BBQ sauce since we have quite a lot of experience with BBQ sauce but it was actually quite great. What I liked the best about Svinet though was that in the sea of Stockholm restaurants that all offer the same three 'modern take on traditional Swedish meals' Svinet has entirely different and delicious options. Leave it to the Swedes to make BBQ so classy though, I'm used to a cheap pulled pork sandwich you get to go because you don't want to hang out in the neighborhood.
We were happy campers after dinner and took a nice stroll home through the cobblestone streets of Stockholm. If you're interested in going there yourself you better hurry, they are only open until August 27th otherwise you'll have to wait until next summer!
Love Always,

Saturday, August 13, 2011

M/S Blue Charm


In the states I'm a groupon fanatic but the groupon deals in Stockholm are just not as good. More often then not they are for makeup, hair salons, cellulite reductions, etc. I guess we know how the women here are so beautiful! I kid, kid! Anyway, there was a groupon more in my the category recently and I jumped on it. The deal was for a 3 hour champagne brunch cruise through the archipelago on the M/S Blue Charm. Normal it costs 345 sek per person but thanks to groupon I got it for 170 sek per person, a pretty great deal not even on Stockholm standards! The boat itself was pretty and was flying the big Swedish flag just as all boats here seem to do. Dale really wants to buy a boat now and fly the US flag. Maybe someday.
Inside it was very nice and we were greeted with champagne.
 There was also a live piano player and he was a lot of fun. He played all sorts of music and even got some of the people on board to sing, including Alan! We had a lot of fun listening to the music and singing along while watching the islands pass by.
The cruise went out to Vaxholm and back (no stopping at Vaxholm) and we saw lots of the traditional Swedish cottages.
The food on board was mediocre and more of traditional Swedish food then 'brunch'. But we were glad Alan got to try all the Swedish classics like herring, new potatoes, raw salmon, and even snaps!

After the boat was back in Stockholm we sat in the harbor talking and watching the seagulls.
Once we had digested our brunch enough and we were hungry again we decided to go out to dinner for sushi. It's sort of become a tradition for the three of us to eat sushi together so it was fun to make it an international tradition. We have several sushi places by our house but since Alan was visiting in July a lot of restaurants were closed for the summer. After walking a bit we finally found a sushi place that was a bit fancy but it was tasty too! And we all went a little out of our comfort zone and tried some different things then we were used to and we weren't disappointed.

It was fun having Alan here and getting to relax with him!
Love Always,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Alan's Birthday


Alan was visiting Stockholm on his birthday but unfortunately he and Dale were sick (and I ended up catching it too). We didn't want to waste the day though so we went and saw the final Harry Potter in 3D! This was the first time Dale and I had been to the movie theater here. The tickets were 140 sek per person, which is just over 20 dollars, compared with a movie in Colorado which costs 10 dollars. But at least it was in 3D and we all loved it so it was worth it. They don't dub the English movies but they do put subtitles up. One thing that was different is they assign seats in the movie theater but that was actually kind of nice. It made it so we didn't have to worry about getting good seats. After the movie we went out to dinner at Bistro Boheme and ate on their glass enclosed patio. The food was decent but more than anything it was just nice to sit 'outside' on a semi crumby day.

Happy 23rd Birthday Alan!

Love Always,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alan in Stockholm


Back in Stockholm we took Alan sightseeing a bit. The guys wanted to go to the Nobel Museum. I had gone in March with Emma and Nicola but I decided one more visit would be ok. We had a good time learning about all the amazing people and their accomplishments. Dale was particularly excited to find a chair Nobel Laureate Jerome Friedman (physics 1990) had sat in. Dale met Friedman a couple years ago and was particularly impressed with him.
Next we went up to the city overlook, we love taking visitors there and admiring the city.
Here's a view from the overlook towards the West and my favorite bridge, Västerbron.
Dale ever got into tour guide mode and taught Alan all about the city. He's such a good big brother.
The weather was great so we went to an outdoor patio at Södrateatern to drink a beer, chat, and enjoy the sun. 
It was a great day exploring the city!
Love Always,