So, how is life in Sweden?

I know, I know, in the last post I promised to keep you updated… and then all of a sudden it was months later :/

But, to answer that question up there, life in Sweden is very very good 🙂 Can’t really believe it’s been 3 months already since I came here! Time certainly did fly this summer and only the calendar and the slowly changing nature are telling me that it will be autumn soon.

So what happened in the meantime? I learned how to survive in an all-male household, that would be the biggest change 😉 One teenage boy and his little brother plus their dad did take some adjusting for me who had been living alone for the last 12 years 😛 But now we have worked out a pretty good rhythm and I think everyone is quite happy – I know I am 🙂

With the man in (and of) my life being away at work for two weeks at a time comes a certain responsibility to make sure that the oldest gets breakfast in the mornings and leaves in time to get the bus to school, then taking care of the household chores and cooking our dinner before driving him to and from sports training and church events. Actually, from Thursday on, it’ll be the first time that I have the car to myself since I came here, so I’m training driving it 😉 Should be fine, only the garage is a little bit scary 😉

During the summer, we did a lot of walking around the area and the city, you have probably seen the pictures on fb and Instagram. Yes, we had beautiful weather most of the time and yes, we have forest and water just outside the door 😉 We’ve eaten wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and now blackberries straight from the bush, covered a lot of kilometres walking and cycling and it feels like home to me now!

There was a baptism and a confirmation, the most baffling feature (to me, a German raised Catholic) probably being the young, female (!) priest who loves a woman (!!) and also draws people in so much that even I would consider going to church again 😉 Apart from the fact that the Swedish church seems to have taken all the good bits from the Catholics and mixed it with a very modern Protestantism.

We also spent a little time up in Dalarna at his dad’s and I think this country is even more beautiful up there 🙂 Not to mention that granddad has a lake just outside the front door and a big bbq behind the house 😉

Some setbacks have been the fact that pretty much everything is closed for a certain period over the summer, so not much progress with bureaucracy and such, and also I had no luck finding a job yet. But it’s work in progress and I’m sure there’s something out there for me 🙂

If you want to know anything specific, just put a comment and I’ll reply quickly 🙂

It’s back!

Hello my dear readers (if I still have any…) 😉

The blog is coming back, so is the Instragram account and hopefully I will be able to post more in the near future when I embark on yet another adventure 🙂

It’s a little different to the last one, not travelling as much or as far, but still very exciting and I hope you will follow this journey as well. Tomorrow, I’ll leave for Sweden. Yes, I know, been there, done that, so just another round of workaway? No, this time it’s for good (at least that’s the idea) 😉

Do you remember the hiking in the Fulufjället National Park last year and that I was going with a friend? Well, said friend is in fact my boyfriend and I will be moving in with him and his eldest son! We’re based in Kalmar, so Southern Sweden, on the East coast, right next to Öland – where the Swedish Royals spend their summers, so not a bad place at all 😉

To start with, all my stuff that I am taking will have to fit in the trunk of the car tomorrow morning… I am quite positive, but we will have to see how realistic that was 😛 We will have a little roadtrip from Hamburg and should board the ferry in Rostock on Saturday evening, arriving in Kalmar about lunchtime on Sunday – with a high probability of comatose sleep once we get to the apartment. 😉

Then it’s a national holiday on Monday and from Tuesday onwards we’ll tackle the bureaucracy in Sweden – supposedly it’s worse than Germany, but I have my doubts about that 😛 Also, the little son will join us on Tuesday night and we will take it from there.

There are lots of plans for the summer and the boys’ holidays, hopefully we can make it all happen and have a great time! 😀 Thanks to the EU I should be getting jobseekers’ allowance for the first 3 months and after that I am hoping to find myself a job. Not necessarily as a translator, I’m open to anything that will get me in touch with people and will teach me about the society.

So from a travel blog, this will turn into more of an emigration blog, but I hope you will still be interested. And as time goes on, travel will be back on the agenda – but for now it’s all about building a new life 🙂

P.S.: Any EB people who are still undecided about coming to the Summer Party tonight – I’ll be doing my rounds there 😉

Stockholm at its best – again ;)

Sweden has been very good to me I have to say 🙂 As my time here is coming to an end (for the moment, leaving on Tuesday), I find myself back in Stockholm, in a hotel room, on my own – after a rather busy long weekend.

The trip from Umeå to here was very easy and quick, small airports have their advantages 😉 Somehow I get the feeling that I have never flown into Arlanda in good weather, this time it was raining like mad when I got there… on the bus into the city it cleared up though and by the time I reached the stairs at Fotografiska on Södermalm, the sun was shining brightly 🙂

wpid-wp-1443377631384.jpeg

Here I met with my friend who would later in the evening be announced as my boyfriend 😛 Yes, that’s right! And those of you who know my history will know who it is – rest assured we both know what we are doing and that it feels great! The timing could have been better as I’m leaving Europe for 3 months now, but we’ll be ok – there’s been worse 😉

Friday evening I spent with Ann, taco girls night and tv, very relaxing and good to catch up again 🙂 Needed to get some rest before my big day on Saturday – time for Mrs Murphy‘s high heels class!

10 women of all ages, 3 agents of fabulousness and of course Mrs Murphy herself gave it all in 2 hours and in the end we could move our hips, walk stairs and even run in our highest heels! It was such great fun and I recommend everyone to take that class – awaken your inner goddess 🙂

Mrs Murphy's class(Image from Mrs Murphy’s facebook page)

Then we took the metro to Slussen and had a coffee at Fotografiska before we looked at the exhibitions.  I liked most of them, but the last one we saw was very much weird and not really my cup of tea. Nevertheless it is worth going there every time – have you been? 😉 The best was the höstsalongen, where 24 normal photographers from all over Sweden presented their projects. Some of those were very impressive and thinking they got picked from over 2,400 applications – wow! 🙂

Until our table was booked in Melt Bar we had enough time to walk there and enjoy the amazing colours that the sky was offering. Wonderful clouds and a sunset made for all colours from purple to orange and red – just look 🙂 Of course I had not taken my camera with me as we were out all day, guess if I regretted that…

clouds over Gamla Stan sunset

Melt bar then was absolutely fantastic! Felt a little underdressed with my bright green trainers, but oh well… It’s a bar styled like in the 1920’s with champagne cocktails in punch bowls, wonderful outfits and very good food! Downstairs they have a little stage with burlesque performances – such a cool place 🙂

Today it was a walk to and through Bromma Blocks, then off to the city and into my hotel where I will stay until it’s time for the airport on Tuesday. Will I have to organise things for Hong Kong or just get there and take it as it comes?

Stuga adventures :)

Funny that, I wanted to start with explaining what a stuga is – but obviously it is so clear to any Swedish person and so much a part of life that there isn’t even a wikipedia article about it, it’s part of the fritidshus one 🙂 So I’ll wing it a bit: stuga means a small house, in the countryside, with very simple standards (water from a well, outhouse etc.). Many people either have their own or have one in the family and will spend weekends and holidays there to get away from the hectic city life and back to nature. At least that’s my understanding now, correct me if I’m wrong 🙂

As it happens, the brother of my host family’s dad has one of these in the Höga Kusten national park and when the question was raised if I wanted to come there on Saturday, I gladly accepted. It was about 2 hours drive from here and we set off around 9 in the morning. Said brother lives in Uppsala with his family, so for them it had been 4.5 hours drive the day before. The guys were planning to install a chimney for the new wood-burning stove and I got to hang out with Eva and their two boys.

With them, I got a day of adventures and quite possibly typical stuga life 🙂 First, it was putting on life jackets and get the rowing boat out. Their stuga is right by an inlet of the Baltic Sea (if you look on the map, you’ll see a little star somewhere South of Umeå – there!), so the boys wanted to put the fishing net out and hopefully catch dinner with it. If you know me, you know I don’t swim very well and am not particularly chilled when it comes to water… but I got into the boat alright and as it turned out, I was in the best position to put the net out 🙂

When we came back, the next plan was to make a fire down on the beach to bbq sausages on sticks in it. Unfortunately, it had been raining the night before, so it took quite a long time, lots of matches and finally the help of a newspaper to get the fire started. It worked fine for the sausages and we had hot dogs for lunch, not even bothered by the rain that started falling heavily.

Back inside after lunch, we had some tea and biscuits and a chat before the boys wanted to play some games. First it was a game of chess where the younger son beat his mother without much effort 😉 Then they wanted to play a game with questions, a bit like trivial pursuit without the actual board. It was in Swedish of course, but I wanted to take part in it and we had a pretty funny round with the elder son winning.

Dinner was not fish then, but a very nice chicken mango dish cooked by the dad. Afterwards the boys and my host dad went out to get the net in and see about the catch. It took quite some time for them to come back in, apparently they had wanted to put out the net again and then the wind blew them away from the land… In fact, there was one fish in the net, typical for this area an abborre (European perch in English), which we got to take home with us and actually had for dinner today. My first fish 🙂

So life in a stuga is in fact quite fun and I can see why Swedes (and Germans of course) like it so much 🙂 Away from the usual and back to nature, with a stop at Max burgers on the way there or back 😉 I actually took my camera with me there – but it stayed in the car all day and all I have are photos from my phone…

stuga sunset

My time here will come to an end soon now, 3 more working days and then off to Stockholm on Thursday – more adventures coming soon, rest assured 😉

Sweden, a lovestory

Even though I have been learning Swedish for about three and a half years, I had never really seen the country. Of course, I’d been to Stockholm many times and it still counts as one of my favourite cities ever. Also Malmö and Kalmar I had visited for one or two days each and crossed the countryside in trains. But somehow, that was not the “real Sweden” for me.

Workaway seemed to be the perfect opportunity to see more of this extremely big country with relatively few people 😉 As I have one week left of that experience now, I must say it certainly was. Even if things didn’t work out as planned, especially in the beginning… 😉 Looking at the map, it’s quite impressing that I managed to get to so many places in almost exactly 2 months! Of course, this was thanks to great hosts and amazing friends – thank you so much!

Now, what do I think of Sweden after those two months? You get it from the headline: I love it!!! Not only because the neighbour was so impressed with my Swedish that he thought I’d been living here for years 🙂 Not only because I was extremely lucky with the weather and only had one day of (really heavy!) rain so far. No, mainly because of 2 things: the nature is absolutely amazing and so are the people!

I have met quite a few natives now that were not directly related to workaway and every single one of them has been super-friendly, interested, happy to speak Swedish with me and just treating me like a normal person, not a tourist 😉 I can’t say this as a rule, but to me it seems that life is a bit slower here, people are more relaxed about time and “achieving” things. (This meant that I was quite stressed when I passed through Stockholm 2 weeks ago…. there it’s hectic 😉 ) It was a big change for me at first, coming from a job where the work never seemed to end no matter how fast you tried to get it done. But by now I have got used to it a bit and it feels ok to maybe not finish something in one day 🙂 That in turn makes me calmer and more relaxed.

The nature: You’ve seen the pictures (and if not, check out the flickr link 😉 ). There is just so much space in this country and nature is just around the corner most of the time. You can walk into the forest and pick any berries you see, drink the water from lakes and rivers and generally do what you want as long as you respect the nature. You can get absolute silence, you can see so many stars at night and if you are lucky, even the Northern Lights (haven’t given up on them yet!).

During those summer season months, I have also seen a lot of tourists from other countries, mostly Germans of course. And I think I understand now why they love coming here. Those of you who live (or have lived) in Germany: re-read the last two paragraphs and let me know if you need any more explanations. I don’t think it’s all about Bullerbü and Astrid Lindgren, but about getting away from the neighbours and the hustle and bustle. Correct me if I’m wrong 🙂

Yes, Sweden, you have won me over big time! In a different post, I will talk about funny things that you only find here, and of course I am aware that not everything here is perfect. But I do have a good feeling about you and me and I will come back 😉

Up up North

That’s where I arrived today! A big place with several barns and a huge house that serves as the family home as well as a b&b with two rooms. I am very lucky because I get to stay in one of them for 3 weeks and it’s such a lovely room! It’s very big and has a high ceiling, the walls are white, but have patterns right underneath the wooden ceiling.

ceiling pattern

Two beds, two chairs, a lovely old desk, a closet and – the highlight – an old stove as this was the kitchen originally! 🙂 Wooden floors and enough space to not only unpack my whole backpack for the first time since I started, but also a perfect spot for my yoga mat – we’ll see if I finally use it again now! And throughout the whole house, it’s modern but keeping a lot of the old character of the house 🙂

my room

The hostess is also lovely, she picked me up from the airport in Umeå because it was much easier than me coming on the bus. The village is actually right on the big road E4 and that one goes around the city, so on the way here I understood why we did it that way. The house is part of what once was an estate where they first made iron and then had a sawmill, but that went bankrupt towards the end of the 19th century. Now there is a sawmill again, one of the biggest up here, just behind the house. She said depending on the wind direction, you can hear the road or the sawmill up here – but so far it has been just quiet 🙂

She is doing a lot of things at once, teaching permaculture is one of them and I hope I can pick up some of that as well. The garden is huge and very neatly designed, it’s not all self-sufficient yet, but certainly on the way there. For lunch, she harvested carrots, potatoes, sugarsnaps, kohlrabi and tomatoes for example. The food will be mainly vegan she said as she does most of the cooking. I don’t mind that, will be interesting to see for me 🙂 We haven’t talked about the work yet, but it looks like it’ll be mainly the garden, getting the harvest in before the frost and preparing for the next year.

The house also is the home of 3 teenagers (2 girls, one boy) and two dogs: Runo is a black retriever, so he’s pretty big and Morran is a long-coated dachshund girl. Very different dogs, but they are both super-friendly and cute 🙂 I got to walk them with the youngest daughter today, they’re easy-going. And here it’s one dog per person, not 3 😉

I think I will have a good time here and I hope I took the good weather with me – today has been sunny and not too cold. Hopefully it’ll stay a bit longer like that!

Here’s the stove!

stovestove detail

Is summer over?

Only yesterday that I left Öland with its sunshine and warm days – does that mean that summer is over now? Today it was rather stuffy and moist, not saw much of the sun all day.

Of course one of the goals of the walkabout was to chase the summer – so it’s good to know that New Zealand celebrated the beginning of spring today 😉 I did spend a good part of my time on Öland outside and yes, I think you can see that in my skin tone now 🙂

Tomorrow afternoon it will be up on the train to Stockholm and a nice catch-up evening with Ann and then a flight up to Umeå on Thursday morning. From there, I will send a longer update I’m sure 😉

Are you still waiting for the pictures I promised? For now, you can find all of them here 😉