Land of the midnight sun.
That is at least what I was told Sweden is called. Although the sun did not set at midnight when I visited, it was setting at about 11 at night and rising at about 3 in the morning. Pretty crazy, I know. I cannot imagine how that is like in the winter.
The first thing I noticed traveling in Sweden is the many big blue lakes. Affie told me that Finland is known as the land of the thousand lakes, though I thought Sweden had plenty too! I traveled outside of Stockholm, in a smaller city Orebro where my friend lives. We then traveled up north about 4 hours to Malung, driving pass stunning, peaceful sights of the country. There were miles and miles of big green fields and we passed many lakes. I never imagine Sweden to be so green. The further north we drove (well, she did), the more hilly and forest-y it got. There were no cities or towns where we traveled, only small villages. Malung, where we spent the weekend was just another little Swedish village. We camped outside a friend’s house in a trailer with three other girls. Her house was gorgeous and traditional. It is the Swedish red/white-striped house with a beautiful porch, where we barbecued. As there was a music festival going on, the entirely village was packed with cars and people. Affie and her friends have been gathering there yearly (for the past 7-8 years) for this music festival. This kind of music is called Dansband. It reminded me of American country music and brought back memories of Stagecoach, a country music festival that I have been going to for the past three years in Cali. Although I am not entirely sure Dansband was my scene, I enjoyed every bit of the weekend. The atmosphere was great and people were dancing and singing. We had lots of ciders, wine and some hard liquor to celebrate under the sun. The music festival was held in the forest 15 minutes walking distance from where we stayed. We walked to the music tent the first night where most locals were drinking and live bands were playing before going to the festival. We were all a little ‘happy’ throughout the night. The festival had different halls where live bands were playing and people were dancing. However, we spent most time in the beer house chilling and drinking both nights. I did have a go dancing with Affie and some Swedish boy on the second night. it was fun.
My favorite part had to be chilling under the sun with the girls and dipping in the river. As her house was 5 minutes from the river, we walked there in our bikinis and took a dip. The water was freezing but the sun made it alright once we got out. It was refreshing and quite exciting. We spent the evenings barbecuing and drinking. Affie and her friends were very kind to speak in English even when we were playing a game. I was definitely amazed by how well Swedes know and converse in English. Apparently, they learn it in school for about 10 years.
After the weekend in Malung, Affie and I spent two other days in Orebro. I would go to her football practice and after we walked into downtown. We both felt really bad from the junk food (have I mentioned that I had two Langos – they are amazing!) and alcohol beverage so we decided to cut down on bad food and ate a little less and healthier. We also took an afternoon to a closeby lake and swam in it. it was really nerve wrecking for me as I have never swam in an open lake (the ocean is different and doesn’t count). After Affie pestering me to just do it, I let go of the swimming steps. I know, I am a scaredy cat. It was quite thrilling and the feeling was amazing once I did it. We swam and swam and took a nice nap under the sun next to the lake.
I decided that I cannot leave Sweden without visiting Stockholm and spent my last day strolling in the city. It was nice as I got to meet another friend there for lunch and had fika with her and her friend. Fika is very uniquely Swedish. It is basically coffee time that they have daily. I would consider it similar to the English tea time culture.
I had a wonderful trip thanks to the people I met and especially a big thank you to Affie for hosting my stay. I have always enjoyed traveling with a local as you have a better feel of the culture and place. Now that I am recharged, I can finally get back into the flow of working.