Returning to Sweden

I’ve written about visiting Sweden a few times before. It’s somewhere I try to go at least once a year with my family and sometimes, if I’m lucky, I can make it out here twice a year. I’ve travelled here close to thirty times in my life. We stay in a little beach town on a peninsula sticking out at the southwestern point of the country. My visit here is something I look forward to all year.

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This time, getting here started out with a bit of stress. I’m used to the trip out here and I fly enough to know not to expect things to go perfectly…but it can still be frustrating when flight one of three suddenly becomes 3 hours delayed because of too much air traffic. In those moments it’s important to act fast, talk to an attendant, and make a plan to get to the final destination in case future flights are missed. The airline told me I would be fine and didn’t need to change anything. But because the flight out of Buffalo was grounded and there was no real schedule for when it would be taking off and the estimated takeoff time would leave me about ten minutes to catch my next flight, I told them they needed to give me a backup plan. Luckily we took off a little earlier than the estimated time and I made it to Newark with a half hour to eat a very rushed dinner before boarding my flight to Brussels.

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I had a great long flight and could even stretch out because the seats in my row were empty! The flight went by quickly and was very relaxing. And Brussels has a nice airport to sit in, even when you’re on the brink of falling asleep at any moment. I should’ve stopped to buy chocolates, but I was so sleepy.

I was relieved to sit down on my last plane after a long day and that flight to Copenhagen was quick and easy. I even got a mini nap in.

I always love landing in Copenhagen airport, seeing the bridge to Sweden, the beaches, and the red roofed houses.  Walking out of customs is always special, especially when my dad is there waiting to meet me. I’ve been coming here just about every summer since I was this age…

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The porch looks a little different now

 

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So coming to this small Swedish town every summer is important to me because it’s definitely somewhere that has a special place in my heart; it is one of my homes. My first few days here always feel magical because it’s just a time to walk around, take everything in, and enjoy the silence. For me, this is a place with few distractions, little technology, no unwanted work, and a place to constantly explore and learn. It is a place where I truly can connect with the natural world around me and focus on the little things that make each day so special. And of course it’s the perfect place to do a little photography

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Traveling Home To Sweden

I am fortunate to have homes in a lot of places – places that make me feel at home. I’ve mentioned a lot throughout my blog that while growing up, traveling to Southern Sweden happened every year at least once. My mom bought the house we live in here a few years ago from her parents. If you look at this map below, our small town doesn’t even make it – but Trelleborg is very close to us. If you look closely, we’re on the tiny piece of land sticking out right over Trelleborg. My mom grew up close by in Lund and Falsterbo was her summer home.

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People often ask me what I do when I visit here for weeks at a time year after year, and honestly there isn’t that much to do in a town this small. Of course there are a few stores, restaurants, and local sites to see, but for me it’s not about any of that. I come for the peace I haven’t found anywhere else in the world. Here in one of the most striking, naturally beautiful places I’ve ever seen, serenity is everywhere. Just take a look at what I’ve photographed around town:

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I’ll tell you more about each day, what we do, and how we live in this small town in Sweden in other posts! I hope you enjoy all these photos and see the natural beauty of this part of the world most people don’t know about

 

My Last Day In Sweden

Today is a bittersweet day because, although I am sad to be leaving my home in Sweden, I am also so excited to start some more adventures with the next part of my Europe trip! Tomorrow I’ll be flying from Copenhagen, Denmark to Hanover, Germany to meet my cousin who lives in a small town an hour outside of the city. I’m really looking forward to seeing my German relatives that I haven’t seen since a year ago and to spend time with my cousin – we’ve been talking about traveling together since last summer and planning the details of this trip since this past winter.

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I’ve had such a wonderful visit in Sweden!

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I’ve enjoyed the food – from yummy breakfasts

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To crazy appetizers

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To giant shrimps

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To extremely filling dinnersIMG_3406 (1)

And of course I can’t forget those perfect desserts!IMG_3407 (1)

I’ve also enjoyed going food shopping:

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Think they have enough cheese?

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And it’s been wonderful to explore the beautiful cities and see the unique architecture:

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I’ve even seen some wildlife!

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But it’s always hard to say goodbye to this placeDSCN0646

But the time has come for me to ramble on and packing for this kind of trip is always harder than you expect, even if you travel as often as I do.

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There are so many things to remember to bring and with backpacking you have to be smart because every additional item in your bag is extra weight on your back. I’m feeling ready and excited! Tomorrow starts something new, and I’m always looking forward to what’s to come!

Beautiful Beach

Everyone who knows anything about me knows I’m a total beach bum. I love the sand, the water, the wind in your face, the sun shining – palm trees if they’re around. I could lie by the ocean all day every day and never question it. So often when I travel, I seek places with cool beaches – sometimes in unique places – but regardless of where I go, every beach is a little different and usually has something awesome to offer. So I’ve been to beaches in places like Australia, Fiji, Dominican Republic, Israel, Ghana, South Africa, Italy… all were beautiful, warm, and completely amazing to visit and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have been there, but the beach here in Sweden holds a special place in my heart. Maybe because it was the first beach I remember being at (I first went when I was 9 months old and continued every summer most of my life). Or maybe because it’s incredibly private and has the whitest sand I’ve ever seen in person and lovely scenery all around.

When I look out the back window of the house and see this, I know it’s a beach day:

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Those perfect blue skies mean time to go!

Today I went with my mom the second the clouds cleared. The weather here can be very unpredictable. Some days it’s raining and freezing, the next is pure sunshine and hot – sometimes within the same hour! (Buffalo people will understand this).

It’s not easy to take selfies while biking!

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To get to the beach, you have to bike through the pretty woods on a dirt path up and down hills until you arrive at a big sand dune and many tiny tiny houses. These aren’t actually houses. On the beaches here, people can own these mini houses that are perfect for changing areas or storing beach supplies like chairs and towels. People can no longer build new ones, so it’s special to have one.

Here’s ours:

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So next to our little beach house it looks like this, with a few different paths to take to the main part of the beach.IMG_3215

So we walk over and the view is amazing!

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This part of the beach isn’t as easy to get to because of the woods and also no real parking or car access nearby, which means it’s often practically empty like today!

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I love to be here and spend the day relaxing

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Life really can’t get much better than this – enjoying somewhere with breathtaking views with people you care about!

Swedish Food

For many people, the food is one of the best reasons to travel. I always love to try new foods that I maybe wouldn’t if I were home in my usual routine and comfort zone. Craziest thing I’ve ever eaten abroad was kangaroo sausage and ostrich sausage (not as nuts as my dad who tried monkey!) but I wouldn’t say I’m extremely adventurous – no spiders for me please!

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I always think it’s worthwhile to check out grocery stores in other countries because you get a better feel for the place, find new things you probably wouldn’t get at home, and you get to see how people interact differently in other places. The grocery stores here are similar to in America except definitely smaller and with fewer options. I’m used to Wegmans in Buffalo, which is like the Beverly Hills of food shopping, but it’s also cool to have fewer choices and try something out of the norm.

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So what do people eat in Sweden? Meatballs of course – can we be more stereotypical?

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But what people here love the most is fish! Herring, eel, salmon – you name it, they probably have it

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The shrimp here are totally different than the giant ones we’re used to in America, they’re small, juicy, and definitely have a different taste and texture even.IMG_3030

Of course they have great cheeses, this is Europe after all:

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We all know that’s I’m crazy for desserts, and the ice cream in Sweden is one of my favorite parts of coming here. They have flavors I have yet to find in America like pear, and the ingredients are slightly varied enough to make it special compared to what we may get at home.

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But what’s really wonderful is the breakfast:

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Not exactly pancakes and bacon, but I’m not complaining!

My Little Town In Sweden

So as I’ve mentioned before, my mom was born in Sweden, came to America as a student when she was about my age (still blows my mind). All of her family still lives in this part of the world. Her parents had bought this really traditional old summer house in this small beach/fishing town in the 1950s. Indoor plumbing and heat didn’t come until way later.

Here’s my mom as a kid in front of the house:

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Here’s my whole family in front of the house (I’m the little bald one):big family

Now my mom owns it and it’s become our family’s summer home to go to every year. It’s definitely another home to me, and look, we used to even bring our dog Lily here!

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We’ve spent the last few summers working to change the place and make it our own and fix it up (which it sure needed!) and this year is no exception.

I’ve been spackeling the walls of my bedroom so I’ll be able to paint soon!

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The town is real small and not well known, but it has some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery I’ve ever seen:

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Let’s face it, movies can’t make sunsets that good.

Being here is simple, something I need and look forward to because I can always use a good escape from the chaos and craziness that is life. We bike everywhere for transportation, we hang dry our clothes (we didn’t get a laundry machine until a few years ago), no tv exists in the house, and we really just spend our time with each other.

Here’s how I carried home the groceries this morning:IMG_3265

It’s been a great visit so far! More to come 🙂

Finally Starting My European Adventures!

Hello from Sweden! I’ve been planning and getting ready for this Europe trip since winter, so it’s very exciting to finally be happening! I won’t be back to America for five weeks so I have a decent amount of time here to explore, visit family and friends, and have new experiences.

I had quite the trip getting over here by myself. I arrived in the Buffalo airport to find it very crowded and chaotic (not typical for a Wednesday at 10am there). I walked over to the priority line to check in my bag and people let me pass, which is also definitely not normal! I walked up to the counter and the representative asked if I’d already checked in, which I had. She then asked if I had a bag and where I was going. Another person came over and she asked him if they were able to process international flights at all if the passenger already checked in and he said no. Then I was very confused. They explained that the entire United Airlines computer system had crashed! I stood there a little baffled and asked what that meant. It wasn’t just a Buffalo problem, but worldwide. They said no international flights could be processed for checkin because they have to confirm documentation like passports and without the computer system working, that wasn’t an option. So I stepped back and waited. Soon they informed us that all United flights were grounded. Definitely not the start you want to a trip like that!

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If this situation was going to happen, I have to admit I got extremely lucky with how it all worked out for me. The system started working again half an hour after I stepped away from the counter. My first flight to Chicago was no more than delayed than any other time I fly Buffalo-Chicago or vice versa because let’s face it, there’s always some delay there between to two cities’ weather conditions and the chaos of O’hare. I fly that route more than any other out of Buffalo so I’ve gotten pretty familiar with what to expect.

I got to Chicago and looked at the monitor and realized just how lucky I was. Flight after flight was delayed, awaiting aircraft arrival, or cancelled. My next flight to Frankfurt, Germany was still green and listed on time. I grabbed some lunch, walked over to my terminal, and found a United Club to hang out in until the flight. It felt good to sit down and relax. Even better, I found out my section of the plane was practically empty so I was able to switch my seat and get an entire row of three seats to myself! Hell yeah 🙂

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I got to Frankfurt on time, made it to passport control and helped a very young guy in an American Air Force uniform figure out where to go. He looked nervous and asked if he was in the right line. I told him he was and he thanked me then explained how it was his first time here and he was on his way to a base in Italy. He didn’t look over twenty years old. So it was impressive to me. The people I meet when I travel never fail to surprise me. It’s one of my favorite parts of traveling for sure.

I ended up wandering around the airport quite a bit after some confusion about where the gate was. Fortunately, I had time and it was probably for the best so I didn’t fall asleep by mistake. Coming to Europe from America is always harder on your body than going the other direction. That whole west to east trip really affects you differently. I’m always grateful when I travel to have friends in different time zones because while my Buffalo friends were mostly asleep (except my sister who kept me company through text), but my LA friends were awake. I was grateful for the free wifi in the airport so I could have someone to talk to. Traveling alone can get boring and lonely even when it’s adventurous.

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I don’t remember much from my flight to Copenhagen because I passed out almost the second I sat down. The guy next to stirred up some trouble with the flight attendants so I was glad I could close my eyes and ignore it. I woke up to seeing the famous bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden right outside my window! I would soon be crossing that bridge to get to my summer home.

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I was happy to get my bag and go meet my dad, except he of course wasn’t there – typical! So I went outside and enjoyed the fresh air until I saw him waving me over to his car. We drove to the house and it felt good to be back here. It’s been a year since my last visit (which was extremely short and not the best trip) and it had been 4 years before that. I was surprised to see how much had changed from what I remembered.

Today is my first full day here and it’s been nice to catch up with my parents and just relax some!