Thursday, August 23, 2007

Le Tour de Sweden, Stage 1: The Stunning Stockholm Archipelago

My mom’s been nagging me to get on with the blogging, so here I am! I’m back. Let’s get started:

Max and I left Lund on the 11th with an agenda: visit lots of family friends and explore Sweden! Our first stop? Stockholm.

The four-hour train ride was a breeze. Unfortunately, we ran into some trouble once we arrived at Central Station in Stockholm, where navigating through the station, the subway, and the city with Max’s bicycle became a major hassle. When I originally envisioned this tour of Sweden, I had not anticipated that we (er… Max) would be toting a giant plastic box with us (see previous post to get an idea of the scale of this thing).

But there was no other option! Max was invited to a big five-day bicycle race in Switzerland (which started after our tour of Sweden ended), which meant he needed to ride. So, along came the bicycle. Just imagine the challenge of negotiating escalators, train aisles, tiny elevators, stairs, stairs, and more stairs with this box! In short, it was a difficult addition to our vacation, but Max handled it very well, and it all turned out okay.

We dropped the box off at Jacob’s apartment in Stockholm and then we took a nice hour long walk along one of the city’s many canals. All the Swedes were out and about, enjoying the beautiful weather, and we got our first glimpses of downtown Stockholm and Gamla Stan (old town) before we arrived at Slussen to hop on a bus out to the island of Värmdö, in the Stockholm archipelago.

In the archipelago, we met Tomas, an old family friend. Tomas and his family (Anna, Britt, and Elin) were very welcoming, and Max and I had our own little cabin at their summer house. After we arrived, we went blueberry picking with Tomas and Anna (Tomas’s wife). I couldn't help but think of one of my favorite childhood stories, Blueberries for Sal, when we found a great patch of bushes where the berries were so plentiful you could stand in one place for five minutes and just pick, pick, pick.

We gathered two huge buckets full of berries and enjoyed eating them for breakfast the next morning. We finished our day with a swim in a lake that is only a five minute walk from the house and Tomas’s mother, Britt, cooked us an amazing salmon dinner. We enjoyed the summer light and talked late into the evening.

The next day, after a morning swim, we took a hike along the small peninsula to see the Baltic Sea. It was fun to explore the woods and we picked more wild blueberries, cherries, and raspberries (which we enjoyed on the spot). When we neared the shore, Tomas stopped to show us some amazing rock pools that were formed thousands and thousands of years ago when the area was covered with glaciers.

The holes are massive, and Tomas suggested that I take a picture with a person in the frame in order to show the scale. I got a not-so-great shot of Max, and decided to move to a better place to take another picture. I made to step down one of the smooth, damp rocks when I slipped and fell BAM! down the rock.

I slid down the rock on my forearms and back, which left some nice scrapes on my arms and attractive dirt smudges on my clothes. I recovered fairly quickly from the shock and felt very lucky that I had escaped injury free (the only real blemish was my embarrassment at falling after Tomas had warned us about 20 times to be careful on the slippery rocks). But then I looked down at my camera, which I had been holding in my hand when I fell.

It was broken. Smushed. Toast. Well, crap, I thought. That was really dumb. That’s when I really started feeling shaken, stupid, embarrassed, and massively disappointed. I had broken my camera (my mom’s camera, actually) on day TWO of my vacation, without so much as taking a picture of the Baltic Sea.

But such is life. You move on. The day got better once we returned to the house – another swim in the lake, a delicious smörgåsbord for lunch, and a pleasant bus ride back to Stockholm.

So, forgive me for the lack of pictures! I was unable to take any more pictures of Värmdö. Or too many more of Stockholm. The next day, I tried to get a same day repair but failed, so my parents just said, “buy a new one.” And I did.

In sum...

Our Värmdö visit, by the numbers:
Broken cameras: 1
Mosquito bites: 23 (really, I counted).
Beautiful sunsets: 2
Buckets of blueberries: 2
Swims in the lake: 3
Delicious meals: 3
Bike boxes to tote: zero!

The next installment: life in the big city of Stockholm.

Keep reading!


Sally said...

I really don't know what to say. It just sounds so beautiful I wish I could be there. Maybe next summer...

Chagan said...

Oh that sucks about your camera! I've been meaning to tell you how jealous I am of your photo montages! Shoshi needs to teach me how to use photoshop this year.

When do you come back to the States? And visit Atlanta? :)

Chagan said...

Whoa never mind, I now see that you're there till December...that's awesome!

Linnea said...

Hey Ms. C -- Yes, RIP, poor camera.

Photoshop is delightfully simple -- and so worth it. You can do lots of cool things to your photos.

I'm really going to try to come to Atlanta before you guys graduate! It's been on my list of things to do since freshman year, so I'm gonna make it happen.

Sally said...

Hey, I happen to have ~$250 in AirTran credit (was trying to figure out what I was going to do with it!) AND, they fly non-stop from SFO --> ATL (for about that much).

Probably has to be used before next May...

Work out your schedules, girls!
(I didn't have a very positive experience with AirTran...sitting for hours at Laguardia but heck, for you, the price would be right!)