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Barcelona – week 15

I should title this post “Stockholm- week 15,” but I figured I would stay with the pattern.

Also, unfortunately, the system wouldn’t let me upload pictures to this blog, so I apologize for the lack of visuals.

Stockholm was everything I dreamed it would be and more. What a beautiful city! I stayed with family friends, Lennart and Eva, who stayed at my home in Texas about 5 years ago for a couple of nights. Our families bonded, and it was fantastic to see them again and live under their hospitality.

The first thing we did was ride the subway to the city and see the cherry blossom trees. They were in full bloom, and what a beautiful site to see! It was a little cold, but nice weather for them, but still not crowded because many locals go to countryside homes for Easter. We took some pictures, and then settled down for lunch at a place called Victoria- delicious food and view of the cherry blossom trees at day, club at night. I had traditional Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, and Scandinavian lingonberries. Yum!

Lennart and Eva then took me on a tour of the city. We walked by the Nobel Museum, the square where they used to have local executions, touristy alleys with Viking shops, the Parliament building, and also the King’s Palace.

We then met up with Lennart and Eva’s son and girlfriend, Fredrick and Matilda, and went to the original Ice Bar! It was inside this really nice hotel, and they bought tickets early to reserve a spot. They gave up capes and gloves, and then we entered into the bar made of ice from a northern sea- the same ice used to make the Ice Hotel. The bar is different every year, and they had fun facts in the wall about the bar itself. We got two drinks while we were there- delicious, fruity, and served out of ice glasses. It was a lot of fun, and funny to go outside into the cold weather and feel warm!

Fredrick and Matilda left us, and Lennart, Eva, and I went to Stockholm Fisk- a very nice fish restaurant inside a hotel. We lounged and talked for a while, and then sat down for our delicious meal. We had bread, toast skagen (bread with a topping of shrimp, fish eggs, and more), a Swedish fish that tasted similar to Salmon, and then a truffle and cappuccino for dessert. It was so delicious, and very authentically Swedish! We then went home and watched some TV, Forrest Gump, and drank whiskey.

The next day, the Gullbergs celebrated Easter with the family. We all slept in, and then we went on a walk around their neighborhood. They live right next to downtown (on one of the 300 islands of Stockholm), but still on a quiet bank on a scenic skyline of the city. We saw their version of a beach, old factories, a preschool, docks, and women who swam every day- no matter the time of year.

When we got back to the house, we began to prepare for Easter lunch. I cut vegetables, peeled boiled eggs, deshelled shrimp, combined the eggs and shrimp and fish eggs to make a Swedish dish, and rolled raw salmon in order to make a delicious feast fresh seafood. At the meal, we had lovely conversation (in English) and sang drinking songs when we took a shot of the schnapps (even the grandma participated). We all hung around, ate, talked, drank wine and schnapps, and played board games while waiting for dinner to cook. At 6:30, we ate fresh lamb, rosemary, and garlic, and fresh oven-baked vegetables. For dessert, we had “fika,” which is essentially a coffee break accompanied by something sweet. Swedes take multiple fika breaks a day. Ours consisted of fresh coffee and a homemade Swedish dessert that reminded me of baklava, topped with whipped cream and raspberries. We then drank mojitos and talked until late in the night. What a perfect way to spend Easter!

On Sunday, the family woke up early and went to Skansen, the first open air museum and zoo in Sweden. It was founded in 1891 to show the ways of life in Sweden before the industrial revolution. We walked around the “old town,” going into the glass shops, bakeries, and furniture stores to go back in time. We also saw a lot of wild animals- a bear sitting on a tall post, wolves being fed, reindeer and elk grazing, etc. We had lunch in the main plaza there. My lunch consisted of a “Swedish pancake”- which is essentially 1 part pancake batter, 1 part bacon bits, and 2 parts lard. These ingredients sat on a charcoal oven for a couple of minutes and then came out as a greasy, delicious, fattened pancake. But, of course, we topped it with lingonberry to make it healthy.

After this adventure, and dropping Matilda off at the hospital to see her recently born neice, we went rock climbing! I haven’t been in years, but it was a lot of fun, and I even made it to the top of some of the easier courses. It was definitely a good workout!

Then, the entire family went and ate at “Same Same but Different,” a very fun Thai food place. The place was adorned with a koi pond leading to the bathroom, Christmas lights around all the wood posts, and every table having a different design. That was the second time I had Thai food in my life, and it was so delicious! We then went home and watched YouTube videos of great artists, like Home Free and Pentatonix.

The next day was sadly my last day. But, we celebrated the day right, by going to one of the more famous museums of Stockholm- the Vasa museum. The Vasa was a ship that set sail in 1628, and sank on the Stockholm harbor on her maiden voyage. The wreck was salvaged in 1961, after 333 years under the sea. We saw the reconstructed vessel, which is surprisingly 98% original. We learned about why she sank, how she sank, the process of finding her and taking her out of the harbor, and even saw the bones of the 30 who died on board, along with stories about them and facial reconstructions. It was really interesting to see a part of history so nicely preserved.

For my last meal, Lennart, Eva, Fredrick, Matilda, and I went to a place near the Vasa Musuem. It was very fancy, and aparrently had some of the best wines of Stockholm. I had some bread, toast skagen, and then cabbage-wrapped meats with mashed potatoes and lingonberries. I ate this because it was the only thing I had yet to eat on the “traditional Swedish” menu, and it was a delicious choice.

I had some particularly fun moments on this trip. Some of them were “lost in translation” moments, like Eva saying “pass away” instead out “pass out”, and the large rock climbing handles were called “big jugs.” Another fun moment was facetiming with my parents, bringing the two families together again. I also really enjoyed eating a lot of traditional Swedish food.

I have to give a special Thank You to Lennart and Eva, for hosting me the entire weekend. They were the best hosts that anyone could ask for. They gave me a bed to sleep in, a huge deal considering a basic hostel would cost about $80 per night, and a hotel would costs about $220 per night. They fed me breakfast every morning- boiled eggs, yogurt and cereal, and a sandwich with fresh ham, cheese, and a liver spread. Of course, multiple cups of coffee were consumed, because the Swedish drink about 4 cups of coffee a day. They paid for every single meal of mine, despite my protests, and we ate at many expensive, beautiful, delicious restaurants. They also paid for my admission to the two museums we went to, as well as the ice bar. The only thing that I paid for this weekend was my souvenior shot glass from the Vasa Museum.

Y’all made my Easter weekend family-oriented and homely, full of delicious meals and fun sites around Stockholm. I cannot thank you enough- I could not have asked for a more perfect weekend!

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