Well, we are safely home from Sweden, and have loads of wonderful memories for our time spent!
I will hit the highlights, which happened every day--but I can't remember every specific day....I didn't keep a journal like Maria did (and as I did on our trip to Italy)...so, I'll hit the highlights and may not have them in chronological order.
We arrived at noon on Saturday July 31st and rested and visited at Birgitta and Mats' the rest of the day. On Sunday we toured around Southern Skane (the county where they live). We hit a flea market and I bought some scarves (which everyone in Europe and Scandinavia seems to wear). We traveled to Ystad and climbed a huge hill to see a "stone boat"...stones laid out in the shape of a boat that had been built centuries ago...kind of a Swedish Stonehenge. It was beautiful at the top of that hill as it looked out over the ocean...gorgeous. We passed neat houses and fields of cows in our hike up. Fantastic pastoral and ocean scenes combined.
Then we went into Ystad and had a great meal at a restaurant in town. I had steak, cooked on a plank, with mashed potatoes and veggies. It was delicious and turned out to be one of the best meals of the trip.
We waited about an hour, wandering around town, as we wanted to hear the man who blows the horn in the church tower, starting at 9:15 PM and continuing every hour thereafter on the quarter hour, to let the town know "all is well"....a tradition that has been going on for centuries I guess. Well...we all got a good laugh out of this...as we waited in such anticipation and then the weak "whooooo" that sounded three times was such a let-down from what we were expecting! It became the joke of the trip....everytime we saw a church tower or needed to sound a mock alarm, we would let out a quiet "whoooo." The guy was even interviewed on national tv the day after we heard him....and we have NO IDEA what the big deal is.
On Monday we went to Denmark and took in Tivoli Gardens....something I've wanted to see for a long time. I wasn't disappointed. I can see all the ideas Walt Disney "borrowed" from Tivoli when he was planning the Disney theme parks. All the beautiful flowers, fountains, international theme areas in the park...it was great!
We had a "Danish" hot dog at the park. It's served on a plate, a hot dog, a bun, fried onions (crispy) and puddles of mustard and ketchup. The dog isn't in the bun. You dip the hot dog in the mustard and ketchup, take a bite, take a bite of bread and follow it with a bite onions. That's it. Tasty...but mild compared to our hotdogs.
On Tuesday, I was awakened by the sounds of Birgitta, Mats and Sandra singing Happy Birthday to me! They came in my room bearing a tray with a present and a lit candle on it....what a surprise! Good thing I hadn't taken off my night shirt like I almost did that night! They would have been the ones who were surprised, not me!
In the evening we went to the "Turning Torso" section of Malmo and walked around. It was cool, both weatherwise and with scenery wise. Then we went to downtown Malmo and they surprised me with a river barge trip for my birthday...we went on a barge where the had a guitar player who also sings Swedish folk songs and some American and British songs that we all sang along with, while we ate a great meal that they served on board as we traveled along the canal. Everyone one the boat sang "Happy Birthday" to me and the party of women who were sitting next to us shared the cake they brought to celebrate the upcoming wedding of their friend. It was a magical night on the water.
The next day we traveled to the nearby college town of Lund. What a quaint, picturesque town! We went to a place that has displays of old houses and what life was like in the olden days in Sweden. Very interesting and very "Olde Sturbridge Village-ish." I loved it.
On Friday, the Lowerstrom household was buzzing, first with getting ready for Sandra's 20th birthday party, and then, the party itself. We greeted Sandra in the morning, waking her with her presents (a Nikon camera from her parents and a memory card for it from us) and a cake with candles. The rest of the day was spent getting ready for the big party scheduled for the evening.
About 20 people celebrated the happy event, including family, friends and one dog. Lots of great food, great drinks and great conversations. At midnight Sandra and some of her friends left for a night on the town in Copenhagen in a white limousine, hired by her parents, to really celebrate in style. We collapsed in bed, exhausted.
More on the trip tomorrow.