Monday, June 29, 2009

Air balloon over Stockholm

Even though I've seen these air balloons over Stockholm for years and years, I have never actually been in one myself. It should be the perfect way to see Stockholm, slowly and quietly (well, almost at least) floating over Stockholm. One of these summers I really have to do it - imagine the beautiful pictures...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On another island

After four weeks on one island in the archipelago - I've moved south to another island for my last week in Stockholm my inlaws' beautiful restored summer house - now used for all-year living. My Daughter think that Sweden is a fairytale land with all the different colors on the houses. "Look, mom, a blue house!!".

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Old memories

This toy stroller is 30-something years old... It's mine and for the past decades it's spent time in an attic in Stockholm, waiting to be dusted off and played with again. Now it lives on the summer island and my Daughter claims it as hers. I'm so glad I've held on to it all this time - it warms my heart every summer to see her play with it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Swedish Waffles

Swedish waffles, made outdoors on the patio with Swedish fresh strawberries and whipped cream.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Home sick

After four weeks in Sweden, we're all starting to get home sick. The kids miss their dad, their friends and own rooms. I miss staying in my own house, with my own car, my own laundry machine, a full set of clothes - and having my husband as my parenting partner.

When other Swedish aliens return to Sweden for vacation that's usually what they have - vacation. I'm working and juggling some kind of an everyday life and it's pretty intense and stressful most of the time. I rarely have time to just sit and relax and enjoy being in Sweden. During my summer stays I rarely see my friends - that has to wait until I'm here on my own and stay down town and don't have bedtime and food times to keep.

I'm trying to fit everything into the schedule and at times I feel more like an stressed event planner during my weeks here. Friends and family get upset when I don't spend enough time, or call or participate in things - while I'm busy trying to get kids on and off an island and then back in bed in decent bedtime - despite the darn midnight sun. And even though I tried to get the major plan for our stay set in March this year - it still didn't work out as planned.

It would be nice to experience what it is like to just come here and have time off - and slowly decided what to do and take every day as it come... Now I wake up each morning, grabbing my calendar and half awake trying to check what is up for the day and what time we need to get off the island.

Today I decided to cancel all plans, stay on the island, catch up with things and close my mind on that it might upset some...

The Volvo Ocean Race boats on Saltsjön outside Gamla Stan on Monday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Skansen & Gröna Lund

When you have kids in Stockholm, visiting Skansen (open door museum and animal park) and Gröna Lund (tivoli) is a must. Since we live on an island - all adventures are pretty advance - you need to get off and on the island, get downtown etc. Alone with two kids - a day at Skansen and a day at Gröna Lund is pretty much all you need to get totally exhausted...

We've been lucky with the great weather that finally arrived - and that sure makes things easier. And it feels like it's been all worth it when the kids are excited about seals, ducks, moose, bears and owls... To them they are rare animals. And it is great to hear the hysterical laughter from the kids at Nyckelpigan - the same little roller coaster I rode when I was a kid...

Found a YouTube video from Vilda Musen from Gröna Lund (which is beautifully located in the heart of Stockholm):

Monday, June 22, 2009

Black fleece blanket

If you don't live in Sweden, the bright summer nights are a major change. The kids are confused and keep waking up long before decent wake up hours and don't really believe you when you state that yes, it's actually way way past bedtime at night.

Finally, when I found a black fleeceblanket and could cover the window completely (and it already had a pretty dark curtain) things started to change and I got a chance to sleep longer. At least past 6 am.

One thing I really look forward coming back home to California is the dark nights...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

When you get unexpected visitors...

... or as we would say in Swedish "När du får oväntad besök", referring to an old commercial campaign for coffee...

This is what landed on the water this afternoon when we were sitting in the hammock watching the hundreds of boats passing by going inland after the Midsummer weekend. I hope our neighbors had their coffee ready...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Midsummer Eve

There is something about Midsummer Eve - there is magic in the air. No matter the weather. But it's easier to feel the magic if it's not pouring rain... I've always loved this day - it's one of my favorite holidays of the year and the years when I haven't been able to make it back to Sweden and have been trying to improvise celebrating on a regular Friday in a hot California - I've been pretty homesick. So even though it's nice with a sunny Midsummer - in the end - it doesn't really matter to me - it's just great to be here, in Sweden, for this special day.

We had set our expectations low in terms of weather, polishing our rain gear and planning to make flower garlands with wet flowers and leaves.

But we got lucky - the sky actually opened up and we saw blue skies. We even could wear short sleaves which is a first in weeks. We could have the traditional Midsummer lunch outside as well as our dinner. We only had a few hours midday without the sun in sight. At 3 pm, when it was time to head to the common on the island and dance around the Midsummer Pole it started raining - but with an island full of Scandinavian Vikings you wouldn't even know it rained - the little frog dance and the rocket exit was done with force and power - despite the pouring rain.

But we could dry up on the porch, eating the mandatory strawberry cake. We picked our seven flowers before going to bed and when the day was over - it sure had been a pretty nice and traditional Midsummer.

Swedish summer clouds. I bet I'll miss them later this summer
when there will be no clouds in sight in Northern California.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A view from the window

Midsummer - the most important weekend of the summer in Sweden. Midsummer Eve is always on the Friday the week of the solstice. And the most important question is "what will the weather be like?". Not to break a habit - it's going to rain. I'm happy that I know that I will have months and months of pure sunshine and heat when I get back to California. Living out of your rain clothes gets a bit easier then. And no, we won't be wearing our summer dresses when we dance around the Midsummer pole tomorrow afternoon. But we will be wearing flowers in our hair, picking seven flowers to put under the pillow and eat strawberry cake.

This is the view from the kitchen window on the island. Normally you can see across the water to the other island - but with the pouring rain this afternoon, it was mostly a shadow in the rain.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Volvo Ocean Race arrives in Stockholm

No one in Stockholm have missed the arrival of the Volvo Ocean Race boats this week. The north bound lanes of Skeppsbron have been closed off, creating a massive traffic jam in the whole city. But today - they finally arrived, followed by hundreds of boats. It was quite an impressive sight - and I happened to have a pretty good spot to watch them arrive.

They choose a good day - the sky was, at least for a couple of hours, more blue than grey and they actually had some wind.

The two first pictures are my own, the last picture is from the official Volvo Ocean Race image gallery - to give you an idea that this is actually in the middle of Stockholm. See more beautiful pictures from Stockholm and the Stockholm archipelago here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boat trip

My office had arranged a "end of the summer" trip this week.

By boat...

Out to the archipelago...

Seems I've spend enough time out there lately. Well, it was kind of nice to actually go under the bridges I usually go over - and see the houses I see from above from water level. The Stockholm archipelago sure is fantastic! And we actually got to see some blue skies - even if it still was kind of chilly.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The coldest June in history

So far, June in Sweden has officially been the coldest in history. We've had days with +5C. Not kidding. At least it hasn't been snowing. It's been raining instead.

The only good thing is that you can light cozy fires. If you can find dry wood. I love the smell and sound and sight of a fire - you can sit for hours just relaxing. And it tunes out the sound of the pouring rain.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What to do when it rains?

I don't think my mom has been baking as much as she has the last week than she has in years... When the rain is pouring outside - you need to come up with indoor activities. The freezer is now loaded for months...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


When I'm not commuting to work from the island like I usually do in the summer time, I commute with bus line 3 to Old Town. Probably one of the best commutes in the world.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

June "night"

I only had my small Canon PowerShot camera available, - but you might get the idea. This picture was taken a couple of days ago at 11 pm, on a rare clear night. 

I'm standing on the front porch of the summer house in the archipelago. It's about as dark as it gets, especially when the moon is up. You better have good shades when you are used to dark nights - especially if you want to stay sleeping when the sun is up at 3 am. 

Monday, June 08, 2009

Our ride

Since I hang out on an island I have to be picked up by boat to get to the house. I usually wait on this dock for my ride. 

Here it comes! It's the small boat,.. Not the big one, unfortunately. 

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Heading downtown and meeting aliens

I took the kids to Djurgården and Rosendals Trädgårdar today. I was meeting up with dear online friends that I have been hanging out with in cyberspace for the past six years, sharing joys and sorrows and laughs and cries. They are all Swedish aliens from different part of the world and we have "clicked" online. The kids hung out in the park while the grown-ups tried to talk and catch up live what was going on in different parts of the world. What a fantastic network this is - my life would be so much more boring without these dear friends! 

My kids were not as impressed - at least not as impressed by getting to go on the Djurgårdsfärja and ride the red SL busses... 

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Happy Swedish National Day

I have no real relationship to the Swedish National Day, June 6. No real traditions or "musts". I wouldn't mind having them - after all - I am a Swedish alien and I love to observe all Swedish holidays. 

Today was the first day back on the island after a pretty hectic week in Stockholm, and I just didn't have the energy to get off the island again. So, we raised the flag and enjoyed a nice (but still pretty cold) day in the archipelago. At night we lit a fire and watched the live shows from downtown Stockholm. 

Next year I'll plan a bit better and make sure there is energy left to go downtown to celebrate in some way - find a new tradition and a little "must". 

Happy Swedish National Day! 

Friday, June 05, 2009

An amazing place by the sea

Furillen is an island on the north east side of Gotland, about an hour drive from Visby. It's a very special place, in terms of nature - and accomodations. An old lime stone quarry has been transformed to a real nice place to stay. A great place to think and enjoy the special nature. Too bad the temperatures had dropped pretty low (+5-7C) and the cold winds from the Baltic Sea didn't help. It was freezing cold.

But it still was an amazing place...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


I spent the mid-week at Gotland for a work conference. I haven't been in a couple of years - always nice to visit this island in the Baltic Sea. It's about a 45 minute flight and you arrive in Visby, the main town- a real medieval and beautful place. We did a quick tour around the town before heading out to Furillen. Gotland is a real summer island - a pretty nice place to spend your vacation. Unfortunately the nice summer weather that greeted us when we arrived was replaced by really cold and windy weather - it was freezing cold... 

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A good jetlag year!

This year was a way better jetlag year than last year. The Daughter amazed me by staying up for nearly 36 hours (she only slept about 3,5 hours on the plane) and went to bed normal bedtime Swedish time the first day and then slept for 12 hours straight. She didn't even get jetlag. The son took longer - but not like last year when I spent the first few nights wide awake and it took almost seven nights to reach decent night sleep. 

I would say that now after three nights - he is on track. Now it's only me... When I travel with the kids - I'm the last one to turn the day and night around. But - it's been a good year! Let the summer holiday begin!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Strawberry cake

Another good reward with going to Sweden in summer is homemade Swedish strawberry cake...