Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sweden 2010--Day 1/2-Sat & Sun-June 19th & 20th



Today we had a flight out of O'Hara at 4:20.   The customs and security lines were brutally long and Sagezilla seems to be coming down with something.   She puked 4 times before we even reached Sweden--luckily none were in a moving vehicle--van, plane, shuttle or car.   


What a great kid!   She puked in airport bathrooms in 3 different countries on 2 continents, and a Swedish roadside pit toilet that looked like a cottage out of a fairy tale and smelled like something much more sinister.   But she made it every time!


KLM was comfortable and the kids enjoyed watching The Simpsons on the plane TV.   Our meals were pretty tasty and they actually fed us, which is far from a given on most stateside flights these days.   We lost 7 hours, so the kids were the only ones who caught a few hours of sleep.   


We had a 3 hour layover in Amsterdam, at Schiphol Airport, from 11:30-2:30 am our time, which around 6:30 over here.   So we got the kids some good Dutch chocolate and we got some good Dutch lattes.   And it was all good.   Then we did the customs/security dance once again and settled in for a quick 2 hour jaunt to Sweden.  


Our close friend (my childhood "penpal" and later exchange student/Swedish sister for senior year in high school) met us at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm.   The kids were elated to trade in some of their own money for Swedish Kroner and catch our luggage as it circled.   We filled our water bottles and were happy to bid farewell to airports for another two weeks.


Then we were off to retrieve a rental van and follow Tina to her Mom's home in Uppsala, where we relaxed and ate a wonderful Swedish meal.   By then we were all exhausted, so my parents settled in at Charlotte hotel for the night. 


Tina loaned her apartment to our immediate family, and my sis, Maia, stayed with Tina at her Mom's place.   
It's so wonderful to know people in a country instead of visiting as a complete tourist.   We were amused to travel so far around the world and see she has the same shower curtain we do!  Small world.




When we told our Chicago friend, Paula, we were coming to Sweden, she remarked, "Lucky you!   You get to see how a sane society lives!"   So far, they're decades ahead of the US in the eco-friendly realm.   

All businesses and residences have low flow toilets with flexible water supplies, depending on what's goin' down.   Washers and dryers are small and sometimes combined into one unit.   And people and businesses are expected to recyle and compost.   Of course we do it in Chicago, but it's the norm here, so integrated into society it's everywhere and easy to do effectively.



Of course, the kids napped in the van and got a second wind when we got to Tina's.   




They both ate a huge number of Swedish pancakes with lingonberries and 3 pieces of cinnamon toast each, and were bouncing off the walls as Dug hit the bed sound asleep.
I split the difference, staying up long enough to feed them and get them in PJs. Then I left them with Swedish children's stories and their travel packs of art supplies and instructions to play quietly and go to bed soon.   Then I, too, was down for the count.
Overall, the trip and time adjustment was pretty painless.   We're excited to be here and looking forward to many adventures in the coming days.


What I learned:  My sister and I both brought the same Steig Larsson novels to read on the plane The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo .   And our host Tina had his books on her shelf, too.   But I discovered, much to my amusement, that in Sweden the title of same best seller is Män som hatar kvinnor – "Men Who Hate Women".    What uptight American publisher wouldn't let that one get translated correctly?   Amazing how censored we are without ever even knowing it!   


I'm especially looking forward to reading his trilogy, since they're set in many of the same places we'll be traveling, beginning with the Siljan Lake Region where we're headed tomorrow.

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