Around the World a Bit at a Time

Travels: Past, Present and Future

Archive for April, 2007

Plopp and Guf

Posted by Leanne on April 11, 2007

I brought a little something home from Sweden:

Plopp and Guf

Plopp and Guf


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Homeward Bound

Posted by Leanne on April 10, 2007

One of the nicest feelings in the world is waking up the day after a head crushing hangover and realising that you feel completely human again. That was how I started my last day in Sweden.

I had a few spare hours to kill when I got back to Stockholm, but by this point I had that end of holiday feeling, where you don’t really want to do anything except go home, so I half heartedly wandered around streets that I had already seen and turned up at the airport an extra hour early instead of doing any proper tourism.

I spent that extra hour wondering what it was that possessed me to book flights from Heathrow, rather than an airport more ‘local’ to York. I’m sure there must have been a fantastic reason at the time, but today, I couldn’t for the life of me work out what it was. Maybe it was so I could get this shot of the London Eye? 

The London Eye

The London Eye

You will be pleased to know, that I can now pronounce Örebro. If you’re not atoned to the Swedish Language like what I am, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s pronounced urdy- blurr, when really, its pronounced [œrә’bru]. 

If you can’t read phonetic transcription, then you probably didn’t have the threat of a larger than life Geordie man pointing at you suddenly and demanding that you give him a voiced bilabial plosive between two vowels* in your first few weeks of university- that certainly ‘encourages’ you to learn it. For all the non-linguists out there, you should be able to listen to it here.

*to which you would reply ‘a-ba’ – or maybe ABBA if you’re Swedish

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Posted by Leanne on April 9, 2007

The intention, on my last full day in Sweden, was to go out and take pictures in the daylight of the snow which fell whilst we were singing Swedish drinking songs and playing English ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire’ last night.

In the early hours of this morning we walked Marie (Susanna’s friend) home and I did manage to get a few snow filled pics:



At 3am Susanna and Marie were convinced that this ‘tourist’ snow would be gone by the time we woke up the next day.

They were wrong- which might make you query the lack of daytime snow pictures here….

The problem was that, when I looked out the window into the stark, white scenery outside, it hurt my eyes. We were all feeling the after effects of a cocktail of all sorts of weird and wonderful alcoholic drinks from the previous night, so rather than braving the world outside, we sat around eating leftovers, drinking påskmust (an Easter drink which looks a bit like it should taste like dandelion and burdock, but doesn’t) and watched 24 episodes of Friends.

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Glad Påsk*

Posted by Leanne on April 8, 2007

It was a lovely sunshiney day as we walked along the river in Örebro, past the castle and into Wadköping- the old town- a group of quaint wooden houses whithin which are a combinaton of gift shops and museum-like exhibits showing how the Swedish people used to live. We walked further along until we came to lake Hjälmaren. I’m told that in the winter the lake is crowded with ice skaters, but today, the bright blue water shone fluidly through the reeds and rushes, accomodating the ducks and geese which had recently arrived back for the spring after spending the winter down south somewhere. 

Goose Landing, Örebro

Goose Landing, Örebro

We had a sit down before trying to learn how to fly. I wasn’t very good at it, and there was a bit of a crash landing when trying the superman method (horizontal to the ground, arms straight out in front of head), involving a scraped knee, and me landing very close to the edge of the frigid water. It was at this point we decided it was time to start heading back. 



In the evening, we pretended it was Easter Saturday and had a traditional Swedish Easter Saturday meal.  In Sweden, Easter isn’t the Christian festival we celebrate in the UK, instead it involves stories about witches flying to Blåkulla on their broomsticks to visit the devil. Swedish houses are decorated with a kind of ‘easter tree’ (sticks with feathers attached) and children dress as witches and visit their neighbours hoping to receive Easter treats in exchange for decorated pussy willows (a bit like trick-or-treating).

The traditional Päsk menu is a smörgåsbord of meatballs, sausages, eggs, potatoes and salad. And sill (pickled herring) which is a bit like sprouts at christmas, in that everyone has to try some but it’s rare to actually like it- especially if, like me, you don’t like the taste of fish.

There was also Swedish drinking songs accompanied by Swedish Schnapps.

In amongst all this I managed to learn 3 more Swedish words to add to my collection (consisting of: hej- hi, tack- thank you and sill – yucky fishy stuff) and say them in a near perfect Swedish accent:

  • Skal- Cheers!
  • Förlåt- Excuse me (for bumping into you)
  • Ursäkta?- Excuse me (can I have your attention please?)

*Happy Easter

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Välkommen til Örebro

Posted by Leanne on April 7, 2007

For our final half day in Stockholm, we headed to the Royal Palace to see the changing of the guard before setting off on a short boat trip around the islands. We saw the following celebrities:

1) Pekka Heino
2) Johan Rheborg

In addition to those two fine specimens we almost* saw Prince Carl Philip and his girlfriend Emma Pernald.  The celebrities weren’t part of the boat trip- they were just a bonus.

Following that, there was just enough time for a quick nose around the Royal Appartments in the palace before we caught the train to Örebro. 

Me in Front of the Royal Palace, Stockholm

Me in Front of the Royal Palace, Stockholm

“Ooh look at that big black cloud” Susanna commented, as we stepped onto Örebro soil.

“Maybe its going to snow” I said in a hopeful tourist-in-Sweden way. At that precise moment, a few snowflakes fell from the sky- perfect!. That’s what kind of country Sweden is- it strives to impress the tourists by any means necessary.

Back at Susanna’s, I talked her into (not that she needed much persuasion) checking out the British Eurovision entry for this year- purely because when I first saw it on Graham Norton a few weeks ago, I thought it was a joke. (It’s worth watching all the way through just once, just to make sure you catch all the innuendo loaded lines from the camp bloke)

To be fair, it probably is a joke, it’s certainly the British way to mock such an occasion. I reciprocated by viewing the Swedish entry. Apparently they take it really seriously in Sweden and their version of ‘A Song for Europe’ was a TV series on the scale of X-factor. WHY?!

A few days of tourism wiped us out, so we spent the rest of the evening watching the latest episode of Lost (if you’re a boy, or a girl who likes watching other girls fight in wet T-shirts, then roll around in mud,and you haven’t seen season 3, episode 15 “Left Behind”, you probably should).

*’Almost’ because it was just a couple of people who looked a bit like them like them (apparently)

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Towers and Shipwrecks

Posted by Leanne on April 6, 2007

I arrived at the train station to meet Susanna a bit early this morning, so I entertained myself by pretending to read the Swedish version of the Metro and wondering how on earth all of these weird and wonderful words were pronounced. 

Swedish Metro Newspaper

Swedish Metro Newspaper

When Susanna arrived, she sorted us out with a couple of Stockholm cards which proved to me that she actually is a Swede who just happens to speak English with a very English accent and it wasn’t, as I had previously suspected, all an elaborate ruse to make herself sound more interesting. At the very least she appeared to be able to speak Swedish anyway!

I’d gone to the trouble of speaking to a few people at the hostel last night and found out that we should definitely visit the Vasamuseet and the Kaknästornet. So we did.

The Vasa Museum is all about a 17th century ship which sank in 1628. Then some people found it and dug it up from the bottom of whichever sea it sank in and put it in a museum, which is apparently much harder to do than
I just made it sound. For a ship that spent about 300 years underwater, it’s amazingly well preserved and well worth a look:

Vasa Museum, Stockholm

Vasa Museum, Stockholm

After a short break, we walked to the Kaknästornet- a telecommunications tower which makes a little bit of money on the side by letting tourists ride a lift to the top and enjoy spectacular views of Stockholm.

Stockholm is made out of a collection of islands which are connected by bridges. I know this because my map tells me that this is the case, but its not really apparent from walking around the city: each island is in such close proximity to the next, that it feels no different to crossing a river. Looking out from the top of Kaknästornet makes it much more apparent that it really is a group of islands, and it’s not just something they tell tourists to make the city sound more interesting.


Beer from the top of Kaknästornet

Beer from the top of Kaknästornet

Its also a very nice spot to have a rest and a sip of Swedish beer after walking all the way there.

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Välkommen Til Svierge*

Posted by Leanne on April 5, 2007

My first impression of Sweden came, as first impressions do, from the moment I stepped off the plane into the airport. In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Heathrow, Stockholm Arlanda is the quietest airport I’ve ever been in. I could hear each footstep, and the sound of a suitcase trundling along the wooden floor, but that was it.

Stepping off the train into the city, I noticed as I always seem to in new countries, how wide the streets are which in turn reminded me just how many people we cram into that small country I call home. I was delighted to find that Stockholm is easy to navigate, and didn’t get lost even once on my way to the hostel.

It was strange being back in a hostel environment, especially in one where you have to take your shoes off at the door. Nevertheless, as I sat in amongst the travellers, I began to get that longing: I wanted to be a traveller again. Sitting around listening to the people around me speaking in French, German, Italian, Swedish and English in accents of the Scottish, Canadian, Australian and err English variety embraced exactly what I love about hostels- they bring so many people from so many different cultures together. I felt sad that I wasn’t really one of them. For one night, I was just pretending to be travelling, when in reality, tomorrow I would be staying in a hotel and not really worrying about how much money I was spending.

After checking in, took a short walk into Gamla Stan (the old town) as the sun was setting, just to take in my new surroundings and get my lungs accustomed to the cold crisp air. Already, I liked this place and started to look forward to whatever else the weekend had in store for me. 


Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan

Aims for the rest of the weekend:

  • Find Susanna
  • Be tourists in Stockholm
  • Go to Örebro
  • Learn how to pronounce Örebro properly


*Welcome to Swedenland

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