en koppargruva och en dag vid sjön i Dalarna

We all got up pretty early Friday morning (after a long night pub crawling) and met at 25 Studentvägen at 09:00 to get on the bus for Dalarna.  I was super excited for this Friday trip because I’ve always wanted a real Dala horse and I knew we’d have some time to explore in the afternoon after we’d finished with all the planned things on our schedule.  On the way, we saw this HUGE Dalahäst!

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The trip took about two and a half hours and we arrived at the Falu Gruva copper mine in Falun at about 11:30.  Its a World Heritage site and we were lucky enough to have a tour scheduled!  I chose the English tour guide. I’m relatively sure that I can understand enough now to have gone on the Swedish tour, but I was really interested in the mine and wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss any cool information.  I also know that if I had gone on the Swedish tour, I would have spent the whole time focusing on understanding the Swedish instead of enjoying the mine.

Here’s it is from the outside:

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We had to put on rain capes and hard hats for our tour just to protect ourselves from the wet and muddy conditions inside the mine, as well as to protect our heads from the low tunnel ceilings.  We looked pretty awesome ;)

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The elevator was out of order so we got to take the stairs all the way down in to the mine (and back out again!).  I was actually grateful that we got to walk because I’ve heard the elevator ride is a longgggg way down…

We knocked three times on the entrance to the mine before we went in to please the mine’s “ghost” that haunts the tunnels.  Then.. off we went!

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There were some really cool things to see all around us and throughout the entire mine.  The old mining tunnels and tracks were eerie but spectacular!  Our tour guide kept stressing the fact that every single hole, tunnel, and cavern was made by thousands of men.  None of it is naturally occurring at all.

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We arrived at a light part of the mine which was an opening outside to the top of the mine. There was a bell dinging that we could here from this spot which meant that the water pumps were working to keep the mine from flooding.  If you didn’t hear the bell, it meant that someone had to act pretty fast to fix the problem.  It was also how the men transported ore and copper in and out of the mines using a bucket and pulley system. So cool!

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We went deeper and deeper in the mine, up and down stairs and muddy tunnels.

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Here is one of the terrifying ladders that the men would climb up once or twice a day.  They’d need both hands to hold on to this rickety contraption, so they’d hold their torches between their teeth.  It is said that you could tell someone was a miner if they had no eyebrows or eyelashes because they’d been burnt off this way ;)

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We arrived at a huge cavern that was lit with an eerie blue light.  The cavern walls had caved in a time or two, so in the 18th century the miners decided to fortify the ceiling with a wooden structure.  There is a particular quality to the air in the mine that preserves wood (and bodies, actually) so it’s survived in good condition even to this day.  There are even older wooden braces dating back to the 16th century in the mine as well.  We were at our deepest point in the mine in this room: 67 meters below ground.

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Leaving this cavern, we came to the “wall of fame” inside the mine.  Lots of celebrities and royalty have visited the mine over the years and were allowed to sign their names on the rock.  At the top you can see the signature of Carl Gustav who is the current King of Sweden, and underneath him is Victoria’s signature- the Crown Princess.

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We made our ascent and I managed to make it through the entire mine without falling, slipping, or getting my shoes muddy!Image

There was a little museum outside the entrance to the mine as well as a small cafe.  We went to grab a sandwich and I chose one that had salami, brie cheese, cucumber and bell pepper on soft ciabatta bread.  It was delicious!

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The next stop of the day was about 30 minutes away from the copper mine.  We visited the home of Carl Larsson, a famous Swedish artist and painter, who lived on a spectacular piece of land right beside a lake.  We got to take a tour of the home and see where he, his wife, and his 8 children lived and played.  Lots of Larsson’s paintings were done of his children and his home, so it was interesting to see the setting in person and compare it to his art.

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The gardens were beautiful and it couldn’t have been a more perfect day to relax and lay by the lake.

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We went to an antique shop close by the gardens and I finally found a real Dalahäst that was whittled and painted in a nearby town in Dalarna called Mora.  He’s so cute!

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We also met this precious cat outside the antique shop who wanted to snuggle and sit in our laps.  Too bad we couldn’t take him home with us!  He tried to follow us when we left for a fika… I’m sure he wanted some too :)

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All in all a beautiful day in Dalarna.  Don’t worry– I remembered to get a jumping picture ;)

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foton, godis, och en spektakulär pubrunda!

Saturday:

After a marathon of a day on midsommar’s eve, I slept in and ignored my alarm (apparently resetting it six times in my sleep) until 11:55.  i woke up to a facebook message detailing plans to go see “Rojar Ralf” (Wreck-It Ralph) in Swedish at the Filmstaden in Uppsala since nothing else was open on Midsommar’s Day.  I dressed, brushed my teeth, and rushed downstairs to meet up with everyone by 12:10 and we were at the theatre in time for the film at 12:30. Since it was a Pixar animation, the whole movie was dubbed in Swedish and there were no subtitles, so I was a little disappointed that I didn’t pick up as many words or jokes in Swedish as I would have liked to.  But, it was a good experience to figure out the dialogue and be exposed to a whole film completely in Swedish and the plot was easy enough to follow based on the context.

We were all super tired after the movie and went to MAX to find something to eat since everything else (including all the groceries) was closed.  I had a surprisingly spicy chicken salad and managed to do the entire transaction in Swedish! :)  After lunch, we stopped at the Godis (candy) store.  I’ve been longing to go ever since I arrived in Sweden and we found an excellent shop lined with bins and bins of candy!

ImageI stayed far, far away from any sort of sour candy and there were tons of options if you liked the salmiakki types (sour/salty licorice flavor made with ammonium chloride, YUCK).  I got a bunch of different kinds to try including anything that had a marshmallow center and a bunch of gummy things.  I think my favorite kind was a chocolate coated marshmallow that looked like a bear. AND of course I had to get some of my favorite hallongelés and marshmallow svampar! Yum!  Here’s a look at what was left in my bag after the walk home…

ImageI spent the rest of the day figuring out the (slightly terrifying) laundry machines located in this cave of a basement at the bottom of my building.  You have to electronically sign up for a time to wash using your key chip and then you get a two hour window in which to wash.  It was quite an ordeal but at least I can say I have increased my Swedish laundry vocabulary after trying to decipher those machines!

Sunday:

Sunday was a slow day full of homework and grocery shopping.  I got up late again, wrote a paper in Swedish detailing my Midsommar activities, and met up with a friend to make a trek to the large ICA that was open in the middle of town– a 25ish minute walk from where we live on Studentvägen.

We decided to get together to make dinner that night so we shopped around for ingredients for the week as well as something yummy for dinner.  I bought some halloumi (MY FAVORITE) and tomatoes to grill that evening. Everyone came over to my place around 18:00 and we all started cooking.  James was making ramen and added a raw egg to the broth while it cooked until it resembled a sort of egg-drop/poached egg noodle dish– and it was DELICIOUS.  I pulled up a few episodes of Summer Heights High and we had dinner while we watched.

After dinner we broke in my new Kubb set I’d purchased for 99kr at the ICA in town.  It was a pretty inexpensive set, so we weren’t too surprised when we played a few games and noticed that the pins were drastically different weights.  One turn you’d throw a pin and it would fly way out of bounds because it was so light, and the next one you’d try to compensate and throw it softer but it would land just a few meters in front of you because it weighed twice as much as the last one.  I actually think that the cheap quality of the set just adds another level of difficulty ;)

Monday:

It was back to class as usual on Monday.  Our afternoon course went on a visit to a preschool in Uppsala to ask the director lots of questions about how the operate and what their priorities are in terms of education for the little children.  The school was adorable and the director was very nice and happy to answer our questions and give us a tour.  In Sweden, each municipality is responsible for providing daycare and preschools for children in their community.  It was really cool to see the welfare programs in action at this preschool and I was very impressed with the resources that the school was given by the government to make it a really great place for the kids to explore and learn.

ImageAfter class, we hit the shops.  All the stores around town were beginning their huge summer sales, so at 4:15 a bunch of friends and I went store to store marveling at the (sometimes weird) Scandinavian styles and trying on clothes for ourselves.  I found a nice pair of jeans, a dress from H&M, and a new pair of shoes– so I would consider the shopping trip a great success :)

Monday night was also my first time in a real Scandinavian Bastu (sauna).  I would talk more about it but I felt like I was going to die the entire time I was in that hot box of a room ;)  Let’s just say that it was fun to try once, and I can now check it off my list, but I won’t be eager to try it again any time soon ;)

Tuesday:

It was a spectacular day weather-wise on Tuesday and we wanted to be outside as much as possible.  I remembered to get a picture of Hamnpaviljongen where I eat lunch every other day… look at this setting!

ImageWe had a delicious lunch and found out that they have a fika station set up inside for guests to enjoy after their meal.  I was super excited and got a cup of coffee and a few different cookies to try out. Mmmmm!

ImageAfter class, some students had organized a grillfest outside of my building to further enjoy the beautiful weather.  I brought down a few more princekorv and they grilled chicken, kebab, and bratwurst as well.  My favorite part was roasting marshmallows and giving them to my Swiss and Dutch friends who had never had one before :)

ImageLiana’s brother was in town from the US to visit and we decided to go upstairs to my kitchen to play Kings.  Sara is from Finland and had never played Kings before, so we taught her our custom set of rules and had a fantastic time drinking wine and completing all the silly tasks.  My favorite rule was one called “Viking Master”: whoever draws a Jack is the viking master and whenever they make viking horns with their hands, everyone else has to immediately start rowing an invisible oar.  We amended this rule later to mandate that everyone row backwards and yell “RETREAT!” as they did so.  I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed harder than I did that night because I was the Viking Master for almost the entire game;)

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Wednesday:

Wednesday was mostly uneventful, except for one hilarious (and very embarrassing) thing that happened in class.  Austen and I were working on an assignment and had to draw our “dream apartment”.  We made this extravagant place in Gamla Stan overlooking the water, added a bastu and a “bubbelpool” (aka jacuzzi), and were drawing the kitchen floorplan when we didn’t know the vocabulary word for “kitchen countertops” in Swedish.  I took out my phone and translated “counters” on google translate and came up with the word “motverka”.  Well… turns out that isn’t really the correct word for countertops.  Our teacher came over to see our apartment and was confused when he saw the label for countertops.  I looked it up again and here’s what “motverka” means:

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Thursday:

It was picture day on Thursday and we were let out of the morning class slightly early to go up to Uppsala Uni and take photos of each class and a giant group shot as well.  I convinced my class to take a jumping picture ;)

 

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And here’s the whole group trying to do an ABBA pose :)

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Thursday night was our first PUB RUN! We went to seven different Nations and stayed for about 45 minutes at each one.  It was an amazing night, beautiful weather, and a lot of fun :)  First, a view of Upplands Nation from the rooftop terrace at Västmanlands-Dala (V-Dala) Nation:

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Next, the backyard at Gästrike-Hälsinge (GH) Nation (and all of the people who live in my building on Studentvägen are members of this one!):

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And lastly, the beautiful Västgöta (VG) Nation from the outside:

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It was a really great tour of all the nations around Uppsala and there are 13 in total opened during the school term.  Seeing the student culture and getting to be a part of this beautiful city makes me more and more sure that I will be looking to do my Masters work here in Sweden!

Stay tuned for a post tomorrow about my incredible Friday trip to Dalarna!

glad midsommar, allihopa!

Friday was Midsommarafton, or Midsummer’s Eve, in Sweden.  This is a huge holiday for Swedes and for many Scandinavians because its the longest day of the year. After surviving 5 or 6 months of winter, the Swedes are more than ready for sunshine, hot weather, and lots of light.  It is traditional to celebrate the whole Midsommarafton and sleep the next day when the shops are closed and the streets are deserted as everyone recovers from their hangovers!

We had a big day planned.  I woke up around 09:00 to get ready for the day and put on a bright yellow dress in honor of Sweden’s national colors ;)  We were heading to Hammarskog, an area right outside of Uppsala with lots of fields and a great big lake, to celebrate all day long. Some friends and I decided to take a picnic so I went to the kitchen to make sandwiches.  I packed a nice little spread: a few ham and cheese sandwiches, carrots, chips, saft, and some pear Somersby to enjoy on the picnic blanket.  I didn’t forget the snaps– I packed some of my brännvin from Nyköping to sip as well ;)

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We all met at the bus at 11:00 to head to Hammarskog and arrived about 30 minutes later.  It was a beautifully perfect day to be outside and celebrating in the fresh air!  The midsommarstång (midsummer’s pole) had already been raised and was decorated in lots of green plants.  There were men and women dressed in traditional Swedish clothing dancing around it while a charming lot of musicians played along!

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We found a place to picnic and laid out the makeshift blanket (aka my bedsheet). As it was afternoon already, we enjoyed our lunch in the sun with a spectacular view in front of us. After a quick bite, Sara and I went off to pick flowers for our midsommarkrans (midsummer’s crown).  We got lots of little white flowers and green grasses and stems to twist together and added other flowers at the end.  They were beautiful!  The tradition is to pick seven different kinds of flowers and bring them home to put under your pillow on Midsommarafton.  If you have picked the right seven, you will dream about your future husband!  I was lucky to have dreamt about Alexander Skarsgård that night ;)

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James decided to make his own kind of crown…

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The light was beautiful so we went off to take pictures in the field.  I was using David’s camera which was super nice, so we were able to get some great shots!

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And of course there had to be some jumping pictures!!

kara jump midsommar

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When photo time was over, it was time to dance around the Midsommarstång!  We had learned the dances and songs the night before so we (kind of) knew what we were doing :)  There were tons of adorable little kids hopping all around and enjoying themselves immensely!  David was able to catch a video of my favorite dance, “Små Grodorna”, as we all danced around.  I’m trying to figure out how to share it with all of you… stay tuned!  For now, here are the UISS assistants in their traditional outfits doing the dance to Små Grodorna and making the little frog ears :)

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We were hot and tired after dancing, so I got an ice cream (Daim!) and we sat in the grass and relaxed.  We’d brought two sets of Kubb and set them up in the grass, so all of us decided to play a round or two.  These little Swedish children wanted to join in and insisted on playing “barn kontra vuxen”, or kids vs. adults– so we had a blast!  We had to be very careful not to hit them when we cast our sticks!

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The bus left Hammarskog around 16:30 and we arrived back at our flats around 17:00.  We all rushed to cook and prepare foods for the potluck dinner at school at 18:30.  I made macaroni and cheese which was stone cold by the time we all got to eat, so it wasn’t super tasty.  But there were many other good things to eat, including traditional Midsommar foods like sill, potatoes, lax, and strawberries.  I even tried Kalles Kaviar and it was FOUL.  But I can check it off of my Swedish bucket list!  We ate and sang snapsvisar (drinking songs) which was so much fun!  I kept the lyrics sheet so I can bring them home and sing them in American bars ;)

After the dinner we were all invited out to Norrlands Nation for another drink.  It was a great end to a long day and we relaxed and chatted over Falcon and Somersbys.

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I already know that Midsommarafton will be one of the best memories I’ll have of Sweden, but it was also one of the most fun and wonderful days I can remember in my entire life!  I hope I have many more days like this in the future :)

 

 

äntligen i Sverige och jag älskar varje minut!

Wow. So much has happened over the last five days that I hardly know where to begin!  Forgive me for compressing it all in to this one post, but I have a lot to say and not a whole lot of free time to write!

On Sunday morning, Alec got up and took me to Oslo S to catch the airport express train. I was on the bus by 9:05 and got to the airport swiftly, checked in at the automated machines, dropped my checked bag at the counter and went through security without a hitch.  I found my gate easily and boarded by 10:30.  Since this is a very common flight and it only takes an hour, the plane was nearly empty and I could hardly see the closest person sitting near me.  I suppose having a little peace and quiet on the plane was good karma from the last flight ;)

Once we landed, I changed some dollars to kronor, picked up my bag from the carousel and headed to the train underneath the airport.

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It was a cool 19 minutes from Arlanda to Uppsala, so I got to relax for a few minutes and take in the beautiful Swedish countryside! On the way I spotted the huge IKEA… I might have to take a trip out there one of these weekends :)

I walked a short way from the Central Station to Vuxenskolan where we have class every day.  It was about 400 meters and three (large) flights of stairs.  Once I got inside, I met a few other students who arrived around the same time I did.  We waited to meet with the program director, Nelleke, who gave us a little introduction and the key to our flats.  It was a good 25 minute walk from school to Studentvägen, so Axel (one of the assistants) drove a group of us.

I forgot to take a picture of the flat when I moved in, and now I’ve “settled” so its not as pristine as it was before (so you won’t get to see it ;)) But, its a great big room with its own bathroom.  Its on a hall with 7 other rooms that share two showers and a huge kitchen.  I even have a full sized bed– bigger than I have at home!!  The girl I am renting from is so sweet– she left me sheets and towels, dishes and pots for the kitchen, her wifi password, and even put a little note on the door of our floor to make sure the other residents know to be nice to me ;)Image

All the students living on Studentvägen met up at 5:15 to meet the three assistants and walk together from the flats to the school so we would know the way in the morning.  Its a beautiful walk through the Uppsala graveyard and across the river to get to the school in the middle of town. Image

We got to school and headed out for a welcome dinner at Hamnpaviljongen which is a restaurant right on the river and one of the two lunch places we eat at during the week.  It was a PERFECT night, just the right (lagom) temperature, and the food was delicious: Grillad lax med potatisgratäng (grilled salmon with potatoes au gratin)!

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I sat with some new friends and had a great time getting to know everyone right away!  Lots of Aussies and Finns :)  We went back to the school afterwards for a huge information session, bought our books, and headed home.  On the way, we stopped by the ICA, grocery store, right by Studentvägen and picked up a few chokladbollar as an end-of-the-day treat before bed.

Classes started at 08:30 Monday morning, so we were up bright and early to walk all the way to Vuxenskolan.  After a short morning meeting, we all went to our classrooms for the morning session: Swedish grammar.  Swedish class runs from 08:30 to 12:30 every day with a little fikapaus at 10:00.  We have a delicious hot lunch together either at Hamnpaviljoner or Cupido from 12:30 to 13:30 and our afternoon classes run from 13:45 to 16:15.  I’m taking an afternoon class on the Swedish welfare system which also provides practical information for people trying to move to Sweden someday (ME!!).

The morning class is AWESOME.  The first day, all A2 students were tested to see whether we would fall in to the A2 or A2+ class and I made the A2+ group.  There are only 8 of us which makes the class small and fun and we are all already good friends :)  Our teacher, David, is young and fun and very patient (thank goodness!), and he is an excellent prof to have.  I’m already learning tons!

Our afternoon class is a little more dull, but the information is interesting.  We go on field trips to different state institutions like the Migration Board, Housing and Labor coalitions, Social Services, etc.  Sometimes we even get visits from representatives from these organizations and can pepper them with questions.  Today was a visit from the Uppsalalän Polis which was pretty cool :)

Monday’s lunch was at Hamnpaviljon and it was a (huge) bowl of pasta with vegetables and oxfilé.  Mmm!!

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When class ends at 16:15, there is always something cool to do.  A friend and I went exploring around the pedestrian center of Uppsala that is lined with shops and cafés.  Its a beautiful place to be in the middle of the day when everyone is outside and smiling!  It was getting late and we wanted some dinner so we went to MAX for a burger.  I’d been before but Austen hadn’t and he was a little surprised at the prices.  I got a regular burger but treated myself to a hallonpaj to celebrate my first full day in Sweden :)

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Tuesday was class as usual but program had set up some activities for the evenings of first week and they have been really fun!  At 19:30 we met at the school for a “social evening”. We were sorted in to random groups of 6 or 7 and got to pick a team name and fill out a silly survey.  Then we received a map and a pen and were told to follow the trivia clues to the park!  Axel and Christian (two of the assistants) had set them up around Uppsala.  Here’s the most “expert” taping of all the clues:

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When we got to Ekonomikumparken, Axel and Christian were waiting with snacks, drinks, and my favorite game: Kubb!  We waited for the next team to arrive and then played a great game of kubb with them… and just BARELY won.  Image

We also played a great game called Brännboll which is kind of like baseball but with a smal l wooden paddle and a tennis ball.  I am determined to find it and bring it back to the US along with Kubb :)  We had a little pear cider and stayed outside until the sun went down just slightly (as it never actually sets in the summer!) and called it a night.  It was a wonderful evening :)

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Wednesday was the best day of the trip so far!  Some friends and I had decided that since there was nothing planned for Wednesday night, we should spread the word and have a grillfest in the park. Lots of people ended up coming, along with a few teachers, and everyone brought something to eat.  We made a quick trip to Systembolaget (the alcohol monopoly in Sweden) to get some real drinks and stock up for Midsommar this weekend!

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James, David, Sara and I had trouble getting the grill to light and stay hot, so one of the staff members, Ruud (who is AWESOME), took us to a bigger ICA to see if we could find a firestarter.  Instead, the man at the store recommended lighter fluid, so we got a big bottle and headed back to the park.  It still took a while but we finally got the grill nice and hot!

Here’s Ruud pretending he knows what to do with the lighter fluid:

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We started to load up the grill and I had prinskorv (tiny sausages) for my dinner.  They were so yummy!

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I’d also bought an orange pepper to grill and ate it right off my fork:

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We had a great time sitting around the big picnic table, talking, drinking and eating.  The weather was beautiful and there were tons of good friends around!

After it started to get a little chilly, a group of us decided to head to one of the Nations, Norrlands, for another drink.  The Nations are student-run organizations that often have cool buildings and bars with outdoor space to gather and hang out in.  There are six or seven still open for the summer and we have guest cards so we’ll be partaking in cool events that they throw all summer long :)

I got a Somersby Pear .4L for only abour 29kr, or $6.00, which is pretty cheap for Sweden.  Great friends and a great night!

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Tomorrow (Friday) is Midsommar’s Eve and we will be heading out to celebrate for the entire day at Hammarskog!  Stay tuned for lots of pictures and stories from this magical day!  :)

gratulerer med dagen!

Oslo Day Five was a very special day for Ingun’s niece, Ingeborg.  The little muffin was turning two and Ingun’s twin sister, Anna, threw a nice little birthday celebration for her daughter.  We were all invited so we took the bus out to Sandviken, about 40 minutes away.

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At our bus stop, we ran in to Ingun’s good friend Synnøve who was also heading to Ingeborg’s party.  It was lovely to have another person to talk to on the trip!  One stop after ours, a couple that Alec and Ingun hang out with a lot, Arne and Ina, joined us.  They are SO cool- Arne is a computational linguist and Ina is studying Sanskrit. We geeked out for a little while but didn’t get as much time to talk as I would have liked.

Ingeborg went right for the presents as soon as we all arrived and absolutely loved this bright yellow digger tractor that Ingun got for her.  Later in the evening she was scooping up blueberries with her tractor and laughing hysterically :)

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We played around for a while, blowing up balloons and eating pølse and a few cookies.  Ingeborg decided that she needed 6 cookies, so she ate one and kept walking around with another one in her hand, just nibbling on the corners.  They eventually ended up being walked around in her stroller in case she wanted them later.

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Anna had gone out to the store to pick up a fun outdoor game called “Klubb”, which works a little like horseshoes.  Each team as 5 short wood blocks lined up in front of them and there is a kingpin in the center.  Teams take turns throwing thick wooden sticks at the other team’s blocks, hoping to knock them down.  The first team to hit all five blocks and the kingpin, wins!  It was a ton of fun even though our team lost :(

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Ingeborg had great fun running in the middle of the game and stealing the kingpin, or clapping and laughing when our team failed to knock anything down.  Anna had gotten her some bubbles which were slightly helpful at distracting her, but they ended up getting dumped on the ground or all over her cookies in her stroller.

We headed back in for cake and singing (happy birthday sung in Norwegian and then later in English!) and Ingeborg dove right in to the fruit on the table.  She must have taken a bite out of every slice of watermelon!

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I caught her making one of her silly faces as a friend sliced a piece of the walnut or almond cake for her:

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And here was the cake!

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We took the bus back home after a while and ate some leftovers for dinner that evening.  Indian, Italian, pizza, some fried rice I had whipped up, and leftover crostata.  Yum!

After dinner we went over to Arne and Ina’s house close by in Grünerløkka to have some wine and play “Ticket to Ride”, an awesome board game.  On the way we met a beautiful white kitten who was friendly and wanted a pet.  Another Juan Perez!  She rolled all around on the ground, getting her white coat very dirty, but seemed to love the attention :)

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Arne and Ina have a spectacular apartment. They live at the top of a huge hill and have an incredible view of the city, so we went up to the roof terrace to have a look!

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Ticket to Ride was a lot of fun and we used the European version to build our railroads.  Arne and Alec got very competitive but I ended up coming in second (Alec won..) which was pretty good for my first time!  It was a really wonderful evening and I loved spending more time with Ina and Arne.  Having people to talk to about linguistics is a great thing :)

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We got home just before midnight and I packed my suitcase while Ingun looked to see if there was anything good on TV.  I got everything in order and we planned to leave the house in the morning at 20 to 09:00 to make it to the bus and the train to the airport.  Late night and an early morning, but a wonderful last day in Norway :)

hopping bilder og italienske middager

I woke up around 08:15 on Day Four in Oslo, made myself a delicious bowl of yoghurt and crüsli (dark chocolate granola! gonna find this in Sweden for breakfasts in my apartment) and blogged while Alec and Ingun slept in.

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Once everyone was up and moving, Alec made some coffee which I enjoyed even more because I claimed the Mumin mug! Love those little Finnish characters!

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We left for a day of walking around the city and stopped by Fuglen on the way for more caffeine. The shop is always so cool, but today they had a bowl of lemons behind the counter and one had a face drawn on it ;)

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Ben was there again and he made me the most delicious cappuccino I’ve tasted… The milk was steamed and thickened and it was so smooth to drink. It also had an effortless heart design on the top which always makes coffee a little more special :)

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After coffee we went around the corner to the national gallery to see the Edvard Munch exhibit. I don’t know much about art but I enjoyed walking through the first few rooms, admiring the paintings, until I saw one particular creepy and eerie piece that had four people standing at the bottom with their hands on the sides of their heads, screaming. I turned to Alec and said, “wow, those people look like the guy from the Scream painting!” And he looked at me and said, “Edvard Munch painted “Scream”.”

SO here’s proof that I am the smartest art person ever because I could see the progression of the art from self portraits, to characters that looked like Scream, to SCREAM ITSELF. I’m pretty amazing ;)

We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the exhibit but I bought a small postcard print of my favorite Munch painting afterwards. Most of his stuff looked super alien and was dark and scary, but he painted a series of scenes from “The Fantasy Forest” that were beautiful. I was so taken by the hats on these children!

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After the museum we walked down to Aker Brygge on the edge of the Oslo Fjord which was bustling with activity. There were a million adorable Norwegian children everywhere in the cutest outfits- couldn’t resist taking a picture of the little girl who was walking in front of us with her hands demurely behind her back the whole way!

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Aker Brygge is a super posh area to live in and there were shops and restaurants galore. It was perfect weather all day so we enjoyed taking a stroll around and people-watching a little bit. The boats were beautiful!

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Of course I had to get a few jumping pictures ;) They came out super well!

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My personal favorite!

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It was getting late for lunch and Ingun was talking up the wonders of a McDonalds sandwich called the “Chicken Salsa” so we each got one to try. Norwegian McDonald’s is a lot different from ours! A meal deal in the US would run you about $5 while here it is upwards of $15 or more for a sandwich, fries, and a coke. The Salsa had a little tomato salsa and corn chips on it! From someone who almost never ever eats at McDonalds, it tasted okay :)

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We headed home and took a little chill break for an hour or two before Alec had to go to a cupping and Ingun and I went out to Grünerløkka to find a present for her niece’s birthday on Saturday. We stopped in to this adorable toy store where I saw a basket of bunny rabbit dolls that look just like the ones my grandmother used to make for us when we were small. I wonder if she learned the Scandinavian style when they were living in the midwest- Scandinavian capital of the US!

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We met Ingun’s friend Bitte for tea in town and sat in the park to catch up for a while. The topics of conversation were cornhole, pogs, and when boys and girls had cooties ;)

At 20:00 Ingun and I walked to the restaurant we had picked for dinner, Popolare, which was a great Italian restaurant in Grünerløkka. Alec met up with us about 15 minutes later and we were already sipping on glasses of Rosé. The service was suuuuuper slow at first, but our waiter was sweet and apologetic and the food came out promptly after we reminded him :)

We started with antipasto to share: focaccia, fresh seafood (mussels, clams, octopus, etc), assorted salami, ham and olives, an amazing marinated white bean salad, a parmesan and spinach flan, and caprese.

Here’s the plate of “fruits de mer” with a small octopus on top (which Alec ate!!):

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And my plate of antipasto:

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I ordered the ricotta gnocchi, Alec got klippfisk ravioli in a puttanesca sauce, and Ingun got the saltimbocca. It was all great and we felt like heavy boulders afterwards!

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It was a super fun and busy day and we were all exhausted by the time we made it home: none of us wanting to even think about food ever again ;)

kaffebarer og shopping

Day three in Norway was laid back and relaxing. The rain decided to stop by for a visit, but even rainy Norway is beautiful. Ingun had picked up a block of brunost at the grocery the night before, so I decided I would try some for breakfast. Brunost is a very interesting and typically Norwegian food: it’s sort of like cheese but it’s a caramely brown color and almost melts in your mouth. It’s unusually sweet for a cheese and tastes a lot like dulce de leche.

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Alec instructed me to eat it on bread with smør (butter) and raspberry jam. We didn’t have any jam, but I had saved a few raspberries from the crostata the night before and mushed them up on top. It was surprisingly good and definitely unique! Another thing to check off of my Scandinavian bucket list!

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After breakfast, Alec and I headed down to Fuglen, a coffee shop I’d visited on my last trip to Oslo. The head barista that day was a super friendly Aussie named Ben who knew my brother well and who made me an incredible latte. Being a barista myself for the past year and a half, I was very impressed by the true professionals! In addition to being a coffee shop, Fuglen is also a sort of vintage thrift store selling all 1960s Scandinavian designs. The couches, tables, paintings on the walls, art prints, and even the carpets are all for sale! It’s a really cool concept.

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Alec did some office work for a bit and I blogged and studied more Swedish. After we finished, we stopped by this cute sandwich shop and bakery to pick up lunch and headed home through a beautiful graveyard and down the twisty streets of Oslo. I didn’t mind the rain at all!

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The painted houses are what make Scandinavia look so unique and lovely. You can see more of Oslo in the distance, too!

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We lunched at home out of the rain. Alec had a hummus and black olive sandwich that was unbelievable. I usually despise olives, but the balance between all the flavors was great and no one ingredient stuck out more than another. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate how amazing that bread looks?!

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I got a salad with roasted chicken, green beans, tomato, black olives (which I promptly gave to my brother) and a creamy potato and apple slaw. It even came with two enormous slices of walnut bread and a balsamico dressing! Alec stole the dressing to dip my bread in, but I didn’t need it because the potato salad dressing was perfect to mix around and eat with the greens. Everything came together perfectly and it was one of the best salads I’ve had in a long time. No wonder Ingun says its the best spot for lunch in Oslo!

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Ingun came home just as we were finishing up and we chatted for a bit and hung out at home. After a while we decided to head down to the bustling center of Oslo on Karl Johans Gate for some shopping. I didn’t think it was polite to take pictures in the stores, but we stumbled across some really… weird… pieces of clothing. Highlights were the full-length shiny silver jumpsuit, a sweatshirt that had been cut so only the crew neck and arms remained, and a bikini made out of fabric that looked like bleached $1 bills. The Scandinavians really know how to dress!

We didn’t last too long in the stores and took the bus back towards home. My first experience on the bus? We were packed in like sardines (and since I’m little, I got squished in to a corner!) and just barely made it off at our stop by squeezing between people. But hey, it’s a cheap and effective way of getting around!

Tikka masala made it on the menu for dinner so we ran by the market for some chicken, yoghurt, and vegetables. Once we got home, I started cooking while Ingun made me a drink with gin and orange juice and a Campari for herself. We had a great time chatting in the kitchen while I cooked, talking about our siblings and what Alec was like when we were younger- and the icky things we dislike about him now ;)

Once dinner was ready, we queued up a few episodes of The Mindy Project (my FAVORITE!) and tucked in to our spicy Indian food!

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Its common here for a popular show to air new episodes each night of the week instead of once weekly as we do in the US. So, we watched the finale of “Paradise Hotel” after dinner, which was actually pretty suspenseful as we waited to see who would win the money in the end.

We all headed to bed around midnight when the sun was finally behind the trees (although it was still fairly light thanks to the ever-shining summer sun) and I was finishing up some emails on my iPad when a HUGE moth flew straight in to my face! Instead of screaming and waking up the neighbors, I calmly put it in a cup with a lid and tossed it out the kitchen window. I know- those of you who know me well will appreciate that little victory. I’m growing up! ;)