My sweet friend Jacky came to visit! She is from the Netherlands but lived in the States for many years. We met while working together at my first job out of college. A few years ago she moved back to the Netherlands and we've kept in touch on facebook. I was pleasantly surprised when she wrote me out of the blue asking if she could come visit. I said of course, when? She said how about next weekend and that was that. It was really wonderful to see her and know that even if you don't have contact often, you can still pick up certain, special friendships right where they left off. Thanks for coming Jacky, you are always welcome in Sweden and we can't wait to visit you in the Netherlands!
After two and a half years in Gävle, we moved back to Umeå. It was bittersweet. We were ''placed in Gävle'' due to Andreas' job and were worried about how long it might take for us to come back to Umeå to be close to family and friends. But Gävle really grew on us and leaving was harder than we imagined. So here are some photos of some of our favorite places commemorating our time in Gävle, our second home in Sweden.
It was an intimate affair with just immediate family invited. We picked Dubrovnik because we fell in love with it the first time we went there and wanted to have a small destination wedding. It turned out to be the perfect choice and spending this special time together with our families meant the world to us. Everything exceeded our expectations thanks to our amazing wedding planners, Mia and Veronica, at Dubrovnik Wedding Planner, as well as our talented photographer, Sanja, one of the world's most romantic restaurants where we had our wedding dinner, Nautika, and our amazing villa and villa owner, Villa de la Vie. Below are the some 300 professional pictures taken by Sanja.
Here are more pics taken by us and family. Croatia is so beautiful and romantic, you can't help but fall in love with Dubrovnik!
You wouldn't think Dalapalatsets beauty couldn't be rivaled, but we probably moved to the second, if not tied for first, most beautiful apartment building in Gävle. And, if imaginable, we are even also closer to the train station than before. It's a rental apartment, so not as nice or charming on the inside as the one we owned, but from our windows I can look out past the train station to our beloved Dalapalatset and wave.
My job at The Concert Hall was ending and so it was on to new adventures. I'm back in the Hotel industry working in Inhouse Sales at Clarion Hotel Winn in Gävle. I handle conference reservations and group bookings. The hotel has 14 conference rooms divided between two conference centers, one inside the hotel and the other in a separate building just across the large square. The largest conference room can accommodate up to 161 people. It's a high tempo, challenging position and I've already learned a lot. My colleagues are wonderful and hotels are just fun work environments, there's always something going on.
Click on the links to check out Clarion Hotel Winn i Gävle or learn more about Winn Hotel Group as well as Nordic Choice Hotels.
Yet another year has flown by. Andreas and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary with a day trip to Sigtuna, Swedens oldest city, which was founded in the year 980. Over a thousand years later it's a quiet, picturesque town visited by many. We had the most relaxing day strolling through the streets, eating good fika, and sitting by the lake enjoying the sunshine and one of the last warm days of Fall.
I won't bore you with explaining the intricacies of learning the Swedish language, but I would like to share what I consider to be some interesting insights I've stumbled upon along the way. Enjoy!
Bra is not an undergarment, instead it means good.
Bad isn't naughty, it's a bath.
Glass is appetizing because it's ice cream.
Tack isn't something you stick on a board, but how you thank people. Tack!
A gift isn't a present, it means poison... or marriage, haha. Coincidence, I think not.
Barn isn't connected to farming, it means children.
Kiss means to pee. Puss means kiss...yuck. Thankfully the pronunciation is different.
If you say you're full it means your drunk.
Fan is not something that provides a nice breeze, it's a curse word. Damn.
God means tasty. Gud means God.
A chef isn't a cook but a manager. A kock is a chef.
Hiss is an elevator.
And lastly, sex means the number six, but also sex - so be careful with that one.
It can be a little confusing at times. After being offered a morning snack, I once I told Andreas' parents ''no thank you, I ate wine for breakfast and was drunk.'' What I really meant to say was that I had just eaten some grapes and was full.
To read more click the bottom right -->
I finally got my Swedish drivers license at the age of 30. Yes, I know it's been four years since I moved to Sweden, but I never really needed one before. I like walking, biking, or riding the buss/train. My first year in Sweden I walked 30 minutes to and from my classes at the University in the cold, dark, dead of winter and miraculously survived (of course this was before I stopped being too shy in Swedish to take buss alone, but all the same).
People who move to Sweden from a EU country can just switch their licenses, sadly this is not the case for Americans, and getting your drivers license in Sweden is no joke. It costs the average Swede around $2,000. Roughly 60% fail the computerized test and 40% fail the driving portion on their first try.
The questions aren't easy. I mean can you answer the following:
1. How many tons of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided if everyone drove the speed limit?
2. How fast are you allowed to tow a cement mixer with iron wheels?
3. How long does a tunnel need to be in order for a warning sign to be place in advance of the tunnel?
4. At what distance do you see a person with reflectors at night if your low beams are on?
5. What is the mathematical equation for calculating blood alcohol level content?
You basically need to know the answer to hundreds of these type of questions. Luckily I live with a police officer, so we skipped the driving lessons, I crammed the entire week before the test and passed by the luck of my Scot-Irish ancestors. Otherwise I would not be bragging about it on my blog.
BUT...I'm really writing this tangent about my drivers license because after getting over my initial irritation of having to study all the theory, I realized I was grateful to have had this opportunity. My 30 year old self is a much safer, more aware driver than that of my 16 year old, sport car driving counterpart.
I know countless lives could be saved if everyone simply drove the speed limit.
I understand and respect what a great responsibly it is every time I get behind the wheel.
Andreas is so proud ;)
We finally made it to Gotland, a place we've been intrigued by since we came very close to moving there when Andreas was offered a job after graduating from the police academy. The trip was even more special because we got to share the experience of this beautiful place with my parents who came to visit Sweden a second time since I moved.
Late June, just before midsommar, was the perfect time to visit. The weather is nice and warm, but the huge summer crowds hadn't arrived yet. We stayed in a lovely house about 20 minutes outside of Visby, the largest city on the Island. Visby is much like old town in Stockholm with it's many small alleyways and old cobblestone streets adorned with rose bushes, cafes, pubs, and restaurants. Charming indeed. Gotland is overflowing with interesting history dating all the way back to the the Stone Age. Visby's old town is encircled by ruins of an old wall, making it even more picturesque. We came to Gotland by way of ferry and took our car along to be able to explore the whole island. Three days just wasn't enough, I know we'll be back!
Andreas booked a surprise long weekend in Budapest for my 30th birthday. I knew we were going somewhere outside of Sweden and found out it was Budapest the day before we left. We'd been there before almost 4 years ago and had fallen in love with the city.
On the day of our engagement we went sightseeing in Buda, had a romantic dinner, and then attended a classical concert in the beautiful Mattias church situated beside the Fishermans Bastion. Afterwards we grabbed a drink at one of the local restaurants overlooking the Danube. We then went strolling along the river stopping to take a few pictures with the breathtaking Hungarian parliament building as our backdrop. We'd stood in that very spot taking pictures before. Andreas told me to look out across the water toward the building so he could take a picture of me. I said I didn't know where to look because it was dark and I wouldn't show up in the picture, so he said okay, just look at me. When I turned around he was down on one knee proposing!
I just sat there dumbfounded for several seconds until I realized what was going on. I don't even remember what he said, I was so stunned. He later joked that he could have said, darling I'm leaving you but here's this ring to keep as a reminder of me, and my reaction would have been the same, haha.
My ring is from Wexford Jewelers and is titled 'Loves Long Lost Rose', now how wonderfully fitting is that? I found it online a while ago and pinned it to my pinterest account hoping Andreas would get it for me when the time came. I couldn't feel luckier to have the ring of my dreams, custom made just for me! I will cherish it forever.
Andreas had the ring loose in his jacket pocket all day. Cool as a cucumber Andreas is, and oh so terribly romantic! He didn't even show the slightest sign of nervousness. It was May 13th around 10:00 pm, just two hours before my 30th birthday. He said he couldn't very well bring an American woman into her 30's, having dated for five and half years without at least putting a ring on it. :)
We couldn't be happier. Here are some photos from our trip, I got a little carried away with the ring pictures, but I want to remember this day and that feeling for the rest of my life! <3
We decided to sell our beloved first apartment. A tough decision to say the least.
We're hoping to become home owners in the not too distant future and this seemed like the right time to sell even though we're not actively looking for a house. There are several contributing factors for selling, some of those being that we found a rental apartment (which are very hard to come by), May is a good time to sell, and a law requiring homeowners to pay off a certain percentage of their loans is coming into the play at the beginning of June.
Although we would have loved living in 'The Dala Palace' for the foreseeable future, we decided to follow our heads instead of our hearts and make a return on our investment. Renting gives us more flexibility when moving (apartment rentals in Sweden have a 3 month notice, rather than year contracts).
We'll miss you Dalapalatset!
We celebrated New Year's Eve, this year and last year, with four dear friends from Umeå, Ann, Björn, Anna & Jonas. They came down to Gävle and spent three nights with us. We had a blast, three course dinners, blind beer tastings, a music quiz, dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants, and got to see a fabulous firework display from Skybar as the clock struck midnight, see video below. We hope they'll be back again next year to keep this New Years tradition going! The pics shown are a mixture of 2015 & 2016.
My amazing sister got married while we were in Las Vegas on our recent trip to the States. It was a semi elopement where just the parents and siblings were informed and invited. We took a limo out to The Valley of Fire where there was a lovely ceremony with cake and champagne afterwards. The location was stunning! We couldn't be happier for Lila and Chet! Here's a sideshow of the beautiful pictures taken by the professionals at Cactus & Lace, who did a truly amazing job capturing Lila & Chet's special day! I snapped a few photos too, so the last 13 pics in this slideshow were taken on my iphone, not by Cactus & Lace.
October is one of my favorite months, especially if you live in The States! Football season, the beautiful fall colors, pumpkin patches, boots and comfy sweaters, a reprieve from the summer heat, fall festivals, and of course...Halloween!
It's harder to enjoy football season and have tailgate parties in the middle of the night, with the time change and all. Sweden doesn't have pumpkin patches, and ''summer heat'' is virtually non existent. With that said, Sweden sure has some beautiful fall colors when the leaves change. Halloween is well known and although trick or treating hasn't really caught many people throw Halloween parties. We had a party last year in 2014, and since we won't have time to throw one this year, I thought it'd be the perfect time to share some pictures from last years festivities!
Five years ago today I met my soulmate. Since then a lot has happened!
I moved across the world to a foreign country, which I now call home. I have been lovingly accepted by my Swedish family and made many wonderful new friendships. I studied full time for a year and learned a foreign language. Got my first swedish speaking job, moved to a new city within Sweden, and got my second job. Andreas became a police officer. (He's my hero!) We bought our very first apartment together and have traveled to seven new countries.
Thanks for changing my life in the most unexpected of ways. It's been a wonderfully wild ride. So here's to the next five years my love, I think they'll be even more exciting! ❤❤❤
UPDATE! Lila came and we conquered! Can't wait to see her again in November in the good old US of A!
Everything fell quickly into place in Gävle for us, which made the transition much smoother than it otherwise would have been. We found out we needed to move at the end of October, bought an apartment the week after, and I secured a new job before moving which started in the beginning of January.
I'm working as a Project Manager at The Gävle Concert Hall which was an amazing opportunity for me!
The Gävle Konsethus is home to the Gävle Symphony Orchestra. In addition to having the orchestra, other concerts are produced and brought in of all genres, making it a fun and unique work environment. The Conference and Event department, where I work, rents out the conference rooms, main concert hall, foyer and restaurant for all kinds of meetings and events. The concert hall can hold up to 800 people so we handle events all the way from 800 people down to small meetings of just two. We serve as the internal contact from start to finish and liaison between different in house departments in order to make all the conferences and events run smoothly. The most challenging and fun aspect is working with large conferences with several hundred people who've rented out the whole Concert Hall for several days with exhibitors, dinners and entertainment. It's a wonderfully fun and challenging job and I really enjoy it. The only negative aspect is that I'm temporarily employed, working in place of someone on parental leave. Hopefully it will give me a good foot in the door for when I go back on the job hunt!
Below are some pictures and here you can check out the Gävle Konserthus website
Andreas and I bought our very first apartment! It's a charming two bedroom in a very old, beautiful building in downtown Gävle known as Dalapalatset, which translates to The Dala Palace. We absolutely adore it and love living in a ''palace'' hehe. Each apartment in the building is unique with its own character. Ours has vaulted ceilings with exposed wooden beams and lots of natural light. We have a nice view of Gavleån (the Gävle river) and downtown. We'll be looking to do some minor renovations in the bathroom and spare bedroom, but for the most part we were quite happy with the looks of it.
I've written a little bit about surströmming, aka fermented herring, and I felt the need to share my photographic experience with this Swedish delicacy. I ate it as it's most commonly served in flat bread with cooked potatoes, onions, and sour cream. The absolute worst part about this is the wretched smell that takes over all senses once the can is opened. It simply screams don't eat me, although the actual taste itself isn't bad. Just watch this video of some Americans trying it out! http://www.newsner.com/2015/06/6-amerikaner-testar-surstromming-deras-reaktion-ar-ju-helt-obetalbar/ .
Hi friends! Well, we knew this might happen given Andreas' police status, and so it has. Andreas has been assigned to work in Gävle so we are moving in December/January. I will continue working through December after Andreas has moved and will follow sometime in January. I've started doing a little research but know very little about the city so I will be looking forward to exploring it and sharing what I find!
Gävle is, by Swedish standards, a semi large city (13th largest) located on the east coast in central/southern Sweden just about an hour and a half drive north of Stockholm. One plus is that it is an easy train ride away from Arlanda (Stockholm's airport) so it's more accessible to international travelers than Umeå was. This is your formal invite American family & friends! It's also an easy train ride up to Umeå. Så vi hoppas verkligen att våra familj & vänner i Umeå kommer att besöka oss ofta! And that was the Swede's formal invite.
Now it's important you can pronounce the name, not because you might sound silly (which you undoubtedly will, as I did and still do) , but Gävle is rather unfortunately similar to the curs word javla. So pretend Gävle is spelled Yav-leh and you should be just fine. Focus on the end sound of leh where as javla sounds more like it's spelled yav-la.
If you google Gävle the infamous Julbock (Christmas goat) will be sure to come up. The community puts up this enormous thing, which is a common Christmas decoration, in the big square each year just to have someone light it on fire. I actually thought it was suppose to go up in flames until Andreas explained that, despite dousing it with flame retardants, someone has succeeded in setting it on fire year after year. Please note that it is almost entirely made out of hay. I must say I find this rather comical. After hearing I was moving to Gävle a friend asked if I was going to light the Julbock this year, but somehow I don't see getting arrested by my boyfriend being top priority upon our arrival. :)
Here are some links/pics to get acquainted with Gävle, Julbock included.
Gävle County Visit Gävle
Click to enlarge photos
In late August we drove about 4 hours northwest of Umeå to a popular ski resort area called Hemavan in search of cantarelles. Andreas' parents usually go once and year and this was the first time I was able to come along. I must say that picking mushrooms was way more fun than I could have imagined and now I see why it's so popular in Sweden. Being out in nature, walking through a forest in search of these beautiful, golden, flowering trumpets was awesome. We were lucky it was a good year for mushrooms and that we were able to find so many, although it wasn't all luck because Mona and Anders have been scouting out areas for years finding special spots they like to return to.
You can ask a Swede any question regardless how personal and they generally answer happily, but where a Swede finds mushrooms in the forest is one secret sure to be kept! After picking the mushrooms you clean the dirt and other debris off and cook out the water so you can freeze them and use throughout the year. We ended up with over 100 small frozen bags, definitely enough to last a while!
Andreas and I took a little mini vacation to Saxnäs. We stayed with friends who have a house there and rent out their guest house. It's a beautiful little town nestled in between lakes and mountains about a four hour drive from Umeå. A popular place to go hiking, snowmobiling, berry and mushroom picking, and more.
We had a great time enjoying good company and meeting new people, playing kubb, taking long hikes, going in the hot tub, playing with Nisse (their super sweet rottweiler) and driving around the area seeing the beautiful nature.
If you're ever in the area, contact Miia and Christer for a vacation rental! Below is the link to their website.
Andreas graduated from the police academy this June and I could not be more proud! There was a very nice graduation ceremony which lasted a couple of hours with several speakers including police educators, a political representative, and graduating students. They students also made a slideshow of their two years together and a hilarious movie clip, which was quite impressive. Andreas' family was there to celebrate as well as our besties Ann and Björn. We drank champagne, ate smörgåstårta, and opened presents. It was a great day!
Police complete a two year university education and then a a six month aspirant program (aspirant is like on the job training). During his aspirant program Andreas will apply for a permanent job in different areas of Sweden. At some point in November we'll find out where Andreas will be placed. Even though we would like to stay in Umeå, close to family and friends, it's likely we may need to move, in which case another adventure awaits.
This picture is from 09/19/2010,
the day my Swedish life began.