27 May 2011

Välkommen till Sverige

That's right, I will make you google translate the title.

I've officially been moved out of my apartment in Rennes for a week now!  Last Friday morning I caught the early train to Paris, took the metro to Gare du Nord, took the Eurostar under the English Channel to London, caught a train to East Midland Parkway, and caught a bus to York!  I spent a wonderful week (ish) with Lauren, a friend from Hope, sleeping on her floor, meeting her friends, and exploring the charming city.  I have two new loves: clotted cream, and a British show called "Miranda", which is on youtube if you're curious.  Start with season 1, episode 1, and do it right. :)

I arrived here in Stockholm, Sweden, yesterday evening, and I'm spending the next week (ish) with some relatives that I met three years ago when my family did our family-tree trip, who thankfully speak English.  There are two blonde girls, ages 7 and 9, who make me think of what it was like growing up with Gretchen.  (As in, awesome and really goofy.)  We've eaten a good amount of salmon so far (yay!), and this morning I took a bus into the city center and wandered around.  I was mainly concerned with rediscovering my memories from three years ago, like eating a shrimp and egg sandwich with lemon and dill, or those wonderful ginger cookies I can't spell.  My favorite part was when I turned a corner in Old Town and discovered the exact square that we'd seen last time on Swedish National Day.  It's small, but there's a grocery store, a little cafe where we ate, and a short statue of some poet or something, and last time I'd taken a picture with little girls with flags in front of it!  All in all, great fun.  The younger daughter and I have been engaging in sneaky tickle wars while watching TV, and the older one has started playing the cello and has a concert tomorrow on a farm!  Ja!

Well, I'm going to show my "aunt" Facebook, so I've got to go!  Until we meet again, enjoy summer weather if you have any!  It was terribly cold (12 degrees C) and windy today, but it's still light out, and it's 21:30.  Night!

10 May 2011

I Am Channeling Rick Steves.

Dear blog readers,

Some days I go onto this blog just to stare at the statistics.  It doesn’t tell me who you are, don’t worry, but it tells me that I get over 2 views a day this month.  And it’s been a month since I’ve posted.  Got to love the internet.

Well, I’m back from my wonderful two weeks of break!  It’s actually kind of finals week right now, and I have tons of stuff to be doing, but I looked at the blog and thought, “If there are really two viewers checking this every day” (Hm, who could they be?) “…then I can’t disappoint them!  I’m going to write!”  So here is a very short summary of my vacation.  I have meticulous travel notes, but I can’t type them all up right now. :P


I left on April 23 with 7 other friends for the far-off Ryanair airport in Beauvais, near Paris, and after a very long day of travel, Dana, Bri, Courtney, and I arrived at our destination, a monastery located near Moone, near Dublin.  It’s a small country town with lots of ancient ruins and cows.  I tasted the incredible Barry’s tea (I brought 158 teabags home), frolicked around with my friends, and celebrated Easter in the chapel with the monks (the sweetest, most generous people in the world).

We then spent a night in a B&B and saw Blarney Castle (kissed it!), then spent a night in Galway seeing Kylemore Abbey (awesome), and returned to Dublin for a night in which I got to see Jess, Leah, and Lauren from Hope, who were also in Ireland for break!  I ate lots of toffee and bought a wool scarf and ate lots of black pudding and generally loved it.


Bri and I went to Edinburgh, missed our second train, and ended up stranded in Glasgow for the night.  It was pretty much heartbreaking.  Non-refundable train and hostel reservations.  We were crushed.  Neither of us had phones that worked there, and our iPods were dead.  We finally got walking directions to a hostel that were pretty vague, but on the way we saw an…


Can you hear that music playing? 

Yeah.  As much as I already loved Apple (which is a lot), now I owe my safety to…  Well, God’s using them to give us a safe place to stay, but still.  Awesome.  We went in with our backpacks and rolling suitcase and looked on hostelbookers.com.  We found a hostel, checked into the cheapest room they had (14-female dorm), and stumbled out to eat.  We found the Crystal Palace, a classy pub with a football (soccer) game on.  It was also curry night, and cheap.  The crumble was amazing too.  God can sure turn things around, can’t He?  I admit to having down some serious praying.

Anyway, the next day we camped out there again and watched the Royal Wedding, and then we went to Edinburgh and spent a few days there.  One day we took a bus tour through the Highlands (Loch Ness!), and we had a nice guesthouse to relax in for the evenings.


Then I went to Italy.  Our family is friends with an amazingly welcoming Italian family in Padova, near Venice, who picked me up, gave me an amazing room, and fed me and translated for me.  There’s so much I could say about that week (They’re such wonderful people!), but I guess for now I’ll just tell you where I went.  Venice, the Dolomites, a cherry orchard, lots of picturesque Italian towns…  It was fabulous.

And now I’m back for my last week and a half of classes.  There are tests and papers and teaching internships and stuff, but I feel so relaxed and energized after my trip that I’m not too stressed.  I mean, I’m also feeling that (although I am making an effort) the grades are such a small, banal part of this experience…  Well, I like it.  I’m also planning to spend some time in Sweden with relatives (I love it when people take me in!), and in London with a friend, and some other plans are shaping up.  My FAMILY will be here in 3 1/2 weeks to visit me and explore the country of France a bit.  Traveling the world is cool and all (really really cool), but that’s the trip I genuinely cannot WAIT for.

Please pray for my relationship with my host mother during my last week here.  Things are a little… stiff right now, and that makes things harder, and I don’t want that!