23 June, 2010

Update from the states

We made it in one piece, despite British Airlines pilot strikes (and SAS pilot strikes that induced heartattacks when we got to Arlanda at 6 for a flight at 7am, thinking the crowds were in the line for security!) My mother's internet connection is slower than molasses and our old US cell phones are dead and we can't get anyone's numbers out of 'em, so we feel a little out of touch. Was it so unreasonable to think that after a year being turned off, they'd work here (I guess it was, and I should have thought to bring our chargers!) Thank god for Facebook.

Its in the mid-90s here, so we are taking advantage of air conditioning. And restaurants. Hooray for steak and decent Mexican! And I have had more margaritas since getting here last week than the entire prior year in Sweden! That is vacation.

My little sister successfully graduated. Stu is in a wedding Saturday, and my best friend will be induced this weekend to have her first baby. There probably won't be many more blogposts while we are in the States, but we'll wrap up with a few pictures later.

16 June, 2010

Stockholm Guide

We didn't come up with this, but its a good one, especially for the design-inclined. The most recent DesignSponge city guide is for Stockholm!

illustration by julia rothman
It's very thorough, and I was both happy to see a lot of places we love made the list, as did some that we had never heard of (For example, this awesome-looking chocolatier just down the street from us!) And nice little Fotografiska shout-out.

Stu & I leave for DC ungodly early tomorrow (why did I book a 7am flight out of Arlanda?!?) We'll be back the first week of July for a whopping 5 days, then off to Edinburgh & surrounding Scotland for a week, followed by a week in southern Germany with Stu's mama. We'll be back for all of August (except for a short stint for me in Paris, woohoo!) so we'll have lots to discover with this D*S guide!

12 June, 2010

I would have gotten married today

Instead of getting married today, we're watching World Cup football matches. That's fine...South Korea won against Greece this afternoon, so Stu was psyched. And I drank two mojitos, so I was psyched by default (it doesn't take much these days). U.S. vs. England tonight!

But we *could* have renewed our vows today, instead of watching soccer in our living room. Today only, in celebration of the royal wedding here in Stockholm next weekend, Skansen invited a half dozen "marriage registrars" to marry couples either with civil (10 minute) or religious (20 minute) ceremonies. Drop-in wedding!  The cut-off was 4pm, but I read that it was so popular, only half of the couples in the huge line had been officially married by the afternoon.

I am kind of disappointed I didn't know about it earlier. Stu & I have been married more than a year and a half now, but I would absolutely stand in line at Skansen to renew those vows, Swedish style. You even get free admission if you are tying the knot!

It might be a while 'til the next royal wedding, so I guess we missed our chance. So, uh, go Nigeria?!?

11 June, 2010

Done for the year!

School's out for summer!
I turned in my thesis proposal this morning. Stu had one last excruciatingly and unnecessarily long final class this afternoon. 
Stu is celebrating at the pub with his friends. I celebrated by watching the Glee season finale and eating more than a half a bag of those weird Polly candies, which I couldn't resist buying because they were called Summer Berries. They are literally described as "Delightfully chewy foam drops with a lovely chocolate flavour coating." Surprisingly, they are not that good (not that it stopped me) and there are a remarkable number of calories in not-that-good fake-chocolate-flavored foam, and now I thoroughly regret celebrating in this fashion. I think I'll go meet Stu at the bar.

08 June, 2010

Go dollar!

Since moving to Sweden, I have learned that my moods are often dependent on two things: the amount of sunlight and the current exchange rate. It has been a surprising self-discovery! Thankfully, it's June, so sunlight is no problem (there is almost too much of it!) 
And thanks to Greece and the other PIGS (oh, and Hungary) the US dollar is doing gangbusters! I personally think that it has nothing to do with the health of the US economy, and is really just a result of the EU economy's current illness. But regardless, it has been about 8 kronor to 1 dollar, compared to a low of about 6.8:- in the fall. This tiny change effectively lowers our rent by nearly $200 each month. Seriously. It's like free money. Or it just helps us not spend so much of our savings. Whatever you want to call it.  
It also makes traveling cheaper for us, since we have plans to go to Edinburgh soon, and Germany and Paris later in the summer. The Euro is about $1.19 right now! 
Of course, we head back to the States next week (NEXT WEEK!) for vacation, and there, I don't have to think about exchange rates at all.

06 June, 2010

Swedish National Day!

Hooray for Sweden! Today June 6th is Swedish National Day. Not quite on the level of craziness as when in the US they celebrate 4th of July--no fireworks for example, or thrown rocks. But then again, Swedes have Midsummer to look forward to. Maybe they are just better organizers.

We went out to enjoy the last day of Smaka på Stockholm and the first day of Love Stockholm 2010. (Maybe we're not such bad planners?) For some reason, even though we are students and have a lot more free time, we decide to go out to events like this on the weekends when they are most crowded. Today wasn't full-scale elbowing people out of the way crowded... But it had it's moments. In any case, we are experiencing some of the best weather of the year so there was a definitely Live and Let Live vibe. For those of you playing from home, Stockholm in June feels like DC during the Cherry Blossom Festival. And it's perfect.
We took a long walk today. From about noon until 5pm we were out of the house and in the festival grounds. Mostly, it was just bluer and yellower out doors with Swedish flags everywhere. But I didn't notice too much overt celebrating... That is, except from... Anne. She proudly wore her yellow and blue t-shirt with a plaid dala häst that of course we bought in Seoul Korea. Naturally.

Smaka på Stockholm was a wonder food fest. And it was great people watching with all sorts of people there from soccer hooligans in jerseys to Indian families in saris. Anne went for a mango chicken wrap but I was happy to have the grilled meat from Aftonbladet. With lemon pepper. I also like that you can order a beer without anyone having to forget that you're an adult (even though Anne did get carded). That is, no silly armbands. I could just order and enjoy responsibly. Also, I liked the irony of being able to choose a Budvar. Americans are used to Budweiser, but Budvar is the real deal.

wikipedia it, go ahead. You know you want to. I'm just feeling too cheeky to paste a hyper link. Ok, I'll do it. See what I mean? Amazing irony, because Anheiser Busch does not taste like that beer, but its usually all Americans can get at large outdoor sponsored events requiring armbands to order beers. And they call Sweden Communist. I digress...
So, it was a beautiful day, and there were horses. The city's getting ready for the royal wedding which I think is silly, but Anne is all about it. But it was cool to see a parade. Made it feel like a real national day to me. Without a parade... It'd just feel wrong.
So, here's Anne demonstrating poor purse awareness, like they warn you about with the looming yellow hand in the posters in the subway. Sorry, but it's my post, dear.

And, that's all. We had a beautiful day!

04 June, 2010

Graduation time

That, my friends, is a dump truck full of graduates. Obviously, high school graduates (because who over 19 would be caught dead intentionally riding in the back of a dump truck?)

It's the end of the school year in Stockholm! And it is both LOUD and smelly in the city! Loud because there seem to be dozens of these giant trucks packed with half-dressed teenagers blasting loud dance music and honking every 10 meters, while driving loops through downtown. Smelly because they infuse the air with the scent of old beer and damp sweat as they drive by. The kids in the back are screaming while soaking each other with beer and champagne (which is such a tragic waste...I know I have talked about how expensive alcohol is in this country!)  For my high school graduation, my mom had a family party at my morfar's house, catered by the local BJs. Clearly, I was nowhere near as cool as Stockholm teenagers.

Why yes, that IS a tractor full of drunk kids! I couldn't help but take pictures...and yes, the one below says, in English, "Honk if you're Horny."

But the school year is winding down for Stu & I, as well. I have one class left next week, and a thesis proposal due, and one last day as an intern at Fotografiska. Stu has been doing Tango sessions at school (which has inspired him to micromanage every little decision, including the most efficient way to make egg sandwiches, which was entertaining) and has a jam-packed last week of school, in addition to running a 5K race. 

And then we'll be back in the States for nearly 3 weeks! Not long enough, if you ask me. But man, am I happy this first year is over. Next year, when we graduate, it may not have the same feeling of relief with having to find jobs and figure out which country we will live in. So I guess I should try to enjoy the end of this year like it was my last.   

01 June, 2010

3 Sheets to the Wind-ow

Okay, admittedly that post title is corny. But I think we finally have the sun beat, and it only took 3 layers of cloth to do it!

I spent large chunks of the fall and winter complaining about how dark and gray and dark and gloomy and dark it was in Stockholm. The month of November last year had a whopping 17.5 hours of sunlight the ENTIRE month, the darkest in years. In January, the sun started to set by 2:30 in the afternoon, and I was hungry and ready for pajamas by about 3:15pm every day. Seriously.

But now, I've been complaining of something else. We've got light! So much light, in fact, that WE CAN'T SLEEP! It doesn't get fully dark until nearly 11:30, and the sun comes up before 4am. Despite that we have shades built into our windowpanes and opaque curtains that we draw closed every night, Stu & I were waking up super early in the morning because the bedroom was too bright, unable to get back to sleep without risk of suffocation from trying to cover our heads with pillows. We tried those sleep eye masks, but those things slide around while you sleep, and are also kind of a suffocation hazard.

But last night, Stu tacked up a dark brown Ikea throw between the window shades and the curtains, and success! We slept the whole night in lovely pitch darkness! It only took 3 "curtains" to get it that way.

(photo taken from our apartment last week, about 10pm)