Monday, August 27, 2012

Better than a Rollercoaster!

Sheesh!  This weekend was crazy! Friday was great! (That was my hitchhiking day when everything went super smoothly!)

After meeting up for a beer we went to my new home and cleaned things up a bit.  Me and my new host were expecting two random German girls last minute.  We finished that and I checked in with Gothenburg and LA to let my mommas know I was ok, and obviously, wrote my last post.  You'd think these things go fast but they're actually quite time consuming.  By then the girls were just about to arrive.  They brushed their teeth, crashed, woke up the next morning and split. The next day we went for breakfast at this cool local diner with a neighbor.  It was nice and relaxing.  Plus! They had a "pissior".  I guess I forgot to mention that the bathroom at the place I was staying at was being remodeled.  I was aware of that when I signed up.....

Fast forwarding on: I had a relaxed day and caught up on my sleep then we were supposed to go to a free Manu Chao concert.  That didn't happen because I went to central station by myself then felt very weird as a solo white girl and I had just finished exchanging my cash to NOK.  So, I decided after 30 minutes of walking around looking for wifi to call my host that I would walk back home. I got lost twice. Once in one direction, then I somehow skipped over where I was supposed to be and ended up too far the other direction.  I found myself in this beautiful, steep, hilly, green, flowery park. I climbed to the top where they had a little cafe.  It was there that a random gentleman called Paul asked me for directions. After explaining that I didn't speak Norwegian he explained that he was going to a free concert that *wasn't* the Manu Chao concert.  I asked if it would be rude if I followed, he said no and off we went!

This concert was in the middle of a community botanical garden where they had freshly picked and squeezed apple juice, soup made from homegrown ingredients, organic "green" coffee, a compost and the bathroom as a pile of dirt.  So, Paul's friends were to play in a hot air balloon and the theme of the concert was "love in the air".  It was SO COOL!

He was a lot of fun!
The making of the soup..

Who thought of that?!  Great idea! (Once they got it figured out.)
Sunday morning was rad too! My host had a date with this sweet girl in the morning.  They came home later, cooked some delish food and practiced their swing. I mean!!!... COME ON!  Who does that?!!  I loved every minute of watching them dance in the living room.  

I can tell she is very incredible.

Sunday night I was supposed to leave Oslo and go dog sit for this random lady on CouchSurfing. Some thing about the way she invited me, or that she didn't use the "CouchRequest" even after I mentioned it, or that she said she was too busy to pick me up from the buss stop after I explained that I had Wally the 50lb backpack with me, or that I missed the buss and she said it was "too late" for her to pick me up, or, or, or...... SOME THING didn't seem right!  I guess when you travel YOU MUST listen to your gut.  I don't know if "she" is up to something weird, like turning little girls into soup or if she is just weird.  After sitting at the bus stop for 2 hours waiting for the next bus I decided I wasn't going to get on it.  Why did she want me to walk all the way to her house, not once but twice? Again, CSers don't act like that in general.  Maybe I'm paranoid but I rather be smart then soup!

It was now 1:00 am, dark and I had been told some weird things about being out at night.  I guess it's like that in any city though.  I saw three girls camping out in the station.  I decided to break the ice by offering them a cigarette which is like GOLD here. $1.00 a cigarette, basically.  We played cards for hours since the security guards wouldn't let us sleep. Let me tell you; they are ON TOP OF THINGS!  I'm sure you can imagine a place like a small terminal that is open all night for one bus. They knew where everyone was and exactly what they were doing. The guards would let everyone else sleep but as soon as the last one (me) tried to go to sleep they would come tell us to sit up. I guess it was for our own good.

This is a very smelly me + wally in the bathroom. Cute eh? - Yes mommie! When I grow up I want to be a bum! 
6 am rolled around, I still hadn't slept. I had no plan, nowhere to go and I hadn't showered in three days. I told myself if I find a hostel I may check in to find friends, a shower, a place to sleep and some comfort. Of course that's what happened.

So here I am! I'm very happy to be clean, safe and alive but emotionally and physically DRAINED!  I kinda feel like "I want my mommie" right now. Ugh!

... at the Hostel using their internet.

I may have a place in Tønsberg tomorrow.  We'll see where the wind blows, who knows!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Heck yes! Two thumbs up!!!

Ma-ma, Pa-pa, Christian and Anna with the mandatory funny party hats!
The last few days in Gothenburg were nothing short of spectacular! "Ma-ma" decided we *must* have a crayfish party, kräftskiva, before I leave since it is that time of year! So an unheard of Wednesday night would do the trick! I think the photos speak for themselves, so that I'll let them do.

There was another plate and other goodies too! Heineken is a must too!

Puss puss! (Kiss kiss)

Crayfish is one of his favorite foods.

Ha! I love candid photos! Ma-ma is so cute!

Thursday "Ma-ma" brought in her home made glogg a Swedish drink they have around Christmas time with peeled almonds and raisins.  Afterall we needed to be prepared to see Veronica Maggio at the Liseberg!  This was a wind "cold" day and glogg was perfect! We missed Veronica, but who cared! It was my last night in town anyway and my "sister" had school in the morning.   (I didn't get a photo of the glogg, sorry.

Here's a photo of jacket shopping instead. I must prepare for colder weather!
Notice there are bathing suits in the background? I guess I'm a California girl after all.
Everyone else still thinks it's pretty warm while I'm buying winter coats.

WELL!!.... Friday was incredible!

The goal today was to find my way out of Gothenburg and somehow end up in Oslo.  I spent the whole night packing and cleaning my cottage.  Just when I thought I was going to be able to fall asleep I realized that my "momma" would be waking up soon for work and I hadn't said "bye".  I popped out of bed and made my last pot of delish "Fagerlund" coffee.  We had a small good-bye fika and nailed out the plans of taking a buss to North-Western Sweden.  From there hitch hiking should have been much easier since it's out of Gothenburg central and a lot of Norwegians go there to buy food and liquor since it's much cheaper in Sweden.

We finished our fika, I showered and through on my old acquaintance the backpack....  Hmmm, Wally. Yes, Wally.  My travel companion should have a name right?

So off we went!  I had planned on taking the buss right around the corner.  Instead, I got a ride from "pa-pa" to the central station.  We had one last cup of (terrible) coffee and I jumped on my buss.  A-las!, Sleepy time! I found the last row of seats in the back of the buss since this one had *three* and Wally and I cuddled the whole way to  Strömstad.

I made sure to wear the fake wedding ring for hitch hiking.

I woke up a bit groggy and confused.  I wasn't sure which way was north or where the freeway was, or where the "toilet" was. I was ready to conquer this day and my fears! I picked up 50lb Wally and headed.... that way.  I figured if I found wifi I could use my phone for a map and figure out where I needed to go. I walked a few hilly blocks and made a left. Yes! A Pressbyan another two blocks down! They always have free wifi! With the help of that and road signs I know new where I was going.  Now, to find a toilet. Sheesh! With Wally it was going to be hard/akward. Just as I was thinking that I looked over my shoulder and there were two ladies heading toward the restroom. I was going to wait for them to come out so it would be free but they couldn't figure out how to get in.  Fem (5) Kronor it was. Naturally I let the older ladies go first. Then I got inside and there was no place to hang Wally.  I guess this means he's not coming off my back.  That was interesting! I'm glad I have mega viking muscles in my legs!

So, off to the freeway *I guess*.  It was so beautiful in Strömstad! There was no rain (thank goodness) only cloudy blue skies, birds, sun and an amazing little fishing town.  I really wish I could have found a babysitter for Wally.  23 kilo is a lot to carry around. Plus, I needed to find a ride before the sun went down.  Off I go!

On the walk to the freeway

I walked a bit then decided to make my sign, attach it to the back of my bag and keep walking.  It was quite hot considering.  So I went to a gas station to buy a map of Norway in case some freak accident happened.  There I sat for a bit with my sign since there was quite a lot of traffic. It seemed like a bad spot after all. Okay, freeway on ramp I go. There an older lady stops me to tell me there is a ferry that will take me to Tonsberg.  The second best destination for only 100 kronor.   Nope! I'm determined!

My first hitch hiking sign!
I continue walking uphill and parallel to the freeway in the direction I want to go.  After walking half a mile or so I find this cute Norwegian girl on a bicycle. I asked her if I was going in the right direction.  She seemed a bit confused but answered, yes, go straight in Norwegian. (I could tell by her body language.)  Then she saw the sign on my backpack and tried once again, a bit harder to give directions. I asked about how far.  She said "not too far about 20 minutes. 20 mins with a big bulky backpack, uphill on a super sunny and quite warm - beautiful day! By this point I was already starting to feel slightly fatigued and I wasn't sure what would happen once I picked up the first ride. I was determined! So, off I go again.  I continued maybe 100 yards before a motorcycle stops.  He looks at me wondering what I'm doing so I stick out my thumb.  He then pulls closer.  He seemed genuinely worried that I needed a ride.  The thing is: I have Wally!! I ask him if he thinks he can fit in on the bike. It seemed impossible.  He seemed to think it was possible.  Then he asked how much it weighed.  50 lbs, about 23 kilo.  Well, that might be too much he replied let down that he couldn't help.  Just another 20 ft there was a van with a guy eating pizza stopped in this little driveway.  The guy approaches that guy next thing I know I have a ride!  The guy on the bike is happy, i'm happy and the guy eating pizza is going to Oslo right now and has to be there by 5pm for school.  How perfect!

My ride was amazing! We talked about Sweden, Norway, the US, food, nature, geography hockey and economics. Since we made good time he was going to drop me off at my destination.... where ever that was! We get into the middle of town where he thinks i'm going.  He asks directions with no luck on where I'm actually supposed to be.  Not even with the help of another girl's iphone. So, he needs to get to school and I don't want to keep him.

Anna requested I grab a photo of him for her curiosity.

I jump out of the van, rearrange my junk and turn the corner. There: is a guy who looks EXACTLY like the person who's place I'm supposed to stay in.  I think to myself, "self: this is too good to be true!" I let my shyness take over and I decide to find wifi so I can call him. A block away I find wifi.  Yes, OF COURSE that was him! I go back and join him and his two friends for a beer and that is how my ride from Gothenburg to Oslo ended. How incredible, RIGHT?! Stay tuned! More to come from Norway soon!

This is where they were walking to when I saw them.  I liked this sign a lot! "They've got... thirsty hitchhikers!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rain on my parade?

This might make for an awesome first #hitchhiking experience Friday! I'm glad it doesn't look like the rest of the week though! Fingers crossed!

Maybe I should consider buying some thing to cover my backpack so it doesn't get soaked! 

Wait! Are YOU headed from Gothenburg to Oslo??

Sunday, August 19, 2012

To infinity and BEYOND!

My stay in Sweden has been nothing short of incredible!  I have met amazing, diligent, beautiful, open minded, super sweet and caring people here. It took me three whole weeks to find someone who I couldn't get along with in some fashion. I snorkeled with jellyfish, took a "bath" in the harbor in the middle of the night when the clouds are still visible, jogged and swam at Kåsjön fresh water reserve, picked raspberries, boated to the granite islands, rock hopped, danced into the morning, enjoyed a fresh cup of Swedish coffee and mowed a GRAND lawn. I ate: messmör, semla, Swedish meatballs, herbs and vegetables from the garden, lingdon berry, a typical Swedish sandwich, home made kladdkaka and I plan to eat the very seasonally traditional crawfish. I have learned a few cute Swedish inside joke type words, have many stories and a collection of new MUSIC! 

Now I must continue on. School is about to start for my sidekick and "mom-ma" is already back to work. 

It looks like the next step is going to be NORWAY! How? Well, that's the beauty of the next chapter of my journey. I now have one MONTH to get 8 hours away to Stockholm.  The strategy is to plan to leave Gothenburg on Friday August 24th.  Maybe there or before I can find a ride north-ish with out hitch hiking. I have spent WAY too much money here so to buy a bus ride sounds a bit lame when I have so much time to get to the next place. (I have a feeling this is where I learn patience.) I do have a tent and a sleeping bag.  If need be; I will check into my portable tent motel in the forest and use my Swedish "right to roam".  This chapter will be a good one.  I'm sure I will learn a lot.  Part of this chapter will be cutting shampoo out of my routine. After a bit of research I don't think it's necessary.  No, my hair shouldn't be greasy or dirty after a few week adjustment period. This shall be a fun experiment for me! More about that to come later....

So, YES!.. back to the plan. I now have an adventure starting October 1st from Stockholm to Germany with a fellow CouchSurfer.  We're going to do.... something..... for a few days while we get from point A to B. Then, it just so happens that there's this small thing going on... maybe you've heard of it? Oktoberfest?  Nej, I didn't think so.  Well it's supposed to be a good time.  I figured since we'll be in the neighborhood we should check it out.  So that's the agenda so far.  No plans after that, yet.  This chapter is about "one day at a time".

I'm stoked to leave Gothenburg, only because it means I get to experience Norway and the "north".  I want to meet a REAL northern Swede that makes this noise by sucking in air to acknowledge the word "yes".   And yes, there are Eskimos there.  They do kiss with their noses and live in block houses! I CAN'T wait!  

Yeah....... so that's the "plan"! Rad! :) 

I have a new hobby: trying to edit videos when I have no clue how.  Those awesome clips of "living" will be done... some time.  Ah haha!

One more thought!: Please write me a comment with some feedback.  Maybe explain how much this info sucks! Thank you. 

Here are some photos in Gothenburg from my little Hero...   
The real Ikea meatballs!

A special holiday pastry called "Semla" - It was made especially for me!

Chowing down some Semla! - Yum yummers!
Home made kladdkaka. a delish choc cake! - Also my special treat! - Sorry it's so dark.

The "Lion Stairs" on a gorgeous summer night. 4:00 am? Notice it's still light out?
Lion Stairs during the day!

Clouds? Yes, this is cloud heaven!
Ahhh..... it was another gorgeous day! Sunbathing was a must!
My new Norwegian friend!
Crazy, cute Swedes - "brother" and "sister"
Yep, another friend! Sweet pillows too, eh?
Uh oh! That's my "up to no good" face.
So..... What you're saying is, "you've never ridden a frog"?
This is how they greet the sun every morning!
World culture fair
World culture festival
Do you see the guy painting? - This is pretty typical in mid-summer.
Each mailbox has the family name.  So cute! 
The REAL photos will be coming soon!

Ephiphany no. 1,307

I thought about whether I really want to post this or not.  I guess I do.  Usually I would stay classy and just think this but not share it so publicly.  I feel like that's exactly the opposite of what this post is about.  So here she goes....

The best part about all of this (traveling) is:  I can do what ever I want! There is no political BS in my life any longer.  If I don't want to listen to the words coming out of someone's mouth; I no longer have to. I can just walk away.  If I want to tell someone to take a hike; that is simply what I'll do.  Moving from city to city gives me such great happiness, freedom and bravery. Not to mention; new amazing friends.

A big thanks to the A-holes! Thanks for allowing me to appreciate such a great God given right in FULL spectrum. Thanks for your arrogance, lack of self reflection and using your power like Darth Vader.  It has brought unto me such great joy and I will NOT join the dark side! Instead I shall rise above.

Enjoying the morning sun with one of my new MOST favorite people (after a ride in the park on a frog and a chicken)!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Young, Wild and Free!

Anna and I headed back to the house by Gothenburg.  The next day I toured the town  with a sweet, local CouchSurfer.  We hiked to the highest point of Gothenburg.  (Naturally I didn't have a camera.) Then took a walk by the harbor and later had home made pancakes.  It was a delightful experience coming from the US.

This is one of the HUGE cranes they used during the industrial revolution to build boats with.  I believe it's the only one that still stands since all the boats are now being made in China.  They tore down everything since. This and a couple old buildings  as a reminder of the era. They also have monuments and literature about the history that took place on this side of town.  It was quite fascinating if you ask me.  Maybe that's because of my blood... I'm not sure.

We decided to go out dancing the next night. I guess anyone that knows me know I don't really care to dance.... usually.  This night was different.  It just came naturally.  I was so amped that I was in Sweden, with my cousin and determined to have the time of my life.  It also didn't hurt that they have a blackjack table in most of the clubs. This allowed me to win enough money for Anna and I to have fun that night for free! We danced our pants off as if tomorrow were the end of the Mayan Calendar!

Enjoying some art sculptures in the park... Haha! Truly a great photo of us!

Without going into the details; I ended up taking a "bath" in the harbor down the street that night. The water was calm and again, the perfect temperature.  I floated around a bit on my back and stared at the clouds as I thought to myself, "Self, is this really your life?". Then I thought, "Self, who has it better than us? NO BODY."  

I think no one bothered me while I was swimming because: In Sweden they have a law that you CAN camp, swim or hike basically anywhere. (If it's someone's property you usually ask permission but there is no "trespassing".) I think this makes the people open to living and to letting others live.  Not even the person snoozing on the next sailboat over in a sleeping bag said anything.  I think this was my favorite element when I was reading about Sweden before I came.

We jumped off the higher part of the dock and used the rope on the dingy of that fancy sail boat in the photo to get out of the harbor.  Thanks rich Swede for sharing your boat!  We thoroughly enjoyed it!

The following day Anna and I went back to the summer house to get some work done.  Compared to the normal American, they DON'T stop here! It's clean, eat, laundry, vacuum, mow the lawn, take out the recycle, go shopping, built a BBQ, cook, eat, sleep, coffee, dance, sing, swim, pack, fish ... or whatever! There is no "down time". I love that.   (I must admit that we were also on a mission to get back to the other house ASAP for more good times!)

I felt like a hobbit mowing the shire.  It must have taken me about two or three hours to mow. This is about 1/3 of their lawn! Look at the shape, and dip of that thing! Imagine how thick the grass must be! Ugh, it was an amazing experience.  They do this every two or three weeks like cutting a piece of cheese. Yes, that is the ocean and a small island in the distance.

After mowing the lawn it was time for a super tasty dinner similar to a Shepard's pie but, actually better, because it didn't have so many carbs.

Then....! a late(r) night boating trip!  We started at 6 pm while it was still VERY much daylight! I'm not exactly sure how it happened but I rode on the FRONT of the boat. There is a small compartment with rope and rails to grab onto the boat as you're jumping on board. That would be what I sat on!

Who needs a JetSki when you can just do this?! It was SOOO much fun! ...and here is my first official YouTube post. I just taught myself how to edit in two days! I'm pretty stoked about it!

More posts coming soon!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Swedish Fish

New York was such a great experience! I'm glad I was able to make it there before I left the US.

The plane ride was great! I just wish I was able to sleep a little more.

I guess I shed a few tears before I switched planes in Berlin. It was then that I realized I was about to make my childhood dreams come true.  It was one of the things that I always thought I wanted to do; but I never saw it actually happening.  At the same time I always knew it would happen.  It was a weird feeling.  Knowing that I was making my dream come true. No excuses! Not money, time or how I "couldn't" do it. I was about to meet family I always wanted to know because I bought the plane ticket and at the end of the day I made it happen.

I switched airplanes in Berlin, ran across the airport because the last plane was late. From there it was another short ride to Gothenburg, Sweden.  I felt like such a smelly mess! I still had the same stale clothes on since sweating cats and dogs in New York. I quickly changed my clothes so my cousins could recognize me, grabbed my bags and was headed to customs.

Customs was going to be tricky since I hadn't actually purchased a plane ticket out of the European union. Right? Nope. There was no customs. I guess because I went through it in Germany? I'm not sure but they really didn't look at my passport in Germany either.   ... I guess I was supposed to just walk out.... Right? It seemed too easy but it was real.

There, I met three strangers: Ingrid, Christian and Anna. Well, okay... They're my distant cousins.  I was greeted with three big hugs despite how cruel I smelled.  We jumped into their red Volvo and drove home.  I explained my "day" which was really two days, not sleeping, nor showering and my awesome adventure in New York.  I was relieved by how cool and sweet they all were.

They showed me to my bed.

Oh, wait! I meant: My very own guest house! Saweeeet!!

I'm so fortunate and grateful for everything!

We had a little "fika" (afternoon swedish style sandwiches, coffee and/or tea and maybe some cookies) and went for an afternoon "bath" in the lake right down the street.  They consider a swimming a "bath".  I think that's quite charming but it makes me feel like I should be bringing my shampoo.

I picked up a GoPro up at the airport in NYC so I could share this and much more with you:

The lake is gorgeous and the water is actually quite warm!

The next morning we packed up our things and headed to their summer house in Kungsbacka, Sweden.  It was a bright, warm, sunny day.  This only leaves one option in the Swede's mind: TIME TO GO BOATING!  Woo hoo!  

We packed up the wheelbarrow with snacks for another "fika", towels, clothes and gas.
Anna, Christian with his sprained ankle and our newly named Wilbur the wheelbarrow - Day 1

Off to the granite islands just a short distance from the house!
Their dock - Day 1

Anna and Captian Christian - Day 1

They gave me the honorary Swedish life jacket. How sweet! :) - Day 1

Woohoo! Almost there! - Day 1

 Boating and Swimming is a big part of their lifestyle. In school the kids are required to take swimming tests. They basically have to be able to save another's life.

 This would be the first time I've snorkeled in the ocean. They have jellyfish everywhere here.  This particular one stings. They have a blue jellyfish that's friendly. :)

The next day I was feeling a bit under the weather so I slept in a bit then...Boating Day 2!
Christian, his (my) fashionable sunglasses and Swedish coffee around sunset (10:30 pm). - Day 2
It was even more gorgeous in person - Day 2

Peace, quiet and the boat - Day 2

All and all I'm sure you guys know how I felt these few days.  I mean... look at that!! Chapter two of my tales in Sweden coming soon(ish).