It’s taken a few days for us to get into the travel groove, but we’re there. After returning home from China, I wanted enough time to pass so that the kids could undertake a trip like this with a little more…independence. To me that meant I wouldn’t have to carry their snacks, accompany them to the bathroom or entirely pack their suitcases. To them it meant they could walk through passport control alone, buy their own souvenirs and occasionally stay in hotel rooms alone while I kept bouncing around foreign cities.
Now that we’re grooving, the days have skipped by at a mighty pace. Our first stop was Sweden, a country I hadn’t thought too much about prior to, well, ever. As it goes, I now can’t wait to go back someday.
Sweden was filled with sunny, blustery days. There wasn’t a single moment when I failed to communicate with the locals because their English is just that darn good. I loved its sense of calm order, beauty and peacefulness. Perfect for someone like me who thrives with a little order and a sturdy plan!
We spent our time in Sweden mixing Mom activities with kid activities. A trip to the National Palace was followed by a trip to the amusement park, Grona Lund. A meal of sushi followed the previous night’s choice of fast food. We visited the Wasa Museum, dedicated entirely to the study of the ruins of a nearly 400-year-old ship. The kids complained before we entered, but were the last to want to leave.
Our time in Stockholm also reminded me that visits to foreign countries are best when paired with a personal touch. This time that meant the hours we spent with one of my former students from China. Walt and I leading the kids around Stockholm was amusing, both of us being slightly, shall we say…directionally-challenged. Yet somehow even getting lost on the subway proved to be an adventure. The kids and I were also lucky enough to spend a day with Halsningar, a friend of my father’s from when he was only 18 years old. As a foreign exchange student for three weeks, Dad lived in suburban Stockholm with Halsningar and his family. He welcomed us back more than 50 years and a couple generations later.
After eating enough Swedish pancakes and raw salmon to fuel me for a month, the kids and I were off to Finland. I stood inside the high speed train that would take us to the airport while Walt stood on the platform, the two of us talking rapidly until the moment the train door slid closed, separating us yet again.
Coming next…Finland with friends!