Category Archives: Travel

South River Falls in Shenandoah Park

A week after visiting Lara, I was back in Shenandoah, this time with Simon instead of on my own. We went for a hike along the South River Falls trail because the park ranger promised waterfalls. We weren’t disappointed.

Afterwards, we picnicked on leftover Afghani food from the day before and ate pie before heading north and back to real life.

 

Drive through Shenandoah

I went to Roanoke and Blacksburg last weekend via the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, and despite the torrential rain and low visibility that persisted for the first half of my seven hour drive, I still saw beautiful nature. For example…

I also felt pretty lucky to be driving through Shenandoah in the clouds because almost no one else was on the Skyline. 35 mph?! I’ve got a better idea.

The month of January: gone!

And bang! In the blink of an eye, January was gone.

The highlight of my month was definitely my trip to Colorado to see Maura, a long-lost soul sister, who I hadn’t seen in approximately one million years (otherwise known as since New Year’s Day 2011). Maura lives in Denver now, a city that is much farther away from DC than Simon had ever imagined. So much so that he spent about 15 minutes measuring the length between the two cities with his thumb and forefinger and comparing it to the distances between different cities in Europe to put it in perspective.

“It’s like going from Stockholm to Crete! It’s like going from Lisbon to Krakow!” 

You get the idea.

I left early in the morning on Saturday with the blinding sun at my back and returned early in the morning on Tuesday with the blinding sun in my eyes. With a new appreciation for just how much distance I was covering (thanks, Simon), it was really wonderful to watch the scenery change beneath me from city to mountains to farmland to serious mountains once again.

The best part about my trip to Denver was having so much quality time with Maura so that we could really catch up on the last two years. Two years! In that time, she met a special guy and gotten engaged and I never even got to meet him until now. Crazy.

We spent one day in the mountains, one day in Denver, and one day going to Maura’s favorite places in the areas around Denver. I went snowshoeing for the first time. The sun was shining, and Maura brought German chocolate cake in her backpack to eat at the top of the trail.

I also love that Maura, who is not super interested in food in general, took me to one million delicious places to eat and drink. We had Vietnamese pho, Nepalese dumplings, Cuban coffee and toast, and classic Colorado microbrews at the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Who knew that Denver is so multicultural? (Not me.)

Hanging out with Maura also got me started on the activity that has consumed the second half of January: WEDDING PLANNING. All this time, I’ve been like, ”Yeah, the wedding’s going to be awesome, but the last time we planned everything within six weeks, so… you know… it’s going to be fine.”

Now I am totally psyched for wedding planning. Like: what are we going to eat?! What color dress do I choose for my bridesmaids?! Who will take the photos?? You know, really life-altering stuff.

We even went to a wedding expo – my mom, Simon, and me – to get inspiration. Simon was one of two men in attendance. (More on that later…) Suffice to say that while stuff like the photos below are totally cute, we will be putting our money on the food and the booze rather than the decorations. Because that’s the way we are.

And then the last thing that I have been totally obsessed with (related to wedding planning, not that we can ever get off of that subject again, sorry!) is the wedding dress. I have two amazing options: wear the one I had for my wedding in Sweden, or update my mom’s and wear that? I took them both to the tailor this morning to see what she thought (I’d need some minor alterations on the one I wore in Sweden, too) and just got so excited by them both. Decisions, decisions!!

February’s going to be huge for me: lots of work coming up on the horizon for the Swedish Embassy, more wedding planning, and hopefully a lot more writing than what I’ve been doing in the past weeks.

Here we go, February. Ready, set, action.

In one week, you can…

Things are happening and time is flying. Maybe I am being secretly filmed for a game show on how many things you can do in a week or how many states you can find yourself in within the space of a few days. The past four days especially have been insane. From our home base in Maryland, we have been to Columbus (OH), Philadelphia, and DC within the last four days.

In Columbus for Simon's first football game... with true fan apparel, thanks to my Dad, a loyal Buckeyes fan.

We had planned the trip to Columbus with my parents way earlier this summer, before we had even moved, to go see my grandma. Then she got the chance to move to a nursing home close to my parents in Maryland, so we decided to go to Columbus anyway, revisit my dad’s childhood haunts, and go to an OSU game — Simon’s first football game.

We arrived home around 11 pm Sunday night, and on Monday we were on our way to Philadelphia to celebrate my sister’s birthday with my parents, my grandmother, Simon and me in the car. I brought my computer and my notes to finish up a freelance project on the ride and sent it five minutes after we had parked in the Italian market district. Then it was off to Distrito for a ridiculously good birthday dinner for Emily. (Happy 23rd, Emily!!)

Emily blows out the churro. (A couple of margaritas and a tequila tasting, the photography was a little blurrier than usual.)

We arrived home around 11 again and went straight to bed, where I had a fitful night of not sleeping because I was too worried that we weren’t going to wake up to our alarm the next morning. Why do we do that? I’m not the only one who does that. It’s strange. When the alarm finally started playing the “magical wake up” song or whatever our ridiculous alarm ring tone is called, I did something I have never done at an unholy hour of the morning: I bounced out of bed, turned off the alarm, and said, “Thank God that’s over!” because I was so sick of quietly trying to go back to sleep. Yes, I am a strange gal.

Tuesday was moving day and from my bizarre morning proclamation onward we were packing, lifting, loading, driving, unloading, lifting, dragging, unpacking and finally unwinding after two couches, one bed, one bike, and a Uhaul full of boxes. And a fruitless cross-city rush to a seminar at the Swedish Embassy for me, which was totally victorious for about thirty seconds. Got to the Embassy with five minutes to spare, knocked on the door to be let in, was promptly informed by the security guard that there were only five minutes left in the lecture but I could go down if I wanted. A valiant attempt sabotaged by my own incompetence. Oh man.

Now we’re back in Maryland for two days, returning the Uhaul and my parents’ car before heading back on Friday (and paying a visit to Ikea). Nothing like some good Swedish interior decorating…

 

Last news for now — the English part of my company website has now launched. I’d love it if you took a look! Stay tuned for the Swedish version if you know any Swedes who might be in need of some Business English consulting/translation services. :)

 

Some photos from our trip to Italy

We’re on vacation in the promised land… aka Italy. It’s our first trip back since we met in Perugia four years ago, and we are having an amazing time. Here are some photos from our trip so far (click on the photos to make them larger):

Foccacia in La Spezia

Zucchini flowers on sale at the grocery store in Perugia.

The lookout from Portovenere's San Pietro church.

Coffee in a tiny bar outside of Perugia.

Basil growing in a shop window in Porto Venere.

The harbor in Porto Venere.

Cheese for sale at the market in La Spezia

San Pietro from above - in Porto Venere

Sicilian goodies for dessert

Train ride to and from Stockholm

Even though all of southern Sweden had terrible rain throughout Midsummer weekend, Stockholm was bright and sunny, as was the trip there. Thanks to Facebook, we got to witness the misery of our friends fending off the predictable Midsummer deluge from a distance.

Those poor guys, we said, clucking and shaking our heads.

The train ride back was equally beautiful until we reached Hässleholm, where Skåne welcomed us back with driving wind and rain. As usual.

Oh well.

For tips on how to save money while traveling in Sweden, check out my Top 5 Money-Saving Tips for Traveling in Sweden from the Expat Blog at Sweden.se. The weather might be extreme, but your budget doesn’t have to be.

Early Morning Breakfast Buffet at Carotte in Stockholm

Surprise, surprise. We are in STOCKHOLM!!

Thanks to either the US State Department or the US Embassy being totally disorganized (not sure which agency deserves the credit), Simon’s interview at the Embassy got moved to TODAY instead of July 23. We’re working on getting our marriage recognized by the US, among other things, and it is a
l-o-n-g and disorganized process.

In any case, two days ago we found out that Simon could do his interview today instead of in a month, so we jumped on the chance to get it over with and (dun dun dun) celebrate Midsummer in Stockholm.

We arrived late last night, and by 7:30 this morning we were chasing after a bus to take us to the embassy area. Simon wasn’t allowed to take his phone into the embassy, so I waited for him at a cafe.

The view from my spot at the window.

Fortunately, we found a really great cafe in right next to the Radiohuset bus stop where we got off. It’s in a pretty strange area of Stockholm that I hadn’t really been to before. There were lots of tall, kind of ominous-looking office buildings — none of either the classic, old-style architecture you expect in Östermalm and none of the glassy, super-modern buildings that make up the other end of the spectrum.

In any case, Carotte Butiken on Karlavägen is a total win in an otherwise odd part of town. They had a small but delicious breakfast buffet, an array of breakfast sandwiches to order a la carte, very good espresso drinks, and an assortment of gourmet bread and pantry goods.

After surfing around on their website for a bit, I found out that Carotte is really just one of many locations serviced by Carotte Catering. Even better — you can get a taste of their food all over the city. Yum! Keep your eyes open for them.

Carotte Butik's breakfast sandwich buffet - the classic Swedish breakfast!

I had the breakfast buffet and a cappucino. I had to sit there for a couple of hours waiting for Simon, so I had basically everything on the buffet: a sandwich on their homemade sourdough bread, fresh fil (sour yogurt) with nuts, seeds, and muesli, and a smoothie. All of it was top-notch, possibly with the exception of the fil, which was good for what it is but a little sour for my taste in general.

The toppings for yogurt are in the small bowls.The blue towels are hiding the freshly-baked bread, and the three pitchers on the left contain some sort of berry smoothie, filmjölk, and orange juice.

 

For more info:

Carotte’s website with info on all their locations (in Swedish): http://www.carotte.se/

The Carotte Butik that I went to is located at Karlavägen 110 and is open Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 6:00 pm.

There’s another Carotte Butik at Tegeluddsvägen 92, and it is open Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Carotte Catering also serves a wide variety of restaurants, galleries, workplaces, and events… keep your eyes open for them!

Carotte Butik's breakfast buffet


Visa större karta

A Romantic Getaway at Ystad Saltsjöbad | the Expat Blog

This blog post is an excerpt. You can read the whole post at A Romantic Getaway at Ystad Saltsjöbad at the Expat Blog at Sweden.se.

Have you ever heard about the one marshmallow/two marshmallow dilemma?

In the late 1960s, Stanford professor of psychology Walter Mischel ran a series of tests on children to measure their levels of self-control. He would allow them to choose a treat of their choice (one of which was a marshmallow), and then leave them alone in a room with the treat. The children got a deal, though: if they could resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow until the researcher came back, they would be rewarded with an extra marshmallow. Pretty sweet deal… if you can resist temptation.

When I was young, I was a classic two-marshmallow kid.

Lindt truffles, for example, were a special treat for extra special good behavior. I would carefully bite the little ball in half and save the second part for the next day. My mom thought there was something wrong with me. (Or just as likely, that I had been switched for another woman’s child at the hospital.)

These days, the two marshmallow behavior manifests itself in my habit of spreading out special treats and events so that the calendar is evenly peppered with things to look forward to. The bigger the treat, the more likely I am to postpone it so that I can look forward to it for a long, long time.

Which brings us to last weekend, when Simon and I finally took advantage of the romantic getaway to Ystad Saltsjöbad we had been given for our wedding a mere five months or so ago.

My favorite part of the trip (besides all my other favorite parts) was undoubtedly the apparel. Have robe and monogrammed slippers, am ready to relax. Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

Part of me is tempted to just say, “HOOOWEE! WHAT A WEEKEND!” and leave it at that.

You guys have seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, right? So you know what life is like in Sweden. Just take Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and put it in a spa, take out the violence and abuse, and add ridiculous amounts of eating, and you’re so there. Catch you on the flip side.

Ok, fine. Back to Ystad (which is, by the way, pronounced something like EEE-stahd, in case you were wondering.)

Ystad Saltsjöbad is practically an institution in Skåne, rich with history like other legendary hotels such as Sun Valley Resort in Idaho or the Biltmore in North Carolina. To be honest, though, since we weren’t getting any spa treatments, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Actually, the main thing I was looking forward to was eating (obviously) and getting to wander around in a robe and slippers. Which I did.

Everyone gets a complimentary set of monogrammed slippers plus a bathrobe to wear, and people just shuffle around the premises with this outfit and the contentedly glazed-over expression of cult members fresh out of the latest brainwashing session. It’s fantastic.

The color of our skin after a Swedish winter? One might say "pasty", but I'm going to go with iridescent. Just like how I don't sweat. (I "glow.") Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

Look at the tiny individual tube of Kalle's Kaviar! So cute. Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

This blog post is an excerpt. You can read the whole post at A Romantic Getaway at Ystad Saltsjöbad at the Expat Blog at Sweden.se.

A quick look around Ystad

The full description of our fabulous 24 hours at Ystad Saltsjöbad is still coming, but in the meantime, here are some photos from Ystad.

Ystad is a tiny but extremely cute little town that is best known as the setting of Henning Mankell’s Wallander series.

Unlike small towns in the US, Ystad has a compact downtown with restaurants, shopping, and residential areas all within walking distance. The municipality has taken a strong stand against malls developing on the outskirts of town, so while their shopping district is smaller than Lund or Malmö’s, there’s an equally large range of shops and stores. In Lund and Malmö, small boutiques have a hard time paying the high rents demanded downtown, so it’s mostly chains. Simon and I did our part to support the local economy by buying a pair of shoes each. (Very altruistic, I know.)

Fun fact: Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li was born in Ystad.

We walked around for about an hour in the sunshine before we decided it was time to head home. More to come later! 

A very short review of Ystad Saltsjöbad

Within half an hour of arrival, I looked like this:

More to follow later!

rain and cold
are not conducive to fun.