Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cozy Christmas in Västervik

Our Christmas holiday started last Friday with a bus trip to Västervik on Senior Svenssons' double-decker bus on one of the year's busiest days of travel in the midst of a snowstorm. Miraculously, we made it in just over 4 hours, only 15 minutes late. 

From Friday night through to our return to Stockholm on Wednesday evening, we gathered around the table - many tables actually - of family and ate and drank to our hearts content - and then some. We enjoyed the gorgeous winter scenes in the few hours of sunlight which reached our northern latitudes, and lit candles and fires in the cozy evenings. 

Friday was in fact the shortest day of the year with sunrise at 8:44 and sunset at 2:48 - 6 precious hours, all of which were cloud-covered. No matter, the snowy wonderland brought the perfect white Christmas. And the next day, a slushy soup ensued overnight from the cold rain. Now the streets and sidewalks are a dirty, icy mess - so much for my cross country ski training, for now at least.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bastu bliss

The perfect way
to end a weekend 
in need of a detox

A visit to the sauna of course.

Bask in sauna at 80º C (176º F)
Plunge into 2ºC water

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Julbord in the Sky

Or at least as high as possible in Stockholm. On Saturday night, we ventured across the city to Fåfängen Restaurant for the infamous Swedish Julbord, or Christmas table

our julbord - the after shot (sorry, was too busy eating for any others)

The Julbord is (naturally) a smörgåsbord - with pretty much the same foods every time - consisting of a wide variety of pickled herring (sill), meatballs, beet salad, johnsson's temptation potatoes, prince sausage, cabbage - the list goes on. Ours also had bear meatballs and some sashimi to shake things up a bit. Oh, and most important - the snaps.

Fåfängen means the vanity, and so this highly perched restaurant was named for its location at the top of a mountain, overlooking the entire city of Stockholm, and where people in the old days came to see and be seen. 

I don't think we were seen by many, as a snowy dark winter night is not the best time to parade atop a mountain. But is indeed the perfect time to gorge oneself on portion after portion of hearty holiday fare. And so we did. We ate; we drank; we sang; we were merry. And a serious food coma set in shortly thereafter. Fortunately, I was able to overcome this temporary incapacitation in time for continuing on to the city for a few late-night drinks.

Post-Julbord, I sweat out my copious over-eating in the steamy sauna, broken up by plunges in some very, very cold water. Guarding the long staircase leading down to the little hut of heat, I found this gorgeous Christmas tree. We also have one in front of our apartment building, the side of which looks like a bite has been taken out of it. No matter - it's a welcome light in the darkness.

our Luciatåg - Lucia train - today

And while I'm on the subject of Christmas (I can't seem to avoid it - not that I mind), today is Lucia in Sweden! On December 13, Sweden celebrates St. Lucia, a saint rumored both to have been Adam's first wife and to have consorted with the Devil. 

Today, people - mostly children - dress up in long white robes as star boys or tärnor (the name for the girls - any good translations out there?), and one lucky girl gets chosen to be Lucia herself. The entourages travel through the city singing traditional Swedish carols and bringing light to one of the darkest days of the year. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy First Advent

Sunday was the first Advent and here in Stockholm,
that means you can put up your Christmas decorations!

our first Christmas wreath

It doesn't sound like a big deal, but really it is. Waiting through weeks of increasing darkness for the moment to hang our shining star (jultjärna) brightly in the window can seem like forever. And this occasion must not be a day before the First Advent. But as of Sunday, our apartment is full of holiday cheer with Christmas candles (adventljusstaker) and star in the window flanked by red curtains, berries in a vase, and a wreath on the door.

I am also happy to report that my patience for snow has paid off as well - since last Thursday, Stockholm has been cloaked in a beautiful winter wonderland. The temperatures have also dropped to -15C, but I can't say I mind - my super-duper down jacket keeps me warm (most of the time), and when everything is so bright and gorgeous, I can't complain. I just hope this snow keeps up all winter! Now to find my sled...

And a couple pictures from the Gamla Stan Christmas market on Saturday - 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November in a Flash

November has flown by, and with it, the darkness has arrived here in Stockholm. Our trip to the States last week broke up the onset of winter drear, but the return was all too fast of a transition to what seem like sunless days.

There is a rawness to the air that could be described as exhilarating on a good day. The cold wetness is marked by running noses and rosy cheeks, and thanks to my new gum boots, I'm not afraid of trekking through muddy splotches before the ground compacts to its annual frozen state. 

Truly, I love winter - but mostly because of the snow. And since it hasn't come yet, I'm doing my best to persevere, waking up each morning in hopes that the thermometer has sunk to negative temps. No such luck lately.

In the meantime, we've been enjoying Thanksgiving dinners, from cold cut turkey sandwiches to the whole shebang; the start of glögg season (the incredibly delicious Swedish version of mulled wine, served only in the Christmas season); lussekatt (a Swedish saffran bun, also served only during Christmas); and catching up on sleep from jet-lag, which seems to get worse with each trip we take. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Opening Night at Friends Arena

Svenska Ögonblick - The Swedish Blink of an Eye

Stockholm's new Friends Arena opened last Saturday night with a show of probably more artists than I've seen in the last 5 years combined, all Swedish. Icona Pop, The Hives, First Aid Kit, Eagle Eye Cherry and Tomas Levin, to name a few. And a finale by the infamous Roxette

The arena, by far the largest in the country, seats up to 65,000 people. We sat in a corner, pretty high up. In these massive stadiums, I always feel like with one wrong step, I'll topple head-over-heels through the rows of seats to the bottom, which would have been a pretty long fall on this occasion. Fortunately, there were no casualties that I know of. 

The invigning [inaguration] was a mix of pop hits of today, classics from years past, and a few traditional Swedish songs from musicals and the like. Overall, the show had a low tempo, broken by a few performers, but I think the idea was to appeal to all ages. And there certainly was something for everyone. Although I'm not sure there needed to be 3 songs in a row from the Swedish musical Duvemåla. Perhaps you need to be Swedish to appreciate it. 

At one point, the beloved crown princess Victoria appeared to welcome everyone to the spectacular show, and stood on a small stage right below us. All around, it was a pretty cool performance, and a glimpse into Swedish culture through the decades.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Big Ol' Pile of Leaves

As I was biking home from work today, I came across this gigantic pile of leaves in Rålambshovsparken along the way. A child's autumn haven. I almost jumped in myself. And was surprised that no one else was already buried in the red-yellow-orange cloud of winter's coming. But the day was cold - probably the coldest since summer considering as I write this, it's started to snow! - and people hurried to get home in the fast-fading daylight.

Last weekend, I entertained my 2-year-old, soon-to-be niece for at least an hour by gathering a few leaves and tossing them in the air while exclaiming Weeeeeeeeee! Again. And again. And again. She loved it, and upon throwing the leaves upward, would mimic my Weeee! with a more Swedish version, Veeeee!, head tilted skywards and eyes scrunched closed. Sometimes it takes a 2-year-old to see the beauty - or at least the fun - in a few wet leaves on the ground. I can imagine this pile would be at least a week's worth of entertainment. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Night at Cliff Barnes

Cliff Barnes: a well-known character on the show Dallas and a not-so-well-known restaurant and bar in Stockholm. On Friday night, I organized some colleagues to check out the latter, namely the dancing on chairs that happens late in the evening.

Above was the view from my chair, that is, from standing on my chair. Standing on chairs - and sometimes even tables (although the list of rules/FAQs says this is a no-go) - is the norm at Cliff Barnes while singing to a variety of tunes between the hours of 11pm and 1am. The building, which resembles an old school, was actually a home for widows. What better place for a bar?

We started with drinks and moved on to dinner, selected from a particularly unusual menu with items such as grisotto (a combination of grits and risotto, I assume), American brisket, and porkchop with pig cracklings. I had red snapper with fried soft-shell crab, which was good, although a bit too fishy for my taste. Topped off with dessert: popcorn ice cream with brownie and fudge sauce. The ice cream tasted surprisingly like popcorn, although also like burnt vanilla. And the fudge sauce was far too little. 

At 11pm, the lights were dimmed, the long, red-velvet curtains were drawn, and the music was turned up - dance time! We chair-top danced to our hearts' content, and then some. 2 hours later, we stumbled out, feet aching and fun songs replaying in our heads. I think I fell asleep to Livin' on a Prayer. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Close of the Season: Hässelbyloppet

Today I "finished" my running season with the Hässelbyloppet, considered to be one of Stockholm's fastest 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) races. And a great close to the season it was, with a finish of 48:18 - my fastest ever!

We arrived in Hässelby, out west at the end of the green metro line, with half an hour to the start. I hadn't been feeling great, and combined with the cold, wet weather, was not expecting much from myself. 

Waited in the ever-long line to the port-o-potties (one of my favorite words - bajamaja - in Swedish)> handed in bag> dashed to the start line with a few minutes to spare. 

In the tävlingsklass, or"competing start group," I was surrounded by serious, albeit anxious, runners, clad in the latest dry-fit, breathable, vapor-shield-max, custom gear ... or something like that. And I in my 10-year-old North Face fleece with tiny holes from the sparks of a campfire; hand-me-down cotton stretch pants; and shoes covered in mud from my most recent races (both of which, as luck would have it, were during or just after rainstorms). Hmmm what am I doing here?

Today's Hässelbyloppet - it's 25th year! - wove mainly along leaf-mâchéd asphalt paths through neighborhoods and past the gorgeous Hässelby castle which we passed on the course's only long uphill, a gradual ascent in kilometer 7 in which I was feeling surprisingly great. Floating along, I passed several people at a good pace - but reality kicked in again by the next kilometer.

Despite it all, my fighting finish put me a minute ahead of my fastest 10-kilometer time, and deserving of 2 cinnamon buns, according to myself. I also skipped the line for these. Accidentally, of course. And just checked - finished 173/1,923! Until next year...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Kanelbullar Bliss

I live in a country where baked goods are celebrated with their own day - how perfectly appropriate! Especially as I've earned the nickname Kakie in my office for my love of cake and other sweet treats. I am never one to pass on a dessert, any time, any place.

Today - October 4 - is Kanelbullens Dag, or Cinnamon Bun Day, in Sweden. Celebrated country-wide since 1999, this day gives everyone an excuse to indulge in a classic favorite at least once. NS and I started early, sharing Gunnarsons last one of the day yesterday evening. Or more like, me giving it to NS as a present before eating more than half of it myself. The tribute to this oh-so-delicious baked item continued into today when my office put out this gigantic bowl, chock-full of homemade buns. Well, for a couple minutes at least - they didn't last for long. 

Half an hour after they were announced, I couldn't stop myself from sneaking back to see if there were any extras ... and found just a couple sugar granules at the bottom of the bowl. Well, I've got plenty of places where I can buy kanelbullar in this country. And I doubt I'll ever get tired of eating them.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kräftskiva i Ljusterö!


In Sweden, eating crayfish is a BIG deal. Who would've guessed? Eating crayfish is a yearly tradition typical for August* when the crayfish are in season (although these days frozen ones are available year-around - but that's not as fun, right?). 

The typical kräftskiva, or crayfish party, includes buckets of crayfish (see above), snaps (also above), newspaper hats (see below - not sure how necessary these are), and lots of singing. We actually had song sheets with both Swedish and English drinking songs, which our merry gang sang with great vigor, although slightly less harmony.

The entire meal reminded me of the Chesapeake Bay crab feasts I know so well from home. Picking meat out of the tiny cavities of crustaceans and drinking lots of beer/snaps. It is a time-consuming endeavor, but well worth the effort.

And this, all thanks to Greta & Magnus for hosting in their cozy country cabin on Ljusterö, an island just north of Stockholm. Tack så mycket!!

*You're right, this post is, once again, slightly belated. This wonderful celebration actually took place on September 1.

Monday, September 24, 2012

FUN @ Debaser

Last Saturday night, 3 American girls gallivanting through the streets of Stockholm found ourselves at Debaser in Medborgarplatsen where FUN played an excellent - albeit short - concert to several hundred fans. After enjoying cocktails with intriguing names such as Shady Place and Hips like Cinderella (I can recommend both), we managed to squeeze our way to within a couple meters of the stage, immersed in the intense cheers of a jam-packed&sweaty crowd. Perhaps these cheers were what prompted lead singer Nate Ruess to announce that we were his favorite crowd ever. He'd never say that to every crowd, right

Regardless, Ruess' voice is incredible, the band's music is light-hearted and fun, and the atmosphere of the show was indie-pop-haven. It made for a great night out, despite our failed attempts to meet the band afterwards. We settled instead for Sky Bar in Skrapen, Söder's highest building with incredible views overlooking the city.

My head and my feet faced the consequences on Sunday... but the night was well worth it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Party Time at the Sauna

Or rather, I should say, on the nude sun-bathing deck perched on the cliffs overlooking the sauna and surrounding docks. This post is late by a couple weeks - the party was August 25 - but I will write it anyway as a tribute to one of Stockholm's few beautiful, warm(ish) evenings this summer.*

For a fee of 200sek (that's about $30US), guests received a fruity welcome drink (or two); a buffet meal of fresh salmon, potatoes, and salad; an incredible, homemade chocolate raspberry pie; and all the chili nuts we could get our hands on. The classic Swedish BYOB applied - and guests certainly took advantage, some toting liters of vodka and whiskey. 

Built over 50 years ago, this partially-covered, wooden sun deck of Fredhällbadet overlooks Lake Mälaren and the islands Störa and Lilla Essingen. Despite it's central location, this corner of the island is tucked away and feels like a semi-escape from the city. 

Our presence at this annual jubilation dropped the average age by about 35 years - but that didn't mean our fellow sauna-ers couldn't party. The nearly full moon lit up the deck as we danced to the gubbrock band - "old-man rock" band - late into the night... or perhaps not so very late for us considering most of the others were still going strong when we bid our goodbyes. 

And the quote of the night: "I didn't recognize her with clothes on," whispered on more than a few occasions. Oh the joys of our naked sauna club.

*I can officially report that the temperature rose above 25°C (77°F) on a total of 5 days over the entire summer in Stockholm. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Confessions of an American Cycler in Stockholm

From April to November, my main mode of transportation through Stockholm is my bicycle. I bought my beloved cruiser the week I first arrived in Sweden, and have been a devoted rider ever since. 

Photo by NS (and his bike too!)

Over the last couple years, I have learned a lot about cycling in this city, one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, I should add. And I thought I was doing fairly well with my cycling competence until recently, as a series of events have unfolded, forcing me to completely rethink my form. 

Just this evening on my way home from Swedish class, I was pedaling uphill on Odengatan (one of Stockholm's busier streets) and cut left toward home. As I waited for a bus to pass before making the turn, I could just make out the face of the driver in the settling darkness - a face full of disapproval, shaking both head and finger at me for what may as well have been a mortal sin. Bus lane only: I must admit I'd thought of the possibility before, but it never seemed to be a problem for me to be there... 

Last week, I was vigorously cycling my way through the rain along Norrmälarstrand (one of the city's beautiful, waterside streets) when a stout man with glasses, a small dog, and a green umbrella with white polka dots approached the cross walk across the cycle path. I planned to sail smoothly behind him - but he stopped - forcing me to cut him off and prompting him to shriek a string of swear words in my direction while repeatedly smashing his umbrella against the ground until it broke. For a few seconds, I thought this angry fellow, whose morning I had just ruined, might actually chase me down. And on my 1-gear bike, I'm fairly certain he would've caught me. 

Which brings me to my next cycle faux pa: squeaky breaks. As you await a green light at an intersection and suddenly hear a high-pitched, screeching sound behind you, you can safely bet it is me. Oh the joys of a bike older than myself. Whether in car or on bike, there is no escaping the volume of this screech, especially on humid days. Pedestrians have actually told me how embarrassing my brakes are. Sometimes I share a sheepish chuckle with fellow-riders. But mostly I am on the receiving end of irritating glares.

Despite all of my cycle mishaps, big and small, there are a few things I do correctly: I always stay as far right as possible, allowing faster bikes (aka all bikes) to easily pass me. I wear a helmet. And I am happy to report that currently both my back and front lights are fully functional.

In conclusion, I have come to the realization that I still have a lot to learn about biking in Stockholm - and I guess it will probably be awhile before I'm doing this:


Monday, August 27, 2012

The Dog Days of Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware: my second States-side home. For as long as I can remember, and then a few years further back, my family has been visiting this small seaside town in Delaware. Today, slightly bigger (and a bit more trashy), Rehoboth still has the charm of boardwalk bars full of salty sea air, beach cottages in leafy neighborhoods, and of course the Paratrooper ferris wheel at Funland

I must admit, this castle is not our creation

Last week, NS & I crossed the ocean for our annual family getaway in Rehoboth. We quickly adapted to the beach lifestyle - slow, leisurely days followed by casual family dinners and wild.... or maybe not so wild nights. Admittedly, the wildest it got was our Dragon lair cab ride home from seeing Citizen Cope at the Bottle & Cork (self=proclaimed "The Greatest Rock 'n Roll Bar in the World"). This station wagon cab's roof was covered with parking cones shaped like dragon spikes with the following words across the window - "Enter this really gnarley dragon wagon if you dare." Cabs are surprisingly scarce at the beach, and so we did enter, and made it home in one piece, albeit brains cluttered with some of the dirtiest jokes I've ever heard. 

We enjoyed all the classic beach foods> Kohr Bros ice cream on the boardwalk (despite my sister's insistence that it mysteriously doesn't melt) >Thrasher's french fries (since 1929), soaked in vinegar > Grotto Pizza > smoothies from Greenman (one of the few healthy things we ate the whole week); and the Rehoboth Farmer's Market, full of delicious goodies straight from Deleware's farmlands.

The week was truly wonderful, but flew by far too fast and before we knew it, we were on our way back to Sweden. But there was one last party: celebrating this amazing woman, my grandmother's, 100th BIRTHDAY!!!! Dozens of relatives gathered, from all corners of the nation, to commemorate this milestone on what was named Louise Dodd Day in Maryland. How many people get to have a day named after them?!

Happy Birthday Grandmama! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Roadtripping through Southern Sweden

Our journey started in NS' hometown, Västervik,
which lives up to its motto, "The Pearl of the East Coast" - especially in the summertime.

Our next stop was Nina's family island, in the archipelago outside Västervik
where we swam and sun-bathed, explored and relaxed, ate good food, and drank wine
until the sun went down.

Back in Västervik, we watched thousands of motorcycles in the annual parade of HojRock
Northern Europe's biggest motorcycle festival.

We had some amazing family dinners
late into the evening,

followed by fresh night swims
in the moonlight.

After 9 days on the East Coast,
it was time to venture way out west - to Steninge.

We visited Halmstad, a beautiful, windy coastal town
full of surfers and beach-lovers - my kind of place.

Family gathered together in the family cabin on the ocean, surrounded by fields of cows,
and ran around the yard until we were warm enough to jump in the brisk waters.

For a few days, we did this
and I enjoyed every second of it.

As always, it was time to go home too early.
But just as we've barely arrived back in
Stockholm, we leave for the US to see
American family and friends - 
and get some true summer heat.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Splendor of Västervik's Archipelago

Serene and beautiful, Sweden's archipelago - the skärgården, they call it - is truly magnificent. During our week-long holiday in Västervik, we ventured out to one of the islands overnight - my first true island experience, you could say. I visited to tourist-riden Fjäderholmen, just 20 minutes by boat from Stockholm, 4 times last summer - and promised I'd go further than that first stop-off this year. And now I've done it - beyond Stockholm to Tjust skärgård!

The island was small - enough so that I could leisurely swim around it in about 15 minutes (Michael Phelps could probably do it in 5, tops). We spent the afternoon lounging on this dock (see photo), soaking in the streaming sunshine on one of the few gorgeous days this summer has brought, and taking a dip before we ever completely dried off.

In the evening, we re-located to the westward-facing dock, perched on a small cliff above the water, from which we sat with bar-b-qued pork and boxed wine, watching the sun set and the moon rise.

When the sky was nearly dark - around 1030pm - and our mosquito spray could no longer ward off the swarming bugs, we took a late-night swim before crawling into our bunk beds by candlelight (no electricity or running water on the island). Ahhhhhhh the Swedish summer!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Homemade Flädersaft aka Elderberry Juice

Flädersaft! A Swedish summer tradition!

fläder = elderberry
saft = juice/ concentrate

I've never actually made my own juice before (unless you count powdered lemonade), and hadn't thought to make it until coming to Sweden where everyone talks about their flädersaft. Have I ever even tasted elderberry before moving to Sweden? I think not. Is this homemade juice a new trend? Perhaps - and I like it! 

Fläder/ elderberry is a white flower of tiny petals that grow on bushes. The flowers come in late spring/ early summer, so the time is now - and going fast. To start with our creation, Greta and I gathered 50 of these blooms, easily accessible right in our neighborhood. We then mixed these blooms with lemons, water, lots of sugar, and some other stuff I don't know the name of in English. And - viola! - we got this:

After stirring this mix of deliciousness once a day for 5 days (thank you G!) and draining it (again, I cannot take credit for this part either), we had one heck of a juice, or rather a concentrate to mix with aqua. 

And so it was time for the official taste test (see above). After much deliberation between our choices: this year's homemade juice, G's homemade juice from last year, and a store-bought version, we decided (without prejudice) that our batch was the best! I now have my first partially frozen batch of elderberry concentrate in my freezer. Come rain or shine (more likely rain of late), I have a small taste of summer to last through the year.

NB- Mix with bubble water for an extra kick!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Celebrating America in Fredhäll Park!

The 4th of July has been my favorite holiday since the days running around Market Street barefoot covered in raw egg and water balloon remnants of games, helping clean up in exchange for a box of sparklers. Things have changed a bit - for one, I've yet to find sparklers in Stockholm - but we still celebrated with a bbq in the park.

Even with our turnout of nearly 40, there were only 4 Americans in attendance (+ 1 later on) - so naturally, we had to represent our country with a rendition of "America" (chosen as the song to which we all knew the most lyrics). There is a film of our performance somewhere, but I won't subject you to it here. 

I can't claim to be the creator of these beautiful cakes (Tracy is!), but I did supply the  burgers and dogs, potato salad (made by NS), and fruit salad. Everyone brought something small to share, so we had plenty of food. The grilling was done on all of 7 disposable grills. The games were played by all, and ranged from the classic water balloon toss to throwing ping pong balls into cups on top of people's heads. We even adopted a couple Swedish classics like kubb and "the ring game" (does anyone know the official name?).

Despite calls for thunder storms, not a drop fell (Swedish weather forecasting per usual). Our celebration of America ended up just as we had hoped - a warm, glorious day in the park among good friends and food.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Beautiful Viking

Yesterday my Viking turned 30!

We celebrated the occasion with a surprise helicopter ride on Saturday, followed by a surprise birthday party on Saturday night, a brunch on Sunday, and watching Sweden v Ukraine at The Liffey on Monday (unfortunately Sweden lost). It was certainly a weekend to remember.

Wishing the best 30th year to my beautiful, kind, hilarious, thoughtful Niklas on this very special day (+1)! I'm so happy we could celebrate together. On to the next decade!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sweden's National Day!

Swedes love their royal family. Through sickness and in health, birth and scandal, there will be a line of cheering supporters wherever the king, queen, prince, and princesses go.

And today, for the first time, we were members of that entourage - my first in-person royalty sighting!

our excitement pre-sighting

Just a row back from the front, we waited patiently in the afternoon sunshine for a glimpse of Sweden's renowned family. Diplomats drove through the crowd, followed by a skateboarder, a couple of motorcycles, and finally, the coveted moment. Led by the royal cavalry guards, 2 carriages rolled by, carrying the king and queen, and then the royal kids, waving happily in their traditional outfits .... and then they were gone. As fast as the moment came, it went - that was fine with me because I was hungry. Still, a cool experience to see the most famous family in Sweden.

the royal "children" - Philip, Madeleine, Victoria, & and Victoria's new husband,                              Daniel (a commoner!)
King Karl Gustav XIV & Queen Sylvia (originally German)

Monday, May 21, 2012

10K around Kungsholmen Island

Racing season has begun. 

For me it started over a month ago, on a 5k through a muddy, hilly forest north of Stockholm with mounds of snow alongside the trail and trees toppled over as obstacles. 
Not my best time, but a good start.

That day, however, is not the photo you see above. This photo, taken on May 5, is from the 
10-kilometer Kungsholmen Runt
just a few weeks later.

At this point in the race, we had just powered up one of the course's long, slow hills and were just under 2 kilometers from the finish. We also happened to be passing just by my apartment building, at which point, part of me wished I was still in my bed on a Saturday morning as I'm sure so many others were. But that momentary longing passed and I focused on a strong finish.

My goal was to finish in under 50 minutes. For some reason, from the first kilometer, I'd got it in my head that I needed to run 4:30-minute kilometers. Really no excuse for such lousy math in the first kilometer. But with the speed of my first few kilometers*, I was able to finish in
[drumroll please]
and 87th out of 679 women

Next 10k goal> under 49:30   Next race> undecided     Next run> tomorrow

*it wasn't until halfway  through the race that I figured out my calculation error

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tyresta National Park

20 kilometers south of Stockholm, Tyresta National Park offers 5,000 hectacres of nearly untouched land. Us city dwellers found a true escape there on May day,* when we hiked 10 kilometers through this gorgeous woodland. With both pine and deciduous trees, Tyresta has such variety to admire, as well as (apparently) 8,000 different species of animals. We only saw a few, mostly bugs and birds, but we did see 2 small snakes basking in the sun, which was the same idea we had. 

We settled on a sunny rock by this lake for our picnic lunch, and soaked up as much sun as we could, despite the chilly wind. We hiked and we climbed and we orienteered our way, and then we ate and relaxed and hiked some more and then we were very thirsty and drank some water and hiked again

and then we were back where we started where we waited for the bus to the train to the metro to home. Our woodlands adventure was a success! Thank you Sweden for your May day holiday!

*yes, this post is slightly outdated