Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29th, 2012, "Returning Home"

Great Stockholm coast line
from Estonial Ferry.
     Getting home is always nice, especially after a 3 week trip like we just completed. However, our hearts are heavy, because we miss our Granddaughter very much! God, I wish we were closer.
     With that said, we returned to Stockholm last Tuesday morning from our trip to Estonia. We had a great time, had great food, great sights, and as always great company!
Abby, Becca, Scout, & Ann
in Stockholm.
     Upon our return, Becca, Scout, Abby, & myself stay in Stockholm and Jesper heads back to Dalaro. We're going to meet with Ann Malmberg for lunch, then hang out with her for the afternoon. We meet at the Swedish Museum of the Arts and have a great lunch. After lunch we walk, maybe 800 meters to the Royal Palace to take a tour. The history lesson is always good and the palace, well you know is a palace! No photos allowed inside.
     After our tour, Ann & Abby head off for some girl time alone, getting to know each other better. Abby tells me, they had a great time, having coffee and cake, walking around "old town" and just plain chatting. Becca, Scout and myself head off to do some last minute shopping and Jesper with Pillar pick us up and we head home to Dalaro.
Scout, Becca, Great Grandfather Ulf,
& Jesper.
     The last days of our visit to Sweden is wind down time and packing time for our trip home. Again we would like to thank Jesper's aunt Eva and uncle Clause for their hospitality in letting us stay at their summer home. It was great!
     On Thursday, Jesper's grandfather comes out for lunch and family time. Grandfather Ulf is quite the charmer, as he enters the cottage, Abby is sitting with Scout and Ulf says to Becca, "This is your sister?" We have a simple lunch that Jesper prepares, potato and brat's, served with some very good Estonian mustard Jesper brought back.
Goodbyes are always hard,
Becca, Scout, & Abby at
Stockholm airport.

 Friday morning comes before we know it. Up at 4 am, to make our 1 1/2 hour trip to the airport. Leaving is never easy for us, whether if it is Becca leaving the states or as it was yesterday, us leaving for the first time Sweden. This time was no different, in fact worse, as we're leaving Becca, Jesper, and now Scout. Tears flow, hugs & kisses and off we go. We can't wait for our next visit!

Going Home.

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24th, 2012 "Our Last Weekend"

     Our last weekend of this glorious trip started Thursday in Stockholm, with Abby & I going on a mini travel adventure by ourselves. Becca took us to the 869 bus into Stockholm which was at 7:30am, this was about a 30 minute ride, the others on this double bus were commuters, with ear phones in, laptops on, books and papers in hand, theres not much interaction between all of the occupants.
     Arrival at the tube brings us to a game of follow the leader, Becca told us when we get off the bus to follow the crowd to the boarding area and get on the tube and take it to the central station. Our tickets for all of this was on Becca's smart phone, she purchased them and they are good for 1 1/2 hours, for both the bus and tube. She told us that more than likely the driver of the bus wouldn't even look at the ticket, and she was correct, he waived us to the back. The gentleman at the tube only looked at one of the passes, I then fumbled with the smart phone and he promptly said to go on that he had seen the other email message. Good eyes he had.
     Again the ride on the tube was about 6 stops before getting to central, same as the bus, morning commuters with ear plugs in, laptops on, papers up, very little talk. I don't really understand it, as I usually talk when going on a commute for work, either on the phone or to myself.
     Getting off of the tube again becomes a game of follow the leader to get out of the subway up to street level. Hailing a taxi to take us to our departure point is easy, but have you ever noticed that more times than not, the taxi driver is more foreign than you are. Oh well, he got us there and for not to much of an expense. It's around 8:30am, the ticket office opens at nine, so we take a little walk to look for coffee, we see a lady with a cup of the good stuff and ask her where we can find more of it. She directs us to the mall right in front of us and we get our cup and head back to the bus stop.
     Others start milling around at the bus stop, trip starts at 9:30am, we meet a couple from North Carolina and Florida, have a nice visit. The bus comes, we board, it's a double-decker, not open air, thank God, it was chilly this morning, we put in our ear plugs, tune to English, there's a pattern here, oh my, we're just like the commuters now! The bus tour last about 1:10 hours, lots of history, lots of beautiful views of old architecture, sail boats, and people going to work. Stockholm is an old city, built on lots of islands, therefore lots of bridges to cross. We find that this works out the best for us to take these tours of places we have not been and you usually find the top 10 items in a city to see.
     Our tour does not end after the 1:10 hours on the bus, we now switch over to a boat and sight see from the water. We both enjoy the water, so this is an added bonus for us.
Seafood Platter at the B.A.R.
     After the tour, we have around 2 1/2 hours to have lunch and then meet Becca, Jesper, and Scout for the ferry ride to Estonia. We been referred to the B.A.R. for lunch by Jesper's mother and father, we get there when the noon business lunch's are ending and have a wonderful meal. We enjoy eating certain foods when we vacation and do have some rules that we follow. When we're near the coast, we like to eat seafood. When we're inland, we look for good beef, pork, or even lamb. Today Abby has a 3 course lunch with a King Flounder, risotto, and zucchini stir fry, then top it off with ice cream and cake. I, went for the seafood platter, oysters on the half shell, shrimp, crab, crayfish, and muscles. It was all very "delicious".
On board the Baltic Queen
     We meet Becca, Jesper, and Scout at the ferry, tonight we ride the Baltic Queen, from Stockholm to Tallin, Estonia. Now this is not just any old ferry, it's a cruise ship, lots of restaurants, bars, gambling, and shops to take in. The big thing is the "duty free liquor" buying that takes place. We taking a long weekend to Estonia, but Becca tells us they have a cheaper fair over to Tallin, a 6 hours in Tallin, and back to Stockholm, for those on a liquor run. Leaving Stockholm we view the literally 100's of islands that make up greater Stockholm. Some of these have many homes on them, some only 1. With the sun setting this makes a beautiful sight.
     We do supper on board, then go to our cabins for a good nights rest. We arrive in Tallin at 10am, our rental car is there waiting for us, a quick stop for some supplies, and it's "road trip time".

Strolling in Parnu.

     After our 3 days of driving in Estonia, we find rural Estonia pretty much the same from coastal areas to inland. It reminds us of Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, & Northern Minnesota. Lots of forrest, farm land, and bogs. We see the remains of small grain harvest, lots of hay bails, and some cattle. We quickly find out the action is in the cities.
     Our first stop is Parnu, we find a Hotel, rest a little, and off to find supper. Becca does the research, and finds "Trahter Postiepoiss". Now for all garlic lovers out there, Estonia is definitely the place to visit. We enter our adventure this night with thoughts of starters and main course. We end the night with just eating the starters. Garlic toast, dumplings with garlic, herring with garlic, beans and garlic, you catch the pattern here. We entered the restaurant with no one there, by the time we leave the dinning room is full. A tour bus of Swedes is one of the group and they fill up half of the dinning room. One of the leaders ask us if it is ok for them to play some of there traditional music and we say no problem. He goes and ask every table and gets the ok from all. Out comes two accordions and the music begins. Grabby and Scout gets into the music and Scout gets her first dance. A wonderful time was had by all.
     The next day we spend around 2 hours in "Old Town Parnu" and then hit the road to Tartu, Estonia's oldest city. We arrive, find the "Hotel Barclay", check in and do it all over again. Tonight we find the "Gunpowder Cellar", an old gunpowder bunker converted into a lovely restaurant, we go upstairs to find a table, the ceilings must be 40 yards in height, all brick. The waitress dressed in traditional flair. The food again is heavy in garlic and all very good. So is the beer!
     All of our lodgings include the morning breakfast. Eggs, toast, porridge, herring, bacon, juice, cheese's, jams, are found on all, which makes a great start to a day.
Old Town Tallin.
     We take a walk after breakfast, find the local meat market, stroll through it, lots of fresh pork, and I mean all of the pork if you can imagine. Cheese, fruits, breads, spices are all found there. One thing about the European countries I find most enjoyable is their breads and pastries are hard to beat.
More views of Old Town.
Happy Birthday Abby!
     Road trip time to Tallin, the nations capital, our stay tonight is at the Merchants Hotel in old town. European "Old towns", all are similar to me, narrow streets, cobble stoned, tall buildings, unique architecture, shops upon shops, restaurants of all variety await you, Irish Pubs, British Pubs, traditional food, modern food, all to be found. Tonight we celebrate Abby's birthday at a British Pub, fish and chips for Abby, Becca, and Jesper, with a chicken melt for me, all served with chips British style, and beer British style. A good time is had by all.
     We end our journey with a long day in Tallin, walking around "Old Town", before heading back on the evening ferry to Stockholm.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17th, 2012

     This last weekend took us to the Trosa, Sweden area, a small, bayside village on the Baltic. Jesper's grandfather Malmberg has a summer home on a small fresh water lake. They allow no motorized watercraft on this lake, as it is their fresh water source. This weekend was a working vacation, helping Jesper complete some projects for his grandparents.
Jesper's grandparents summer home.
     The summer home is a modest place, two bedrooms, which are very small, they waste no space for just sleeping. You'll also see that most summer homes will have multiple building on the site. Here there is a little cabin, which Jesper, Becca, Scout, & Pillar slept. This was also one of the projects we undertook this weekend, painting the cottage.
Catching Abby at her best!
     It is very peaceful here, hearing only an occasional airplane fly over. We're about 2 miles in from the highway. Faint sounds of the highway could be heard on a still night. The sky is big, the big dipper we see from a different angle than we're accustom too.
     Daily walks are a ritual, not a lot of wildlife to see, however a solo set of moose tracks was spotted the other day. I want to see this critter, it's stride is one step to two of mine. It must be hugh.
Becca, Scout, & Jesper in Trosa.
     The village of Trosa, population around 5,000+, but that doesn't matter, is a Baltic Sea port village. No neon signs flashing above the small shops. Clerks are egger to serve you. They gladly speak English if you ask them. A yarn shop was a first stop for us, the proprietor was friendly, ready to explain her product, her craft, as she made a lot of the items in the quaint shop, a pair of wool mittens and felt slippers purchased, and we continue down the street. Sporting goods, soft goods, mens and ladies apparel, ice cream and chocolates are to be found. Ah, chocolate, a must stop, mostly hand made in the kitchen above the shop. These small shops take you back to simpler times in life. My father's business, Teale's cafe, Zorn's grocery store, Five & Dime stores, May's hardware, the Polewach store. Some of you reading this remember them all. One of the ice cream shops offered 24 flavors, they have a way to go to catch Moore's!
Scout content after supper!
Scout, Abby, & Becca
at Fina Fisken.
     Sunday night supper takes us to Fina Fisken, a lovely restaurant, channel side, finds Abby, Becca, Scout and I dining, Jesper is fighting a cold and felt like staying home and nursing it. Rye crisp, bread, and salted butter always comes to the table. Beer or wine, your choice will be served. Choose a starter if like, tonight we choose a shrimp over toast, topped with roe, and a sprig of dill. We should of stopped there but we continued onto the entree, Abby had smoked cod, baby potato, waxed been in a white sauce. Becca and I went for the herring, marinated in mustard then fried, mashed potato's, and lingon berry. This was my second meal served with lingon berry's, remember my meatballs.

     We finish up our stay at the lake tomorrow, then back to Dalaro until Thursday, Abby and I plan on going to Stockholm early for a tour of the city, then we start our cruise to Estonia at 5 PM Thursday night for a long weekend, more to follow........

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13th, 2012

     September 12, 2012 took us into Stockholm with Abby, Becca & Scout. Jesper dropped us off at the  tube and we ventured into Stockholm to go to the Vasa Museum, to get there we took the ferry. The harbor is a busy place, boats and ships of all kinds, sailboats, cruisers, classics, ocean liners of all kinds.
     The Vasa is the world's only 17th Century Ship preserved. The ship sank on it's maiden voyage, only traveling around 500 meters before capsizing and sinking. The rise of the Vasa was a miracle on its own, but the restoration is a a sight to behold!

     Stockholm similar to New York, is on 14 islands(you can fact check any of my stats and I won't be offended), and the Vasa Museum is on one of them, along with some other museums and parks. We went next to the Skansen Museum and Zoo. Traditional ways of all trades are demonstrated, some are bread making, glass blowing, wood working, mechanical, etc. No photos are allowed inside each display. The zoo consisted of a petting and traditional Nordic animal displays.

     Lots and lots of walking brings us to our final stop of the day, dinner at the "Den Gyldene Freden", which has served food for over 350 years. Well, the food was great, the beer cold, and the wine was splendid! I had the traditional, what I would call this nations dish(at least to this American!), Swedish meat balls, mashed potatoes, & lingon berries. For appetizer's we had sour dough bread, lingon berry bread and the famous rye crisp. Also several kinds of herring: one marinated with sea buckthorn  (pickled of course- that's the preserving method); strömming (west coast herring) in a cream and chile sauce; and another pickled herring with toasted hazelnuts . Our best herring of the day was at the Vasa, where we got a sampler "swedish tastes" plate. It included "stekt inlagd strömming", which is fried before it is pickled; regular marinated herring, and my favorite "senapsill"- this one had a mustard and dill sauce and was very tasty! I have never really tasted herring to this point in my life, the herring you see on the salad bars in the USA looks way to nasty for me to try. The lady's had "Gnocchi", which is a garlic, goat cheese, and hazelnuts, and "Crawfish soup with smoked, "Sik", part of the salmon family.

     This was Scout's first day long excursion and she did wonderful! So this trip's blog must include a photo of my "Min lilla dotterdotter", my little granddaughter, daughter, & "mormor" which means mother mothers!

     Thursday is a rest day and then it's off to the inland retreat of Jesper's father's. More to follow.....