Authored By Jennifer

We met Martin and Kasja on Frasier Island in Australia and quickly became friends. I mentioned I was going to be in Paris and they invited me for a visit to Sweden. So on the day before I was supposed to leave for Florence, I exchanged my train ticket for a plane ticket to Sweden instead. After 10 days alone, I was looking forward to being with friends. I landed on the east coast of Sweden and took a series of busses and trains to get to Uddevalla on the west coast. At one of the bus stops I didn’t have any Swedish crowns to get on the bus, only Euros. I asked a woman if she thought I could use Euros instead and she ended up taking a coin collection for me from the students she was traveling with. I have maintained that the Swedish people we’ve met on this trip have been the friendliest, and this woman’s kind act confirmed my feelings.

I arrived at midnight, and since we were all tired, we said a few words and then went to bed. The next morning Martin and Kasja went to work and I slept in. When I finally woke up, I indulged in one of my favorite activities, taking a bath. I haven’t taken a bath, let alone stayed in a place that had a bathtub in quite some time. It was heaven! Afterward I was still feeling sleepy from all my traveling, so I headed back to bed to take a nap when Kasja came home unexpectedly. At this point it’s 11 or so and she thinks I’ve been sleeping all morning. I pull myself out of bed and we talk while she eats lunch. She’s eating blood sausage, which is nothing like the morsilla we have at home, which I don’t care for. I try the sausage with some jam, and it’s not too bad, but I probably wouldn’t buy it if I saw it at the store. Before I left for Sweden I wrote to Kevin (who is half Swedish) and Natalie to find out what I should do while I was there. Natalie made it clear that I shouldn’t eat the food. So far, it’s not too bad.

I met Martin for lunch in downtown Uddevalla and after we eat we walk around. There’s a small downtown area with some shops and a plaza, and a small river that runs all the way down to the ocean. The town is small, but very pretty. After Kasja came home from teaching, we grabbed a semla (a local pastry that is like a cream puff but has a ton of cream in the middle and cardamom in the pastry) and head to the ocean. There’s a wooden walkway that follows the coast, so we walked along the walkway and found a nice bench to eat our semlas, catch up and enjoy our afternoon. After a nice walk we picked Martin and went to an open house. Martin and Kasja are in the market for a home, and unlike the US, the housing market is hot and prices are increasing. The house they looked at was gorgeous. It was at the end of a dirt road and was surrounded by a forest and open meadow. From the small part of Sweden I saw, most of it is countryside, and it’s beautiful. Next we went to Kasja’s sister’s house, which is also gorgeous and is also surrounded by countryside. I met Kasja’s sister, brother in law, and cute little nephew. We chatted and enjoyed some Swedish cinnamon buns, before heading home and having dinner.

The next day I wandered around Uddewalla a little more. There’s an old castle up on a mountain that has mostly burnt down, but a few structures remain. I walked around the site for a bit then made my way into town to the little river. A handful of swans make their home in the river and I spent a lot of time watching them. Afterward I had a cup of tea in the plaza and then headed home to read and relax before Kasja and Martin came home. That night Martin had practice so Kasja and I started happy hour while we waited for Martin to come home. Happy hour turned into many happy hours and I think we finished 2 or 3 bottles of wine that night. We had a great time drinking, laughing and talking about anything and everything. It was too bad Brian wasn’t there to enjoy it too.

Finally on Saturday, we headed to the coast. It was about an hour or so drive through beautiful countryside and when we arrived, I was in awe. The west coast of Sweden is different than any coast I’ve seen. It’s covered with large boulders of granite. And the sea at that time of day was so still you could water ski on it. We took pictures and enjoyed a picnic. It was sunny and warm with a little breeze, a perfect day at the coast.

When we got home our plan was to bake some Swedish cinnamon buns and then start dinner. But Kasja had to finish an exam for an online university course she’s taking, so she decided that Martin and I could make the buns while she finished her test. That was probably mistake number 1. Kasja gave us a cookbook, but it was in Swedish so I couldn’t read it. Martin translated for me, but it just wasn’t the same as being able to read it for myself. Yes I spent 6 months at culinary school and should know how to bake regardless of the language of the recipe, but for some reason, I just couldn’t pull it all together. We still don’t know exactly what went wrong, but the buns were an absolute disaster. After proofing twice, they’re supposed to bake for only 5 or 10 minutes, but after 20 minutes, they still looked raw. Kasja came in to see what was going on, but she couldn’t figure it out either. We sat in the kitchen waiting for the buns to finish when smoke starts billowing up out of the oven. Martin thought it was just steam from the buns, but sure enough it was smoke and soon the smoke alarm went off. We couldn’t stop laughing. In fact, none of us could remember the last time we laughed so hard. We had to throw the buns out, but it was a great time none the less.

The next morning Kasja and Martin drove me to the airport and I made my way to Rome where I would meet up with Brian in just two days. I had the best time with Martin and Kasja. First, it just felt great to not be in a hotel and feel the comforts of home for a little bit. Second, I loved being with my friends and talking and laughing and just having a good time. Even though we had met only a few months before and really didn’t know each other well, I felt like I was with family, which is just what I wanted.

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