Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stockholm Baby!

I live in Europe - just a hop, skip and a jump from the rest of Europe in all its fabulous Europeaness. You would think that I would manage to leave my little sheltered town and venture out now and then but somehow it just doesn't seem to happen often. I've been here 3-1/2 years and have rarely ventured beyond the German border (it's 2 hours away!). We did manage to get in a car with some fabulous friends last November and spend our Thanksgiving weekend in a spa in Poland, and of course that was worth every moment, but for the most part, getting beyond the local doggy forest seems to be somewhat of a chore.

But, my family managed to wake me from my slumber and send me on a mission. The original mission was to somehow get the rest of the fabric for the drapery project to my mother, in the US, without having it cost more than a flight to the US.

You know how someone is from a place and you know someone else from that place, and the chances of those 2 people knowing each other or being from the same spot within that place is usually an impossibility but yet you can't help but say... "You're from Texas? Do you know Jim?". Well, my brother sent an email last month and though he knew the chance was slim asked... "You're in Denmark - have any friends in Stockholm?". Yeah, because those two places are small, and right next to each other. I know 3 people in Sweden. Total. And to say I know them is a bit of stretch, really, since I just know them from reading their blogs. 2 of them I'm sure have no idea that I exist, but they're blogs are funny, so I keep reading. The 3rd, however, also happens to be a Facebook friend and so I posed the question... "Any chance you're anywhere near Stockholm?" And get this... she is! And, being one of those generous souls that also happens to be a perfect person to serve as a pseudo-ambassador for her current country, she agreed to let my brother and sister-in-law pepper her with questions about Stockholm. Why the interest?

Because my brother may take an assignment in Sweden and hop on over to this side of the pond. Now, how cool is that!?

What does all this have to do with getting fabric to the US? Well, suddenly one evening on the phone with my mother, I found out that my brother, and his entire family, would be arriving in Stockholm for 4 days beginning on Palm Sunday. Which, at the time, was oh... a week away? Suddenly a flurry of activity took place on the computer next to mine and the next thing I knew, we were heading for Stockholm on Saturday, duffel bag full of fabric in hand, so that we could give said bag to my brother, visit with the family and even meet my Stockholm connection! Granted by the time we booked our flight, paid for the dogs to stay at the kennel, and paid for a hotel, it would've been cheaper just to ship the fabric to the US, but hey, a girl has to get out now and then!

We arrived in Stockholm Saturday afternoon and were greeted at Arlanda by Sir Pe, who took us straight to the home of Lady Fi, Oscar the dog and the infamous anklebiters! Upon arrival she promptly asked us if we had remembered to bring ear plugs - and I don't think she was kidding! The ankle biters are loud, but very sweet, and they proceeded to entertain us with their attempts at the Danish language. If I'm being honest - their danish was probably better than mine!

I gave Oscar a gift of a purple ball and he instantly became my friend for life. This is one very sweet dog!

We enjoyed lots of great conversation and pizza and I am delighted to have had the chance to meet our new Stockholm friends!

After a great evening, Sir Pe offered to drive us to our hotel. Once the men decided, with the help of the iPhone, the best way to get from point A to point B, we said our goodbyes and piled into the car for the ride to the hotel. We were a bit delayed getting out of the driveway as Sir Pe had forgotten to unplug whatever it was he had plugged into the car to keep it warm when we had arrived. Yes, it's that cold in Sweden.

As we drove, we chatted about various things, and then Ole and I learned that if you ask your driver about certain topics, such as their home country and why they don't live their anymore, said driver can get a bit distracted and forget exactly where it is he is supposed to be taking you. You have to be careful, as you may end up back at the airport, which doesn't happen to be anywhere near your hotel. I'm not saying that this is what happened (because I think I said I wouldn't say), I'm just saying... as a general word of caution for future visitors. 'Nuff said. Moving on!

On Sunday, we got together with my brother and family! It had been over a year since I'd seen them, so this was a great treat for all of us. Unfortunately for them, their luggage had been delayed in Amsterdam so they were stuck in what they had worn on the plane. Not to mention that they'd just arrived on an overseas flight, with 3 kids, so everyone was a bit exhausted. Nevertheless, we all went out to a local pub and had some lunch and then had a chance to wander around Stockholm a bit. We visited the royal palace and did a bit of sight-seeing.

Ole and I finally headed back to our hotel. Did I mention that Ole booked a hotel that sat on top of a shopping mall? Could it get any more perfect?! We wandered through the Swedish grocery store and I found some prized possessions - cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup and ziploc bags. I decided to let Sweden keep the caviar in a toothpaste tube. That's just too weird for me.

Final word of caution for those who may be thinking of visiting Stockholm. There is a train. It runs from Arlanda airport to central Stockholm. It takes 20 minutes. It costs approximately $40 USD, per person. And, at the time we were on it, the bathroom on board was out of order. Grumble. Highway robbery!

Oh, and the fabric? It has arrived back in the US! :)
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