Baby’s 1st Plane Ride

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As new parents, you tend to hear a sorts of different advice. Advice on travel always seemed to be, that the best time to do it is before they can move around because then they will stay in one place.

Well, we decided to see what it would be like to take a long weekend trip with our then 4 and a half month bundle of joy. I’m writing this post a bit late and the little one is now 7 months.

The co-pilot and I love to travel. When we found out we were expecting, I was worried our traveling days were over. OK, we don’t have as much freedom as before and it’s not easy, but it is possible to travel with a baby. You just need to take a few precautions, give yourself lots of extra time and plan in advance.

If you have time off – Sweden gives a generous amount of “Mamma och pappa ledig’ (parental leave) – it’s nice to plan a trip or two during that time 🙂

Lucky for us we live in Europe where there are inexpensive flights to different countries. Rome has a direct flight with Norwegian Airlines and it’s one of our favorite European cities. We had a really memorable first trip with the little one!

Here are some tips for your baby’s 1st plane ride (from our own experience and from other friends with kids)

*Call the airlines so you can check what exactly you can check-in and bring on with you.

*Give yourself lots of time to make it to check in. They make you wrap your stroller and car seat in plastic. But don’t expect that to protect it, our stroller cot hood fabric was damaged and Norwegian airlines said they weren’t liable. Somewhere in the fine print, it says something about it.

*Going through security, if you don’t want to carry your baby, bring a carrier.
Some airports allow you to take your stroller all the way through to the gate. Check if that’s possible when you check in.

*Depending on how old your baby is, bring something they can taste. Our little one was allowed tastes at 4 months, we let her suck on a piece of dried mango on landing. She also breastfed on takeoff.

*Bring a change of clothes for baby, and possibly a change of clothes for yourself.

*Bring a water bottle and just fill it up after security (a good travel tip even without a baby)!

*Keep all the passports and boarding passes together so it’s easier to show it when needed.

In Rome

 *Now for taking your baby around Rome, a stroller is OK for the city streets.
*For restaurants, I asked my Roman friend about a stroller. She told me just bring it and don’t worry they will find a place for it, and its true! One rainy evening, we stopped in at a pizzeria and we kept asking what to do with our stroller, one server said to leave it and he took it to the other side of the street where the restaurant had their freezer stuff. It was very nice of him.

For different sights in Rome
Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel

Glorious ceilings are best appreciated lying down.

There were a lot of steps getting down and around the museum. It is nice for the baby to look up and get to see the ceiling, so if you don’t mind carrying the stroller to get down to the Sistine Chapel then bring it, otherwise you can check it at the coat check area and use your carrier to get around.


St. Peters basilica – no strollers allowed, you need to leave it at the check-in desk before you can go inside. So bring a carrier!

For the Colosseum and Roman Forum, we left the stroller at the hotel and took the carrier switched between ourselves.

Panthenon – This is OK with a stroller!
Best to avoid using a stroller at the Roman forum

Traveling with a baby has a challenges but it can be done! Make sure you take lots of breaks at a cafe or gelato place (I highly recommend gelato at Giolitti)! Pack some water and snacks for you and baby and of course, try to enjoy yourself 🙂

Cappucino and chocolate cornetto make a great breakfast or snack 🙂

Happy travels!

Giolitti
for delicious gelato!
Via Uffici del Vicario, 40
Rome, Italy
website

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A Goodbye to Malta’s Azure Window

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We visited Malta in the summer of 2014, it was the summer of our wedding and honeymoon and the archipelago of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea was the first stop on our 5-week trip.

We had heard that Malta was not only beautiful but also that it has a lot to see and do. There’s the old historic sites, fortresses and grand cathedrals, the capital Valletta, beautiful beaches, diving, and even a ‘blue grotto’. The Maltese culture is it’s own and it’s cuisine is delicious. I especially enjoyed trying Maltese style pizza, rabbit pasta and fresh baked pies.

On the island called ‘Gozo’, one of 21 that make up the Maltese archipelago, Malta’s Iconic Azure Window stood. I didn’t know what to expect when my co-pilot said we were going to see something called the ‘Azure window’. It was recommended to us by some friends who used to live in Malta and some of their friends, one of which was from Gozo.

I remember when we arrived by bus and seeing how huge it was. It was beautiful.
I was in awe at how gorgeous a place this was, with the crashing waves against the cliffs and the window.

You could even go up on top of it, which we did. We were up so high and I remember seeing cracks in the top.

My co-pilot and I at the top of the Azure window. What a spectacular view!

 

I was saddened to learn about the collapse of the Azure window this week. A unique and beautiful rock formation crafted by the ocean was lost. Things like that don’t last forever so I’m glad we were able to visit.

Malta’s gorgeous Azure Window

There was one restaurant, a pizza place where we ordered takeaway veggie pizza. We took the pizza to go and sat and ate it at the bus stop, just in case.

That was one of the most memorable parts of our trip to Gozo and to Malta. It’s my profile photo because it deserves to be. We have seen a few other similar windows around Euripe, but Malta’s really stood out as something special.

Sitting back and enjoying the view.

The next time you are visiting something like the Azure window just remind yourself to enjoy it. After you are done snapping your photos, put your camera down and just really enjoy it with your eyes. Who knows, maybe one day what you were looking at will vanish…just as the beautiful Azure window did.

A Visit to the Beautiful Danish Capital

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The Danish capital overlooking the Øresund strait and only a few minutes from Sweden across the bridge, Copenhagen is a great weekend gateway! Hans Christian Andersen, who “wrote a couple of fairy tales”, must have truly been inspired by the beautiful city of Copenhagen with it’s beautiful harbor, viewspots, and castles.

It’s a lot more international than the other capitals and the cultural and geographic link between mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Traditional architecture blends with the modern, the pastries are divine and it’s a city full of character, colorful houses and unique areas like Christiana new town.

Copenhagen is my favorite Scandinavian Capital and although I’ve been a few times before, there is always more to discover and our recent Valentine’s weekend trip was wonderful!!

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Woke up to a little snow sprinkled over the city. 

We walked along the waterfront to the palace and the marble church where all the tourists were checking out the changing of the guards.

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Perfect guard formation at the Amalienborg, the winter home of the Danish Royal Family.

There are a couple boat tours you can choose from at Nyhavn, but we went with the one that was only 40 Danish Kroner for a 45 min ride around the canal. We were surprised that the tour is still running in winter but there is a covered area. Although, I don’t recommend sitting in the covered area if you want to take some photos as the cover seems to obscure the view. The tour was in English and Danish.

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You can choose to sit in the covered area of the canal tour boat or in the back. It is a bit chilly sitting outdoors so make sure you are well covered.

I always look forward to a visit to Denmark for the delicious pastries that don’t have cardamom 😉 Danishes as they are known in North America were brought to Denmark by the Austrians (Weinerbrod) but became a Danish specialty and boy are they good!
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There were raspberry and apple pastries with the raspberry one being sweeter. I liked the apple pastry best.

20160213_163321…and of course the chocolate pastry found at various bakeries around the city were heavenly. Pair it with a coffee and you have the ultimate coffee break snack (or “Fika” in Sweden)

Hungry for lunch, we tried one of the Hotel recommended restaurants close to Nyhavn and the hotel, for an open faced sandwich or Danish Smørrebrød. Believe it or not, there is a slice of rye bread under all that delicious shrimp and egg!

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This brisket sandwich included some horse radish butter for a little extra kick.

Our favorite viewspot in the city has to be from Church of Our Savior steeple but this was my first time up the Round Tower (or RundeTaarn in Danish) so that was pretty cool!

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One guy was walking round and round with his selfie stick in the air lol

There is a little doorway that leads into the centre of the tower. That can be scary if you think that only the glass you are standing on is stopping you from dropping down the tower.

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When we moved to Sweden, our very first trip in Europe was to Copenhagen. After that, I realized how easy it was to get out of town and explore a new city or country and we have been traveling since 😉 Our first visit to Copenhagen was in April and we were lucky to get some beautiful Spring weather complete with blue skies and sunshine. Check my blog post on our Easter trip to Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Admiral Hotel
Beautiful old stone warehouse converted into a hotel, in a great location
right next to the waterfront and near Nyhavn! We had a nice loft suite here.
The Admiral Hotel on Tripadvisor

Cafe Fremtiden
For some delicious Danish Smørrebrød.
website

Lagkagehuset
Stop at this cafe for some delicious pastries and bread.
website

Holms bager
There’s a nice location on the walking street and it
was nice to tuck in here to warm up and take a break from the shopping
and exploring
Bakery’s FB page

Thanks for reading!

A Little Taste of Bangkok

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20151115045641 On our way to Bali we stopped in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, to tour a couple temples, take advantage of the cheap and excellent back/body massages and of course, try some delicious Thai food.

Our super cheap flight was from Oslo to Bangkok and at under 2000sek it was a decent flight. OK, so the flight does not include any food or a check-in luggage, costs extra. You also can’t check in online so add some extra time for that at the airport. It was, however, on a 787 Dreamliner and we had in-flight entertainment with movies, music and TV.

As soon as I boarded, I was greeted in Thai. side note: It’s great that Norwegian airlines hires so many Thai people. There were both Norwegians and Thai passengers on the flight and it’s nice that they can communicate with the Thais onboard.

We arrived at 7am Bangkok time and we made the most of our day operating on little sleep and jetlagged. This was our second visit to Bangkok and the first visit since our big Asia trip a few years ago. We weren’t here to see all the touristy sights. We knew that we were just there for a day stopover to enjoy some of our favorite Thai street food and walk around.

Before walking around and checking out a couple temples we didn’t see last time, we had to stop to grab a bite to eat.

20151115044800Pineapple fried rice

Mmmmm, I really love fried rice and don’t get to eat it very often. Notice how the portions are smaller. It is Asia afterall.

20151115044936 Spicy Papaya salad made with Green Papaya.

There is Thai food in Sweden because Swedes are obsessed with Thailand, but they don’t always have green papaya for this dish. It also isn’t usually very spicy as Swedes don’t like spice. This one had lots of chili and we added even more chili flakes. We also ordered Green Curry and a couple of Ice Coffees (another favorite).

We started the temple touring with a visit to Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha) and it started to downpour so we took a little break for some massages.

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After that we visited the Wat Po Temple with the huge reclining Golden Buddha and then took the ferry across to Wat Arun.

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20151115083424 Noodle soup chicken with lots of chili. This bowl of hot spicy broth really hit the spot and was one of our favorite dishes from our first trip to Thailand. We even found a place with locals and sat down on the plastic chairs to consume our deelish meal.

We didn’t spend any time on the tourist street, Khao san Road, the first time we visited Thailand but we did visit it this time as we stayed just a few streets away.

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Taking a River Taxi is good way to see Bangkok. It’s low cost option of travel and you get to see the city from the river. Beware as it can get crowded. People don’t like moving down into the boat and prefer to stay by the exit which can be annoying. Be sure not to wait on the floating platform as some boats can hit the platform (even lightly) when they dock and that platform isn’t very stable. Keep an eye out for the flag color of the boat you want and get ready when you see it approaching. The different colors represent the different ferry lines. If you aren’t sure which to take, there are maps at the ferry stops and you can always ask the ticket people.

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We ended our perfect day in Bangkok with some dinner and drinks. We ended up chatting with other travelers at the shared table and found many were just starting their travel in Thailand, while another couple was just ending it. Ah it brought back memories of when we started our big SE Asia trip in Bangkok a few years ago.

20151115141051My co-pilot enjoying our Pad Thai dinner and Beer.

20151115_205202Chocolate Banana Roti

We used to eat this snack all the time during our last visit to Thailand, it’s like a folded crepe and you can choose the delicious flavor/fruit you want.

Being Bangkok just for a day reminded us of how much we enjoyed Thailand. There is a lot to see, a lot to eat and the weather although humid was a welcome break from the winter in Sweden. Even after traveling all over Europe the last couple of years, this most recent trip which included this day in Bangkok, trips to Indonesia, and Malaysia, it made me realize that SE Asia will always hold a special place in my heart and remains one of my favorite places to travel to and live like kings while doing it! Cannot wait to visit Thailand again sometime soon!

Travel tips:
-If you are planning a trip to SE Asia, many start in Thailand because it is a good way to slowly adjust to SE Asia as it is the most developed for tourism than the neighbouring countries. We started in Thailand during our 5-month SE Asia trip and it was a wonderful place to learn to scuba dive, and get acclimated to traveling.

-Thailand allows you to stay in the country for one month, and often the airlines will ask you to show your departure flight out of Thailand before they let you board your flight. So it would be a good idea to book your onward flight before you fly to Thailand. If you over stay your Thai visa, you need to pay some fines on your way out.

-If traveling from Scandinavia, Norwegian Air is a great option offering low budget long haul fares to Bangkok.

-Thailand has removed the old visa requirement for many countries, we used to have to pay for a visa on arrival, so be sure to check if your country is on this list.

-When traveling in SE Asia it might be a good idea to check whether it is rainy or dry season. If it is rainy season, the torrential downpour will likely stop after 10 minutes.

-Don’t forget your mosquito repellant and pack at least 1 long sleeve shirt and leggings or pants. Mosquitos can be really annoying and they can carry dengue and malaria. Depending on where you are traveling you may need to bring malaria pills.

-Add antibiotics to your checklist. You will likely need to see your doctor for a prescription first.

-Check your government’s travel advisories:
Country travel advice from the Government of Canada

-Want to save money on your transport from the airport (if flying into Suvarnabhumi Airport) into the city? Take the train first to Phaya Thai and then grab a cab to continue your journey. It is much cheaper transferring to a cab afterwards. Note: Bangkok has another airport (Don Muang airport) where all the Air Asia and budget airlines fly from.

Check out more travel tips on wikitravel

Happy Travels!

Summer in Spain: Tapas!

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Delicious little portions for you to snack as you enjoy your drink, the word Tapa is derived from ‘Tapar’ (to cover) and was originally a piece of cheese or ham to cover the wine. Our guide for the walking tour also told us another tapa origin story that many farmers when choosing what to choose from after a day of hard labor between food or drink would always choose drink and the productivity of the country went down. After the law was introduced, that a small portion of food should be served whenever anyone ordered a drink, the farmers could enjoy some drinks and still be able to work the following day.

We spent about 2 weeks of our month long summer vacation traveling from Madrid to the South of Spain and then along the coast to Barcelona. The scenery was absolutely stunning. Aside from walking tours, seeing the beautiful beaches, visiting many different mosques turned cathedrals, and touring a few Alcazars like the amazing Alhambra, we tried as many tapas places as we could find!

The first stop on our EspaĂąa trip was the capital city, Madrid. On our first night, we went to a random bar right conveniently located next to our hotel near Plaza de EspaĂąa. We ordered beer and they brought us whatever the kitchen had, which included, chicken wings and bread w/ jamon (free included with our drinks!). We wanted a bit more and ordered a plate of green peppers (pimientos) which wasn’t spicy just delicious.

Then there was another random tapas place we tried on the recommended ‘tapas’ street.
The boquerones, fried anchovies, were deelish!! I think this is when we started getting addicted to these things. Fried little fish, nice to snack on and quite satisfying.
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We celebrated one of our anniversaries in Madrid. For our anniversary dinner we went to a restaurant near Calle San Simon. There you could order tapas size portions as well. The grilled squid was one of my favorite dishes during our time in Spain.

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Fried egg, with eggplant and tomatoes on a bed of homemade fried potato chips

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Delicious grilled squid mmmmm

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Beef and potato chips

Seville
From Madrid we made our way south by train to Seville. This city is an amazing place to visit not just for all the tapas but also for all the different things to see including the Alcazar where they filmed Game of Thrones and the beautiful grand cathedral.

One great place for tapas in Seville is Las Columnas. The tapas were around 2 or 3 euros and the menu was on the wall in chalk. As soon as something was gone, it was scratched out. You could stand at the bar, at a table outside or find a seat in the corner area of the bar.

IMG_4256The co-pilot’s turn to order!

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Atun con tomate (Tuna and tomato sauce. It was so delicious we had this a few times)

We tried a fanicer tapas place where we met a Swiss guy who is now living in Seville. He gave us some great recommendations for places to visit in Andalucia.
IMG_4293 IMG_4291 La Bartola, is a Tapas place that was near our hotel in Seville. It doesn’t stay open as late as the other tapas bars but the food was excellent and reasonably priced as well.

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IMG_4001Zuchini flowers, Jamon Iberico, grilled fish

IMG_4002 These boquerones in were sprinkled with lemon rind adding some extra zest to the anchovies. Mmmm so good.

And of course we had to stop in at the oldest tapas place El Rinconcillo. It was pretty crowded and we stopped there for a few more drinks and tapas.

IMG_4307Our last tapas bar of the night for a few more snacks and dessert!

IMG_4297Lambchops, anchovy on a fresh tomato, and tuna and tomato

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We even tried a flan dessert that was similar to Filipino Leche Flan but more creamy, really thick and heavy. It was one of the most delicious desserts we tried on our vacation!

Granada
A few places we wanted to try were unfortunately closed while we were visiting Granada. On our first evening we found two tapas places right next to each other. One was full of locals and the other was full of brits. Guess which one we chose hahaha. This tapas bar was full and everyone was standing enjoying their drinks and tapas. You had to shout your order to the bartender and he brought you whatever tapa the kitchen prepared. And it was free with your drink!
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One place we visited was well reviewed for the tapas but when we finally found the place, they weren’t serving tapas. I can’t remember why exactly, but we got a drink anyways and they gave us some candy and peanuts to go along with it.

During our time in Granada we had some laundry to do. We decided not to let our hotel to do it in order to avoid the the ridiculous hotel laundry prices which included 3 euros a shirt…

While waiting for our laundry at the self serve laundry mat, we wandered in the area nearby. We found a park but it was mostly pavement and hardly any trees. It was also quite hot and we wanted to go indoors with AC.

Most of the restaurants in the area were closed for Siesta, but we found one bar that was open and serving nice cold beer and tapas! Free tapas does exist in Spain but it’s not everywhere. It was great that we found a few places that served them but we were expecting many more. I got a tuna sandwich and Yoni got fried egg over potatos. Really nice sized portions.

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From Granada we made our way through Andalucia and Almeria and we stopped whenever we pleased. That’s one of the advantages of renting a car and going on your own. Here are some photos of the other tapas we tried along the way.

Cadiz

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La Bodeguita de Plocia

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Meatballs and potatos, and tuna belly

Valencia

We went on a tapas tour with the same guides who held the free walking tour. For 10 euros we visited 3 different tapas places, for one beer and a tapa. We also tried the Agua de Valencia drink which was pretty strong. Haha

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The Bartender preparing the Aqua de Valencia

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Spanish omelette on toast with salsa (Look at how mini our beers are)

Barcelona

One tapas bar we visited was recommended to me by my aunt who traveled in Spain. This place was very popular. A bit of a fancier tapas bar, the unique sandwiches and delicious offerings made it well worth the trip out here.

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Foie gras and beef sandwich

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Mmm keep those tapas coming!

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A Korean tour group came in while we were there. Sooo many people, this place sure gets crowded but it’s not a surprise, the tapas were fantastic.

Full of history, gorgeous beaches, amazing scenery, incredible palaces (Alcazars), beautiful cathedrals and of course, delicious food, Spain is a wonderful place to visit and there is definitely something for everyone. Our trip was everything I hoped for and more and I discovered even more of my favorite Filipino things were influenced by the Spanish. We visited Spain in early July and the weather was extremely hot averaging 40C most days. It was nice to sweat after the cold, rainy weather in Sweden so we didn’t complain too much. I would love to visit Spain again!

When you visit Spain be sure to practice ordering your tapas in Spanish! You will soon get the hang of it and sometimes it’s easier than trying to make them understand what you are saying in English. There were tapas menus in English in some places but after awhile, it’s just easier to order the daily tapas on the menu written in chalk. Who knows, you might even end up enjoying ordering in Spanish 🙂

Happy travels!

Tapas places we visited in Spain!

Madrid

El sur
Calle de la Torrecilla del Leal, 12, 28012 Madrid, Spain
Tripadvisor

Seville

El Bartola
Calle San Jose 24, 41004 Seville, Spain
Tripadvisor link
We stayed just down the street form this place. Unfortunately it doesn’t stay open that late.

Las Columnas
Plaza Alameda de Hercules, 19, 41002 Seville, Spain

Cadiz

La Bodeguita de Plocia
11006, Calle Plocia, 9, 11006 CĂĄdiz, Spain

Granada
Taberna la Tana
Placeta del Agua, 3, 18009 Granada, Spain
Tripadvisor

La Bodega Vinny
18002, Calle Sol, 13, 18002 Granada, Spain
Tripadvisor

Barcelona
Quimet y Quimet
Poeta Cabanyes 25, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
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One Year Anniversary!

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What a year!
It’s hard to believe that we have been living in Sweden for just over a year now. This year has been one full of change, surprises, challenges and accomplishments. How many people can say that they have lived in another country, let alone in Europe? I am so proud of ourselves that we have been able to survive in Sweden for a whole year!! We deserve a pat on the back, or maybe some kanelbullor (Swedish cinnamon buns) and kanelmandellors (chocolate covered almonds with cinnamon).

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When we first moved here, I wasn’t working and I didn’t start taking Swedish language classes right away. I had lots of free time to explore my new town. Months went by and I started SFI – Svenska for Invandrare. I met more people and developed a routine. I started learning some Swedish and I discovered how challenging it is to learn a language which is very melodic compared to English. Fast forward to now, and I’m busy working, learning Swedish and traveling as much as we can while we are living in Europe.

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Recently at a friend’s party where most of the guests were non-Swedes, we were all talking about how hard it is to work in Sweden if you don’t have the language or if your certification isn’t recognized by Sweden. Gothenburg is a nice little city but it can be boring. I can sympathize with my colleagues about the challenges they face after moving here. If I didn’t have a job, or go to school and couldn’t travel it would be a different story. The best thing about living in Sweden is the opportunity to travel in Europe.

Although many say that there are similarities between Sweden and Canada (like the nature), living in Goteborg, Sweden isn’t ‘home’. Here are some things I’ve learned a little more about while living in a foreign country: 1) What it’s like to be an immigrant 3) Working culture in Sweden 4) Swedish culture 2) How easy and fun it is to travel in Europe

Välkommen till Sverige
Being an immigrant is difficult! Growing up in Canada, I don’t think I ever realized this. Immigrants have to face so many challenges including the language barrier.In my old Swedish class, things we all complained about was learning Swedish and trying to find a job. We are lucky that there is a lot of English in Sweden (one of the reasons why we decided moving here as it wouldn’t be as hard as moving to another country like France or Germany). But saying that, the job situation is Sweden is difficult. More later in my job-hunting blog.

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All of the correspondence is in Swedish here. In Canada, they translate more documents into different languages. I don’t read the daily paper or watch the news on TV (luckily there’s the internet). I can see how it must be hard for immigrants to try to communicate in English back home.

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Becoming familiar with the different areas of the city is still tough. People tell me it’s near this place on this street. First of all, it’s hard for me to understand what they are saying and second, I don’t know what area they are talking about. At least I have Google Maps.

Trying to find things in the grocery store is another thing that could be a challenge. It depends on the grocery store of course, but now they have opened a big Asian store in the mall and some grocery stores actually have an ‘American’ aisle. I still use Google Translate to check ingredients and descriptions of grocery store items as well.

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Plenty of vacation, meetings, fika and more fika
One of the things we wanted to get out of living in another country was the experience of working in another country.

Now that I have been working in Sweden, I have noticed quite a few things that are different from working in Canada.
– Consultants are more common here.
– We get paid once a month.
– There are so many more meetings.
– Swedes take more fika or coffee breaks.
– Lunches include salad bar and coffee.
– Vacation is plentiful.
– Family is the most important. If a co-worker is in a meeting but he’s on ‘kindergarten duty’ he just leaves the meeting.

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Delicious weekday lunches beats the dinner price any time.

Swedes, noone wants to stand out
Lagom is a phrase that is entirely Swedish. It’s a little hard to explain but basically means, ‘enough’. Not first place but just after is good enough. My boss joked that they often like to use it as a verb and say they will try to “lagomize” the process.

It’s hard to meet Swedish people. My Swedish teacher actually said Swedes are like an old glass Ketchup bottle. It’s hard to get them to flow but when they do, it all comes out at once. Also, when Swedes are among Swedes they converse in Swedish. When an English-speaker comes around they do switch to English but it’s hard to relate if they have to think about the proper English word to describe what they were talking about.

So many low-cost airlines and so many places to go
Budget airlines like Wizz, Ryan Air, and Easy Jet, make flying so much cheaper, sometimes even cheaper than taking the train! Lucky for us many budget airlines fly out of the city airport in Gothenburg. Since moving here, we are traveling as much as possible taking advantage of our time in Europe.

There’s just nothing like ‘going away’ for the weekend to another country. We are really lucky to have that option.

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Enjoying ice cream on a long weekend trip to London which included a day in Cambridge.

20140505_064327I’m always asked about weird things in Sweden. Here is a short list of a few things I have encountered during my stay in Sweden. Please note, I have not tried all of the things on the list (referring specifically to the SurstrĂśmming).

1) Kebab pizza.
2) They put everything in Cartons and ‘juice boxes’ apparently a Swede created the ‘Tetra pak’.
3) When people move out of their apartment, they take the light fixtures with them.
4) Bedrooms in apartments don’t have closets in them.
5) SurstrĂśmming.
6) They make special drinks for special holidays like Easter (PĂĽsk) drink.
7) How often guys where skinny pants and often they are red.
8) Swedes don’t take leftovers home (why not? I love them).
9) The majority pay with cards and not cash.
10) They celebrate so many food days – for fettisdagen ‘Fat Tuesday’ it’s Semla day. On Thursdays it’s Pea soup and Pancake day. There was even a day of waffles a few weeks ago.
11) Swedes love sauce and put it on everything from meatballs to a piece of fish. Hollandaise, Bernaise, Hamburger sauce, you name it and they eat it.
12) They sure love their coffee here.
13) Public toilets aren’t free.
14) Noone talks to their neighbours.
15) Swedes are all fit – they wake up early to exercise and then go to work.
16) Swedes love all things American.

20140301_184724Sauce!

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Semlor!

Want to know more about what life is like in Sweden? Watch Welcome to Sweden! It’s pretty hilarious.

I’m not sure how much longer we will be in Sweden, but I do know that there have been things I’ve enjoyed and things I haven’t about this experience but that’s all part of the adventure! I’m looking forward to seeing what the coming year will bring 🙂

Tack fÜr läsning! (Thanks for reading!)

An Arctic Adventure in Dog Sledding!

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Huskies + Sledding + Norway = AMAZING!
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One of the highlights of our recent trip to Tromsø in Northern Norway had to be the day we spent dog sledding!

After contacting 4 places in Tromsø, and looking over the options, we decided to go with Active Tromsø. They were the cheaper option and they would allow you the chance to drive the sled. The others were more expensive and we were told you only got to ride in the sled. Even the place which seemed to be the most popular, didn’t allow you to drive (that company was closed to day trips for the season anyway).

We enjoyed our day with Active Tromsø and were happy that they stayed true to their name, as it was a very ‘active’ day. The instructor, Tore, was very experienced with the dogs and sledding and his girlfriend, Sandra, was also very helpful.

The day began with a pick up in the town at the Radisson Blu hotel. They were running a bit late so we were picked up about 10-15 min after they had said. Even so, Tore stopped at a supermarket along the way so the others could pick up some lunch (Yoni and I were already prepared, packing our tuna sandwich lunch that morning) which was very nice of him.

When we arrived at our desination, we heard the dogs howling below at their kennels. It was an amazing sight to see from the top of the hill.

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We were also quite lucky to see some new 5 week old husky puppies. They were caged when we first arrived but later Sandra let them out to play when the the other group arrived.

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So adorable!! In just 1 year, he will start training to join the dog sled team!

With Active Tromsø, you don’t need to worry much about bringing the right clothing. They had great snow proof clothing that was included. You just had to make sure to wear some long underwear and long sleeve fleece top.
Pants, boots, hat, neck fleece, and gloves were all included – and it took a while to get all of the layers on. When we were finally ready, we headed down to meet the dogs!

The dogs were so excited that they were going to go out on a run! After a brief overview where we learned that the dogs didn’t get to go out the day before so they were full of energy and the word for stop in Norwegian ‘stĂĽ’, they showed us how to put the harness on our dogs. We split up into our teams and put the harness on each of our dogs.
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Even if they were so hyper running around and howling, as soon as it was time to put the harness on, they stood there so still and obediently.

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Harnessed and ready 🙂

I sat in the sled first with all of our bags, the camera, our water and the emergency anchor (which you throw out of the sled when you want the dogs to really stop)!

IMG_6336View from inside the sled!

Having the opportunity to team up with 5 husky dogs and drive the sled was quite an adventure and harder than it sounds. You need to be aware of the team ahead of you, if they slow down, you need to follow suit and stop well before you think you should or the dogs will try to get ahead of that team. You also need to be careful of the hills as going downhill you could lose control of the sled, and of course avoiding trees on the turns is difficult.

Steering to the right or left requires you to put your weight on the correct side. I was literally standing on one side with all my weight to make the turns. At the beginning the sled did topple over once or twice..but after we learned how to control it better it was fantastic.

The dogs needed some help pushing the sled on the uphill and in the deeper snow, so it was definitely a great work-out for the dogs and us! Driving the sled with someone sitting in it is a hard job, so we were both really happy that we could alternate drivers along the journey. The guy in front of us was the only driver and his passenger didn’t want to drive, so he had a much harder time.


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Action shot with the dog teams behind us! Look at those husky dogs go!

During the first part of the sledding it was snowing quite a bit which made it tougher. After putting on all that Arctic clothing, we actually were pretty warm after driving the sled. We didn’t end up using the hat, gloves or goggles (I brought my own pair).

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The second half of our journey, the clouds started parting to reveal the beautiful blue skies. Northern Norway is seriously one of the most beautiful places on earth. Seeing a bit of the mountains by dog sled is just unforgettable.

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Winter wonderland in Northern Norway

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Taking a break to take in the view and
reward our dogs with lots of petting for their hard work.


Howling huskies!

IMG_6429Our dog team!!

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Everytime we stopped and the team in front started to get going, the dogs would turn around to ask “Are we going yet???” 🙂

Well deserved nap after their hard work

20140322_144908Hard not to get attached to your dogs! 2 of the dogs on our team, brothers, Ford and Mitsubishi

If you are planning a trip to Northern Norway or anywhere in Lappland, I highly recommend including Dog sledding in your activities! I was glad my coworkers mentioned it to me when I told them of my trip up north. It was an incredible and unique adventure!

Active Tromsø
http://activetromso.no/dog-sledding/

Thank you to the dogs and the staff at Active Tromsø for such a fantastic and fun day!