Coming from Copenhagen on the train, I busied myself with iPod Swedish lessons. Combined with my acquired knowledge of the language on my Summer trip, I thought I had it covered when I wanted to interrupt someone and ask for help. Thank goodness I stuck with “Prata du engelska?” (Do you speak English?) instead of what I thought was “Excuse me”. I almost told a complete stranger to “Shut the hell up” because håll käften and ursäkta sound quite similar (despite obvious differences in spelling), and I was really nervous.
Nevertheless, I arrived without offending anyone, and was already back where I left off with my Swedish friends. It was still Kalmar, but now it was Kalmar with snow. We threw snowballs at each other on the way to the student bar on Saturday night, and the big stone ball by the mall wasn’t rolling in its watery base any longer. Instead it was frozen, motionless, and I toyed with the idea of sitting it on vodka instead of water for year-round movement. Then I remembered I was in Sweden and was overcome with images of the local licking the fountain.
We didn’t stay in Kalmar long, opting for a cheaper 6 hour bus to Stockholm in preparation for Christmas and New Year. I was fortunate to have the hospitality of the Hedberg family in both Stockholm and Mariefred, where I spend my first White Christmas. I had sent my letter to the North Pole and was well and truly inundated with my wishes coming true. As previous photos have shown, flying down hills on a Snow Racer and trotting through the forest on horseback are a far cry from my usual BBQ in the park for Christmas, but it was a completely unforgettable experience that I don’t think I would have traded for the usual given the option.
Back in Stockholm, the snow-covered balcony was the perfect spot to watch the New Year’s Fireworks, all of which are completely legal, unlike Adelaide where even weak little sparklers were banned from outdoors at the risk of starting a fire in the 40-plus heat. We took a walk by some of the many waterways, where thin layers of ice and snow hid the waters and boats were frozen into position at their moorings.
So I’ve covered the snow, Christmas, New Years, and a few other things. The more I do, the more I want to remember every day - and yet the last few weeks have slipped by, and the journey is almost at an end. The pictures help tell the story, but they don't always cover everything. Now, I think it’s safe to move on to Latvia, which I did just over 1 week ago…