Sunday, September 8, 2013

The final hurrah

Well, I had intended on doing a few more posts but after I got back from my vacation the time really slipped away on me!

Some highlights from my last month in Sweden:

Attending a Swedish wedding
Getting burnt like a lobster from several days in a row on the beach
Finishing all of the Millenium series books (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy)
Getting spoiled during my last week

Overall, my AgriVenture experience was a great one! I was able to learn a ton about farming while also exploring another country. I met some amazing people as well, which I think also greatly impacted my experience.

I miss my children (Stina, Karl and Hilda) and cannot believe that the next time I go back that little baby may be partly grown up and will not remember me... So sad :(.

And I miss those darn sheep! I had no idea I would come home and miss them so much. I am dying to be a sheep farmer now and am forcing myself not to buy any sheep until I am out of university (for simplicity's sake). Seriously if there is a type of farming you are interested in but don't know much about, this is a great way to change that!

Now, I did have a bit of reverse culture shock (other than the horrendous jet-lag). It was the most amazing thing to be able to eavesdrop, and to be able to understand the radio and public signs! Even sometimes still I almost slip a "tack" instead of a "thank you". 

People always ask me if I will go back, and I say with confidence: yes. Gotland was the most beautiful island, and when I go back I want to be able to share my summer with someone else in real life so they can experience the beauty as well. So, if you are curious about all the fuss, contact me and we can plan a trip there in 5 or 10 years! ;) And of course I would like to go back so that I can visit all of the friends I made there! I look forward to the day I can have a full conversation with the kids I stayed with.

A sentimental little ending to the final post: It's never goodbye, it's simply I will see you again. TACK!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kalmar part 2

Day 10

This day was another fabulous one! I got PEANUT BUTTER for breakfast for the first time in months, because Åke bought me some just because he knew I liked it! Nicest man ever? I think so! (Okay maybe I'm a bit too easy to please, but I went through all of public school with peanut butter sandwiches every. day. on my lunch!)

Our journey took us driving all over Småland (the name for the lanscape in south western Sweden). We got to listen to a fabulous tape in the car about the story of Beethoven. He was a crazy deaf man, but man did he make great music! It was amazing to drive the country roads listening to his music!

We drove out to the Pukeberg Glass Factory and got to see some glass blowers at work! One made a cat. It was so cool, one minute it was a lump and he just pinched it in a few places and Voila it was a cat! Next we went on to Målerås glass and crystal factory. This one used molds and created all sorts of art by etching pictures into the crystal! After that was Orrefors. They had just closed down the factory a few months ago but they still had a huge store! I had NO idea that each different wine deserved a special glass! it was quite the learning experience!

After a nice homemade supper of pasta, we turned on the TV to find Rascall Flatts performing at Liseberg in Gothenburg! We also looked through the Sandbergs' guest book dating back to 1987! It was amazing reading stories from all the people that had visited them. Swedish and English were not the only languages in it either! 

Day 11

For breakfast we tried fried kropkakor; they were just as delicious as the previous ones! We relaxed for most of the morning; Åke showed us some maps and books of Sweden.

In the afternoon the four of us took out the bikes and went for a stunning ride through the countryside. We stopped in the forest to pick wild blueberries! Åke showed us the place of the scout camp he took his group to for many decades. Then we toured the biggest dairy farm in the area! The Aggie in me practically screamed in delight! They had FOUR robots! And I'm not quite sure but they either had 500 or milked 500. There were plenty of calves to play with, that was my favourite! Swedish Red are the darned cutest calves (and maybe cows) ever! WE biked back after that.

We attended a birthday party for a family friend that night. Swedish people have birthday parties for themselves every year, I love it! They had the most delicious food there, including a chicken dish with a blue cheese sauce and grapes! For dessert was grädde torta (cream cake). It was a white cake layered with jam, pudding, and whipped cream and strawberries on top!

Day 12

Sadly we had to say goodbye to the Sandbergs this day. I had an amazing and memorable time with them! Before we left they gave both Kirsti and I antique keys with a Swedish ribbon attached. We are now a part of the "Key Club" that the Sandbergs started 35 years ago! They have given away hundreds of keys now! The idea behind it is that you should carry it wherever you go to help open doors in life, and as a good luck charm!!

Next I showed Kirsti Gotland for a few days, stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Sorry about the delay here folks.. I was, uh, creating anticipation!! Because this was definitely the best few days of my vacation.

Day 7 (continued)

We met our hosts, Ulla and  Åke Sandberg at the train station in Kalmar. (Ulla and Åke are.. Kirsti's mom's cousin's husband's parents. OK, simple right?) They drove us for a tour around Kalmar and the surrounding area. Then we drove out into a forest to meet their relatives for a picnic! Sweden has a law that basically says "all nature shall be free". AKA you are allowed to go on anyone's property, provided you stay away from the homestead and don't disrupt the nature. You are even allowed to camp for free for one night! So we went into this random forest and had a delicious supper, followed by a scavenger hunt!

After all the fun and games were over, we headed to Trekanten (Three Corners directly translated), where the couple lives. As soon as I walked into their house I was in love! Everything was stylish but antique at the same time. Åke does a lot of collecting; he even had an old record player in the garden house and we danced to some 1920's jazz! Among other things he collects coins, he has a collection over 130 countries large! 

During fika (coffee break) I discovered fläder saft! Fläder is Swedish for elderberry. They take the flowers of it and turn it into a sweet drink! They actually don't really use the berries here. 

Day 8

This day started with the most fabulous breakfast outside on the porch! (Little did I know that every meal from then on would be outside!) Then we headed into Kalmar. There was Loppis (Like a garage sale but usually isn't in a garage) throughout the town so it was very busy! We took a tour of Kalmar Castle. They had many interesting exhibits, including some history as well as several dresses that different princesses and queens had worn!

We walked into the city and had ice cream twice in one afternoon, instead of lunch! I don't know if I've ranted about ice cream yet, but let me tell you, Swedish ice cream is seriously awesome. it always comes in a waffle cone (one of the ones this day was homemade, YUM) and they have so many cool flavours! My favourite that day was blueberry!

We checked out the cathedral. It was inspired by the churches in Rome, so it had a very different look to the others I have seen in Sweden.

At 4 we took a ferry to Öland, an island off the east coast. We went to a restaurant and ordered Panbiff (a sort of meatloaf-hamburger combination with gravy) and some potatoes that were boiled then fried whole! They were really good, crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside! After supper we headed back to the Sandberg's, where we ended the night with some fika, complete with sparkling wine! 

Day 9

The beginning of my journal entry for this day was "Today was one of the best unexpected days in my whole life I think." I will explain why!

After a lovely breakfast on the porch, we took the scenic route to Öland. On the way we checked out a church from the 1100's, that had an alter piece than was stolen from Poland in the 1600's as a war trophy!!

We crossed the long bridge to Öland and took the eastern roads up north. (Öland is a very long, very skinny island- 16 km across but 136 km long!) We then headed west and stopped in Borgholm and got some ice cream and walked along the harbour. We took a nice trail in the woods up to an old cafe, which was famous for it's blue cabinet! It seriously just looks like a cabinet, but there's 2 bathrooms in it!! Weirdest thing. We took another trail and walked up to some old castle ruins. On the walk we saw some sky divers! We then took the car to the other side of the harbour and had a picnic of fika. 

We started driving again and went to a national park area; it was so beautiful there! On the way back we saw a camel farm! Before we came to it, Åke tried to explain what it was that we would be seeing. He was saying camel (with a bit of an accent) but we could not for the life of us figure out what he meant. We thought we had known all the different types of farming! Once we saw the camel's it was an "oh, DUH" moment! They were camels with two humps, and some of the humps were a bit lopsided, which made them look really funny! Before heading home we stopped at a butik for some Kropkakor (direct translation is body cakes!) to bring home for supper.

Now, kropkakor is a famous dish all over Sweden (and there's a reason, it's freakin delish!), but Öland's are unique because they use raw potatoes instead of cooked, so they have a different texture. Okay, to explain what body cakes actually are: they are about the size of a tennis ball, with cured pork on the inside wrapped around potato on the outside. They are usually served with cream and lingon sylt (Lingonberry jam). About 2 or 3 can fill you up, and it's great because it's a whole meal in one little ball!

After supper we pulled out some old bikes (literally: Kirsti's bike was from the 1920's!) and had a great ride through some nature! After the bike ride we skyped Michael, their son that lives in Canada (who is Kirsti's mom's cousin's husband).

This is just the beginning (well and the middle too I guess) of a great stay with some amazing people! Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


The next few days of my trip were spent in Malmo and the surrounding areas!

Day 4:

Kirsti and I left Gothenburg early in the morning and took a train to Varberg. It is a beautiful beach town. We walked around the town and down to the harbour and found an ice cream place. I had salted caramel ice cream, it was really good! There was a lovely walking trail next to the coast. We passed four nudist beaches! (Don’t worry we didn’t see anything we didn’t want to!) We made our way up to an old fort and had lunch at the cafe there. Despite being July 2nd, it was so cold that I wanted my mittens! After lunch we continued along the trail and came to a big beach where people were surfing! That was cool to watch. We stuck our feet in the water but it was way too cold to go swimming.

After our nice tour of Varberg we took the train to Malmo. Once in Malmo we found our hostel and got settled in. Over the few days there I really took a liking to hostels. They are so cheap (200kr or about $30 a night) and we got free wifi, cheap (all you can eat) breakfast, and there were even free laundry facilities. The only thing that I didn’t really like was that there were only 3 toilets in the whole building; I think that was a bit too few for the 50+ people staying there. I was really surprised to see people of all ages there; I thought hostels were mostly for poor students (like me)! But there were several families and even an old man with a walker staying there! I landed in a room with 7 other girls, but luckily none of them snored, and most went to bed at a decent time.

Day 5

We took a bus to Centralen (the Central Station) and spent the rest of the morning exploring the streets! We found a cheap (slightly tacky) souvenir store and we both got some things for friends and family back home! We went to an awesome thai restaurant for lunch and then we headed on to a chocolate factory!!

Malmo Chokladfabrik is the only bean-to-bar chocolate operation in Sweden. They had a museum about the history of the factory and the story of the cocoa bean. With entry to the museum we got free samples, a guided (Swedish) tour and 20% off in the store later! It was really interesting to learn how chocolate is made. The current owners searched all over the world for the best cocoa beans! After they are picked they have to be fermented and dried, then shipped. At the factory they are ground up into “nibs” and 1 of 3 things happens: 1. Sugar is added and voila, dark chocolate! 2. Sugar and milk powder are added and tada, milk chocolate! 3. The cocoa butter is squeezed out, leaving the powder and butter separate. The butter is then taken and added to sugar and yum, white chocolate! This particular store also made a lot of pralines, which just involved putting the chocolate into molds and adding filling.The samples we got to try were excellent! We also bought some fika (coffee break/snack) in the store after and got to try some pralines as well as chocolates made from different types of cocoa beans. And OF COURSE we had to buy some chocolate to take home with us!
We also visited a castle built in the 1930s and the famous Turning Torso. What a weird apartment building! For supper we went to a pizza place and I tried pizza with French fries and meat on it, and taco pizza! Both were really good!

Day 6

What a busy day! We travelled to Lund in the morning and had coffee with Hanna, a university friend of both Kirsti and I’s host moms! She took us through the botanical gardens and some of the town. We looked around a bit more and had some lunch then hopped on a train to Helsinborg! Here we got on a 20 minute ferry that took us to Helsinor, in Denmark! Here we looked at a castle that is famous because Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is about a prince that lived there! We also got some Danish supper, smorrebrod! It’s little open faced sandwiched with different toppings on special bread. Then we ran back over to Sweden on the ferry, and ran again to catch a train back to our hostel in Malmo!

Day 7

We spent the morning trying to find the beach but it didn’t work, so we stopped and had lunch at a cafe then took the bus to the train station and headed for Kalmar!! Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

My vacation: part one!

As a part of AgriVenture, for every two months I’m here I get one week of unpaid holidays. So right now I am using up my 2 weeks of holidays!


I started on Saturday morning by taking a flight from Visby to Gothenburg. Then I met another Canadian trainee named Whitney and we spent the day together. We spent a lot of time exploring the city and grabbing fika! Gothenburg is a much younger town that most of the rest of Sweden. The oldest building was built in 1648! We went to a couple of cute cafes in the area. I had a chocolate muffin! So healthy right!?

We met another Canadian trainee, Kirsti, and organized a bit of what we would be doing for the next few days. We got to sleep in a relative of her host family’s apartment while in Gothenburg which was super handy!


Sunday was spent walking (I walked 18 km)! We visited a really nice church and took a walk by the city harbour. There was a huge sail boat that they had turned into a hotel! We took a nice walk through the Botanical Gardens and had lunch there. We walked through another park and got some ice cream! There was a performance going on but we got there as soon as it was over.

We walked to Liseberg, the famous amusement park in Gothenburg. But it was close to closing time and cost 90 kr just to walk in and look around, so we decided to walk back. We found a great little (expensive) seafood place. There was a pond right in the middle of the restaurant with fish in it! We even got to drive a boat with shrimp on it to our table to eat. We ate prawn, crab, muscles, shrimp and salmon! It was very delicious. But it was a well deserved meal; some of it was so hard to crack open and get into before I could eat it!


I was very happy to be spending Canada Day with two fellow Canadians, but I was still disappointed to not spend it in Canada.

I tried marmalade and cheese on toast, total yum! And totally Swedish. I apologize in advance for grossing you out with my “weird” food habits I will be taking back with me...

We met Kirsti’s host dad’s sister (host aunt?) for fika and a walk in the park. Then we took the Tram (street car) to the harbour. From there we took a ferry to Branno, an archipelago on the west coast of Sweden. There are many other islands just like this one. There are no cars allowed on the islands, so everyone has a bike and/or moped with a platform for storage in the front. There were only a few restaurants, one grocery store and the tiniest hardware store. Since you can’t buy anything else on the island, we saw loads of people bringing over things on the ferry, from windows to fridges! There was an awesome lookout point that we visited. We were able to get a great view of Branno and the surrounding islands!

We went to an American type buffet for supper and had some greasy food! (Kind of Canadian?) And on our way home we got some donuts for dessert. This was the only Canadian way we could think of celebrating Canada Day abroad...

Overall the first three days of my trip were great! Next we headed on to Malmo... Stay tuned!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Visby on a sunny Thursday

I have been travelling a lot in the last couple weeks with little time to sit down and write, so this post will be from events that occurred last Thursday.

After feeding the lambs in the morning I headed out with Annika, Stina and Lina to Visby. We went to the Gotland Museum and spent the morning and some of the afternoon there. This museum displays all of Gotland’s history for as far back as they can find anything!
There is a lot of Viking history on this island. It was really interesting to see how they lived and where they traveled! I even found out there were a few girl Vikings on Gotland!

On a farm on Gotland they also found treasures from two silver raids. In total, 80 Kilograms of silver (what it weighed at the time of burial) were recovered!! 

One of the most interesting things I found was a 9000 year old skeleton! That is not a typo! My brain almost fell out of my head. I couldn’t believe it! In Canada something that is a couple hundred years old is considered ancient. I can’t even begin to fathom what life could have been like 9000 years ago! And it was even in pretty good condition considering it is so old! 

There was also a lot of information on how Gotland came to be a Christian island. Before Christianity they were Pagan. Then a few people who had travelled to Christian countries or traded with Christians thought that they should start to implement the religion on the island. The first church that was built was burned down by the community. So the guy just built another one! The community was about to burn it down again but then the man sat on top of it and said “If you burn the church you will have to burn me too” Luckily before anything rash happened the man’s father-in-law, who was a well regarded man, stepped in and told the people to let the church stay. Soon after, more churches were built, and slowly everyone converted to Christianity. Eventually it was even illegal to be Pagan! Now there are 81 churches on Gotland.

Oh did I mention I got into the museum for free because I am under 20!? Europe is great for student discounts! Clearly they think we are great ;). For lunch we had lasagna (which I am starting to really enjoy ketchup on, so don’t look at me too funny if I come back to Canada and do that..). Then we went to several nice shops in Visby.

Before we left for the day, we stopped at an ice cream shop that had 180 different flavours! Oh my, it is a good thing I didn't understand most of them or else I would have been in real trouble! Anyone who knows me well knows that my decision making skills need a lot of practice...

On the way home we stopped and got some Swedish strawberries :) Yum!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Sorry that I haven't posted in a while.. There just hasn't seemed to be a whole lot to talk about. I have visited a few more places around here, such as some churches and stores. And of  course I have been working plenty!!

Yesterday I got to experience Midsummer celebrations! This is the most important holiday in Sweden, except for maybe Christmas. I wasn't really sure what it was, but Karin showed me this great video a few days before hand to prepare me. And it was actually pretty well spot on! (I was glad she had prepped me, otherwise I might have thought OMG WHAT!? At some of the things we did...)

After a bit of work in the morning, we went to farmor and farfar's (grandma and grandpa) house for lunch. I tried pickled herring for the first time, as well as a potato dish with herring in it. And some new potatoes, yum! There was also bread and meatballs and mini sausages. To finish it off we had Swedish strawberries and ice cream for dessert! 

We came home and got the hay wagon decorated and guests started showing up. Then we got to drive into Hamra in style on the wagon! In Hamra the whole community gathered to put up the Maypole. A small band came in and we sang songs and danced around the Maypole (yes I did dance like a frog)! After catching up with all of the neighbours we went back home.

We were served a delicious two course supper, the first course a repeat of lunch, and the second course some awesome barbecued meat and more new potatoes (seriously my new favourite vegetable..) and salad! We sang songs and raised our glasses for Skål (cheers) and spent the rest of the night chatting with good company. Some of the friends stayed over in trailers that they brought. (The legal limit for driving is only 0.02, so basically nothing.. and what fun is it to stay sober for the biggest party of the year!?)

Today we went out to lunch at the local place by the sea with some of the friends that had stayed over. I had the best smoked salmon ever, and some (guess what, awesome) new potatoes!

Overall, my first Midsummer experience has been great. I hope to celebrate it again, whether in Canada, or back here in Sweden!