Yvonne and I flew to Sweden to attend our friend Ulrika's wedding. We left here on June 22, 2005, the wedding was on July 2, 2005 and we returned home on July 9th.
Many of you have met Ulrika, for those who have not, she worked in the US as an Au Pair for a couple of years and Yvonne and I became very good friends with her in 1999. She returned to Sweden at one point to arrange for student loans as was set to attend college here for her teaching credential but a delay in her loans caused her to miss the beginning of the school year. She decided to stay in Sweden and attempt to attend school here the following year but sadly for us, her plans changed and she was only able to come back for a visit for a couple of weeks.
About the time of her visit 2 years ago, Ulrika began talking with a fellow Swede name Karl. Karl and Ulrika began dating shortly after her return and last year Karl asked Ulrika to marry him. She said yes.
Earlier this year Yvonne and I began making arrangements to fly out to Sweden to attend our friends wedding. We ended up arriving a week before the wedding and planned on helping the two of them with the final plans and then after the wedding, they postponed their Honeymoon plans so we could spend a week together in a more relaxed and touristy way.
Yvonne and I were amazed at how calm and collected Ulrika was that week before, Yvonne admits she was "Bridezilla" the final weeks before our wedding, and yet, Ulrika was calm, relaxed and on top of everything. Oh yeah, all this and Ulrika had never even attended a wedding before this!
While we had planned this first week to be all about helping them out and not expecting them to be able to show us around much, they were able to spend much more time with us then we could have hoped for. A few days after arrival we left Vasteras, a suburb of Stockholm (about 60 miles away) and drove up the coast to the area of Örnskoldsvik where Ulrika grew up. The wedding was to be here.
We spent a week here, staying in the summer cabin her father, Tord, built when Ulrika was a toddler. This summer house is on a small island (only about 40 feet from shore and connected by a scary bridge) in a lake in the middle of nowhere. It was so peaceful and beautiful.
After wedding we drove back Örnskoldsvik and spent the final week as tourists, spending a few days exploring Stockholm.
Oh yeah, what about this guy Karl, you ask? Well, secretly Yvonne and I wanted to hate him and kidnap Ulrika and drag her back to the USA where she belongs, but from the first day we fell in love with him and we scalped the 3rd ticket we had for the return trip (Just kidding!).
Karl, 35, spent a year in the US as an exchange student so his English is impeccable, that and the fact that most of the series on TV there are US shows, in English, with Swedish subtitles. Karl works as a civil engineer and grew up in the Vasteras area. He is such a fun, sincere guy that you cannot help but like him. Karl and I spent many longs nights (more on that in a minute) having great conversations over cold beers. Ulrika has truly found a man worthy of her.
The nights! Or should I say the days! We arrived there during the "longest days of the year" and well, they were long. In the region of where they live, the official Sunrise was at 3:30 a.m. and the Sunset was at 10:10 pm. but it never really got dark there. At midnight, it would look like it does here about 1/2 hour after the sun sets below the horizon, the sky was still lit.
Now up north, in Örnskoldsvik where we spent a week, the Sunrise was at 2:16 a.m. and Sunset was at 11:07 p.m. and it was even lighter here at 1 a.m. then Vasteras at midnight! You could literally read a book outside without the need for any light! I had such a hard time wanting to go to sleep, I felt like Al Pacino in the movie Insomnia!
The first week were there I hardly slept more then an hour at a time before waking up and laying them for another hour so before falling back to sleep for a bit. Most nights we stayed up until 2 a.m. or so. It is just so wrong!
We were amazed how beautiful Sweden is and also how remote a small town can be in the northern parts (and we weren't all that far north, it gets even more remote further up). Also, Ulrika and Karl's family and friends went out of their way to make us feel welcomed and worked hard on speaking in English as much as possible. Our table and cabin mates at the wedding location, Tina and Johan were especially helpful.
Karl's US host parents, Bill and Lori were the only other Americans there and the four us sat next to each other during the reception while Tina and Johan would translate for us as needed.
My friend and co-worker Teresa is dating a Swedish National (Tomas) who also works where I do through the University of Stockholm. Tomas headed back to Sweden a few weeks before us for the purpose of school and to visit his parents, and during our final days in Sweden Teresa flew out to visit with him. The four of us we able to meet up one of the days in Stockholm and Tomas was gracious enough to play tour guide for three of us and we ended the day with a picnic in a park watching hot air balloons being launched and landed. It was too cool to end up in Sweden at the same time as them and we had to spend some time together even though we see each other daily!
I took a lot of picture and have broken them up into several albums to make it easier to view. I hope to write a lot more in a future edition of my long overdue newsletter, but until then, this is it. I hope you enjoy the photos albums below!
Some pictures we took during our time in Vasteras, the city Ulrika and Karl live in, it is about 60 miles west of Stockholm
Once an album is open, click on the second to far right arrow to view the next picture, or on the smaller arrow in the middle for a slide show.