Saturday, July 21, 2012

To Sweden with love..

It was time to leave Copenhagen, but our next adventure awaited. We were heading to Sweden to do more than just see the beautiful country; we were getting an introduction to Big R's Swedish heritage by visiting Gothenburg and meeting his wonderful family for the very first time. When Big R's grandmother was just a girl, she left Gothenburg for the U.S. and sailed across the Atlantic. Although she made the U.S. her new home, a part of her heart stayed in Sweden. She was certain to keep in touch with family, and even more determined to continue speaking Swedish.

Because of her attachment to her home country, all of her children grew up learning about Sweden and wondering what this part of the world was really like. Big R was definitely among the curious, and he always would say that he was going to make it to Sweden some day. It is therefore no surprise that Sweden was at the very top of our list of places to see. I think we were both waiting to visit this part of the world during the summer when it might be a little less...frozen...

While making plans to visit Sweden, we had originally thought we'd go to Stockholm. As beautiful and intriguing as the city might be, it's also fairly expensive to get there and to visit. We decided instead to visit Gothenburg. Not only was it a tad bit easier and less costly, but Big R was certain he still had family that lived in the area. Once she heard that we bought our tickets to Sweden, Big R's mom quickly got us in touch with family in Gothenburg. Facebook was amazing for helping us connect with our Swedish family. Before we knew it, we had arrangements to stay with Big R's second cousins, Brigitta and Bill, that live just outside of Gothenburg.

We arrived in Gothenburg after an easy 3-4 hour train ride from Copenhagen, and we were greeted by a friendly face. Mattias and I had been communicating on Facebook for a couple months, and we recognized each other right away. He drove us into the countryside to Brigitta's home where the rest of the family was waiting to enjoy an evening of good eats, better conversation, and fun, all Swedish-style. It was fabulous. Despite us not knowing a lick of Swedish (except maybe a few words Big R picked up from his grandmother), the conversation flowed easily, and the evening ended with strong new connections and friendships.

We were quick to fall in love with the countryside, the food, the language, and the people. Our family made it easy.

The kids playing in Birgitta and Bill's beautiful backyard
Children of America and Sweden!
Delicious cake to celebrate Brigitta's birthday
Lovely countryside surrounding Bill and Birgitta's home
little r was fascinated by Birgitta's hens
We had to take at least one walk to explore the Swedish countryside - we were happy the weather cooperated
Real homemade Swedish buttercake - can we say, "YUM"?
little r found an egg!
All of the homes had sweet Swedish charm
Our visit to Sweden was short - only two days - but it was such a wonderful visit. Birgitta made sure to arrange time for family to meet us, so we were blessed with another day of family and good food.

This visit wasn't much about sightseeing, although we did get Bill's whirlwind tour of Gothenburg by car. We saw enough that we knew it was definitely worth another visit (or two or three) to do some exploring. Big R was able to grab a few shots from the car of this place his grandmother once called home.

Example of Swedish architecture in Gothenburg
More of the Gothenburg skyline
The place where Big R's grandmother departed Sweden nearly 75 years ago!
And she traveled by boat not unlike this one, can you imagine?!
The time came for us to say our good-byes. It became less of a farewell, and more a time to discuss when we'd be returning for another visit. We think that frozen Sweden might not be that bad afterall. They do have ice fishing there :)

Thank you so much to all of our extended family in Sweden for providing such a warm welcome. Brigitta and Bill, you will forever be close friends!

Ha Det Bra!


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