Monday, July 28, 2014

Apparently I jinxed myself

Once upon a time R said I chose well by voting Stockholm over Sicily when we were debating where in Europe to move. One of my biggest pros for Stockholm was that summers here were sunny and warm, yet breezy and fresh, nothing like the cauldron of Taormina (or Virginia or New York)—meaning I could survive one. 

It seems I spoke too soon.

A heatwave has descended upon Stockholm, so it's entirely too hot to ride my bike the 30 minutes each way between school and home at 12:30PM and 4:30PM...which consequently means I have to take public transit there and back.

And Stockholm's public transit isn't air conditioned (and the windows on the bus do not open in a way that provides any circulation). This was never a problem before, naturally, and I always marveled at how pleasant the rides were, compared to NYC's frigid trains (and hellishly hot subway platforms).

But this last week (and the one to come)? Well, they've been a bit...sticky. 32C / 90F at 10AM will do that to you. It's become the norm to take 2 or more showers a day and actively seek out the seats on buses and subways that are completely sun-less.

If I only I feared being warily looked at by other adults a little less—I'd spend every afternoon running around under the fountains' jet spray right alongside those thoroughly-refreshed looking children.

One year ago: I think it's time to stop knitting napkins
Blogger Tricks

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Three levels of madness

The strangest thing has been happening to me lately—I'll be talking, and suddenly the word that I want to say next is nowhere to be found. English is my mother language, but I also speak passable Italian. And now I'm learning Swedish, so there was bound to be a pile-up at some point. Especially since I don't speak Italian like it's my native tongue.

My mind works like this: English is your default way of speaking. Everything else is "foreign". That's why even though Italian and Swedish sound nothing alike, when I open my mouth to ask my Swedish teacher a question, somehow it comes out Italian. My brain knows I can't ask a question in English, so it just reverts to the "other" language, which until now has only ever been Italian.

Then, especially when I'm speaking with R, who shares my three languages (and then some), everything gets more pronounced. On the bus home last week we were discussing (in Italian) the U.S.'s response to the Malaysian Airlines plane being shot down compared to its response to the Israel-Gaza situation when I started sputtering because I couldn't think of the word "guerra". Worse, I couldn't even think of what it was in English ("war")! But, somehow the word "krig" ("war" in Swedish) floated to the forefront of my mind and spilled out. At which point R looked at me like I was crazy and I imagined I actually was!

I don't know what would be the case now if I hadn't dropped Spanish when I met R. I had studied it all through middle school, high school and the first year of university, but since Spanish and Italian are so close, and neither are my mother tongues, I couldn't retain both and Spanish fell away.

Imagine the gibberish I'd be spouting if I were trying to maintain four languages...

One year ago: Stirred, not shaken

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn

Nybroken Stockholm  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
When we realized that R had an upcoming "weekend" during the actual weekend, we began plotting a trip: Copenhagen? Skåne? Tallinn? Turku? I voted for a boat trip vs. a plane or train trip, but we couldn't get the schedules to work quite right for an overnight cruise so we fell back on a trip type that worked well for us before: a day boat to Stockholm's archipelago.

Two months ago we went to Grinda, an island that's an hour away and extremely...quiet. Almost desolate, actually. I'm not sure if that's just the way it is (since it is a nature preserve, after all), but maybe it's because we went in the off season that the only company we had were a group of friends and a family of (somewhat) friendly cows?

Whatever the case, we decided to head to a livelier island and we found a nice day trip via Stromma for a canal tour to Sandhamn, one of the furthest-away archipelago islands. I believe a regular boat can get there in 90 minutes or so, but we opted for the company's "Canal Tour" which takes a southerly route through super narrow canals making it much different from the normal speedy boats that zoom across the open water of the archipelago, or skärsgård.

On Sunday we headed off to the main port in the city for a 9:45AM departure, which would have us in Sandhamn by 12:45PM, where we'd have two hours to explore before heading back for the 3-hour return trip.

Once we were away from the edges of Stockholm and Nacka, we started passing adorable summer houses (or maybe year-round ones!), plus lots of people out on their motor or sail boats. And then we started winding through the seagrass-edged canals.
Nybroken, Stockholm  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Stockholm archipelago skärsgård  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Stockholm archipelago skärsgård  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Stockholm archipelago skärsgård  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Sandhamn port  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Time passed pretty quickly and soon we were steering our way into Sandhamn's (packed!) port. We disembarked and found ourselves in a very charming area. But since we had picked a picnic, we quickly skedaddled through the bustling waterfront area and headed for the hills where we passed lane upon lane of typical red wooden Swedish houses with heaps of climbing roses, an incredible number of waving Swedish flags and people toting blankets and hampers on their backs or on their bikes as they wound their way to their own private summer afternoon spots.
Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.comSandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.comSandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Typical Swedish houses in Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.comSandhamn port from above  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
When we found a rock face overlooking both a beach and a smaller port, we spread our blankets out to enjoy our lunch and the view. We snuck in a little nap, too—with the warm stone behind our backs and waves of salty sea air washing over us we really had no choice. As our watches ticked towards 2:45PM we sighed, gathered our things, and headed back to the port for the trip back to Stockholm.

I'd had more than enough sun by then, so for the return journey I opted to spend most of it in the cabin below deck where big windows that were opened wide made it seem just like I was up on the sun deck (where R stayed), but without the intense Swedish sun (seems ironic, but it really was strong!) beating down on me.

While Stockholm is certainly the most greenest city (and a capital one at that!) that I've ever been in, sometimes you just need to be completely removed from all things urban, even if it is for just a day, and Sandhman was the perfect destination for that.
Stockholm archipelago skärgård  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
One year ago: Almost an American