Friday, September 18, 2015

A Year Ago

A year ago I was in Sweden. It’s hard to say what I was doing exactly—it was such an amazing trip. Catching up with old friends, tea on a hillside overlooking a ruined monastery, picnics by big glacial lakes, swimming in those cold, cold lakes, biking, hiking, and those long incredible breakfasts.

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal and the morning smorgasbord in Sweden hits all the high notes. A thick creamy yoghurt, Wasa crisp bread, and thin slices of cheese.

Every day the sky was a miracle of bright blue. I think I have Swedish blood running through me. The way the sun moved and moved me, the way it hung and stayed up there for way past what would have been sunset for me back home. There are moments here where the sun is suspended and sends a golden glow over the landscape and my pulse quickens: Sweden!

I went “after the season” which I’m not quite sure what that means as the temperatures were moderate. I’d ride my bike all day soaking up the sunshine without burning, but tanning instead. The few days of rain only made me love the country more—once as I sat under an awning eating a snack at an old Roman ruin (I know, crazy how those Romans got around). I stayed dry contemplating a statue in the corner of the mother and child while eating some sweet bread from a konditori: KONDITORI (noun) \Khan- da- tor- ree\:
1: Traditional Swedish gathering place to enjoy friends over great coffee, fine     baked goods and confections.
2: Where one goes for a coffee break

I was able to relax and let go before coming home.

Perhaps a year ago I was cycling Gotland island. Riding across the pastoral landscape, checking into a hostel at the tip and taking a ferry to Faro where that evening I sat in a candlelit church and listened to a gospel choir and toured the Bergman Center. The next day I cycled past several old churches that served the fishing communities that once made up Gotland. I sat on the steps of such a church waiting for my hosts to come back from a scout meeting. Yes, it had been a rainy day and the sky was getting darker, but with lights on the bike I followed their car down a gravel land to the farm house at the end.

I miss the feeling most of all. Sweden felt safe and do-able for a solo female traveler. The world was mine. 

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