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Warmth shines through in Sweden despite the cold weather

By: Rayne McKenzie
By: Rayne McKenzie

Kind families make living in subfreezing temperature pleasant- shocking I know!

Today was good, but tonight was perfect. As I'm sure you feel after reading these blogs, the Swedish people are truly making an effort to make this a memorable experience. They are feeding us well, making sure we see the sights and welcoming us all into their hearts. That's not always easy to do as we are strangers to them; I tell you if you saw us after just a few days in this city you may think we all come from the same family. I feel so fortunate to be part of this group and an appreciate an organization like Rotary exists to build bridges of friendships across cultures.


Today we were treated a number of activities to broaden our knowledge of the Swedish culture. We had a typical Swedish dish to start off the day- a prawn sandwich with mayonnaise, cucumber, tomato and of course prawn or mini shrimp. The dish was said to be the best in Sweden and I know why they prize this cuisine. It's simple, but satisfying. I of course washed mine down with a Coke, which I'm betting is not part of the tradition :) Gotta seize the moments to indulge in a Coke when you can though you know!


We then headed to enjoy a tour of a major linen factory in the area. They have a long-standing tradition here in the area and are well known throughout the world. In fact, Neiman Marcus contacted this company to partner but they didn't have the resources to produce such mass quantities that NM would require. This linen is exquisite (and because it is of the highest quality it was also well out of my price range!) Sorry guys, I'm not bringing this back as a gift although I'm sure it would go over well. It was truly beautiful. In fact the King and Queen asked this factory to create the linen for the upcoming wedding for the princess...I kid you not this is good stuff!


We then were treated to another meal. I branched out from the smoked salmon most of the guests had and ordered Swedish pancakes instead. It's really like having delicate crepes. My dish came with freshly whipped crème and lingenberry sauce. Not to make you jealous, but this dish was simply delicious! Yummy, just what my stomach and taste buds were desiring. I did forgo the coke and chose simple water to compliment my child-like meal. I can't imagine those ordering salmon enjoyed it half as much as my scrumptious dish!


Then is was off to visit the Viking museum. It was cold (ummm yes, hope you are noticing a trend.) Back into my scarf, pea coat and hat again! I feel like I know enough about Vikings to give a comprehensive report when I return. I won't bore you with their history but one cool thing about them is that the roles of men and women were quite equal. When the men went to war the women had to know how to do everything, include run the farm, because the men were gone for such long periods of time. Somewhere after that we as a civilization started to backslide....these Vikings were on to something from the start!


Then it was time to head home, but not before stopping for a bag of candy and another coke...I know I passed my daily allotment but I felt like after enduring the freezing temperatures my body would figure the extra caffeine and sugar.


I am staying with a simply wonderful host family right now. The couple is very loving as are their three children. Tonight we had spaghetti, which I've been craving since we left the states. The lady,. Pia, made a special vegetarian sauce just for me, compete with chunks of eggplant. It was scrumptious. Ooh and I had garlic bread too. It's funny how when your not at home such a simple meal can make you feel so cozy and happy. Then the family headed to the den to sit beside the fireplace. I took out my magazine my good friend Devon gave to me as a gift before I left. I read, warmed by the fire, sipping on hot Earl Grey tea. I count tonight as a perfect evening in Sweden. The people are kind, the food is good and I think my suitcase isn't big enough to bring all my new family members back with me- perhaps I should order a plane. How can I live without these wonderful people as a part of my life now that I know they bring such joy? I can only hope they feel I am half the gift to them as they have been to me.


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