It’s been two weeks since I returned from Sweden and I’m just getting to the point where I don’t feel behind in most of my life. The intensity of my first-ever bout of transatlantic jetlag was more severe than I could have imagined. Nate and I spent the first week walking around in a kind of haze — readjusting to hearing English spoken everywhere, fumbling for words, and growing impossibly weary every day around 6pm (midnight Sweden time). Sweden was so amazing in so many ways that it made certain blemishes of life here starker than usual, like the inability to safely walk or ride one’s bike anywhere, the undrinkable tap water, the not-so-fresh-air, the… for lack of a better description, noise. In Sweden, we slept with the doors and windows open, for goodness’ sake. But sleeping in one’s own bed, hugging one’s cats, reuniting with pet foster rats, and a cast-iron skillet on a gas range: these things make home.

Like a lot travellers who blog, I’m way behind on sharing our adventures. Maybe I’ll be able to carve out some time to work on those (individual, daily, picture-packed) posts this week. I dearly hope I’m able – after all,all of the photos are already edited and uploaded into WordPress – I just need to provide the text! But just in case those posts aren’t forthcoming, permit me to share some of my favorite memories from the journey.

Or, in other words, let’s visit Sweden for two weeks in one post!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013: Our first night in Sweden. Susanna prepares a traditional Swedish meal of pancakes and pea soup.

Our first dinner in Sweden.

Thursday, August 15, 2013: Lunch at Kafe Agnez

A bike ride through Malmö led us past this windmill.

A candle-lit plate of Swedish sweets from Kafe Agnez.

Friday, August 16, 2013: Our first day at a Spa together. Just looking at these pictures prompts a deep breath and relaxed shoulders.

Dinner on the lawn. Susanna made ratatouille. We shared with her friends Airlie and Avril.

Second dinner: Kao’s burger.

Saturday, August 17, 2013: Admiring Swedish money on the way to the countryside.

First stop: Glimmingehus. A standard postcard image.

at Glimmingehus

At Sandhammaren, the most beautiful beach in Sweden.

Splashing in the Baltic Sea.

Sheep lead the way to the Ale’s Stones

Approaching

at Ales Stenar

Sunday, August 18, 2013: A snack of soya latte and freshly-baked bread at a cafe in Lund.

Lund Cathedral (Lunds domkyrka)

Scenes from Lunds Domkyrka

Switching gears completely from history and nature, my first trip to a Swedish hypermarket (mega grocery; think Meijer or Wal-Mart, but slightly smaller).

Monday, August 19, 2013: In Helsingborg.

A fairytale town.

A ferry across the Øresund sound from Helsingborg, Sweden to Helsingør, Denmark. We visited Kronborg Castle. Perhaps you’re more familiar with this castle’s second name – Elsinore (Hamlet)? Indeed, this is where Shakespeare set the famous tale. We got to take a Hamlet tour late in the afternoon, which stepped through each major locale in the castle.

A break and a toast to Nate’s first draught beer in Denmark!

The hobbit house at The Church of St. Mary in Helsingor.

A famous scene – Alas, poor Yorick! – on the Hamlet tour of Kronborg Castle.

A traditional Swedish meal, made vegan, after a long day. I made the mashed potatoes and gravy, Susanna did the salad, and the vegan grocery provided the meatballs.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013: Our first meal at Vegegarden, Malmö’s vegan Chinese restaurant. Best value meal in all of Sweden – $10 US for all-you-care-to-eat buffet.

First trip to Sweden’s Systembolaget, or state-run liquor store.
Susanna told us after the fact that we managed to stumble into the city’s best.
We picked up a local, organic akavit sampler and several beers.

Trouble with the luft.

First dinner at Kao’s, a vegan restaurant in Malmö. Even the staff are vegan!

Destruction of dinner: in progress. Extraordinary food. My favorite in Malmö.

Stumbling into Malmö’s Church of St. Peter for a concert with a Danish choir.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013: Arrival in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Even the trashcans are beautiful here.

A too-big lunch at Andrum, a vegetarian cafe and buffet near the train station.

Coffee and a chokladboll. Nine out of ten of the lattes I consumed in Sweden were served in glasses. They were so hot I usually had to pick them up with napkins.

At Gothenburg’s Stadsmuseet (City Museum).

Aerial view of the Askekarr ship at the City Museum. Approximately 30 kilometers from present day Gothenburg, up the Gota river, the Askekarr ship appeared out of the clay in the 1930s. Over 1,100 hundred years ago, around 900 AD, it served as a trading vessel, and shipped cargo for 60 – 70 years.

For my dad. He is a welder.

Nate programming.

Scenes and stories from the City Museum’s powerful exhibit “We are romani“.
Read the text by clicking any of the pictures.

the Swedish prinsesstårta, an iconic cake. Sadly this one wasn’t vegan. Here are a few recipes if you’re an ambitious baker: Veganpassion, Honey and Soy, My Recession Kitchen.

On our way to the City Botanical Gardens, I couldn’t resist stopping in another traditional grocery store – this time, Willy’s. Here are crates of chanterelle mushrooms in the produce section. About $8 per US pound.

Picking and eating wild blackberries in a park.

Scenes from Gothenburg’s Botanical Garden.

From the Garden we took a wild combination of walking and trams to make it to dinner. On the way there we met amazing guy from the US — Justin — who helped us navigate and even walked us to dinner. I wish we could have spent more time with him.

A splendid dinner at Yammy Kitchen, Gothenburg’s Korean-Japanese restaurant with a two-page vegan menu. Highly recommended if you’re a vegan in Gothenburg.

We missed our train home that night and ended up staying, unexpectedly, in the city. Thanks to Susanna for connecting us with one of Johannes’ amazing former classmates, Michael, who graciously put us up at the last moment. A city native, he was kind and easy to talk to. Between Justin showing us around and Michael putting us up, we really felt an outpouring of hospitality.

Thursday, August 22, 2013: writing postcards on the train back to Malmö.

Sending.

A post bike outside Kafe Agnez.

Another soya latte in a glass (Kafe Agnez) and about $10.

Malmo city library

Feeding the crows in a cemetery.

Friday, August 23, 2013: Picking berries at Lund’s train station.

Lund’s Klosterkyrkan. We like churches and cemeteries.

Lunch at Vegeriet, a vegetarian cafe/lunch counter inside
the Saluhallen (Market Hall) in Lund.

Lund is perfect for a short day trip because it is only 10 minutes from Malmö by train. That same day, we left by car for our second road trip while in Sweden: to Karlskrona.

Saturday, August 24, 2014: breakfast in Karlskrona at our host Eric’s charming home.
Susanna has the best friends in the world.

Picking – and gobbling – redcurrants off the shrub in Eric’s front yard.
Even the shrivelled ones were tasty.

From Karlskrona to Kalmar.

Intarsia at Kalmar Castle. Nate loved.

the Chapel at Kalmar Castle

Bridge into the city.

Dancing in the street

A picnic featuring Susanna’s divine tofu salad. Thank you Susanna!!

At Eketorps Borg on the island of Öland, off the southeastern coast of Sweden. Eketorp is an iron age (400 AD) fort that was heavily used during the medieval period. Now it features a medieval village with a museum and period-dressed historians.

Sweet scenes from Eketorps borg.

Sheep cover the island. You pass on their terms. (I like it that way.)

Scenes from Ottenby Fågelstation (Bird Observatory), a nature preserve on the southern tip of Öland. A peaceful end to the day.

Sunday, August 25, 2013: last day at Eric’s. Porridge with fresh redcurrants, apple pulp from his apples, and assorted fruits.

Eric and his divine apple beverage (Susanna, if you’re reading this, please remind me of the name of this concoction!). Freshly-squeezed apple juice, sugar, and a scraped vanilla bean. Thick, sweet, and creamy.

Scenes from the farm where a couple of Susanna’s friends live.
Also some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.
And that knobby root thing? Just, you know, freshly-dug jerusalem artichokes.

Lunch in the city.

Monday, August 26, 2013: Copenhagen!

Nate with Kierkegaard at the Royal Library.

Mail art by Matisse – just a few of the Treasures in the Royal Library. Taken for Danielle.

For two days we biked throughout Copenhagen.
Cycling in the city is such a big deal that it has its own Wikipedia page.

Lunch at Firefly Garden, Copenhagen’s high-end vegan restaurant.
A Michelin-starred chef assisted in the preparation of this meal.

Sweden doesn’t have post offices, but thankfully Denmark still does.
Unfortunately, to send a postcard from Denmark to the US cost nearly $2.00.
Denmark has some of the highest postage rates in the world.

Nate on the bike train-car home. An advantage of taking your bikes (beyond the obvious awesomeness of being on a bike) is that public transit rates are lower. I think we paid around $7 per person one way to travel from Malmö, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark with our bikes.

Taken of a bike, while on a bike – Susanna on the way to a delicious thai dinner at Green Mango. Our last night with Susanna and we made it count. Cocktails beforehand, lots of food, the wine flowed freely, and a hilarious board game (in Swedish!?) afterwards. Perfect.

Tuesday, September 27, 2013: Second day in Copenhagen.

Postcards from Denmark.

Nate hates it when I take these (bike selfies, I call them), but I can’t resist.

This picture was taken in Copenhagen (Denmark), but almost every street in Sweden is like this, too. If it accommodates cars, it accommodates pedestrians and cyclists. Oh, that every street was so kind!

At the Black Diamond of the Royal Library.

The tower at the Church of Our Saviour in Christianshavn. We did not go up.

Lunch at Morgenstedet, a vegetarian lunch counter in Freetown Christiana. If you don’t know about Freetown Christiana, you should probably go read the Wikipedia page right away. We had an unbelievably hard time getting to this restaurant because everyone we asked for directions was so stoned they were confusing right and left. We asked six people and got six different versions, and all the while we were mere minutes from the place.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013: the last day.

I wanted to say goodbye to the birds. I brought them offerings of nuts and bread.

Last stop at the (almost totally) vegan grocery for gifts to take home.

Goodbye to beautiful St. Peter’s, where we heard the Danish choir sing.

Goodbye to the diving cormorant.

Goodbye to the harbor we passed every day from Docken to the city center.

Goodbye even to the Finnlines ferry.

So grateful that Nate’s dad taught him how to be a superhero when packing luggage.
I honestly have no idea how he did it.

Last call for postcards.

Snacking on some of the best vegan cheese in the world
(behind my friend Allison’s, that is) – Vegusto.

Final meal in Sweden: home-cooked (by me) shepherd’s pie and roasted romanesco.
I only wish Susanna could have joined us!

Friends.

But wait, that’s not all! I took SO MANY pictures of non-human animals that they get their own (brief) section:

8.14.13: Swans are everywhere in this fairytale place.

8.15.13: a young magpie in the park.

8.15.13: a jackdaw. He walks in a dignified manner, as though his hands are in his pockets.

8.16.13: a fuzzy Swedish bee!

8.17.13: Another sweet bee, this one at Glimmingehus.

8.17.13: Susanna meets Leo the Pug at Glimmingehus.

8.17.13: Nate is thrilled to meet his first Swedish cat.

8.17.13: A tiny frog. Resident of Kåseberga.

8.17.13: the littlest birds

8.20.13: A flurry of fine jackdaws.

8.20.13: A jackdaw roots gracelessly.

8.21.13: A resident of the Mansion Garden at the Gothenburg Botanical.

8.21.13: the ONLY squirrel we saw in all of Sweden.
As Susanna explained, squirrel are still wild animals over there.

8.24.13: a regal old fella outside Kalmar Castle.

8.25.13: another tiny frog.

8.25.13: a skink in the woods.

8.25.13: Fun with jackdaws in Karlskrona.

Ok, that’s probably plenty. Thanks for visiting Scandinavia with me!