Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sweden Part 2
Life was simple in Sweden. No bills to pay, no phones call to return, no schedules to keep. That's what vacations (without kids) are like. It was the perfect getaway, and I ate up the freedom while it lasted. Generally, I'm a planner. I like to scope out our vacation spot before we arrive to see what activites are in the area, etc. For some reason I didn't do any of that before this trip. I just knew that once we got there, we'd figure out something to do. I was right. There was plenty to do:
enjoy a rainbow
go on a hike without bothering to pack a ton of water beforehand--yep, that's Jamie drinking fresh mountain water--no filters needed!appreciate a view, virtually untouched by man
A couple of things stood out for me during this trip. First of all, we had the chance to sit in airports a lot, primarily in the United States. At least every other person we encountered was preoccupied by a technological gadget in one form or another (cell phone, texting, iPod, laptop--you name it). Jamie and I were definitely in the minority as we sat without our gadgets handy or in use. I eavesdropped on lots of conversations. Once we got to Sweden, a country that is far ahead of ours, technologically speaking, I was able to count on one hand the number of people I saw on their cell phone or laptop. Even in the bustling city of Stockholm, people actually were talking to each other, face-to-face!! I noticed it right away, because it was such a drastic difference from our preoccupied society over here.
Another thing I noticed as we drove up to Are is that Sweden is very natural. There are no billboards along the sides of the road. They don't have interstates at all. Most of what you see are trees, mountains, and rivers/lakes. Between Stockholm and where we drove (8 hours away), there were many communities, but really only one other large-ish town or city. Swedes don't appear to "over build" like we do here in the USA. As we passed lake after lake, I thought to myself that if this were America, there would be huge mansions and condos built around the entire lake, most likely obscuring the view of the lake itself. This is not the case at all in Sweden. It was absolutely refreshing, and if I'm honest, it made me long to live there just a bit in an effort to avoid all of the commercialism here in the States.
This is a view back towards our resort town, Are. Although quite small compared to resort towns in America, this seemed to be the largest tourist spot anywhere close to where we were. This is a big ski community. I noticed the lack of houses built on the mountain (sure, it's a ski mountain, but NONE of the mountains nearby had houses on them).
Okay, the only negative part about Sweden was the cost of things. For example, I saw a pair of Crocs ($30 in the U.S.), and they were $70! I bought a paperback book before the trip home ($7 at the most in U.S.) and it was $15! Gas was over $5/gallon. So, it doesn't look as though I'll be moving to Sweden any time soon, unless I win the lottery (that I don't play), of course.
One last thing that I loved about Sweden (and Europe, in general) were the public bathrooms. I know, I'm weird. As soon as we got off the plane in Stockholm, I went to the bathroom and it looked similar to this:
I just loved that each "stall" was its own, private bathroom. I couldn't see anyone else's feet or hear their business *ahem* and I got to wash my hands in my own, private wash basin. I found it delightful just to go to the restroom in most places.
Then back to reality we came, in the Atlanta airport waiting for our flight home for 5 long hours. Ugh. Back to people rushing about, not paying attention because they're chatting on their phone. Loud bathrooms. We saw lots and lots of soldiers in the airport, and at one gate where there were about 20 soldiers waiting to board, one older gentleman was approaching each soldier, giving him or her a hug, and saying that he was keeping them in his prayers. Airline attendants allowed soldiers to move into first class if there were empty seats. My kids came and jumped on us in the bed the next morning after we got home, chatting excitedly about everything that they had done while we were away. Sweden was great, but home is great, too.