Monday, March 26, 2012

Sweden


Fried Cod tongue... mmm
So I ended the last post saying I was waiting for people to come over to try… cod tongues! I believe that one of the best ways to experience a new place when traveling is to try some local food, no matter how outrageous it might seem.  So far this mentality has led me to eat kangaroo, raw whale blubber, camel, yak meat and milk, whale, puffin and now, cod tongue.  I am not going to lie, I had low expectations but I was pleasantly surprised, I actually enjoyed it and ended up having 6 tongues!  My Norwegian friend bought them, he came over with a bag of about 50 cod tongues which we rolled I flour with spices and then fried.  It felt so strange while rolling them in the flour mixture, they felt like human tongues and have similar muscle and veins… I started to feel strange with my own tongue!  Anyways, we had a few people over to try it and although some were grossed out, the general consensus was that it was yummy!

The bus ride to Sweden was only 2.5 hours.  Having come from Canada where it would take well over two days of non stop driving, it was interesting that I could get across and entire country in that short of time; granted Norway is very narrow but still, neat concept.  Our resort (Riksgransen) was gorgeous and it was right on the mountain.  I shared a room with a girl from Siberia and another from Denmark.  The first thing we did once we settled into our rooms was walk 2.5km to the nearest grocery store because food is 30-40% less expensive in Sweden then it is in Norway.  Many Norwegians across the country drive to Sweden just to shop, there is even a TV show about the phenomena!  The store we went to clearly catered to Norwegians but we got lots of good (relatively affordable) food.  The walk back was exhausting due to heavy grocery bags and being splashed by vehicles on the narrow road, then we prepared dinner... Swedish meatballs!!  That night we went out to experience some ski town culture.

In the middle of the night we were awaken by hotel staff telling us that a pipe had burst in the hall and some water leaked into our room.  They cleaned it up and offered to switch our rooms but we were half asleep and didn’t pay much attention.  We woke up bright and early for a day of snowboarding!  There were only a few of us who were not beginners but we all had fun!  The sun was very flat, I don’t know how to describe it other then that but it made seeing depths very difficult which was interesting.  The equipment we rented from the school was no good, the edges hadn’t been sharpened in years and it had clearly been a while since their last waxing so I had a hard time at first but then I mastered it! At one point I snowboarded from Sweden into Norway!
 
At one point, 2 other and myself made it out to an off-piste area and due to the awful sun and lack of depth perception we ended up at the top of a 7 meter cliff.  By the time we realized where we were it was to late to turn back and the only option was to go down.  The problem was that the cliff was 90 degrees vertical with the ground and because of the unsharpened edges on my board, I couldn’t even stand up to ride down or I would just fall down uncontrollably.  The German guy I was with was more brave then me so he made it down half snowboarding/half falling.  He landed alright in a pile of fluffy snow.  I ended up taking off my board and throwing it down at him and hiking down the cliff like a rock wall.  Near the bottom when I still had about 4 metres to go there was an over hang and no where for me to grab onto so I fell the rest of the way but I was okay.  Next was the Danish girl who was on skis.   She ended up falling 7 meters into the open arms of the German guy, then they fell backward!  It was crazy to watch and I was certain one of them was hurt until I heard them laughing; luckily the snow was super powdery.  We then went to walk further down the hill until and area that was skiable.  When I finally went to strap on my board I let go of it and slid away from me about 50 metres, lucky Anja was quick enough and already had her skis on to go after it right before it fell down another steep cliff.  It was quite the adventure so we deserved what we did next... apres ski!

Late night apres ski
I had always heard of “the great European après ski” but wrote it off as just having a few drinks after skiing; turns out it is much more then that!  At 4:30 when the lifts close, everyone (and  I mean everyone, families with kids and old people) head to the hotel bar still in their ski clothes.  There was a live musician playing song that everyone (at least everyone from Norway/Sweden) seemed to know and they all sang along, it was such a nice atmosphere!  There was enough places to sit so at one point we were sitting on the floor with our drinks.  Oh, something that should be mentioned about Sweden (don’t read this mom and dad) is the disappointingly low alcohol percentage in their beers.  I bought some ciders because of the unbelievably cheap price only to find that they only had 2.25% and the highest % in any beer is 3.5%.  It was still a fun night regardless.

Check out how high the snow was!
It was even higher then this at some points.


The next morning, those of us who were stoked for another day of skiing woke up early and excitedly got ready only to find out when we got to the lobby that the weather was to bad to ski safely so the lifts were closed.  Luckily we were able to get out money back but still had to wait until 4pm for our bus to come.  The majority of the people I was with just wanted to spend the day lazing around in the lobby but I did not come to Sweden to sit indoors.  I only managed to find one person to come adventuring with me but we had fun!  We brought saucer toboggans with us for some geocaching.  Every time we went down a hill we tobogganed down and when we had to walk we sometimes ended up in snow well past our waist.  We walked all the way to the Norwegian border and found the cache we were looking for.  The ski hill was closed due to crazy Arctic weather but it only made this adventure more fun!  I came to the realization that, when well dressed and prepared, I can have more fun and feel happiest in the snow (I know, crazy Canuk, eh?). 

GeoBagganing
We ended this time with a hot chocolate with the others at the resort where I met 4 Canadian military officers who were training in Harstad and just drove to Sweden to say that they had been there.  I would never had otherwise talked to these guys but there is something indescribably bonding and refreshing about meeting Canadians when abroad.  We chatted for a bit and then got on the bus for the long ride home.  It was my first time far out of Harstad since I got here (and even when I got here, I didn’t see anything on the 45 minute bus ride from the airport because of the never ending darkness) and the view from the bus was spectacular.  People say it is very similar to Canada, and it is, but it is different in a way I cant describe.  Not better, just different and beautiful :)

Remember that ALL the good pictures from my trip are on my Facebook, I only chose a few to post here... and I love to read comments on my posts!
Arctic geocaching

3 comments:

  1. You look so happy and full of life!
    I love you so so so much!!

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  2. I never though cod tongues would be so big.

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    Replies
    1. I know! They are eerily human looking...

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