Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Gavle, Sweden

It was back in February, at the end of the month, when I went up to Gavle. It's an hour north of Sweden, and is very Eastern European-esq in its architecture. It was a very pretty city, although cold at that time. I went with Kenley for a day.

We actually ended up having to take a detour to Tierp and visited a very lovely white church there and got coffee and a pastry at a cafe while we waited for the next train.

Kenley and I wandered around Gavle's famous park, the Boulgonerskogen park, through part of the town, and through the University of Gavle campus. 

My pastry and coffee. I do indeed love sitting at a cafe, and there is nothing better than fika. 

This was one of the churches we stumbled across

The back of the next picture

A church turned concert hall/night club

A hotel! Can you believe it! 

the Gavle theater 
one of the many pretty buildings we passed

another beautiful house. Don't you just love the architecture? 

The angels in the park! 

A bridge named after either the queen or king of Sweden. I don't remember which one. 

Views from the river 

Gavle was a beautiful town. I am definitely going back there when it is warmer! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ostgota Nation: Fikavard, Dammidagen, Marsgasque, Staff Party

If you've noticed, dear readers, that it's been a while since I've written, it's because I have been working at one of my nations, Ostgota (OG) nation. I became a fikavard which is a fika host. Basically, I'm a staff personnel, so I have more work than the arbetersmen (like work at least once a week for 8 hours, go to fika meetings, help plan events and a staff party, bake once a month, and come to cleaning Sundays once a week), but I get a great staff discount and free club entrance for myself and a friend without having to wait in a queue.

Ostgota is a great nation, and I've gotten to meet a lot of people working there. It's a lot more work than I thought it would be, but it's a lot of fun too. I've gotten to learn how to fry chicken, cook quinoa, and bake chocolate balls. The nation serves mostly salads and ciabattas, the waffle buffet, and coffee/tea. I like making food pretty for people:) After working at Blue Ridge (even though I loved all the people), I told myself I would never work in food service again, but plans change. Working fika is from 10:30 to 6 (preparation hours are 10:30 to 12, lunch hours are 12-4, and clean up is 4-6). It's a long shift, but usually between 2-4, all the workers get a fika/lunch break and sit down and hang out together. I like doing it a lot and have met a lot of nice people there.

Some of the other fikavards and I went to the Marsgasque together, which is the nation's most famous gasque every year and is themed. This year's theme was Swedish Classic. I didn't go with the theme, but the alternative is black dress or suit for guys, so I just wore my black dress. There was a wide range of costumes: midsummer, St. Lucia girls, cats, spotify, Swedish caviar, farmers, and so on and so on.

These photos were taken curtsy of the nation and credit belongs to Ostgota nation:


It was a lot of fun, and afterward my dinner partner and co-fikavard, Meiju, and I listened to the live band and danced until 3 in the morning together.

The nation also has a a dammidagen (a lady's dinner) where all of the women of the nation get dressed up in ball gowns and eat a five course meal. Little did I know, it's also where all the women get crazy drunk. I sat in between the second curator and next to another fika host, Tess. Across from her was our mutual friend, Matilda, and from me was a nice girl named Linnea. I also met the secretary of the nation, Elin, who sat across from the second curator.

Honestly, even though I really enjoyed the food and the company, by the end of the night I was tired of being around drunk people. There were a couple of shocking moments: the second curator with enormous boobs put a shotglass of tequila between them and salt on her boob and had one of her girlfriends lick the salt and then drink the tequila. It was impressive. Elin, stood on a chair and lit a cigar with a candle and then flashed us and danced around with her cigar.

My "oh my gosh" was replied with, by Matilda, "welcome to Sweden." They were all drunk, so I do quite forgive them. I was relieved to know that Ostgota is the drunk, but still classy nation. This happened before the Marsgasque, and my dinner partners tried to relieve me by saying that it is a much calmer affair (which it was). I am helping plan the hermidaggen which is the gentlemen's dinner.

I know the information in the post is kinda written out of order. Sorry. Anyway, the last event I went to was a staff party. As a fikavard, I get to attend one for fun, and then I have to work the next one. The food and drinks were delicious and amazing, company was meh and kinda lousy. We were randomly assigned dinner partners, so I ended up sitting at the end of a table next to a club worker who insulted me throughout the meal, by commenting on how much water I was drinking and how much food I was eating, and that I was so afraid of getting drunk, but one day I was want to. He actually argued about that with me, when it's my choice on how much I drink, and  I am never going to get drunk. I don't like not being in control of myself.

The meal was a sexta, quite informal, with quiche for an appetizer, salad, chicken, and potatoes for dinner, and berries for desert. There was also a pre-drink which was strawberry champagne which was delicious. During the meal, they served us cider, snaps (which I said no to, because it's too strong of a hard liquor), and two glasses of wine. After, we all went up to the bar and had more drinks. I had one of the evening drink which was a vodka/soda mix and another cider. As I said, good food and drink, but not so much else.

So I know my grammar was probably not the best during this post (sorry Yiya), but I have a lot to catch up on and let you all know about my amazing adventures in Sweden. Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing...

Friday, March 13, 2015

A weekend in Helsinki, Finland

I went to Helsinki for the weekend of March 5-8, 2018. It was the first time traveling on my own, and while I realized that it's nice to be able to plan everything and get to do what you want and not accommodate other people, by the end of the trip, I was ready to be back in Uppsala with my friends. There are a lot of places in the world that I would not feel comfortable traveling to by myself, but within Scandinavia it is perfectly safe and fine to do so.

My flight was Thursday at 6:40 AM so I woke up early and took the bus to the airport. The flight is only an hour long, but because of the time change it is actually two hours. I couldn't check in to my hostel until 16:00 and I got to the city center at 10 am, so I walked around the city. It was cold, but sunny. I found the Helsinki Cathedral, bathed in sunlight. It was as beautiful as all the pictures of it. I sat on the steps and took in the beauty of it, the sun, and the view. I walked across the street to Cafe Engel where I ate the prettiest breakfast of my life, and sat and read a book for a few hours. 

I also found the Uspenski Cathedral, which is the Russian Orthodox church, as compared to Lutheran. Both churches were beautiful, but I preferred the white one. I also went to St. Henry's church and walked past the Dutch church, but the inside was closed. I walked through a couple of the parks, including the Kaivopuisto park. It was along the water, across from the sea fortress, and it was beautiful. I went there during sunset and watched little kids and people climb on the rocks. I sat on the dock and took it all in. It was when I was there that I was happiest in Helsinki. 

I stayed in a hostel in an Olympic Stadium about a 30 minute walk from central station called the Stadion Hostel. This was my first time staying in a hostel, and I didn't mind it, although it's nicer to have your own room. It's with Hostelling International, which is a pretty reputable hostel chain around Europe. 

On day 2, I woke up early with hopes of going to the sea fortress, but I missed the ferry and then didn't have cash to buy a ticket for the next one. I looked around at the market square which sells food and clothes every day, and there are boats that double as restaurants with lunch specials. I walked to the Kallio district, where I went to the last wood burning sauna in Finland. If you google the place, you get pictures of men in towels sitting outside smoking. That was the very image I arrived too. Sauna is perfectly normal thing for Finns, but I didn't see much point in it. You're sitting naked in a hot room, when you can't bear it you go and rinse off, and repeat. I also went to the Kallio church, which I think was my favorite of them all. It's a solemn gray building, but if you go you can listen to the organ music of the composer Sibelius. 

I ate dinner at Cella's that serves traditional Finnish food. I ordered an appetizer, salmon soup, and strawberry cider. Dinner is the most expensive meal, always in any Scandinavian country, but  I got a lot for my money at this place and would recommend it. It was a nice respite from the rain, since it rained all day. I loved the salmon soup and am going to see if I can find a recipe for it. 

On Day 3, I made it to the sea fortress, Seaumonlinnea. It's a 20 minute ferry ride to the island, but it was my favorite day in Helsinki. I climbed on old rocks and took a billion photos of the sun over the water. I also tripped on a rock and sprained my foot, which was bad. I went to the King's Gate and the cannons and to the naval academy and learned about the history in the museum. I spent the whole day out there. 

I was supposed to leave early in the morning on Sunday. I didn't, because of the Norwegian airline strikes. So I went and saw the Sibelius monument which is made out of steel and has a beautiful design on it, and to the Church of the Rock, which is literally a church made out of rock. In my opinion, it was the least impressive church I saw, despite its architectural beauty. I hung out in a coffee shop and read my book. Then I stayed in a hotel at the airport that the airline paid for. Even though all I wanted was to go home, I made the best of it and ate Finnish chocolate, drank tea, and took a bath.

The next morning I went home to Uppsala.