My father moved from Sweden to the United States after college to get a job in California, which is where my father and mother met. Eventually they moved to New Hampshire to be closer to the rest of my mother’s family (my mother grew up in Massachusetts). However, my dad’s family has remained in Sweden, making it difficult for us to see each other. My dad makes the trip to Sweden to see his family fairly often, but before this trip, I had only seen my dad’s half of the family three times. They had come to visit my family in the United States once, and we twice went to Sweden. Both happened when I was much younger. This was the fourth time that I had seen my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins.
My aunt Soile (father’s sister), uncle Per, and cousin Linnea came to our hotel in downtown Stockholm to meet us for dinner on our first night. We really appreciated them coming to meet us as we had not yet become familiar with how to get around Stockholm. We ended up finding a nice restaurant on the water to eat. Everyone had a burger and fries, except for Brittany who had cured salmon and mashed potatoes, a dish my family said was very Swedish! The salmon was quite different than other salmon we had previously had, but was delicious! It was a great dinner and was really nice to catch up. It had been too long since I saw them last.
On our third day in Stockholm, we went to visit my grandparents who live on a small island off the coast of Stockholm called Rindo. We took a small steam boat to get to the island. This turned out to offer some scenic views.
You had to buy your ticket on the boat, but once on the boat there was a sign saying that tickets could not be bought we departed. We did not think we needed to be in a rush to purchase them. Eventually, we made our way down to the lower level to buy our tickets. It was a good thing we did! No other person was getting off or on at our stop, so the ferry was had not been planning to make the stop. When it was time for our stop, the boat blew by it, which caused some panic. It turned out there was a boat coming at us from the other direction that prevented us from stopping, so we went to the next stop before turning back and heading to our stop.
My aunt Soile was on the dock waiting. She showed us the way up to my grandparents’ house. The walk up the hill to their house jogged memories from when I visited here for the first time. My mummi (Finnish for grandmother) Sirkka met us at the door with her lovely dog Tessi. In the other room, my vaari (Finnish for grandfather) was waiting to see us.
My grandmother speaks English pretty well and my grandfather speaks almost no English, but did seem to understand most of the conversation we were having. He occasionally responded to things in Finnish and then my aunt or grandmother would translate to English. After catching up for a bit, we headed to the table for some coffee and sweets. This is called having a “Fika” in Sweden, which is something I grew extremely fond of during my visit in Sweden. What’s not to like about taking a break and having some coffee and sweets! My grandmother continuously asked us to “help” her finish everything and so we ate until we thought we could eat no more.
An hour and a half later, my grandmother ordered pizza for everyone. My aunt, Brittany and I went on a walk with their dog to pick up the pizza in hopes to open up some more room in our stomachs for more food. This turned out to work as were able to finish all 3 pizzas! After dinner came ice cream and more coffee. By the time we left we could barely walk.
At one point, my grandmother gave Brittany and I a tour of their house. This was one of my favorite moments during my time in Sweden. My grandmother is a painter and most of the art in their house she has painted herself, and they have art everywhere throughout the house. The paintings and artwork were beautiful.
On our fourth day in Stockholm, Brittany and I made it out to my aunt and uncle’s house in a suburb of Stockholm called Spanga. This time we also got to see my cousin Daniel, who had just gotten back from a trip to Tanzania a few hours earlier. We decided to go visit Drottingholm Palace, which was just a short drive away. This is where the king and queen of Sweden live.
We had a lovely walk through the grounds, which were absolutely stunning. I had bits and pieces in my memory about having visited this place before. It was great to return somewhere I had been so long ago to bring back memories. After we got back to their house, my aunt cooked up an amazing dinner. We started off with some Finnish appetizers (my dad is from Sweden, but his family is actually Finnish). The main course was a nice fresh salad with rice and salmon. This was the best meal I had since the start of our trip.
My time in Sweden visiting family taught me one thing in particular: it is important to stay in touch with people. This is something I have struggled with my entire life. I tend to only communicate with people who are in the same physical location as myself. I have developed great relationships with people in past portions of my life and I do not speak to those people enough. I really enjoyed spending time and speaking with my family. With how easy the internet has made communication, this is something I can do whenever I like. My grandmother had back surgery a few weeks ago and my grandfather recently has had some heart issues. They seemed to be doing well during my visit and I wish them both continued good health. I hope to return to Sweden soon to see everyone again.