Casey and I had an absolutely fabulous time in Sweden!!!! Most of my readers know why already, but I will fill the rest of you in shortly. We left Saturday morning, January 5th, and flew to London. We stayed at the Yotel that night which is located inside the airport. It is such a smart idea to have a hotel inside or near the airport; I’m not sure why more cities don’t implement this! It’s super convenient and, in my opinion, a sure-fire way for the airport to make a profit since travelers will definitely take advantage of it. Anyway, I was very pleased with the Yotel. The room was incredibly small, but really all we needed for one night. The bed was about the size of a US double bed, which is decent for two people. The room looked like a little cabin on a ship. Here is a picture of the groggy couple on Sunday morning getting ready for their early flight to Stockholm!
The trains at London Heathrow airport only run at specific intervals, so we ended up having to wait about fifteen minutes for the next train to change terminals. We were early for our flight and then were running a little bit late all because we had to wait for the trains. How silly. Casey was quite ticked off and wouldn’t smile for the photo. I don’t blame him though.
We arrived in Stockholm around 10 AM and had plenty of time to sight-see that day. Casey wanted a coffee so we grabbed one at a café in the airport. I ordered a delicious pastry that was like danish. I don’t know what the filling was – some kind of custard-based filling – but it was yummy! We enjoyed pastries like this each morning at our continental breakfast, which is one of the best continental breakfasts I’ve ever been to! After our snack, we waited for the free bus to Oxford Aviation Academy, the place where Casey attends simulator. It’s quite convenient because the Academy is 5 minutes away from the airport and there is a “nightstop” hotel right across the road from the Academy. I couldn’t ask for a better location.
We checked in and had initially planned to go to the mall that day, but we decided to head into Stockholm City instead. The mall is only about fifteen minutes away from the nightstop by bus, but the day was so clear and beautiful that we wanted to take advantage of the good weather and see the city. We checked the forecast and it was supposed to snow lightly the rest of the week, so we could visit the mall later. We put on our warm Patagonia jackets and headed out into glistening snow! It was gorgeous! It was a crisp day with a blue sky and icicles on the trees. I was so happy.
I think the red barn that says “Benstocken Gard” is some kind of restaurant, but I’m not really sure. We didn’t go there, but the bus stop was right by the building. We hopped on the free bus back to the airport to take the train into the city. It was a very clean underground train station. I was impressed. It had pretty murals and a super steep escalator. I had forgotten how long my hair really is until I saw this photo. Sweden is apparently also a very clean country with a great recycling system, as you can see by the three bins below.
The train was a high-speed train which got up to 125 miles per hour! Crazy fast. It only took twenty minutes to get from the Arlanda Airport to Stockholm City. Yay!
We bought a delicious baguette with tomatoes, mozzarella, and pesto sauce for lunch. The bread was so fresh, and the chocolate croissant hit the spot for a light dessert. They know how to make their pastries in Europe. After our quick meal, we started to tour the city. It was beautiful! I know I’ve said that many times, but it really was lovely. The architecture was amazing with all the old buildings, cobblestone streets, and bridges over the river. It was just so neat to see everything. It was really cold too, but we didn’t mind since we had the right clothing and were in such good moods.
We snacked all day on any tasty item that we found since we decided to treat ourselves to whatever looked good. (When you live in a third world country, you don’t limit yourself to anything anymore.) We happened across this little gem in a café in the late afternoon. I forget the exact name of it, but it was a decadent peanut butter brownie with layers of creamy peanut butter, velvety chocolate mousse, dark chocolate brownie, and peanut caramel on top. WOW. It had so much going on, and yet it wasn’t too rich or too sweet at all. I was amazed. I normally don’t like toppings on my brownies, but this was superb. Casey described it as his “favorite brownie ever in the dense dessert category.” Who has a dense dessert category? Adorable, and very true. We talked about this brownie for days afterwards.
We found a cute swing set and jungle gym covered in snow and decided to stop and play. Casey thought I looked absolutely hilarious swinging on this round, wicker seat. As you can tell, it was already quite dark, but the time was only around 4 PM! Since it’s wintertime, the sun sets very early, but we still enjoyed ourselves immensely walking around the city at night with all the twinkling lights.
Oddly enough, we found this random building with the word “Lagos” written on the side of it. Why would it say that? I should find out if that means anything in Swedish. Very weird sighting. Next, we stopped in a grocery store to admire their produce, and what do you know! They have persimmons, Mom! The small, hard ones. I was amazed! And jealous of their nice markets. I wish we had a nice market with fresh meat and produce here in our Lagos. Anywho… I asked Casey to snap a photo of this quaint street we found ourselves walking through. I say “found” a lot because we really had no idea where we were going. We just wandered through the city and took any turn that looked inviting. That’s one of our favorite things to do… just wander and explore a new place. We tried doing that in Ensenada, Mexico but were much more successful in Stockholm.
The highlight of our evening was coming across this huge hill (which was a rock) in a park near the river. We climbed to the top and saw this breathtaking view! It was only about 5 PM but dark enough that the lights reflected beautifully off of the water below. Could we have asked for a more lovely spot?! I think not. Casey took some photos of the view and then set up the camera to take a picture of us. Little did I know… he was planning something…
That’s right! He proposed! What a surprise! I was speechless! I’m still at a loss for words and it’s been over a week since then. Seriously happy Leanna and equally proud Casey :) We sat on the rock until we started going numb and decided it was best to head to a warmer place. The camera makes it look much brighter than it really was, but I could hardly see the ring. It looked stunning in the dim lighting, but I was anxious to see it in its full, dazzling glory. We walked hand-in-hand down the hill, past the river, across the bridge, and into an Italian restaurant for dinner. All the while I was smiling and giddy trying to soak it all in. Dinner was delicious: spinach cannelloni and mushroom tortellini in a creamy, tangy red sauce. What a fabulous first day in Sweden!!
The next day was fairly uneventful compared to the day before. Casey went to ground school for the first day of simulator where the instructor went over a bunch of things with the students. I waited for him in the room and wrote emails to my family. This was the view from our room which faced the Academy. Super close, didn’t I tell you?
It snowed a lot Monday night, so by Tuesday morning the ground was white! So cool! We had to eat breakfast early around 5:30 AM because sim started bright and early. I was also allowed to accompany Casey in the simulator and watch him fly!
After sim, around 11 AM, we took the bus to the mall and enjoyed a Swedish cheeseburger. The meat was a little spongier than we’re used to, but it still tasted good with a sort of thousand island dressing called “hamburger dressing.” Casey enjoyed the poster behind me of a lake and mountains. We wanted to know where that place was located, but the picture didn’t say. There was a grocery store in the mall as well, so we stopped by when we were done window shopping. The captain Casey had sim with asked us to buy him some sweet and spicy mustard, so we did just that. Then we waited for the bus again to take us back to the hotel, and Casey had fun making footprints in the snow.
Right across the highway from our nightstop hotel was the Jumbo Hostel! It is a 747 aircraft, aka The Whale, which got turned into a hostel. We climbed the stairs to the entrance and asked for a tour of the cockpit suite. Casey had seen it already when he was in Sweden before, and he wanted to show it to me. They turned the cockpit into a room with two twin beds and a private bathroom! Very cool looking. The rest of the plane is comprised of a number of bedrooms that share a bathroom or two. The point of sharing is the essence of a hostel, I suppose. I snapped a photo of the red brick Radisson hotel where the bus stop is located at and to the left is Oxford Aviation Academy (the white building). Isn’t the snow pretty! I just loved walking around and hearing it crunch beneath my shoes.
On Wednesday, Casey had his last day of sim and I got to fly at the end! The instructor was very nice and seemed to enjoy knowing that we were Americans. He kept calling me “the American girl.” (Note to Dad: he reminded me of Big Bob!) He offered to let me fly so I took the opportunity to attempt to handle a Q400 in the First Officer’s seat. Casey was pleased because he got to sit in the Captain’s seat! Wow, that yoke (the steering wheel) was hard to maneuver! I have only flown in tiny Cessna 172’s, where the yoke is very easy to turn, but the Q400 was tough. It was fun though! I took off and landed with Casey telling me what to do. It was a rough landing, I’ll be honest, but hey, not bad for the first time. The captain and instructor were my first passengers aboard the turboprop, and the captain filmed my flight on Casey’s Go Pro. Fun!
Afterwards, we went on a “nature hike” on the road just past our hotel. Casey ran on this road during nice weather, and he wanted to show it to me. It was pretty! I guess it was around 1-3 PM, so it was just starting to get dim. We could only have used better shoes to walk in the deep snow!
That was our last night in Sweden!! We had to leave early Thursday morning in order to get some shopping done in London. I was so sad to go! This was one of the best trips we’ve been on. Stockholm was beautiful, simulator was a success, the snow was wonderful to see, and we got engaged! I think that’s a lovely vacation.
When we arrived in London, we had to take a bus a short distance away to the nearest store. We researched earlier where to go to buy appliances. Luckily, the bus wasn’t crowded, since we had our luggage with us. It was quite cold in London as well. We thought it would be warmer than Sweden, but it seemed very similar, just without snow. We walked, we shopped, we ate, and we packed our luggage to the brim with a blender, toaster, electric kettle, mixer, rice cooker, deep fryer, and a printer! Sweet! It was a long day buying everything, but it was a success. We were nice and tired for the late night flight to Lagos.
It was a long long long evening because our flight had some issues! I’m still not sure what was the problem, but there were two planes instead of just one going to Lagos, so there was confusion about which plane passengers should board. We were traveling with Casey’s friend, Jose, who was also at sim with him, so the three of us got on one plane… shortly after everyone boarded, they told us to get off and go to the other plane. We got settled there and finally departed a few hours late. After flying for six hours, we couldn’t land in Lagos because the visibility was so low due to the Hamatan (the dust from the Sahara Desert)… so we had to divert and land at Port Harcourt, which was about 40 minutes away. We sat on the runway for a long time, maybe another 45 minutes, and then were finally able to fly and land in Lagos. What a day! But it wasn’t over yet. We sat at the baggage claim for at least 30 minutes before finding out that some of our luggage wasn’t even there! It was still on the first plane we boarded and that plane was going to arrive in Lagos on the following day. Wowww we were surprised but, luckily, we didn’t need anything in our bags immediately. We took our totes and headed home.
The next morning, we drove ourselves to the airport and picked up our bags. I was certain that something would go wrong and prevent us from getting our things, but everything went surprisingly smoothly. We came home, unpacked, and set up our new UK appliances! We also bought a rug for our bedroom and more tea for Casey. How classy.
Casey was off all weekend, Monday, and Tuesday, so we enjoyed getting some things done around the apartment and running some errands. We stopped by Goodies for a few things and got some blueberry cheesecake and regular blueberry ice cream. Yum! All-in-all, we had a fantastic trip to Sweden, as I’ve said many times, and now we’re more comfortable in our little kitchen. What more can I say! This was a very long blog post, so I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have writing it. It was fun to relive all of our wonderful experiences again. Thanks for reading. From Sweden, with love.