I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time and then it finally came. It was my first trip overseas, I got to meet relatives that I either haven't gotten to see for a long time or never met, and I got to meet my internet friend from Norway as well as making new friends.

I left Texas early on the morning of June 13 and arrived at Stockholm Airlanda early on the morning of June 14. The trip was pretty much long and boring but still it was the first I could remember from riding on jets. It took about 13 hours. The trip from DFW to JFK took about 3.5 hours. Then the trip from New York to Stockholm was about 8.5 hours. And it was long plus my company wasn't too good either. Well, I was very happy to get to Stockholm and even happier when I found my mom's cousin (who I'd be staying with) without any problem. I didn't do much my first day there. Just sleep and I took a walk around town that evening. I got to meet my Second Cousin Ulrick and his girlfriend and son that day at the bank and try some delicious Swedish icecream. I won't mention that it melted all over the place and made a big mess though ;) Oh yes, and that remindes me of one thing that took me a while to get used to. The midnight sun! It never got fully dark and the sun began rising around 3 or 4 in the morning. Let's just say that curtains are a must in Scandinavia and other northern countries :)

The next few days we went to various museums in Stockholm, walking around the town, and "soaking up culture" my mom's cousin would say :) I was really happy to see the sea again. It's been awhile and now that I live in Texas I haven't seen it too often. The first museum we went to (and my favorite) was an exhibit on the Queens of Sweden. It was all in Swedish but I still learned a lot. Inger translated translated a lot for me so everything was ok. I thought it was pretty cool because they had stuff there that belonged to them. Even their dresses! Then we went to other art and history type museums. It was nice to see all of the art and stuff but it was almost the same in every last one of them. Oh well, so I got plenty of culture and art which is expected when you go to a country like Sweden. I'm sure I'll appreciate it in a few years :)
I also visited a second cousin of mine, Anne, and her two sons. We had a good time over there. They showed me the computer and how they could do head stands.

Ok, after seeing Stockholm a bit we got tickes to take a boat to Helsinki. We traveled on the Silja Line and that ship was just something else. It was huge and beautiful! I got a nice cabin with a nice view of the inside of the ship. I could see the tax free shops and everyone down there :) That boat had everything. Restaurants, stores, a pool, playgrounds for the children, and bars (of course). We ate the buffet which was included with the ticket. It had pretty much everything and the food was delicious. I definately ate well that night. Then I went up to the bar on the highest level of the ship. I was just hanging out by myself and then I met Matti! He's a really nice guy from Stockholm. We had a great time talking until I saw that it was getting lighter out. It was 3:00 am so we said our goodbyes and went to bed. This isn't the end of Matti so read on!
Helsinki was something else. I liked the place the second I walked off the ship. The first thing we did was to take the tram to the family grave. After that we met up with a very distant relative and we went shopping and out to eat at an Italian restaurant. After that we just had time to walk around a bit and go shopping. I visited a big church there and saw a few capital buildings. On the steps around the church this artist group thought it would be artistic to put suit jackets on a color coornated pattern on the steps. Personally I thought it was ugly and a waste of jackets but it's their decision. So after that I went to an outdoor market and went back to the ship. I wish that I could have stayed longer in Helsinki since I loved it so much but maybe some other time.

After we got back to Stockholm we went to visit my second cousin Robert in Kisa. I really liked Robert and his family. I stayed in a cabin near his house. The cabin was nice and all but the bathroom was terrible. (couldn't drain right - plus everything there was in german. Not swedish mind you but german)

From Kisa we went back to Vaxholm, and started packing for the big trip. (Stockholm - Vasteras - Norway)
I have some more family over in the Vasteras area. They're just wonderful and I had a great time over there! There was my mom's cousin Evy and her husband Lars, their son's Per and Tord, Per's family, and Roland who is related by marriage. I love them all and they are all so nice. Roland had a dinner party at his house in my honor. He's such a character. I really like him but I wish I could speak swedish so I could have gotten to know him better. The next day Per & family took me to the Vasteras bath house. I've never been to one and I really liked it. That pool was maybe 10 times the size of the one here in Mt. Vernon. Let's see, I visited a few hand craft shops around there. There was some really nice stuff there and it was pretty cool to see what swedish hand crafts are compaired to the american ones. I can tell you one thing, it's all very country style :)

So from Vasteras we went to Norway. It took about 8 hours even if it was less than 500 km away. The speed limit is very slow and the roads aren't straight. So the big finally came when I'd meet my best internet friend, Tor Idar Larsen! To read more about our visit click here. The four days that I spent there with him were so great it was almost dream like. We got along great. Just like we did in the emails and he was everything I expected him to be. My last morning there was very sad. I had a hard time saying good-bye. That night we were back in Vasteras, Sweden and staying at the farm. I had my 18th birthday party over there and everyone came :) Ah yes, and the presents. No just kidding. It was nice of them to give my gifts but they didn't have to. The next day I went to the Power Meet with Per (one of my second cousins) and his family. The Power Meet was a rally for owners of classic american cars. They came from all over Europe just for the meet and it was something to see all of those cars in one place. There was well over 5,000. In fact I saw them coming there while I was still in Norway. And of all places these cars had to come to was Vasteras. Everything happens there :) I was even on the TV. Per noticed first that the camera man from the tv station was pointing the camera at us. I still don't know if we were ever actually put on the air though. After I visited the Power Meet my time in Vasteras was over and I said my good-byes.

On the way back to Vaxholm, I went to visit my great aunt at her nursing home. She's in her 90's right now and really is in good shape considering her age. She just doesn't have the best of memories but no one is perfect :) For all my life I've heard of what a great artist she was so I was really happy to meet her. I've always loved her paintings and now after all these years I can say that I've met her :)

The next day (in Vaxholm) I got together with Matti. He had called a few times and we decided to meet at the bus station in Vaxholm. We spent about 3 or 4 hours walking around the town and then it was time for him to leave so we got on the bus together and got off at our stops. Later that day I believe that I went to visit my second cousin Anne once again and said my goodbyes.

My last day in Sweden was pretty nice. Inger said that I had to spend some more time soaking up culture so we went to Stockholm. We ate at a cafe. I forgot the name of it but it was really nice and she said it was pretty well known. We also took a walk in the park and then we got a hold of Matti and he met us at the central subway station :) After that Matti and I walked around streets for a little while and checked out some shops.
That was my last full day in Sweden I'm sad to say. We went back to the apartment and she helped me pack and get everything organized.

Early the next morning I woke up, ate breakfast, and then we loaded up the car and went on to the airport. I was really nervous about the trip home because I didn't want to get caught up in customs or have my baggage lost. Fortunately everything went smoothly. I said my good-byes to Inger (believe me, it was hard to leave. I was on the verge of tears!) So I went on to my gate and that was it. There were a few hours before the flight so I explored the airport and the wonderful tax free shops! I ate my last swedish lunch which was a cheese sandwitch and a bottle of jaffa. lol, the funny thing is that I only bought food at the airport. That was pretty much all I could afford anyway. I also bought a tin of Lackerol and a big box of Gisha candies. Delicious! Scandinavians sure can make excellent candy (as well as the rest of Europe).
Finally it was time to board the plane. I was in the middle row of the Bowing 767 and I traded seats with the girl behind me so she could sit next to her boyfriend. Worked out great for all of us because the people I sat next to were awesome. I was actually in a row with people my age! A girl named Sevim and a guy named Jonas, both from Sweden (well kinda but that's a long story).
We got along great. By the end of the flight it was as if we knew each other for years. We talked the WHOLE time. I'm sure that other people around us were getting annoyed with us. Especially when we layed down in each others laps and played with each other's hair. As Jonas was saying "This is sick!" but at least we were comftorable and it helped the time pass. Coach class isn't exactly what I'd call comfortable. After 8 hours we reached JFK International Airport. It was hard saying goodbye but we all had to go our seperate directions.
I met my dad at the airport. It was really good to see him though he was kinda upset when I forgot to give him the cheese I promised him! He was ok with that since I have him a bottle of Jaffa and some candy. There wasn't much time before my next flight so all we go to do was talk a little, grab something to eat, and find the gate. It was the middle of this long journey and I was very ready to end it. Texas was only some 3 hours away. I slept most of the time on the flight to DFW and I looked like a wreck by the time I got there. My hired sedan driver met me at the gate and we went on our way back to the sticks! (slept most of the way back by the way).

I can hardly believe it myself but I was very excited to get back. I got really hyper when the car pulled in the driveway. My mom said it was my "second rush." Well I guess everyone was glad that I was back. I told the family a little about the trip, and handed my sedan driver his tip and probably one of the best tips he ever got. 100% Swedish Chocolate!!!!!! ;)- Well, my family talked me into it. I then opened my suitcases and gave them the presents I had collected for all of them. Giving is so much fun! After that I got my mom to give me a ride into town so I could see Ricky. He met us at Alco with his friend Matt I do recall... Anyway it was good to be back, yet at the same time I was missing Scandinavia.

The trip was one of the biggest points in my life so far. It allowed me to see a different way of life, meet my family, and make new friends. Everyday I long for it and remember all of the good memories. Hopefully someday I will get to make another trip. Until then all I can do is sit back and remember. :)