It's been a busy month. We spent our final few days in Amsterdam, headed to Copenhagen for 48 hours of exploring, and flew to Stockholm to begin our month in Sweden. Our travel went as smooth as possible, but somehow it still takes a lot out of me. We landed in Sweden and took a taxi to the archipelago, an area just minutes from Stockholm comprised of nearly 30,000 islands, islets, and rocks. We spent a week on Ytterby, a tiny island near the main hub of the archipelago, Vaxholm. We rented a cottage that used to be the village bakery house. We rode bikes all over the island, dipped our toes in the water, had daily picnic lunches, looked at snails, visited every playground nearby, went trail running, smelled the lilacs that were in bloom everywhere, and took a day trip to nearby Grinda (another island). It's rustic and charming in the archipelago and you feel very far away from city life.
There was also an incident involving a cup of coffee and my laptop, hence the radio silence on the blog. It turns out that it is next to impossible to write blog posts when you have no computer. I have a new laptop on the way from the United States (European keyboards are different) and am grateful that I back up my photos every day.
The sun really is out here most of the time. It sets around 10:30 PM and rises at 3:30 AM, but "first light" is at 1:30 AM. I'm reminded of a trip we took to Alaska a few years ago. We returned home utterly exhausted because it was always daylight and we would inadvertently up reading until all hours of the night. We've been much better about going to sleep here, but it's hard to wind down from the day (particularly for Blythe) when it is broad daylight outside. We've purchased black out curtains for our apartment and had numerous conversations with Blythe about why we have to go to sleep when it is still sunny outside. I'll often head out for a run once she is asleep and am astonished by the number of young children still out and about -- if you live somewhere shrouded in darkness for most of the winter, apparently you make up for it in the summer.
Stockholm has been a really nice city to call home for three weeks. It's more affordable than we expected - Copenhagen was jarringly expensive and we were expecting the same from Sweden but have been pleasantly surprised. We rented bikes again and have also taken public transportation extensively. It's easy to get around and so kid friendly. Like Amsterdam, there are parks and playgrounds everywhere - one third of the city is green space. Many of the parks have a theme. For example, the one closest to our house has a huge dragon sculpture for climbing that shoots water from its mouth ("Dragon Park"), another park is filled with equipment all of which is shaped like pieces of fruit ("Fruit Park"), and Blythe's favorite has huge flowers and bugs made for climbing and swinging and a huge owl-shaped toward with a massive slide ("Owl Park"). We've explored at a relaxed pace and have managed to see a few museums, visit children's attractions, cook meals, picnic, swim, run, and feel settled. Fika has become something we partake in most days. We found a babysitter, so Rob and I have done some solo exploring, plus we had a leisurely dinner out to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary that was filled with uninterrupted adult conversation.
I ran my first race since my marathon last summer on our first weekend here. It's always fun to experience activities in which you participate at home while abroad. This was a trail run that started on the outskirts of the city and ran through all of the parks back into the city center. The focus of the race was on being environmentally friendly so while they provided water once on the course, you had to carry your own cup or water bottle (I don't travel with a running water bottle so I used a paper cup from 7-11). There were flag markers along the trails, but at some point I found myself alone on a trail and missed a turn so I added almost two miles to my run (I wasn't the only one, but I still felt silly). The best part of the race was seeing Rob and Blythe at the finish line; they enjoyed the post-race meal of meatballs, mashed potatoes, and lingonberries, which I couldn't quite stomach.
We have finally planned the remaining month of our travels and booked our flights back to the United States. When we left Denver, the length of our trip was open-ended. We thought we'd return home in August because I'd be pregnant, but after that wasn't the case and we again had no return date, we both started feeling a bit untethered and set a tentative return of "fall". And while we are still having a lot of fun and are excited for the month of July, we'll be ready to be home. We'll get to enjoy a few months of summer in Denver, we'll figure out what is next for each of us professionally, and we'll reconnect with friends and family. It's been tricky to not immediately reengage with returning to "normal life". I went so far as to have a job interview over the phone and considered flying back to Denver for final round interviews, but realized that what I actually want is some time when we return to just be home, to take Blythe berry picking, to go camping with friends, to fix up our house, and to see my parents. We'll see what happens.