So, for 9 days, “home” had been a beautiful room with flowers on the windowsill, a view of my favorite little pink bike, and the most comfortable bed I think I’ve ever slept in. It has been a respite, a gift, a treasure that I will look back and think on with gratitude and laughter and an awe that no words can fill. And I’m thankful for that because it is day ten of ten. I held back tears as I looked at the flowers that Austin had given to me in the train station on day one. It has long been said that “all good things must come to an end.” I don’t know for sure about that, but I do know that these flowers seemed to state what I knew…my time there was coming to a close.
I packed and repacked my bag because on the airline that I was traveling on, there were some pretty strict regulations and I didn’t want it to go over the weight limit. (Correction, my suitcase, not me.) Austin volunteered to carry the bag that whole morning because he knew that I’d have to carry it throughout the trip and even though it was under 15 pounds, it didn’t have wheels and so it got heavy pretty quickly. I accepted that gift and enjoyed just walking seeing the sights one last time. We needed to be at the airport by 10:30, and decided to do breakfast at a nice little place on the square that I had come to feel was my little home base of sorts. This was the area where we rode bikes through the first day, caught the ferry to the archipelagos, and walked around on one of the first days there.
We ate at a cute little place that had been overflowing with partying sports fans the night before, but was now a sweet little breakfast cafe. Of course, we chose to sit outside.
We both ordered Swedish waffles with berries and cream and cafe latte. Was so incredibly good.
We ate a leisurely breakfast, for, after all, we had PLENTY of time before I had to catch my flight and we were ahead of schedule. We left and walked to the train station.
I found myself doing the kind of “Good night, Moon” talk in my head. “Good bye sail boats.” “Good-bye statue of the beautiful man”, “Good bye bikes”, “Good bye geraniums in every window and life saver at every 2 inches of water”….”Good bye tall, beautiful people”, “Good bye art and beauty at every turn…” “Good bye bikes”…the list goes on. We even saw a poster in the train station for the Nick Brandt exhibit, “Inherit the Dust” that we had seen at the Fotagrafiska museum. “Good bye Nick Brandt”.
But one thing that was not on the list was , “good bye Aus.” That was just too tough to think about. Wasn’t going to go there. Not yet. No way. (p.s. note in photo, Austin has his back pack and my bag at this point).
So, we got on the train and as we passed through the turn-stall, I saw a woman rushing to get to the train on time. I felt so sorry for her and thought, “Boy, I’m sure glad that I’m not her. Feels so good to not have to rush….” Ha. That would end up coming back to haunt me for sure! When we got on the train we even had 2 seats next to each other which was rare. We ended up at the airport a half hour ahead of schedule. We were there at 10:00 and had hoped to be there by 10:30.
But as the train came to a halt at Arlanda Airport, I looked down at my itinerary. We were just getting up and I said, “Aus, why does this say Vestra? Is it Arlanda/Vestra?” And Austin had a look on his face that I’ve rarely seen, but it was pretty terrifying. Turns out, there was good reason for terror. We were at the wrong airport. Yep. That poor woman that I had felt so sorry for and seen rushing was probably in a way better situation than yours truly. Deep breaths.
So, the next few minutes would’ve been a great comedy sketch big time. Aus feverishly searched through his iPad to see what we could do to get to the other airport on time, and then the only person that was left by the tracks was the one who had checked our tickets, so I asked him what would be best. The consensus was that a taxi was the only option. So, Austin and I quickly left the train and ran up two flights of the escalator (that looked like a mountain…) and then as we found our way to the taxis, I looked and I realized something was missing. My bag. Oops. I was like, “Austin, where’s my bag?” (I saw that look again…) So…we ran down the same two flights of the escalator (mountain), and then found that the train had left. So, you’ve got it…back up the steps with no bag. Ah well.
Austin seemed to be doing fine with the running part. Just fine. But me? I used to pride myself in being an alright runner. Ha. Funny. Really funny. That was a long, long time ago. What we don’t use, we lose. (Gotta find that back….) But my kids don’t have a stubborn streak just from their Dad. I definitely get credit there too, so I pushed through but was relieved when we finally got a taxi. The driver was really kind and said, not to worry, we’d get there in enough time even though it would take an hour and 20 minutes to get there. Yikes. But we did get there. In enough time even. But it was the most expensive cab ride ever. Ah well again. Deep breath again. New airline tickets would’ve been way more expensive for sure. Gotta keep things in perspective here. With cab rides. With lost bags. With saying good bye to ones we love.
So, we got there, and then, I had to say that dreaded “Good bye” to Aus. Relief had washed over both of us that we had gotten there on time, and so it made the see ya later so much easier. I told him to go and make sure he got his bus ticket back to Stockholm and he did, and then he waited as I went through Customs. Nope, he didn’t have to wait until I got through the gate. And I never had to when I dropped him off at the airport. But it just doesn’t seem quite okay to leave when your child is still in your sights for a bit when you won’t be seeing them for a long time. Maybe when the roles are reversed, it feels the same. Yes, I shed a few tears, but it was all gratitude. 100%.
Now back to that role reversal thing. All week, I had taken off the boss, manager, teller-of-what-to-do hat, and LOVED having a break from that. And Austin had put the hat on. With plans, with decisions, with arrangements, Austin had taken care of the big and little details. And so, come Thursday morning, I didn’t even think twice about which airport we’d need to be at. I just defaulted to Austin. It wasn’t even a thought. And that was so my fault to default to someone else. So thankful that we worked it out for sure, but it was a lesson for me to always be vigilant. Always. Even when the hats are off, I’ve gotta be aware.
The views as I left Sweden made me smile. Islands. Water. Clouds. Beautiful Sweden, these ten days were amazing.
On the flight, we flew over lots of COLD mountains.
They were beautiful. I so enjoyed the first part of the flight. I was sitting with two women who were so intelligent and entertaining. They were both black women, one from California, and one from Nigeria, who were very vocal about their thoughts on social justices and injustices and I so enjoyed getting to know them and laugh and share with these two ‘strangers’ who were so easy to connect with. ( I only make the distinction that they were women of color because we had more in common that not, and in today’s social climate, I wanted to say that. I felt so connected through laughter, conversation, and sharing of experience…ethnicity was not a barrier…) But half way through the trip, I realized that we were running way behind schedule. (Oh, and the time zone thing tripped me up again big-time. I didn’t know whether we were adding or taking away hours, so it took me a bit to realize how late we were going to be. )
So, I wish that I could say that the airport fiasco was the most stressful part of the trip. It wasn’t. AT ALL. The problem with that was that the window of time I had between my arrival time and the check in time for the gate from Boston to Charlotte was originally less than 2 hours. Had to go through Customs and all that. Well, with the flight delay, I had less than an hour to get through Customs and board my plane which would begin boarding within half an hour.
So….I asked the flight attendant if I could move up seats. I was in row 22 and I knew that waiting for all to get off would waste precious minutes. She checked to see if there was a seat up close and 4 B was open. So down the aisle I go. I then excused myself as I sat between two young twenty-something women. I said, “Excuse me. I moved up because I’m concerned about missing my connecting flight.” The girl to my right said, “Me too, mine takes off at 7:30.” I smiled and said…”Mine is at 7:15″.
She was very tall, lean, and beautiful. I felt short even sitting next to her. Her physique looked very Swedish, but she had dark features. Turns out that her mother is American and her father is Swedish. She was living in London and coming home for her brother’s wedding. Anyway, when the plane stopped, we began our little RUNNNN! through the airport.
I could’ve felt as though I had nothing to offer. She with her long legs, sneakers, and ease with running was helping me (much shorter me with flip flops and 20 some years on her) to navigate through the airport, etc. But I DID have something to offer. I really did. You see my flip flops don’t flop when I run, they CLOP. And they CLOP LOUDLY. So as we’re running past passengers, she with her quiet graceful, long-legged strides, and me? Me with my loud CLOP-CLOP-CLOP of my leather bound flip flops. Yes, I did indeed had something to offer because people were clearing the aisle as they heard me coming, probably wondering what the in the world that sound was. I think it helped us make pretty good time if I do say so myself.
We got through Customs part one and two and then ran to her gate, and then mine was further. I thanked her and told her I didn’t know if she believed in God but I do and I just feel like she was such an answer, provision, for my prayer to get to the gate in time. She smiled (gracefully of course) and we both RAN our separate ways.
It was a little after 7 and my flight was to take off at 7:15. I tried the first KIOSK I could find to check in, and ….bad news, it denied issuing a boarding pass. Too Late? I ran faster. And then…then I try to find Gate B 8 and the hall stops before 8 and starts up in the teens, so it was missing some gates which included Gate B8. What in the world? This was so not good. Not good at all. Anyway, turns out B8 was across two roads/drop offs, and as I ran through, well, I saw one car, but then…didn’t see that one, and had a near miss with a car. Really close call. Stupid move. Catching a flight isn’t worth getting hit by a car. I was probably not looking so graceful then either, mind you.
There were other details, but I’m sure you travelers have lots of stories like these and I can end by saying that as I rushed up to Gate B8, the flight attendants hadn’t even the begun boarding process. Turns out there was a pretty big delay on this one as well. The flight attendant seemed so calm and kind and smiled as my sweaty and oh-so-relieved self checked in.
As I waited, I stood by the window. This is what I saw.
The sun was beginning to go down, and the sky was just beautiful. I felt so relieved as I didn’t want to have tax my family with the cost of another airline ticket. Do you know what thought occurred to me as I saw everyone around me with their carry ons and luggage? That if my bag hadn’t been left on the train, I don’t know if I would’ve made it to the gate on time. My long-legged beautiful friend might just have had to abandon me if my short flip-flopped self had been lagging a 15 p0und bag. Even with my help of my loud flip flops sounding the alarm that we were coming through, she might just have had to ditch me. And it would’ve taken a lot longer for me to find where I needed to go.
I don’t pretend to know what God does or doesn’t do, but my faith allows me to believe that so often what I may see as a nuisance may just very well His provision, His care, His hand, for something that’s ahead of me. It amazes me, encourages me, and allows me to breathe when life gets crazy. (And life sure as a way of getting crazy…) The unseen Hand of God is often so visible… I boarded the plane and got a window seat. And here’s what I saw then…(There it is again. That visible, invisible Hand…)
“Good bye, Boston.”
And as we rose above the city, I saw the river and sail boats and small islands. And I thought about how beautiful they were there in Massachusetts,
and how beautiful they were there in Sweden.
I thought about how cool it is that no matter where we are, there are so many things that are so the same in landscape, in buildings, in people.
Had it been an easy travel day, my focus would have been how incredibly hard it was to leave Austin. It so would’ve been. But boy oh boy how the circumstances changed my urgent desire to get home. Although it was still so hard to say goodbye, the difficulty sure helped to keep things in perspective. This wasn’t home…this was just a passing through. And in order to get home, I couldn’t depend on me alone. I needed others to help me get there. It was such a blessing after such a crazy day of travel to walk down the steps at the airport and see my husband and Tanner waiting for me. Home. And maybe that’s part of the beauty of traveling…an appreciation for what’s “out there”, but a renewed, brand new appreciation for what has been there all along.
P.S. (always…) I can’t help but think of the analogy here…as a believer in Christ, am thinking I’m not Home yet. And maybe the trials, the unrest, the struggles in this life in the here and now, can give a realization that, you know, we’re not really Home yet. As huge of a gift that Life is, could it be that we were created for more? The Bible says we are and we were. I pray that we’d always be aware of the Unseen Hand reminding us that we were created for so much more, and that we will be thankful for all of the amazing reminders that He has in our paths, right here, right now. Thank you, Austin. No words for how blessed I am. And that’s saying a lot (for your quite wordy mom). Love you (and all of you kids) way more than words can say. Keep doing your thing knowing that God goes before you and behind and is right there in the middle of it all.❤
Oh, and a little addendum. I got a call from Austin a few weeks after I returned home. He said, “Mom, there’s a UNESCO conference in NY I want to go to, and I’m thinking about coming HOME to see everyone for about a week…what do you think?” So guess who came home with my crazy looking bag over his shoulder and very few clothes because he brought mine? Yep…this kid.(He had called the train station and picked up my bag the day after I left. Huge relief!) We had the most amazing week with family. Life is short. So thankful for time spent with people we love!
Isn’t it funny how time can feel so relative? Sometimes we feel like time is just flying by, and sometimes, it just tick, tick, ticks at a s-l-o-w-w-w-w pace. Well, these days in Sweden were just tick tick ticking away so very fast. It was now day 8 of ten. We had arrived back from Copenhagen on Monday night, and Tuesday, we got to visit the Vasa, a museum that houses a nordic version of the Titanic…a boat which sunk …on its maiden voyage.
Why did it sink, you ask? Well, it turns out that it was built for the King of Sweden and took years to build. The detail and craftmanship were amazing. Ornate carvings, gilded structures on a massive ship were so impressive. Until it set sail that is. Turns out that the ship wasn’t balanced and the top heavy structure sank about 1400 yards off shore. Oops. Another oops was that those building it actually knew it wasn’t quite balanced, but were all afraid to tell the king. Not good. But in the 1950’s, the boat was salvaged, its contents recovered and chronicled, and a museum was actually built around this amazing ship. The Swedes have now turned one of their greatest known failures into the greatest tourist attraction in Stockholm. It’s definitely worth the visit.
We met Austin’s friend and parents at the Vasa. She is a historian who goes to Penn State and has been in Sweden with Aus in Fulbright Scholarship program. She absolutely loves the Vasa and is a wealth of information regarding this failure-turned-fortune ship. She is funny, highly intelligent, and brought to life the history of this amazing ship. I could share lots of facts from the VASA, but here are two take-aways: Balance is key, and hiding a problem instead of sharing it to solve it often leads to way bigger problems and embarrassment and heartache. (When that small breeze took down the VASA, 30 lives were lost.)
After exploring the Vasa Museum, we went to lunch at a sweet place with Austin’s friend’s family right on the water. We had the gazebo to ourselves when we arrived…
After a nice lunch with amazing pizza and lots of conversation and laughter in this riverboat gazebo of a restaurant, we said good bye to our companions and got another cup of coffee to enjoy a bit more time. We sat outside the gazebo and took photos.
There was a mother swan and her babies (cygnets) gliding along under the bridge. I took the next photo and then asked Austin, “I wonder which one you were?” We laughed out loud on that one.
Then, we began our walk back. But as we liked to do, we took a diversion to go for a walk around the city.
We ate pasta lunch on the other side of this bridge on my first full day in Sweden. We rode bikes over this bridge that day as well. I already had a lot of sweet little connections with this beautiful city. Austin’s friend is a great tour guide, but so is Austin. They just have different styles for sure.
We ended up finding an area where Aus hadn’t yet been. It was a walkway on the river’s edge. There were beautiful flowers, quiet spots to sit, and lots of people, young and old, coming and going.
Off shore, there were some young children learning to sail…learning to balance their little boats before they were given big boats. That made a lot of sense for sure.
And this Dad? Well, we saw him throughout our walk, stopping at different points with his young son and letting him explore. He taught him to throw rocks in the water and they cheered at every splash. Did you know that not only moms get maternity leave in Sweden? Dads get it as well (paternity leave of course). They get 6 months and take turns. The Swedish government has recognized that children need both parents. That that time is important. Love that.
I found in choosing these photos for the blog, I had the distant theme from the Vasa running through my mind…”Balance…”
We walked through the area, and then went to meet Austin’s new business associates at a beautiful cafe.
Loved meeting this diverse group. The 40-something accomplished business woman brought her 4 year old daughter and her family dog, and the 20 something man came late (he’s not from Sweden…) with a new hair cut and a grin that made you feel like you had known him a long time. We had a mid-afternoon coffee and cherries, nice conversation, and then went back to eat dinner with the professors with whom Austin lives.
That was a hoot and I wish I had taken photos of these precious hosts. They are from the 60’s era…self-proclaimed hippies from the East Coast (U.S.) turned professors who have lived in Sweden for 30 years. They are gracious, hilarious, and endearing. I loved my time with them. I ate reindeer for the first time and the meal was delicious. The conversation was intriguing and enlightening with everyone having their time to share their thoughts, experiences, and take on things. Shared. Balanced. Good.
The next day, day 9, was sunny, bright, and beautiful. It was perfect. And it was the perfect day to have a perfect day because we were taking a two hour boat ride to the Archipelagos of Stockholm. “Archipelagos” is a term for a ‘sea or stretch of water containing many islands.’ I had no idea what a treat I was in for. We got to the boat early and were a little disappointed to see that the top deck was already full. (Ok, I’ll be honest, we were really disappointed.) So, we sat onboard at an inside table and watched the water through the little windows. But after a few minutes, we both agreed that we’d rather stand for 2 hours and feel the wind and wide open spaces than to sit and watch through the window. So that’s what we did. No regrets there…
On the deck, we breathed in the fresh air, felt the mist from the waves on the ferry and felt warmth of the sunlight which balanced the cool breeze. It was quite chilly at first, but the view and the vibe was worth it. Yes, better to forego comfort and enjoy the full experience. Good decision. Better to stand with the view and freedom than sit in quiet comfort and miss out. We watched as buildings got smaller and fewer between. Huge ships and steam liners were gradually replaced with smaller sailboats and small powerboats. Tall buildings were soon replaced with quaint little homes and docks.
And then pretty soon, there weren’t many houses or buildings or boats. There were islands and birds and waves. Every once in a while, we’d see a lighthouse or dock or tiny little house.
Was a refreshing two hours. Even though we were standing and constantly having to gain our footing because of the winds and waves, it was so worth standing to be able to have a view from above. Perspective was much better than from the 6 x 12 inch windows in the inside lower deck. Perspective is everything. We arrived at Sandhamn, an island that Austin had visited before. He walked with purpose to take us to a place before all the other tourists found it…a huge rock area that overlooks part of the town and the Baltic Sea. To get there, we walked though little back yard paths in between quaint cottages. Yes, quaint seemed to be the word that kept coming to mind. (As well as the word “trespassing”! Aus assured me that these were public areas…Swedes have a different mindset of what is shared property than we do in the States.)
We arrived at the first destination. And the view was so unique. The quaint little town was busy below. Ships shared the coves with sailboats, and it was so relaxing. We sat on that rock for awhile and enjoyed the views.
We did beat the crowd of tourists, but after about 15 minutes, they were climbing the hill and settling in to enjoy the incredible view. We moved on to meander more through the paths to different parts of the island. Simple beauty / beautiful simplicity was everywhere.
Our next stop was at this little shop. We bought our lunch here and then ate in the outside little courtyard garden area. I had a panini. Austin did the right thing and had the fish that this area was known for. Both were awesome.
We continued walking on, and I tell you, the place that we found on the other end of the island was I think, my favorite spot. Not just on Sandhamn Island. But in all of the amazing places we had been, I just totally loved this one. Not sure whether it was the incredible view, the wide open spaces, the wind and sun or the combination of it all. I think I really loved it so much because after a week of exploring so many places and being around so many new things, ….and before a day of travel and saying goodbyes, here was a place of solitude and beauty to just kind of sit for a bit.
Austin seemed to like it, too. We stayed there for hours. The steep hill of stones led down to the water. To the left were sailboats, and the main area of the island, to the right was wide open spaces. Right in the middle was water and rocks and sun. My toes dipped into the Baltic Sea for the first time. (Actually, that’s not true. I did make sure to dip them in when we were in Copenhagen. Previous to this, these toes had only seen the Atlantic and Pacific…)
I sat as Austin searched through rocks. This one has rocks and sand from all over. And I mean ALL over. I remember him coming home from spending his semester abroad and wondering why the heck his suit case was so heavy. Turns out, there were jars of pebbles from Greece, sand from Dubai, and rocks from who knows where else that were loading it down. I don’t doubt that if he ever goes to the Black Sand beaches of Hawaii that he will come back with ample amounts of sand in his shoes as his great grandfather did 20 years before Austin was ever born. Why sand in his shoes? Well, taking the black sand was not allowed, but Austin’s great grandfather that he never knew had a granddaughter in Rockville, Maryland who had a rock collection and he did his best to help out when he could. Can you guess who that granddaughter was?! I think my ‘Papa Les’ and Austin would’ve gotten along just fine!) P.S. I had a few beautiful pink pebbles from this place in my purse before Aus began the search. Once a rock collector, always a rock collector…
We took lots of photos, laughed, talked, and had a lot of silence. Day 9 of ten. It hit me that I was so thankful to have this time, and this amazing little spot on the Baltic Sea was the perfect little place to just sit and be thankful for a bit before saying goodbye to Sweden, and see ya later to the son that might be staying on in Sweden for quite a while longer. Lots of mixed emotions for sure. The water in the landscape wasn’t the only salt water around for sure.
As Austin went and took photos , I sat and just cried. I admit it. I felt so much gratitude for being able to be in this place at this time with this kid who was out doing his thing and wanting others to have an opportunity to see some of the world that he’s seen. I felt grateful for the ones who had encouraged me to come and were holding down the fort at home. I felt gratitude for the amazing world that God created…for how it works, it’s beautiful and balanced and good. It’s a gift to catch glimpses of different views of this amazing world. The people, the land, the cultures. All different, but when balanced, when shared, it’s a beautiful beautiful portrait for sure. Yes, I sat there in it all and was just deeply grateful.
We left this spot and made our way to catch the ferry that would take us again on a 2 hour tour back to Stockholm. We walked back through lush forests. The groundcover was so different from what we have in NC. I loved seeing this little tree sprout up amongst the tall Pines. We all start somewhere. This little tree was just starting out as the older ones had been there for ages. All cohabitants of a beautiful forest, all growing at their own pace in their own time. We continued walking towards town to wait for the ferry. First though, we got some gelato and sat on the dock waiting for the boat.
Lots of people were there before us, but we still made sure to go to the top deck. We even had a seat this time.
The sun started to go down and shimmered off the water in a new way. This was always my favorite time of day at home…when there’s still time left in the day, but most of day is done…..when there’s still light and a warm glow about things, but things are winding down and slowing down.
The activity on the water increased as we neared Stockholm. Gone were the shorelines without buildings, for these were lined with building after building, all creating a beautiful horizon. When I saw the view below, my ‘home base’ throughout the week, I knew exactly where we were. There was quiet on the boat as we neared the dock to land in Stockholm. It had been a great day. We got off the boat, and Austin pointed out a restaurant where we’d probably have breakfast in the morning on that same square that had been home base. We walked by the restaurant, knowing that in a few short hours, we’d be back.
We walked past other familiar places, the square with the statues, birds, and purple flowers. The 7 eleven housed in an historic beautiful building.
Our last stop was for a cup of coffee, and after a little while were politely told by the barista that the shop was closing.We walked back to the train station and arrived safely back before 10. Tomorrow was day ten, and we had to be at the airport by 10:30, so I packed most of my things, and tried to get some sleep. It had been a good, good day.
And these nine days? They had been an amazing gift. So many things were new, and some of the things I observed from the Swedes were so simple, but beautiful. I think they learned long ago, from the lesson of the Vasa, that life needs to be balanced, or else, like that amazing top-heavy structure did so many years ago, you sink. I would leave this beautiful country feeling refreshed, inspired, and thankful.
Here are a few of my little ‘lessons from Sweden’:
- Be on time. The train WILL leave if you’re not.
- Safety is important. Fluorescent vests and hats for children are a must at school, and life saver floatation devices are EVERY where that there are a few inches of water. Rules keep us safe and are to be followed. Best not step one teeny tiny toe into the Bike lane. Could be catastrophic.
- Breaks are necessary. Fika is a pastry coffee break that people take at work EVERY day! (Whereas we in the US often feel guilty for a 2.2 minute run to the snack machine. I bet the Swedes have some good laughter and collaboration/team building during that break every day. Having something to look forward to is a good, good thing.)
- Exercise is just part of life. Bikes, bikes, and more bikes with people from every walk of life were all over Sweden. (Barbara, a 70 year old professor, still rides her bike to the university…not a leisurely ride, but a trek up a steep hill…) Stairs are everywhere as well…mountains and mountains of stairs.
- Little things matter. Blankets on restaurant patio chairs on cold days were everywhere. Little necessities were quietly provided. Loved that.
- Simple things are beautiful… Bottles with wildflowers were everywhere. Simple decor that was so tastefully yet effortless was everywhere. Loved that.
- Being resourceful is important. Windmills, solar panels, and water conservation was seen all over Sweden. Even the toilets have 2 choices to flush – half bowl or whole. Simple solutions to growing problems.
- Wait your turn. I had heard that Swedes form lines quickly and saw it first hand at the NY airport and wondered why everyone was lining up before the seating groups were called. Taking turns is important and one must wait for theirs.
- Humility is a good thing. People were absolutely beautiful, but there wasn’t a divisive air about. My observation was that so many of the people I encountered were kind, direct, and yet had a sweet humility about them.
- Last but not least…Balance. Balance is key…with boats…and with people.
Thanks again so much for reading and seeing and entering into my little voyage to Sweden. So fun to share it with you all. I’ve got one more post of that last day. Wrote it already. (Shortest one yet, believe it or not!) I’ll share in a few days so as not to overload !
“He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
“You will keep him in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
So, part 2 of this little excursion ended with Day 5. Actually, Day 6. Turns out there was a day I forgot to include and if it had been more ordinary, well, I would’ve just kept pressing on and not backtrack. But, sorry, I just can’t skip it because we went to the most amazing place! Absolutely amazing. We went to Milles Garden.
Carl Milles was a sculptor born in 1875. His home has been turned into a museum and it is filled with sculptures and beautiful gardens. It is located on a river and is exquisite, absolutely exquisite. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…
More mountains of beautiful steps. Was so worth the climb…
Loved this one of a woman about to give birth. She needs others to help her do what only she can do, and they are there for her in that moment of need when she’s about to do just that.Funny how knowing our need is a gift that allows us to let others in. Have had the privilege of having some dear sisters with me when I was in labor with Hope, Chase, and Tanner. There in the pain. There in the joy. Encouragement at its finest.
Great place. Great bench. Incredible view. Good to see this one sit down for a few minutes…Excuse the dark circles under the eyes. I sneezed all morning and when Austin said that we’d better go get allergy medicine, I’m like, “No, I’ll be fine…” (Famous last words.) He says , “Mom, we’re going to Milles GARDEN …with lots of flowers.” Again, I stated, “I’ll be fine…” and after sneezing repeatedly, well, he says, ” We’re getting allergy medicine. ” Yes. Good idea. (Wish I had listened to him sooner.)
Made me think of one of my favorite verses, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms….” (Deuteronomy 33:37). Carl Milles called this “Hand of God”.
See why I couldn’t skip sharing photos of Milles Garden? It was definitely one of my favorite places. So now, I’ll get back to where I left off at the last post. We were in Malmo, Sweden, a beautiful little town in the south, staying at an apartment with the bridge to Denmark as the front view and the “Twisted Torso” at the back.
The next morning, Sunday, we were going to take a train over that long, long bridge and beyond the horizon of windmills to arrive in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The train station was amazing. Huge structures, tons of details. As I looked at those floor tiles, I wondered how many people had walked, run, and strolled them through the years. It was our turn.
Purple Vans and Purple double decker buses amidst beautiful buildings greeted us. Was quite an eclectic mix all around the city. We walked and we walked and we walked. We were looking for a certain location but were not having luck finding it. As Austin checked back on the directions, I was enjoying watching a little guy. He was mesmerized with watching the fountain, and was leaning over the edge. Pretty soon, his Dad came up…
Looks like Austin and I weren’t the only ones who were lost… I loved how the Dad just held him and then talked with him. I’m sure there were words of guidance of staying close to him and not going his own way no matter how amazing the distractions were. After all, playing with water/ fountains is a huge pull for any young boy. But I’m thinking what that boy felt most was the love of the Dad who sought him out and found him. That hug spoke volumes as I watched.
It seemed to speak volumes to the little boy as well. Well, am so glad that at least the little boy was found, but as for me and Austin, well, we were still lost. And well, my ‘boy’ wasn’t quite as happy as the little guy above. We weren’t ‘found’ yet…I’ll let the picture of Austin say a thousand words…
We walked on and I loved people watching. Couldn’t resist doing the next one in black and white background. This man was just going at it playing the piano, and although no one seemed to be watching him, we all heard his beautiful music. All around us. It was like the backdrop of the sky, the ground under the feet…present, but not invasive. Was beautiful.
Red tires. Red feet.
Accordions, guitars, pianos…there was music all around. This mom wasn’t taking a chance at her little guy getting lost. He had fallen and she helped pick him up, dust himself off, and carry on.
As I passed the old man on the bench, I wondered if he was being a ‘guardian’ of sorts to this man passed out on the bench. Pretty soon, a friend of the passed out man came and tried to wake him up. Wasn’t happening. But his friend persisted and the sleeping soul finally woke up and walked off with the assistance of his friend. Another one found. In this crazy, crazy world am thankful for people looking out for each other.Swans were everywhere. Beautiful, graceful, living swans, and huge plastic swan boats.
Austin and I were still lost, and by this point, he was walking a bit ahead and still had a certain look on his face about not being found. And it got worse. Because you see, after 4 hours after walking, well, guess where we ended up? Yep. The train station. And as he walked, guess what was right in front of him? The letters “M-A-D”. I’m so sorry, but I just couldn’t resist. I know why it’s blurry. I so didn’t take time to focus because he would so not appreciate me taking a photo of him at this moment. But I knew that we would really laugh about it later, so……
I’m so very glad that he did not turn around at this moment!! (And we did laugh really hard about it a few days later!) Timing is an important thing.
So here’s the really good news! We (he) found our destination!! We had wanted to take a boat tour and had seen lots of them, but we finally found the one he had wanted. So we set out for a “three hour tour”… with our Captain in blue.
This little girl was waving at all of the boats as the woman looked on.
And here is the first mate answering an Italian Dad’s question regarding EXACTLY what time the boat would pick us up as he pointed to his watch. You see, there were different phases of this excursion. We had ridden out to another part of the city and seen all sorts of sights, and we had the option of stopping and sightseeing for a half hour. We were to be back by 5 for the boat to pick us up. (Remember this Dad’s face.) There were a few of us that decided to stop. I’m so glad we did…
We walked for awhile, and then realized it was time to rush back so that we didn’t miss our boat. We rushed and hurried and ran and made it to the water’s edge on time. So did the Italian family of the Dad, mom, and three young kids. We waited. And waited. And waited. And as we waited, the Italian man paced. His children ran and played and complained and laughed and cried. His wife questioned and talked and wondered. He paced. And paced. And I wanted that boat to come and show up more for him than for us. We could find our way back, but that fearless leader of a Daddy was relying on others to care for his family at that point. That’s not easy. He had made certain that the mate would be back at that certain time and they weren’t. And we really didn’t know if we were going to be stuck there, and well, as much as Austin and I didn’t want to end up lost again, this man surely didn’t want to have to be lost with his family at some drop off on the edge of the city no matter how great the scenery was. The family finally sat down and just waited. We did too.
Just down the shore people were all taking photos of the Lost Mermaid, a famous tourist attraction. Austin went and got some photos, and I was thankful for the zoom on my camera as I waited by the water.
And finally, it appeared! Our captain and his mate were on their way. Felt a little bit like we were being rescued to be honest. Being found. Yes, being found is a good thing for sure.
The Italian Dad was so relieved, and the wife? The wife went straight up to our first mate as he secured the boat and gave him a bit of a ‘talk’ about why he wasn’t there when he said he’d be there. The Dad? He just rallied the troops and looked like the weight of the world had been lifted and got his family on that boat pronto.
The ride was interesting and funny and beautiful. The first mate gave some history and made some jokes. And sometimes he made jokes when I don’t think he knew he was making jokes and I found that Austin and I were having a difficult time not bursting out laughing. We didn’t do very well with that at a few points.
Once we got off the boat, we actually found the second thing Austin was looking for, Street Stroget. It’s the longest pedestrian street in Europe from what I hear, and it’s so incredibly colorful . I took a few photos. Loved the locks on the gate, the ships’ tall masts, and the sun shimmering off the water. Austin was in photography heaven and disappeared again and again. I stayed found and didn’t move too far to the left or right. Nope, no more getting lost for me. Not today. As Austin took photos, I saw him on the left side of the street and decided to move that way. Then, I saw him get on a boat. Not his boat, mind you. And then, I watched as he got on a chair. Not his chair, not his boat. Not his chair on his boat. And then? Then, I got lots of flashbacks of his childhood (I’m not kidding…) as he started to put the chair (not his), on a table (not his either) on this boat, (not his). The table was very close to the railing. And my mind raced back to memories of my oh-so-smart kid who risked beyond measure and had stitches multiple times by the time he was three. And I don’t care how great the photo he was about to take would have been, when that grown man who happened to be my child started to put that chair on that table, “AUSTIN!!” came out of my mouth. And he knew that limit. Just needed a little reminder that some risks are just not smart at all. I try not to default to telling my adult children what to do, but sometimes, well, some of us push limits quite a bit. Maybe that’s why some of us are off doing amazing things in all parts of the world. It’s just that, although some risks are so worth it, others just aren’t. And to stay on solid ground, sometimes we just need little reminders (at LOUD DECIBELS). Sometimes I wonder if I yelled his name more than I said it when he was little. Risk taker from the get-go? Check. But oh, the beauty of where that courageous spirit has taken him.
He stayed on the boat, not for 5 minutes, but for more like 20. I’m sure his photos are AMAZING because as he said, the lighting was awesome, but after that amount of time, I heard sirens in the background. I said, “Aus, do you think you can get arrested for trespassing?” Sirens getting closer. “No…” The siren went to another part of the city, and Austin finally got down off that boat. I’m not sure which I was relieved about more.
Then, we ate a wonderful dinner of that Street Stroget right at the water’s edge and had a great time. I forget what I ate, but I know that it was really good.
The sun was still up as we made our way back to the train station, but it was descending. We made our way back to the station for the third time and got our train. But this time we weren’t MAD. We got on the train and made our way past the wind mills and on back over that long, long bridge to Malmo, Sweden.
The next morning, Austin had a skype call with a business associate from Dubai, so I relaxed on the back patio as he did his thing.
When he was done, we packed up our things and then ate lunch by the water. There’s the bridge to Copenhagen in the distance. We then walked and talked and I took a few last photos.
We went back and got our bags and took a bus to the train station. We were early (phew) and so we had some time. Austin wanted to go see the city a bit more, and I opted to sit by the water.
But after about 15 minutes, Austin came back and said he had found a beautiful church and wanted me to see it. I’m so glad he did.
St. Peter’s was built in 1319. THIRTEEN, nineteen. Wow. And when I walked in the church, I can’t really explain it, but it felt so familiar. Like home. I’m not one for gilded sanctuaries…I think there are much better ways to spend money. And this one was gilded big-time. But it was beautiful in so many ways. I think it felt like Home for a lot of reasons. Believers through the ages have sat in those pews and poured out their hearts to Him and sought Him and His Presence. What we seek we often find.
Well, we made our way back to the train station and took the 6 hour train ride back to Stock’home’.
And with that, well, the blog won’t let me upload more photos (which is kind of amusing in a way, hmmm…), so I’ll need to figure this out before I finish the last leg of the trip to Sweden. Thanks again for joining in this little (big) venture. Only a few more days to share because this was the end of day 7 of ten. Once I’m able to upload photos, I’ll share the last few days which includes my favorite place in the Archipelago. Until then…
Blessings to You and Yours~
P.S. Here are some cool verses about being found.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and find the lost.” Luke 19:10❤
‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32 (Last part of the story of the Prodigal Son.)
“If you have 100 sheep and one strays, do you not leave the 99 and search for the one that was lost?” Luke 15:4
P.P. S. Here’s a reminder of what being found can look like: