September 25, 2015

An Endless Midsummer's Night

Look at me, blogging on the road. Now, had I been able to do this while I was on my grand European Tour I might not be posting about it fifteen months later. But then again, the "road" I'm on only involves a measly three cities and five days, rather than six weeks and eight countries; more importantly I have my laptop on hand, some spare time, and fifteen months ago I was too busy making the most extraordinary memories of a lifetime to be worrying about blogging. Better yet, as I've said before, getting to relive those fantastical moments is the best part of writing. So here, for your enjoyment and my reminiscent mind, is country number six: Sweden. 

We arrived at a dinky airport on the periphery of Stockholm on the 21st of June, the Summer Solstice, and date of the Swedish Midsummer celebration.

Anyone who knows my best friends and I well will not find it surprising that at my adamant demand we flew nearly a thousand miles to partake in a foreign holiday, mostly because you get to make flower crowns. Anyone who doesn't know us may call us a little crazy, which we are, so that's fair. 

The best part of our trip to Sweden, outside of the flower crowns, was the company we got to make them with. I've spoken of our Couchsurfing excursions before, but Andreas and Kristina were hands down our favorite hosts. As soon as we arrived they welcomed us into their cozy home and then took us out to rummage through the foliage for proper crown-making materials.  

We made out like bandits (maybe actual bandits since I think we found the roses at a school...but, it was summer so the kids wouldn't be missing them anyway right?) and set to work.  

Considering our random materials and haphazard crown making nature I questioned what our success rate would be. A silly worry, given the very serious faces of my fellow headwear designers. 

I think it is completely accurate to say we proved to be some stellar flower crown makers. 

Looking beyond fabulous, we packed up our picnic baskets bags with food, drink, & blankets, changed into our Midsummer ensembles, and headed to Vitabergsparken.

We claimed our spot amongst the other scattered celebrators (none of whom had as cool of flower adornment as our posse). 

In my completely biased opinion, I would say we also had a pretty excellent spread of food stuffs. 

Potato salad, herring (better than expected), crackers, strawberries, bread, cured meat, horseradish, and a whole array of beverages: a picnic fit for flower queens and kings. 

We ate, laughed, and cheered ("Skål!") with our new friends.

Soon we began to play some very silly drinking games (did I mention how much I was beginning to like this holiday?) and basically all of our civility dissolved from there. 

Despite the sunlight and all of our exuberant energy, we were surprised to find it had somehow already become 9 o'clock. 

We all merrily jumped for joy before heading out to search for the sunset. 

We trekked through the urban side of Stockholm, following our guides and so very glad we had people in-the-know to direct us. 

Without Andreas & Kristina would we have ever known to go up this random side street? 

Could we have possibly known that we needed to scurry up this obscure bedrock? 

Did we have any idea that they were leading us to the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen? 

No. No we didn't.

The sun was incandescent, though the air was turning frigid as it sunk lower in the sky. 

Other residents were scattered around us basking in the rosy glow of the setting sun. We felt like some pretty privileged tourists to have been granted the opportunity to hang out above the city and revel in the solstice. 

Revel and "Skal!" to the solstice, of course. 

Finally the sun slipped away and we were left with a spectacular panoramic horizon. 

We were also left a little chilled (we're California girls, what do you want from us!?). However, we are also very crafty girls, and Brooke & Lindsey had soon fashioned themselves some blanket sarongs. 

Naive things that we were, as the sun disappeared we thought our night was coming to an end. How wrong we were. 

Sloping down into the main old city, we giggled along, having no idea where we would be led next. 

What we did not expect to encounter was a park and the coolest merry-go-round ever; it was the kind of playground toy that would surely be outlawed in the U.S. 

Looking at the next picture, you may pause and ask, "Is that a cat?!" The answer is, yes. Yes it is.

In addition to a spinning-death-trap we also found a wandering, but very domestic (note the collar), cat. 

Said cat was surprisingly chill about being part of our wild ride. 

Just look at him: he obviously loved us.  

It may have actually grown too fond of us (what kind of cat likes crazy people who take it on a spinny ride?!) and tried to follow us as we continued our walk to the city. 

After some rejected pleading to take the cat home by yours truly, we proceeded to ridiculously run away from the dejected cat (which, considering we just wanted him to find his home isn't as heartless as it sounds). 

Having fled our feline stalker we wound our way along a path that gave us the most glorious vista of the city. The nordic sunset was unlike any other I've witnessed. 

Though the streets we strolled  were quiet, we were promised that old town would still be full of life. 

The bright street lights lining our path enforced what our friends had said, and by the time we reached our destined bar, still clad in our festive headdress, their were people milling around merrily and we snugged in amongst them, sharing a few more drinks and stories well into the night. 

By the time the sun rose again, just a few hours later at 3 am, we were falling exhaustedly into our humble couch airmattress-surfing abode. 

Looking back, between the uncannily short hours of darkness and being led through a foreign city without a sense of direction, encountering unexpected sights and oddities, our first night in Sweden was very much like a Midsummer's Night Dream (though luckily no one was turned into an ass or seduced by a love potion). 

"I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was." 
-William Shakespeare 

Yours, Kenna 

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