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Dec 11

Back from Riga, Latvia

Posted on Friday, December 11, 2015 in My life

I just got back from Riga (in Latvia). In a way, the trip was a success or at least seems to be so far, but in a way, it was not as much fun as the last time.

The weather was as good as could be expected for December, that is completely calm, which made sure I didn’t get seasick and that’s always good.

Mum came along on this trip which, to be honest wasn’t all that much fun for us. In her defense I have to say that she was in pain (she’s twisted her ankle) and had a bad cough (which she still does). But she kept complaining about everything, including the food, which my sister and I quite liked. We are quite thrilled that there was so much that happened to be vegan.

Something was wrong with the subway in Stockholm, but that didn’t affect us very much, because we were on a bus (once we found a way of buying tickets), but so many people chose to go by bus instead of by subway which made it a bit crowded. Plus for some reason, some of the bus stops were just canceled (if that’s the word – a decision was made to just ignore them and people had to walk a lot further).

On the train, on the way back, we saw a cute little boy. He showed me how to open a door (which was very nice of him). That door had almost squeezed me moments earlier and a moment later, it almost crushed my hand. Fortunately, there was a much older guy (thirties maybe) who knew of a switch that could keep the door open for much longer):

We also ran into two nice older ladies who talked to us on the bus from the ferry terminal to the Central Station and two quite nice younger women who also talked to us while we were waiting or on the train.

To end the evening, we also had a bit of adult entertainment at the railway station while waiting for the bus back to the house. I had no trouble ignoring those high school kids, but it was quite embarrassing to sit next to my mum while they were up to their antics.

Nov 26

A trip to Malmö in the south of Sweden

Posted on Thursday, November 26, 2015 in My life

A few days ago, my friend from Brazil, got in touch, out of the blue, and told me he was coming to Copenhagen and would be going to Malmö in the south of Sweden, over the day. Naturally, he was hoping I’d be able to come and see him, and I told him I wouldn’t want to miss that.

We agreed that I would come on Thursday this week. I was able to work out a trip that could work. That is, if I paid a fortune for a cab at the end of the day, after nine in the evening.

The day started typically for me, with the bus being so late I almost missed my first train and might have had to rebook on the way, that is if that would be enough. If the bus had been any later nothing would have helped.

Getting to Malmö was quite easy after that, but the train, that had left on time, was late on arrival and I have no idea why. And they seems to have changed everything in that central station since I was last there, so it was hard for me to find my way. Eventually, I was able to find my friend and we started walking around in Malmö. Our first stop was a really great Chinese Vegan restaurant that is quite famous for being so good. The food was still great but a little different from the last time I was there four years ago.

A funny thing happened in that restaurant. The Chinese lady who I think owns it, came up to welcome us and indicate a table for us. She also asked what I wanted to drink and I said water (in Swedish). Then she looked at my friend and I told her he’s Brazilian but speaks English too. She immediately asked him if he spoke Mandarin, which he does. He asked me if I’d told her but I hadn’t, so how on Earth could she guess? They said something, presumably very polite to each other, which was fun to hear.

Then, actually like the last time with my friend from Scotland (who is not Scottish, just lives there) we did some sightseeing.

For a while that worked fine, but in the end, I realized I’d been overdoing it a bit. Lazing about for at least two months has clearly ruined my stamina a bit. During the hour or so before my train left, we sat in the railway station, just talking, which was really nice.

The weather was, after a few days of snow and rain and cold, actually quite nice for this time of year. Sunny and not at all cold.

By the time I got back, to my horror, I noticed that my legs had swollen up so maybe it is quite good for me to just sit around, being lazy.

I hate that we’re always going have to take a taxi to get back to the house in the evenings. This taxi service is about three times as expensive as the one we last used and the driver was such a snob, telling me all about how long he’d lived in Russia and how he’d studied national economics and Russian and generally about how great he was. He wasn’t good looking either, like that guy working for the other service. While he was going on about how educated he was, I kept thinking – what? you only know two foreign languages? I thought of telling him about my English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Latin… Not that I’m anywhere near fluent in most of them, but still…

So that was my day. I’m really glad my Brazilian friend I had a chance to meet. It’s a sort of once in a lifetime thing and despite some difficulties, we were able to make it work.

Oct 21

More whining

Posted on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 in My life, Whining

Today I was supposed to go to the new maternity care center (that is in the new town). Though I’m very healthy this time around compared to the last time, I have had quite a run of bad luck when it comes to my appointments at clinics, hospitals and maternity care centers. First of all, it always takes about three weeks to get an appointment. Secondly, the hospital with the specialist maternity care can’t let me sign up as a patient (though apparently they can see me anyway). The last time I was supposed to be going to the ordinary clinic for a checkup of my blood pressure they just canceled on me. I told them they wouldn’t need to bother getting me a new appointment, since I was moving. Except now I’m thinking I might have been too hasty. We can’t get our stuff moved yet (for instance, the moving companies have recently been revealed to be corrupt and potentially dangerous – threatening customers, demanding more money than agreed on). So here I am. Still.

Today, the bus and train company just canceled the train, cheerfully announcing that I was welcome to take the next train (about an hour and a half after my appointment at the maternity care center). So I called them and the rude woman just said, yes, we canceled the train. There was an unspoken ‘so?’ hanging in the air too. No replacement bus, no financial reimbursment (fortunately, I think I managed to rebook the appointment online, but since I haven’t had confirmation I don’t know for sure). Also, I was going to use my bus/train card that I just fill up with money. That is, I hadn’t booked a specific ticket. I can use the money on the card anytime I want.

It makes me so furious. Clearly, their business goal isn’t to transport people, it’s just to make money. Funny though, other businesses need to provide some sort of customer satisfaction, but apparently not this company. Grr.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to get to the new maternity center now. It’s probably going to be at least two-three weeks until I get my next appointment. In the meantime I’m not signed in anywhere as a patient. Also, I will need to get a referral to another hospital, because of my previous health problems. So first an appointment at the maternity care center, then another at the hospital, hopefullly. Fortunately, a doctor at the hospital is taking responsibility for my health, but the appointments are too few and far between. At this time I should probably go every week but I’m getting checkups every other week, or every three weeks instead. Fortunately, so far I’m feeling fine and according to the doctor, I really seem to be.

Nov 9

Update

Posted on Sunday, November 9, 2014 in My life

Recently, I had to go and have a few tests done. A very tiring day turned out to be a success in the end. I hadn’t slept at all before leaving for Gothenburg. (The tests are for my big project, that most of my friends will be familiar with by now). I was totally exhausted even when I left, not to mention when I got back.

On the way to Gothenburg, just as we (my sister and I) had got on the bus, there was this guy who missed the bus by only a few seconds. He waved his bus card, but the driver ignored him, even though my sister called out to tell him what was happening. A few minutes later, the guy caught up with the bus at a red light, but the driver still ignored him. That guy looked so disappointed. I’m wondering why the driver couldn’t have been a little more accommodating.

On the way back, we made such good time we ended up back a couple of hours early, by, among other things, getting off at an earlier station and walking really quickly.

Fortunately, it didn’t rain, though we’d been told there was a risk of that. We were also really lucky that the train was on time both ways (though there are delays or complete stops almost every day).

So now we’ve finally done the tests (except, sadly, one – a difficult one, not sure what to do about that). After a while, we both got a clean bill of health, which was a relief and a printout to send to Estonia.

Then the other day, we set out for a little outing – this time to the next town, Thn, to go and hear a lecture that sounded really interesting – about Sweden during WWI (which, as you probably know, we weren’t actually in). On the way there, again, the driver asked if we were adults (over 19, apparently, LOL).

Before the lecture was supposed to start, we managed to go to a store and buy new gloves. I got a pair of new red, touchscreen gloves. My old gloves were beginning to look a little worn.

When we entered ‘The People’s House’ (fancy name for a house dedicated to culture, in this case a library, a theater and lecture halls.), we had trouble finding the theatre, though we’ve been there before, several years ago, and walked back and forth in the foyer, and up and down the stairs, no doubt looking confused. When we returned to the foyer we found that someone had written in red letters on the whiteboard announcing the lecture, that it was cancelled.

Feeling a bit let down, we decided to go out to the big mall that is right between the two towns and try to do some shopping (for food, since the other shops would be closed). We finally managed to get our favorite vegan products (fake meat and cheese) and some chocolate.

It’s getting colder now, so I suppose winter is coming. At least there’s no snow yet. The trouble with snow is that in such a humid place as this, it instantly turns to ice and that’s no fun to walk on. So now I’m switching to my warmer scarf and I’ll be wearing my gloves every day. I’d already started wearing my parka. (TMI?). Don’t worry, this is it. Blog post over. :)

Jan 3

No more snow!

Posted on Thursday, January 3, 2013 in My life

At last! The snow has melted so I can finally go for proper walks. I was so tired of the snow and ice, and although this isn’t nearly as pretty to look at, it’s a lot easier to walk on. Apparently, there will be some more snow today, but according to the weather report it will “quickly turn to rain”. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that, but even more that the weather will dry up.

Unfortunately, the railway has been undermined and yesterday a train nearly fell off the track. Actually, it would have if some brave man hadn’t run on the track and met the train and waved at them to stop. Unbelievable! It’s going to be a while until the track has been repaired so for now, no one can get in or out of town by train.  Though to tell the truth, I don’t know who dares to go by train these days. Nothing works as it should.

Aug 15

A day out

Posted on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 in My life

Yesterday I was going to Gothenburg, to a clinic, to re-take a blood test that they’d taken but neglected to send along to the lab, or at least so I’d been told. When I’d already booked a return ticket and was sitting on the train to Gothenburg, an apologetic nurse called and asked me if I was already on my way. They’d found the test result and I didn’t need to come all the way there. Great. I lost money on that, and the trouble is this was the second time I was going there to re-take tests they’d made a mess of. More money lost for me… Not that they’ll ever compensate for that, that sort of thing doesn’t happen here. I barely got an apology. And just to make it clear, this is a private clinic.

Mom wanted me to get off the train and return home, but since I was already in this other town where I sometimes go to do some shopping, I decided to stay a while. I’d still be back long before I would have if I’d gone all the way to Gothenburg.

This town is more than twice the size of the one I live in (suffer in, more likely) and there are more shops and far more choice when it comes to – well, just about anything. I found some delicious vegetables (and berries) that I hadn’t seen or dreamed of buying for years. I also made a visit to the health food store and found some veggie stuff that I can’t get anywhere else (or rather this is the closest place for it).

On the way back, the bus driver pointed out that using the credit card to pay my fare, would be far more expensive than getting a bus card. I told him I don’t travel very often so it wouldn’t be worth it. It turned out that he recognized me from when I used to ride this bus far more often. I said it’s too late now anyway, since the bus was about to leave. He said: no, it’s not, I’ll wait for you. So I hurried back and refilled the bus card and got back on the bus. That was so nice of him. I’m sure that no ethnic Swede would have been quite that nice about it (I don’t know where he’s from, but it was obvious that he was an immigrant). He was nice to the other passengers too, offering to help a girl get her baby and stroller off, but in the end, another passenger did it for him.

So, all in all, my day turned out a lot better than I’d imagined and at least did something to compensate for the failed trip and the grumpy old man and the surly old woman who glared at me at the bus stop. This town is famous for its unpleasant, unreliable and ugly people and I certainly can’t argue with that.

Jun 27

A little outing

Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 in My life, Other

I went on a little outing yesterday and spent half the day on buses and trains, but managed to do a bit of shopping, which was kind of fun.

On the bus to Gothenburg, I ended up having one of those awkward attacks of coughing, that I tend to get when I’m tense or nervous. Two youngish men who sat in front of me got up and left rather hurriedly, which reduced me to a fit of laughter. I wonder if they thought I did it on purpose to get a little more privacy.

On the way back, the bus drove straight into a thunderstorm. One minute, the sky was clear and it was quite sunny, the next everything went dark and the rain came down in sheets. I ended up getting completely soaked in the few seconds it took to get from where one bus dropped me off to where I’d be waiting for the next. My shoes were completely submerged, even though there were drains here and there to get rid of the excess water. :/

I really need to get out more, and since the weather is just ‘unstable’ as opposed to just rainy, I might try to cram a little fun into the next couple of days. What I really want to do is go to some historic monuments or museums, but a bit of shopping will do, I suppose. I’ll see what I can manage.

Aug 25

A visit to Gothenburg

Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 in Humanities, My life

Yesterday (Wednesday 24 August) I went to Gothenburg to see my friend from Scotland. The day started out rather badly, with me almost missing my train, even though I’d got up an hour earlier than I usually do, just to make sure nothing like this happened. I would have missed the train if the train host hadn’t been looking out to see any last-minute stragglers. Finally, one minute past the train’s scheduled departure time I was in my seat, hot and breathless from my run. Why do these things always happen to me? LOL.

I arrived in Gothenburg at around 10 am. On the way, I’d texted my friend to let him know I was on my way, but it turned out he hadn’t received it. I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find him especially since he wasn’t on the plaltform waiting for me when I got off the train. On the other hand, I didn’t go on the one I’d told him I would. I had just found out that I’d be able to take a direct train, and not go by the roundabout route I’d made up. Since he was already on his way, it would have been difficult for me to reach him. I stood at the end of the platforms, right outside the railway station searching for him and fortunately, very soon he came wandering around, looking form me, looking a little lost. As soon as he turned in my direction and I waved at him.

He told me he’d found out that the musuem didn’t open until 12. Since I’d already told him about another museum, quite close to the railway station, we decided to go there. There was supposed to be a short history of the actual building (“The East Indian House” – named for the East India Company). We started with that. The city of Gothenburg was founded in the early 17 century (ie 1621) and the place where the museum is now, had some buildings on it from that time. The present day building was built somewhat later. It’s been a museum for 150 years (the anniversary was celebrated earlier this year).

That exhibition was quite small and only involved one rather narrow room or corridor, but it was very well made, with a representation of the building with cutouts so you could look inside at photos or objects from its long history.

After that we moved on upstairs to the 17th century room, the 18th century room and the 19th century room. We were in a little bit of a hurry so unfortunately our viewing of the 19th century room had to be cut short. This is the sort of thing that I really love. By displaying objects from the era, the museum had succeeded in visualizing the period. There were glass display cases, but also fullsize models of objects and so on. All in all, I think we were given quite a good impression of what life would have been like in those days.

For instance, in the 17th century the upper classes had spring water brought in from a place outside the city center (which is today merely a part of the city). I’m familiar with the place because my mother’s cousin lived there for many years. According to her, people still went there to get fresh water, but today mostly because they appreciate the taste. However, in the 17th century (and probably later too) the poor took their drinking water from the canals. For this reason throwing trash, dead animals (or people), household waste etc into the water was illegal, but as you can imagine, that was impossible to prevent. In other words, the poor drank sewer water. Ugh. No wonder it was a long time before people really wanted to move to the city. The countryside must have been healthier up until the mid-nineteenth century.

Because we were in a hurry, I wasn’t able to find out if there was a 20 century room as well, or if the last room really was a 19 and 20 century room. I’ll definitely return soon and find out. I must say that it was rather difficult to find my our around. The fee was very modest and on top of that, we were given a card that will entitle us free entry into this museum and one of three or four others for the rest of the year. I’ll definitely use it at least one more time.

When it was getting closer to noon, we rushed off to walk all the way to the Museum of World Culture. Some parts of the walk, it rained, but not too much. There was no fee to enter the Museum, only one or two of the exhibitions. We decided to stick to the parts that were free.

This experience was far more ‘modern’ in every way. There were silvery tunnels to walk through, multicoloured lights and big and small video screens all over. The main exhibition was about travel. How humans have always traveled and migrated. No doubt there was much deep, philosophical thought behind the exhibition, but I can’t help but think that it was a bit more flash, than substance. Or maybe it was just a bit too confusing for my linear mind. :) There was a ‘wheel of fortune’ that you could spin to see where you should travel. We waited a while, as a group of people, friends or colleagues, played with that, but in the end, we moved on. I think the wheel was made to spin for far too long, before it stopped. The group members had to stop it by force to see their destinations.

Up a couple of stairs and past a huge cafeteria smelling of food, was another exhibition called Earthlings, which was aimed mostly at children, but I think the parents who were taking their children there took that a bit too literally. The oldest child I saw seemed to be two years old. He wouldn’t have understood anything. I think it was just an excuse for the mothers (and the father of the two-year-old) to get out and get some variety. The mothers were just talking and their children would really not have understood anything of where they were, since they were just babies. The father had sunk down on one of the child-sized sofas and let his boy wander around on his own. Clearly he was too tired to do anything else.

I’m still trying to process the experience and so far I haven’t come to any conclusion, except that it was fun and cool and since it’s free, I think I might return to try and make more sense of it all.

After the visits to the museums we went to find the Indian restaurant we’d decided to go to. It looked a bit more like a cafe, but it did serve lunch and we decided to go in. There was a nice, relaxed atmosphere in there, and the food was simple and nourishing. The owner was anything but Indian but he seemed to have visited India and had a strong interest in Indian culture, at least judging by the photos on the walls, and the spices in the food. On the webpage it was described as vegetarian, but vegan-friendly so when I asked about that, the owner replied that he’d substitute a yoghurt sauce for one with tomatoes. First he served a bowl of lentil soup, which was very nice, then the main course which was veggie burgers, rice, with that tomato sauce and a salad. He also mentioned bread, but I decided to do without that. I don’t like to eat too much when I’m away from home.

When we’d finished our meal, my friend asked if I’d like to return to the first museum to continue our tour of it, but I said I’d rather just go somewhere we could talk in private, so in the end, we just walked back to the railway station and sat down outside and had our chat. After all, it had been two years since we last met and even though we email and talk on the phone, it’s nice to be able to catch up.

Dec 23

There’s snow in Sweden? Really? Wow, I never knew that.

Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 in Other, Whining

Monday this week was absolutely horrible for me. (Stop reading here, if you like, major rant ahead.)

I woke up at 6 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I should have been able to sleep until ten but of course I couldn’t. There was this exam I had to go to in another town. To get there I had to go by train and change trains in the middle. Well, going there was ok, but since I always try to be such a good girl, I decided to take the last train back, one that left forty minutes after the exam ended (not that we have to stay that long if we’re already finished).

Guess what? I didn’t need to stay the whole time, I was done after an hour and a half. To save money I had bought a ticket that I couldn’t rebook. So when I got to the station, I asked if I could anyway and a real prat of a rail employee told me I could always buy a new ticket, without even looking at me.

Then I waited for nearly four hours, the last hour or so for a train that was delayed and the time of arrival kept getting updated, mainly online (I don’t have one of those phones so I had to keep calling home to my sister). Getting on a train that was late made me miss the connecting train, and the one after that because hey, holding a train for about a whole minute is way too much trouble for them, apparently.

Then there was the cold. Did I mention the cold? I was so cold I almost broke my teeth. Couldn’t control my jaws. It was so cold, my sister and my mom could hear it in my voice over the phone.

Where was I? Right. Missing my connecting train, meant going on a long detour to the coast, where we were supposed to rebook our tickets, because the railway people had forgotten that here in Sweden we get snow every year. This being such a tropical paradise, of course that’s a natural mistake. NOT!

Someone must have complained, because later the guy came on the loudspeaker sounding a lot more sympathetic, saying we needn’t bother about the rebooking, and just go on to the connecting train. (It might have had something to do with the fact that it was now close to 10 pm and customer service closed at 8 pm, but who knows?) All this was about half an hour after I should have been home.

So I got on the last train, without a valid ticket, but apparently someone had informed our conductor (or train host as they’re called now, apparently) that there would be victims of the snow delay on her train, so she basically just checked I had some kind of ticket and that was it. Back again around 11.30 pm. Then a lovely brisk walk in the snow, on slippery streets to get home to a very late dinner.

On the bright side, I saw a very cute dog (a puli?) at one of the stations and a very cute and charming little girl of about two, and I won’t have to study any more this year. It would be even better if I pass, but I won’t find out for at least three weeks so I’ll just focus on getting through the days without studying and worrying (about the exam anyway).

I’ve been so tired today I haven’t felt up to doing any of the things I looked forward to doing, when I was studying every evening. I promised myself I’d read, write, translate, watch tv, listen to music… Now I almost (not quite) miss the studying, because it was something to do. I can always read, write (and so on) some other time.Which means I don’t do it. I just sit, trying to keep warm. Did I mention the cold? I mean the cold inside the house, not outside. It’s freezing in here. Oh, and the washing machine is probably broken, and we can’t afford to buy a new one. Hello, the joys of learning to hand wash, like – well, a hundred years ago, or sixty.

Just a little reminder. The things I said in my last whiny post still go. It’s just become a tiny bit easier to think about it.

Don’t worry, this will probably take care of my need for whining until, at the very least, next year. LOL.

Jul 30

People on trains

Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008 in Other

I went on a little trip again the other day. As far as these quick trips go, it was fine. I was able to leave a little later than usual and still got home before midnight so it was cool.

What wasn’t quite as cool is that a group of other travelers – a big and very tiresome family – ran around and in general made a nuisance of themselves. On the first part of the trip there was no reservation of seats, but this family seemed to think there was and acted accordingly, by running around and basically demanded access to several seats, in fact, practically the entire carriage.

That forced me to tell a seemingly very nice guy to get up and find another seat. The compartment wasn’t full so there was no reason why we shouldn’t just sit where we were, but obviously that obnoxious family did. It made me look bad in front of that guy and I didn’t like it.

Oh, well. Other than that, the trip went fine and though I ended up completely exhausted after traveling all day when it was so hot, I feel good about it. I only wish I’d managed to get some good photos. Maybe next time.

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