One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Month: September 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Our first two weeks in Ireland

Sorry it’s taken a couple weeks for me to get this up… but I’ve had trouble catching some wifi. ha But more on that later.

We arrived back in Dublin from Sweden and drove out to Tulsk to meet Phyllis, a sweet older lady who had a cute little “apartment” to rent. They converted a garage into a cute little one bedroom house from her mother in law years ago and now they rent it. I found it on AirBnb and with it being only 15 minutes from our purchased house, it was perfect.

img_1578 img_1579

img_1580 img_1582 img_1584 img_1586

The windows bump out a couple of feet and Norah has taken this over as her play area… and I think it’s perfect! Is it just a Norah thing…or an all little kid thing… that they love small confined spaces? Norah will crawl into her closet under the shelves and watch her iPad. ha weirdo.


Our first trip to “town” was to go to Roscommon to open a bank account and get groceries at Tesco- the Ireland version of Walmart, sort of… at least as close as it gets.
We parked in the square downtown… (which I’d come to learn throughout the next two weeks was completely coincidental that we found a spot. haha) This is the old Gaol (jail). Built in the 1700s, used as a jail, a leprosy hospital and later a mental asylum in the late 1800s. Of note, Ireland’s only hangwoman worked here, Lady Betty. This lady put the Capital C in Crazy. Apparently, she was a destitute widow, with one living child. Her son left for America at a young age in the late 1700s to escape her crazy temper… She was slightly insane and a recluse. She lived by herself for years and years in Roscommon in a tiny little shack. 20 some years later, a man came to her door and asked to pay for her bed for the night because the inn was full. She, being slightly insane, stewed and thought about this seemingly wealthy man who had taken her bed and how terrible it was that he had so much while she had so little… so she took a knife and killed him in his sleep.

Going through his effects she found letters addressed to her…and quickly realized she had murdered her own son, who was thought to have not disclosed who he was in an attempt to see if she had changed for the better over the years. She was immediately taken to jail and sentenced to death at the gallows. The morning she was to die, the sheriff paraded the inmates into the square to await their public hanging, only to find out that the hangman had taken ill. With a restless crowd anxious from some hangin’, Betty called out to the sheriff that she would perform the hangings. The sheriff was stunned and agreed. (probably just for the entertainment factor)…but it turns out- she was just cold and heartless enough to pull it off-executing up to 20 people that day. She was so cold and emotionless, that when the hangman died shortly after, the sheriff appointed her the hangwoman of the jail and she lived inside the rest of her life.  Oscar Wilde’s father recorded that she was so heartless, she used to draw portraits of all the people she hanged with a burnt stick on her wall and she also was in charge of the flogging of the prisoners, earning her the nickname “the woman from hell”.

So…there’s that. lol Now its building full of commercial businesses and some apartments… including the worst Italian restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. ha Seriously. It was terrible.



Turns out you have to make an appointment to open a bank account in Ireland, so we made an appointment for the next day. Stopped by Vodafone and 3, two cell phone providers, trying to get internet. We cant get broadband internet at our house (although I’m pretty confident there will be fiber there within the next couple of years through a fiber company that is targeting rural Ireland to get the most rural areas high speed access. Sadly, this should include us! haha), which leaves us with 4G SIM card internet. There is no “unlimited” SIM 4G internet, but with a contract, you can get 250GB a month for around $70. While I can use more than that by streaming Netflix or Amazon…and letting Norah do Youtube.. if we don’t stream TV and monitor the munchkin’s Youtube time, this should be fine… plus, we WILL have unlimited data on our Irish cell phones… so 250GB for the TV and computer should do just fine, even if it makes me grumble a little to have to monitor my usage. I have had quite the issue getting a contract so far, though. First they said I had to have a bank account in Ireland because they needed the IBAN number. So I got that. (which was no easy feat either) Then it was, no we’ll need the debit card… Well, those wont show up for another week. So they said they could use a utility bill as proof of address. So, I called PrePay Power, which is what is connected at this house, and got a letter with address verification. But they said PrePay power doesn’t work- has to be a billing statement. grrrr.

So, for now, until my bank card comes in- I have prepaid internet. $20 per 7.5GB haha but I’m connected!

PrePay Power brings me to another strange thing here. Instead of the electric company sending you a bill every month, you have the option of prepaying your electricity. For me, it doesn’t really matter, but I think this would be really good for someone living on a small fixed income…or really terrible at managing money. You can top up when you want to…and the box in your house tells you how much credit you still have remaining, it also has options where you can view your usage by hour, day, week or month… I talked to the company and they said they never shut the electric off for $0 balance during nights or weekends, and they even have a feature of a $5 IOU where you can press a code and “owe” them $5 of electricity if you cant top up but you’re at zero. All pretty neat. Also, because they get payment for 100% of the electricity they give, they have the lowest kilowatt hour rate in Ireland. Something like .17/hr …so I went ahead and activated it here. So for now I literally have no Irish “bills”. Cell and internet is prepaid, water is free and electric is prepaid. I think that’s pretty awesome!


Back to Roscommon:


We did get to witness a traditional funeral coming through town. I thought they looked Greek or Sicilian, but Kegan thinks they were Irish… People were walking alongside the hearse very slowly through town, I’m guessing on their way to the graveyard. Sure did back up traffic for 20 minutes…. I have no shame, I snapped a photo- for anthropological purposes… 🙂

After our trip to the grocery ($106 by the way…. like half of US prices for the same type stuff…), we went back to the rental. I had been promising Norah some makeup, so we did that. Green eyeshadow, purple eyeliner and gold lipstick.


Dog became a muddy country dog for the first time. haha



Kegan tried to start a fire, which proved difficult since the turf they left us was still a little wet and the wood stove isn’t really ventilated properly. (we tried the fire for a couple nights and woke up freezing so we just decided to go with paying for the kerosene fuel oil that runs the radiators. ha)

I know that its supposed to be terrible weather here….and we’ve only been here two weeks- but there is an awful lot of sunshine for a place that is supposed to be miserable. haha


Kegan and Norah and dog all walked up and down the road here and met some friends, including a horse that the lady said we could have if we wanted it. haha

img_3184Also, a Swiss guy named Bruno who gave Norah chocolate. Unfortunately, no one on the road here is giving away miniature donkeys…which is what I want. haha Phyllis- dead serious- told me a pair of donkeys would be LOVELY in the front yard… that if I wanted to get them, she would gladly let me keep them here. hahahaha these Irish people are the BEST in the world. hands down.


After hanging around a couple days with no internet (seriously guys… I was having some mega withdrawal. not even reliable cell data. or cable television! haha) and exploring a couple area towns to see what stores and such were there, it was time to tackle the barn at our place (Sept 16) since our container was arriving from the states on the 19th.

The current owners didn’t exactly clean it up for us. They took a couple things they wanted but left the rest of the crap.

img_5556 img_5554 img_5553 img_5557img_5561

We’re running a fine line right now, because our sale still hasn’t closed…but the owners gave us the keys, said come and go as we please, and didn’t even want a lease agreement or anything. So we know they are done here and full expect us to be proceeding as if we own it. However, because legally we don’t own it until Ireland issues the owners a “grant of probate” allowing them to actually fully sell this property on behalf of the estate of the late owner, we don’t even want to remove anything from the property yet. So, we just piled everything that was in the shed into the back 1/4 of it, allowing us to put all of our belongings in when they arrive.


And for those keeping track, we made a cash offer at auction back in May for this property. It is now September and we’re still waiting on this clearance from the government. The law office expects it “any day” but has expected it every day for over 2 months. But…what do you do? Our lawyer told us it could take 3-4 months… so we’re just now on the tail end of that….so from his estimates- it’s about time to hear back. I figure I’d wait until October to make a stink. We have tons of exterior work to do, like fixing up 2 years of overgrown grass… and planning the improvements for the house and ordering the items, so that when we do get clearance to close, we can immediately begin.

We cleaned up the barn nicely, so we were ready for Monday.


Me, on Monday that week:


We talked to Phyllis at our rental house and said that if she knew of anyone looking for some cash work on the side, we could use some help on Monday unloading our shipping container. She volunteered her son. haha We didn’t know what to expect, but on Monday, her son and her husband showed up to check out the house and help us. Turns out they are plumbers and electricians- husband has been doing it for 40 years! Life just works out sometimes. So, while we waited for the truck driver, they turned our water on for us. Willie, the husband, said the house had great potential… and I think he meant it, because he later told Phyllis the same thing. haha  Also, they climbed in the attic, looked around, noted that it was full of insulation and totally dry which was the one last thing we were really worried about was finding rotting trusses or mold…but it honestly looked like a model house up there.

I had wanted a plumber on site when we turned the water on, so that if we ran into busted pipes or anything, we could address the issue immediately…and good thing we had one! The owners had removed a washing machine from the kitchen…and left the uncapped pipe wide open. So, the second the water was on, it was pouring out into the kitchen floor. doh. but it was quickly addressed and its not like we cared about the floors or anything anyway. haha

Turns out Dominic, the son, has a 4 year old son himself that cant wait to get together and play with Norah. I’m pretty excited about that as well! Life just has a way of working out. He even said to let him know before we hire out anything in the house and he’ll make sure we get in touch with good people for fair prices. Gotta know someone in a new area… so this was just a perfect encounter. Plus, he brought a dolly (a “trolley” here) which came in MIGHTY useful, because the semi couldn’t get up to our building like we had planned… and we ended up trucking EVERYTHING across the yard into the barn.

This is how far we had to move everything.


But we’re lucky he made it THAT far…He spent 20 minutes just trying to fit and get the momentum to get up the hill. Kegan had to advise him on shortening the bed, make the corner. Stop, lengthen the bed, climb the hill, then shorten the bed for unloading again. Luckily, our man Aiden wasn’t a quitter. He did it and viola, we were at least in somewhat of a position to unload.

We had some curious cows come to check us out.


2.5 hours later, it was done. And our nice clean barn was full of everything we own. haha


Dog found the first familiar smell in a long time and was loving it.


We tried to go ahead and take the sofa in the house, only to find that it wouldn’t fit through the doors!! We thought about taking out a window and passing it through, but truth is… the room is really too small as well haha so….Dominic got a free couch! ha (and paid… we paid him, too, of course)

We headed home that night, but exhausted we didn’t want to cook, so we picked up kebabs from SuperBites in Elphin. They have fish and chips, indian food, pizza, burgers, and kebabs…and they’re open until midnight most nights…and they deliver ALMOST to our house, so I’m sure for an extra 5 bucks we COULD get delivery at our house…which really make me giggle. haha And the food was goooood.



**Full disclosure, these photos are from multiple meals over the last two weeks. We did not eat all of this food for dinner one night. haha

Since our stuff had arrived and the house is still not ours, the only thing left we can really safely do is exterior yard work. So begins the weed-eating and the raking. Kegan spent a good hour looking for his earplugs and safety glasses, but couldn’t find them. So he borrowed Norah’s from a science kit. haha i guess better than nothing.

**Note the hair as well. One of Norah’s hair clips to hold it back out of his face while it’s in the awkward growing out phase. I think he’s going for a viking braid or something. Who knows at this point. Why not? Who’s he gotta impress? haha

img_5644 img_5677

Kegan got his Husqvarna weed-eater out that hadn’t been started in over 5 years. Since we lived in Louisville…and he started it up in 3 pulls! Those Swedes know how to make some tools.


Started the day on the backyard behind the house.

img_5624 img_5646

We discovered a sidewalk that goes all the way to the turf and wood shed. Who knew?? lol so that was a cool discovery.


Also, figured out why there was rain seeping in on the concrete in the back bedroom…. this lovely pile of turf bags. The guy had been buying bags of turf, using them inside, then tossing the mesh bags out the bedroom window into a pile for at least a couple years. The pile wasn’t allowing for any drainage. So, first homeowner problem solved.


I have a feeling this wont be the last eye-roll we give on this house. haha

Norah found an earthworm. haha even though it was making her antsy…she still held it, which I was impressed with out of the girly girl. We’ll make a country girl out of her yet. ha (doubtful)


Next up was the front raised yard. Eventually we want to enclose this area a little better, put down giant pavers and pea gravel…or moss in between and make this a front patio area with seating and table… but for now, cutting down the grass to a walkable level will do just fine. 🙂

img_5626 img_5721


img_5728Dog has been helping us weed-eat, too. lol Goat dog.


Currently, Kegan has weed-eated (weed-ate? weed-eaten? I’m not too sure what the past-tense form of weed eating is…) the west side of the house and uncovered the septic system as well as an entire fence line of blackberries. Yay! (this, in addition to the couple of apple trees in the front yard.)

Tomorrow our flooring for the entire house will be delivered. (figured this was safe since we can store it in the barn and I found a good sale price on wood-look tile at a local store.) It’s the best wide-plank barnwood replica I’ve ever seen…so I’m very excited. I figured with an humid as Ireland is…and the fact that there’s a chance the house can sit for weeks or months at a time in the future… that tile would be a good choice over carpet or hardwood. Also, since it tends to be on the cold side most of the year, we’re going to do the under tile radiant heating mats in the bedrooms, bathrooms and living room with individual thermostats on the bedrooms so they can be turned off when not in use or set to a certain temperature overnight. We had old school radiant pipe heating in California in our rental house…and we both loved it… said we’d try to remember how “worth it” it was when it came time for us to tile again. So I’m trying to remember that as the price tag seems a little pricey. But… the tile was half the price of hardwood… so I’m factoring that in.

tile2 tilephoto

We had hoped to save the kitchen cabinets and just paint them…. but they’re just nasty and falling apart. Cheap laminate, left to sit with food and who knows what in them….they gotta go. I’m currently talking to a guy through (the Craigslist of Ireland) that is selling his existing kitchen and remodeling. He has maple shaker cabinets that will paint just fine and let us replace the entire kitchen with cabinets and appliances for $1,000. Hoping that works out! Would REALLY help keep the total remodel costs down.
**Update before even posting: The cabinets are ours!

For now, the exterior clean up continues….and tomorrow we’re heading to Dublin to fly out Tuesday to Copenhagen, Denmark for a few days. Long story, but a friend of mine, Juliana- who I met through AirBnb when they rented our house in Florida- has been travelling all over Europe over the last few months and came to Ireland the week we went to Sweden. It was my fault. I had her dates wrong… so since I messed up our hanging out in Ireland, I asked where else she was going to be…and we settled on Copenhagen for the last couple days of their trip. So, with low cost airlines at $41 each way, it’s not a big deal to hop a plane to another country to basically have a play date for our 4 year olds. lol

I’ve never been there, so it will be fun to explore. We only have 3 full days there, so i’ll probably roll it all up into one Copenhagen post. We return to Ireland on Oct 1st…. and on Oct 4th, Kaleb and Lindsey arrive for their 10 day Ireland/Paris guided tour. ha Looking forward to introducing Ireland to them and I hope they love it as much as we do. We’re going to jet over to Paris and Normandy for a couple days towards the end, which will be new for us as well. I’ve never been to France. This will be a nice little one day introduction to the area for planning our future trips 🙂

After that bit of fun, it’s all business until Christmas- house and remote IT work unless someone else decides to come visit us as well! I’ll keep you guys posted on any new developments. 🙂

Days 8 and 9-Stockholm -End of trip

This morning we had some breakfast and left Avesta headed for Stockholm. We dropped our car a couple days early at the airport at Marie’s advice. We took the Arlanda Express train straight to Central Station and checked in to our hotel that was right beside the station.


After checkin, we went out walking towards old town “Gamla Stan” to check out some sites. img_1501 img_1507

I think this was the Swedish Parliament building…it was very cool sitting in a half circle in the middle of the river. Quite impressive.img_1509 img_1510 img_1511

Marie tells us as we are standing in front of this building that this is sort of a royal house…and that she has been here for dinners before because her grandmother is still part of a noble family. Wow. I didn’t know we were in the presence of Swedish royalty! so… that was pretty cool…img_1513 img_1514

As soon as we crossed the bridge, we saw this Italian restaurant that my friend Juliana recommended. She said it was the best pizza outside of Naples she ever had. So, since we could use some lunch- we checked it out. I can see why it could have been great, but I think they were having a bad day with too many people and not enough help- the people beside us got up and left after 20 minutes with no soup, so it was pretty good…but I cant rave about it 🙂img_1516

However, funny- I told Juliana we were there on her recommendation- and she tells me that our waitress and her are Facebook friends.. hahaha- so I showed the waitress her Facebook picture and we were instantly friends. ha We even all got a selfie.


We continued on through old town, walking past the old German churchimg_1520

The Royal Palaceimg_1523 img_1525 img_1527 img_1528 img_1531 img_1532

The temporary home of this statue. It is usually a few blocks away, but they are doing construction because that part of town is sinking into the ocean, so they decided this was a good spot for him. The statue is of Charles XIV John, who was a king of Sweden, a king of Norway, a governor of Rome, a general in France…and I’m sure a lot more. He lived in the late 1700s- early 1800s…and fought for Napoleon. He actually became King of Sweden because the real King of Sweden was growing old and childless. Since this guy had made such a name for himself in assisting Napoleon, the Swedes elected him the heir elect of their King, even though Charles XIV John had no idea. The king ‘adopted’ this grown man so that he could legally ascend the throne. He was actually well liked and really united Sweden. Napoleon totally took advantage of his “friend” being in control of Sweden and basically invaded Sweden as a vantage point for a conflict with Russia. It’s said that on his deathbed, he was still proud of defending Sweden against Napoleon and that history saw what side of the conflict he was on. Sounds like he was a fairly decent guy for a military leader. haimg_1534 img_1535

We next arrived at Stortoget- the big public square. I did some research on the buildings… they’re cool… but nothing too crazy or fun to talk about surprisingly.img_1536 img_1537 img_1538

Marie says that back in high school, this cafe was THE cool place to hang out. haha


There’s a Cannonball stuck in the corner of this building…img_1541 img_1543 img_1544 img_1545 img_1546

I had to have one of these sock Vikings.img_1547

Our last stop was the most narrow alley in Stockholm. Martin Trotzigs Alley. It’s only 35 inches wide at it’s most narrow point.img_1548 img_1549 img_1554

When we got back to the hotel, we checked out the rooftop terrace on our floor. Panoramic views that my wide angle lens doesn’t do any justice to… but it was cool.img_1563 img_1564 img_1565 img_1566 img_1567 img_1568 img_1570

We ate dinner at a little restaurant around the corner called Polpette (meatball in Italian) that was an Italian Swedish fusion restaurant. (I’m not sure what that is haha)

(there is some glitch in this stupid site that is flipping pictures taken on my iPhone…and they dont fix, even when I flip them and look right to me…so I assume most of the following photos will be upside down- sorry….)
img_5312 img_5313 img_5314 img_5315

When we went to order our food, Norah said “I want a Donut please!” because we had passed a donut truck on the way into the restaurant that smelled amazing. Our waiter laughed and we continued our dinner. Well, that guy snuck out sometime while we were eating and bought them donuts from the truck outside and surprised them with them once they had eaten their food! That was so sweet! and he did good, because Norah loves M&Ms. hahaimg_5317 img_5319 img_5323 img_5324

We came back to the hotel, I did a little bit of work, watched James Bond Spectre and we slept.

This morning, we started with the hotel’s extensive Swedish breakfast and we took the bus to the Vasa Museum. The Vase ship was a Swedish warship from the 1600s that sank as soon as she started into the harbor on her maiden voyage. oops. people scavenged the bronze and metal back in the day but it was left at the bottom of the ocean until the 1950s when they dug it back up and brought it here where it is an amazing piece of history. This thing is massive.

img_5329 img_5336 img_5447

They think that the original wood carvings were painted like this… would have been a sight.img_5448 img_5449 img_5450 img_5453 img_5457 img_5460 img_5467

After the Vasa museum, we headed to Junibaken….a children’s museum/funhouse for stories by the author that did Pippi Longstocking. But it turns out they are closed on Mondays. So, we thought maybe the aquarium? …nope. Closed on Mondays, too..  So, we went to Skansen.
img_5470 img_5472

Skansen is an open air Swedish history museum. It has some animals, cafes, old stores and buildings, and other things.img_5475 img_5478

We played some old time games: ring toss, stilts, jump rope, and that game where you roll the metal hoop around.img_5480 img_5481 img_5483 img_5490 img_5491 img_5492 img_5496

Norah and Axel found the car ride. img_5502 img_5505 img_5509 img_5510 img_5512

Spent some time on this playground before we headed out.img_5513

We were boring for dinner, Norah wanted McDonalds so we had that and some sushi from Sushiyama next door. Both are right beside the hotel. We packed everything up and we’ll head out at 6am to head back to Ireland.

We get our short term rental house Tuesday afternoon that we’ll stay in while we remodel our house. We got this place for $150/week- and it’s within 15 minutes of our house, with a working kitchen, bathrooms and wifi! 🙂 So…it was a no brainer and will make the remodeling go so much faster and easier. I’ll try to post a few photos tomorrow or Wednesday of it. We plan rent it through Christmas…. so that gives Kegan a deadline. haha I currently have 1 bathroom planned out, a 2nd bathroom half planned…. and the kitchen cabinet color picked out. I have a BIT of planning to do.

Our first order of business will be to get the container unloaded on Monday the 19th when all of our stuff arrives! woohoo.

Thanks for reading along with our crazy adventures!! 🙂

Day 7 – Uppsala, Sweden

We enjoyed our morning around the house, had some breakfast and the kids played. We eventually headed out towards the town of Uppsala to see a few sites I had in mind. Marie and Johan hadn’t been tourists in their own area, so it was sort of new for them, too!
Uppsala is a town of “-ests”. They have the oldest university in Scandinavia, The tallest cathedral in Scandinavia, its the 4th largest city in Sweden…and back in olden times had the biggest pagan temple and now has the most famous Viking burial mounds in all of Sweden.

We started out at these burial mounds at Gamla Uppsala, or old Uppsala. This site was the site of the Thing For All Swedes. A thing was a gathering. Political, Legal, information….is was a gathering of the tribe, the area…or in this case here, great things usually regarding the high chieftains and visiting chiefs and kings from neighboring lands. All free men (because Vikings had slaves…) who were able to wield a weapon were about the participate in the things.

These are called the Royal Mounds. they think initially, they were built to give sacrifice to the three Norse Gods Thor, Odin and Freyr. img_1372

There is an old medieval church standing on the site of the original Temple of Uppsala. This area was the last area of Sweden to adopt Christianity. Supposedly their large wooden pagan temple here had large wooden statues of the Norse gods, but of course there is no trace of them left now. This church was the site of the archdiocese of Sweden in the early christian days before it was moved to the amazing Uppsala Cathedral. Erik the Saint (Erik the IX) was killed here around 1160 and decapitated, then buried here for 100 years or so until the Uppsala Cathedral was built. (more about that below)img_1375 img_1376 img_1377 img_1380

The guy that invented the Celsius temperature scale in buried underneath the red aisle carpet. img_1382 img_1388 img_1389 img_1390

Of course, we climbed the mounds.img_1391 img_1393 img_1400

After that, we headed downtown to the Cathedral. Swedish monarch coronations were held here from the middle ages through the 1800s.img_1413img_1419img_1423img_1424img_1427img_1430img_1431img_1435img_1437

The Vasa chapel is the biggest and most ornate of the chapels. It holds the bodies of Gustav Vasa and his three wives (although there are only 2 wives on the tomb Ha). He was the longest serving king of Sweden up to that time… he reigned in the 1500s. He helped defeat Denmark and free Sweden, found against Ivan the Terrible in Russia and was the first to really “unite” Sweden.img_1438img_1439img_1440img_1441img_1442img_1446img_1448img_1449

This relic box holds the remains of Erik IX (the one who lost his head at the old church at Gamla Uppsala around 1160) They dug up his remains there and placed them in a box that was used during all of the king’s coronation ceremonies for hundreds of years. Saint Erik/King Erik IX/Erik the Martyr is the patron saint of Sweden. They opened the relic box and analyzed the bones years ago and found that his bones did match the stories… that he had multiple stab wounds that had healed and that he had been stabbed multiple times and was decapitated, as the story goes.)img_1451img_1453img_1455

After leaving the cathedral, we walked around the side and found they were having a large festival of some sort…but that meant food trucks. We picked the kebab truck. too bad…because it was terrible. hahaimg_1459img_1460

I had promised Norah a balloon if she was good…she picked Dora.img_1465img_1468img_1469img_1470

We ended by visiting the dessert stand.img_1473img_1475img_1476img_1477

We drove the hour and half back to Marie and Johan’s where we had a late afternoon “fika” where we enjoyed chokoladbolls and coffeeimg_5292

Later in the evening we ordered Pizza from the local restaurant. We tried Kabob Pizza which is apparently very popular in Sweden… and it was tasty. We packed up our stuff and got ready to head to Stockholm in the morning.

Day 6 -Avesta with Friends

Woke up this morning to Marie’s vicious attack dog Nellie. She’s so sweet, she’s coming home with me. Next dog I get… I sure hope it’s a calm smart one like Nellie. Ha

We had a lovely spread of Swedish breakfast 

Including…wait for it…

The tube of kaviar! Marie said its a very Swedish  thing and she eats it sometimes in Eggs, the boys eat it on bread with butter in the mornings. So it turns out real people do eat it haha

After breakfast the kids all played around the house with Legos and toys and the iPad. It didn’t matter that they didn’t speak the same language, giggling and shrieking is universal across languages hahaThey bounced around on the trampoline and played together in the sandbox.

After lunchtime we took the grand tour of Avesta including a photo op with the giant Dalarnian horse.

After our compulsory photo op, we headed over to this cute little park where they have Bison. The kids thought it was great to run around wherever they wanted. They also had a cute little playground.

They had those red toadstools like you see in cartoons or Fairy tales. I’ve never seen those before!
Everyone of course had to have ice cream from the cafe.

Total Swedish item- they had sets of stilts on the playground for you to play around on. Kegan and I were supposed to take a picture together on stilts… But I couldn’t stay upright for more than 1 second lol it was bad. 
After we got home and had naps, it was time to go feed the goats. we collected apples from the yard and some crusty bread and headed down the path.

They also have some show rabbits that you used to jump in competition. Like a horse steeplechase but funnier. Ha

Day 5- Lillehammer, Norway and ending in Avesta

Today we started out with another fabulous spread of Swedish foods. I gave the tube of “kaviar” another chance, and it was MUCH better today! So, that leads me to believe that the first tube had just gone rancid. ha The kaviar redeemed itself. lol

We drove up to the top of the mountain where we were supposed to stay last night. I had found this “Alpine Apartment” on We drove all the way up here around sunset and couldn’t find where to check in. So I called the number on my reservation… and she tells me that my confirmation should have told me that I had to pick up the keys in Häjfell. It did. But it was like size 7 font at the very bottom. lol So we backtracked back down to town and found the empty hotel where I was to pick up the key. So I started to pay and she asks if we have our own bed linens and towels… I say no…. and she says it will be like $40 to rent them… so I’m like, can we just stay here for the night??? ha and she’s like…uhhh, yeah..duh…sure. ha So, we got the hotel room and breakfast for the same price.

But… I still wanted the pictures from the top of the mountain so I made Kegan drive back up today

img_1308 img_1311

A lot of houses in Norway especially the more traditional or older homes, have a “sod roof” which is sort of misleading to what it actually is. This goes back a thousand years, with Vikings having sod roofs on most of their houses. The sod sounds like its just dirt, but really its a bottom layer of birch bark that makes the house waterproof. With a knife, you can slice the tree bark straight down and the whole bark will peel off of the tree. They then unroll it and lay it flat with weight on it to help it dry flat. Once it’s dry, they lay a layer of the birch back down, then cover it with sod to hold it in place, which also acts as insulation. They look so cool. Now I want a sod roof.img_1315

As we left Häjfell, we could see the fairy house and troll across the lake/river.img_1316

Saw this big dam on our way to Lillehammerimg_1320 img_1325

We stopped by the Olympic Park up on the top of the hill.img_1326 img_1329

Everything in Norway has an amazing view.
img_1333 img_1334 img_1336

We got to the ski jumps from the 1994 Olympics and we were lucky enough to see the skiers practicing. That was AMAZING. I never realized just how far they flew off of that ramp!img_1337

Because there’s no snow, they have astroturf on the jumps.img_1342 img_1344 img_1347 img_1350 img_1351 img_1353
Norah LOVED the skiers. She didnt want to leave. She just sat here at the end of the ramp and watched them over and over. She wasnt happy when we made her leave.

But eventually, we started back towards Sweden. We had a 6 hour drive to Avesta. Not much to share, just some scenery. Lots of forest.

We met Marie, Johan and the boys, Axel and Gustav and had some nice dinner and  conversation. I didn’t photograph all of our dinner, but they did serve us Moose! It was awesome.

They have the cutest country house… and it has a three story guesthouse! I told them we were moving in. It is just spectacular.

img_1358 img_1359 img_1360 img_1362 img_1364 img_1365 img_1366 img_1367

and these beautiful rustic old barn stairs.img_1370

Tomorrow will be pretty light because we’re just hanging around with Marie and living the good Swedish country life! 🙂

« Older posts