I know it childish… (may not want to read)

Growing up with the kids one of our favorite family past times is passing gas, yeah… that’s right. The ancient art of controlling a good tune, carrying a note to the end and ending with a “make-you-squint” odor.

Naturally when I passed by this sign it made me stop and laugh, damn near made me homesick. In any case it was enough for me to pull out my camera and take this photograph.

Since I’m being childish and gross… what do you when you go in the bathroom and take a dump? that’s right! you…. P-INFART. Bahahahahahahahahahahaaaa! Get it? Bahahahahaha!!!

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It’s the 4th of July!
This was the first time for both Lorraine and I to be abroad during a major holiday. Back in the states, July 4th is a major holiday celebrating independence day. I find it ironic during my last visit to Sweden I was here during their celebration of independence day.

We took off early morning to catch one of those European double decker buses. Lorraine earlier had figured out the schedules and locations so off we went.

This particular bus took us all over the streets of Stockholm. All the major tourist sites as well as side roads lined with shops and cafe’s. Through out the whole tour, I didn’t even see not even one sign that it was 4th of July United States style, then again… why should there be.

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The job site…

This is the nicest facility I’ve been to yet, I’ve been to a lot of sites all over the world. The Sweden plant by far has the most impressive building and location.

I’m not sure how this area is during the Winter but in June and July this place is amazing. I’m standing out front near the parking lot. Almost every viewing angle you see trees or pastures.

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Trial Run…

Actually this was a trial run that Lorraine and I did the Sunday before I had to show up for work. To get to and from work I leave the Sheraton, head down to the underground subway system (Central Station) head out to Northern part of Stockholm, get off and catch a 35 minute train ride to the town of Taby. Walk approximate 3/4 of a mile along this path I dubbed the “enchanted” forest.

We both explored deep into the enchanted forest when I first had the urge to relieve myself, seeing me coming out of the forest smiling, Lorraine went in for a turn.

I probably would have not gone in if I would have known snakes were about. As we were walking along Lorraine grabs my backpack and steers me toward a huge monstrous serpent. Good thing it crawled into the foliage or it would have been a goner! (alright…the snake was about 9 inches long)

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Night shot…

Came home from my first visit to Sweden and now I’m back again. This trip will be for 3 weeks instead of the 10 days I spent here the last time. Lorraine is traveling with me and will be staying the full 3 weeks. She’s going to have her own personal blog up and running soon so I won’t include her travel thoughts here, just mine.

Its early in the morning (close to 3 am) and the sun is already starting to rise. During this time of the year you get close to 20 hours of light.

The photo above was taken from our hotel room (Sheraton Stockholm, Towers) window. We have an awesome view of the river across the way. The street below is lined up with the classic cafe’s and store selling artwork. The window is built so that you can stick your body completely out, no screen or bar protection you find in most hotels.

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Morning sites…

Lorraine and I had an early morning breakfast at the hotel restaurant, afterwards we headed of for Old Town Stockholm. This was a completely new view for me. I’ve never walked from the downtown to Old Town.

For whatever reason it was scorching hot today! We watched the changing of the guards located in the Royal Palace central courtyard and my bald head was on fire!

Afterwards we walked the alleys, stores & cafes. Had a nice ice cream waffle which is very popular in the area.

We took a long walk checking out the shopping district, this area is where the locals go to buy their clothing, electronics, toys etc. It’s a huge street lined with every kind of shop imaginable. A lot of restaurants lined this street too. We opted for Mongolian BBQ. Great for me since they served Jasmine steamed rice!

After dinner we headed back to the hotel, sort of a chilly night. The outside activity never seems to end. Always something going on outside of the hotel window. People are still walking about the sidewalks, some sitting on the park benches. Wonder what their doing…

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When does it get dark?

Traveling to Sweden and adjusting to the time zone difference is not bad. It’s normally easier getting used to the place your traveling too rather than returning home.

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One factor that can screw you up is the amount of light during the night. I took this shot around 10:00 PM. Back home it would already be dark and the street lamps would be on. During the summer time you have so much day light you can actually see across the city. I heard in the winter is totally opposite where you rarely ever see the sun. Now that would be weird, no sunshine for months!

Church and Museums

This city is full of history, wherever you look you will find a museum or church. These are not ordinary buildings either they have been around for many, many years.  only passed through the royal churches and visited one museum. You would probably have to be here a month just to cover the local offerings. I’m sure there are many others across Sweden.

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If you happen to be around a church at 12:00 PM you will be able to hear the bells ringing. It’s especially nice if your within earshot of several churches which is easily done in Old Town. The combination of bells and chimes rings travel throughout the alleys, bouncing and creating echos. Nice.

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The Bridges…

One of the many things that makes this city unique are the surrounding waterways. Stockholm has it’s islands one way to get to them is by use of bridges. I noticed a lot tours were based on “going under” the bridge. Once again not having a clue I just picked a boat and hopped on. One thing worth mentioning the first boat I picked was a ferry and not a tour boat. It would have taken me to a distant island. I wanted a tour around Stockholm itself so I hopped off the ferry and jumped on another.

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The particular boat I picked was a 24 hour ride, meaning I could hop off at any stop and get back on using the same ticket within 24 hours. That’s a really good way of getting around the major areas in Stockholm within one day. If I had known that before hand I would have done that instead of taking a taxi to different areas of town the day before.

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The Ship That Sunk…

If you look on the internet regarding this Vasa Museum, you will find that it is one of the highlight tourist attractions of all Stockholm, Sweden. It was that fact alone that I made a special taxi ride to this part of town to check it out.

When I first saw the ship I was impressed but not too excited about it. It wasn’t until I spent a half hour watching a non-english documentary film showing the recovery efforts that I began to appreciate the level of work it took to get the Vasa out of the water after being sunken for over 300 years.

One other nice feature about the museum is that its multiple levels, three floors to be exact. You can view the ship at water line level, mid-level and up above looking down into the ships deck. All in all its a good place to visit, plus if someone ask you “did you check out that big ship that sank?” you can say “sure did”.

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If you want to get around Old Town to specific areas, you learn to use the alleys real fast. There are hundreds of alley’s. Some are lined with small shops others are like the one shown above, just another way to get somewhere quickly.

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One cool thing about walking the alleys is taking a look up once in awhile. Sometimes you get a stunning view depending on where you happen to be standing at the time.

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 With all alleys, they lead somewhere. Most of the time I didn’t have a clue where I was walking too. If I got tired of being around the crowds I just picked a path and walked until it opened up somewhere. In this case, the classic open cafe setting. I would say every block had at least a half dozen cafe’s. The only other vendor that rivaled the coffee makers were the places selling ice cream on a waffle cone. Ice cream must be huge here, people either sat along the brick paths chomping on ice cream or drinking an expresso.

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Once I got off the subway I just followed everyone out noting the surroundings for my return. Gamla Stan is the “Old Town” section of Stockholm. I understand it’s the tourist section where hundreds of shops are located for souvenir hunters. It’s also a main stop for cruise ships.

On this particular weekend, this particular day I didn’t have a clue that it was the annual runners marathon. This is a huge event that attracts 17,000+ runners! Luckily I was there early enough to do my sight seeing before the event actually started and was long gone when it did.

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Changing of the guards…

As luck would have it I happened to be walking around Sweden’s Royal Palace when the changing of the guards occured. I heard about this and thought it would be something I would try to catch, as it turns out I was at the right place at the right time. I also went to the Vaja Ship Exhibit, Parliament, Royale Theater, Old Town, New Town. I spent the whole day just walking around soaking up the sites.

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I happened to be walking at the right place at the right time to see the royal guards marching with their horses. This happens once a day around 2:00PM. They protect the royal buildings.

I was under the impression these guards were like England’s guards where they are famous for not moving or flinching regardless of what goes on. As I walked towards him I was thinking of what I was going to do to make this guy move or get some reaction. I didn’t have to do anything! When I got a few feet from him he just turned his head and looked at me. I said “uuh, hi”. What a let down! :)

I guess these guys don’t have the same standards as the others do or maybe I just found a rookie who thought it be better to look and see this big old bald dark bearded man with an evil grin walking his way. Poor kid.

You would think something like this would attract a lot of tourist but surprisingly enough not too many people were around. As I think of it now, maybe the crowd gathers where they actually do the guard exchange. Shoot, I should have followed behind them in full march.

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I arrived in Sweden during the best time of year, early summer. The weather was perfect for the typical sight seeing tourist (me).

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Long Distance Commute (again)

I’m commuting long distance again, this month I headed away from Asia and towards Europe, destination Stockholm, Sweden. Since I don’t have a car rental I’m using the public transit system. So far I’ve ridden taxi’s, train’s and the underground subway system. You can go anywhere using the train and subways, it’s a matter of learning the system to get around. I use the taxi when I’m too tired to walk to the train station from the hotel which is about a half mile away.

I got into Stockholm, Sweden Wednesday around lunchtime. Due to the time difference and the ability to sleep on the plane I was super tired.

I took a taxi from the airport to my hotel in Taby, this is a small town where my work facility is located but some distance from the city of Stockholm.

Getting around is an adventure itself, you use trains and subways for the most part. Transportation by taxi can get real expensive, I used the public metro during my sight seeing opportunities and taxi’s to get to and from work.

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The trains come and go every half-hour or so, you just need to make sure you get on one that’s going the right direction, otherwise you can get be going for miles the opposite direction. I learned real quick to just ask for directions since most of the locals speak english very well.

I found that most of the public directions were in the Swedish language. You get around by learning how to read maps by names and subway locations. Total one way train ride is 20 Krona, under $3 bucks USD and totally not crowded, I’ve yet had to stand.

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