Sweden, Easter, Sara's birthday

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The final leg of our 2013 spring trip.  Another short flight and we arrived in Stockholm, Sweden.  It was Saturday and the next day was Easter Sunday (and Sara's birthday).  Once we made it to our apartment, we headed right back out to hit up the store for food (and drink).
**Travel Tip: we have learned the hard way and we will always ask in advance from now on...each country has different laws about alcohol.  What they can/can't sell in stores, and when the stores are actually open.  So, for your future travels...keep that in mind if you'd like to have a nice glass of wine when you get to your destination.

With that being said, we couldn't buy a bottle of wine until the third day we were in Sweden.  The local liquor shop was already closed Saturday, and nothing was open Easter Sunday.  Sigh.  We settled for beer instead.  meh.
At the store we stocked up on little items to try and replicate how our Easter would be had we been in the states.  We managed to find eggs and a few fun items. Plus stuff for coloring eggs...the girls loved that!  Matt and I had fun hiding all the goodies around the apartment once the girls went to bed.  The Easter bunny travels well!  ;)  Easter in Sweden is very different...here's a little info about it: Children dress up as Easter witches with long skirts, colorful headscarves and painted red cheeks, then go from house to house in the neighborhood and present the occupants with paintings and drawings in the hope of getting sweets in return. According to Swedish folklore, during Easter the witches fly to Blåkulla (the Blue Mountain) to meet the devil.
Small branches and twigs of willow or birch are a common sight in every Swedish house during the Eater holidays. Feathers and small decorations are also placed on these twigs in a vase.
So, yeah, a bit different than what we are used to!  :)
happy birthday and happy Easter! :)

That same day we headed to a place called Skansen.  Its an open air museum where you feel like you've traveled back in time.  Swedish time.  We loved seeing the old buildings and various animals.  We ate real Swedish meatballs...yum!  We really enjoyed the reindeer, they are kinda goofy looking actually!  lol  It was a great way to spend Easter and Sara's birthday.  We took her out to eat for her birthday and she got to enjoy a huge banana split for dessert!  Happy 6 year old girl!  (check out more about Skansen here: http://www.skansen.se/en/kategori/english)

Swedish meatballs...yum!

Stockholm is a huge city.  So we had to pick and choose what we wanted to see.  I wanted to see the old parts of town the most, so we headed to Galam Stan.  This is where Stockholm was founded in 1252.  So cool.  We found the narrowest alleyway in all of Sweden, wandered through cobblestone streets lined with colorful shops and homes.  I loved it.  :)  We also took a visit to the royal palace...I wasn't supposed to take any pix, but I did sneak a shot of the gorgeous chandeliers.  Amazing.
Matt is standing next to the narrowest alleyway, top left is Galam Stan, top right are Easter feathers, 
bottom corners are the Swedish guard.

top corners in Skansen, bottom left is another shot of the alleyway, middle is inside the Royal Palace, spring flowers and a shot of the underground.

left is part of the beautiful old town, middle is my sneaky shot inside the palace, top right is the home where Mikael Blomkvist lived from the book/movie, next two are just shots of the city.

I had already read all three books in the series of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and I found that you could buy a map and tour the places in the book and used in the movie (the Swedish version).  We just told the girls we were going to see places from a movie.  That was the extent of that explanation.  It was really fun...sort of like a scavenger hunt.  Took us through back walkways, and places we never would have sought out on our own.   
top left is where Lisbeth bought stuff for her new apartment, top right is the bar she hung out in, the others just more shots of the city

some shots around the city, Skansen, underground

The last place we visited was the Sky View.  An awesome globe that takes you up 426 ft for killer views of Stockholm.  The girls really loved it and I got some pretty cool pictures.  :)
During the trip we had a great time taking the underground where we needed to go and spent time cooking some yummy dinners at home as well.  Matt indulged in as much caviar as he could!  lol  It was a beautiful city and I'd love to go back and explore more someday.

And then, it was time.  Time to head back to Saudi.  What a great spring vacation.  ;D
beautiful girls.  :)




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I am having THE hardest time getting caught up on my blog!  I really want to make sure I keep this going because I plan to one day turn it into a book for our daughters to have.  I need to get my butt in gear and get this thing back on track!
So to finally finish up our spring trip from LAST year. (god I'm so behind)
After leaving Amsterdam, we flew to Copenhagen.  I figured it was a small country and therefore wouldn't be much to see so we only chose to stay for 3 days.  Boy was I wrong.  I wish I had done more research before booking the flights.  There were many (many many) more things we would have like to have seen... (and very family friendly) but just didn't have the time.
We stayed in an awesome apartment that was totally a typical Netherland home.  I loved it.  Simple, loads of natural light, and it just felt cozy.  We were still dealing with wicked cold weather.  The river in front of our apartment was nearly frozen solid.  But, of course, we are not the kind of family to hide from our adventures just because of a little cold...off we went in search of fun things to see.
views from our apartment

One of my (and the girls') favorite stops was at Rosenborg Castle.  I'm a sucker for castles.  Love 'em.  The castle was wonderful, but the best was seeing the crown jewels.  Oh man, do I love sparkly things and to see the size of some of the stones on those pieces, my jaw did some serious dropping.  Ah, the royal life.  ;)

Another huge favorite of mine was seeing the famous Nyhavn street with its gorgeously colorful houses and shops.  The ships pull right up (and at that time, they were maneuvering around huge chunks of ice in the water...told you it was cold).  

So, we did have a couple of hiccups in an otherwise seamless three day trip.  #1: it was Sara's 6th birthday, and I found that one of the ONLY Disney Stores in all of Europe was right there in lil' ol' Copenhagen.  Sara couldn't wait to pick out a gift!  So off we went in search of the store....and what do we find??  Yep, it's closed.  Easter holidays.  Well, you can guess what happened next....crocodile tears galore (for both kids)  I felt awful.  It was a Friday!  It should have been open!!!!  BUT!  Our last day there, the store did open!  And $75 later we had two VERY happy kiddos.  ;)  Small miracles and all that. 
That leaves us with #2:  oh, what a day this was.  There is a famous statue called "the Little Mermaid." Inspired by Hans Christian Anderson.  We had some friends that met up with us in Copenhagen and that day we had lunch, hung out, went to a museum, etc.  But the girls really (really) wanted to see this statue.  It was cold...and windy...oh so windy.  Heads down, off we went.  We could not find the stupid thing!!!!  We must have walked for over and hour and a half.  Everyone was miserable.  Our friends gave up and headed back.  We pressed on...sure that we were close.  And then!  Yes!  There is was!  A giant mermaid...with nothing covering her, at all.  Wait, what??  This is it?  Oh god.  The girls didn't seem to pay much attention.  

But, then...we found out, this isn't the one.  WHAT?  &^$%.  We ducked into a restaurant to thaw out...girls sipping hot cocoa and mommy and daddy warming our tummies with wine.  We called a taxi from the restaurant because there was no way we were walking back to our apartment.  Lucky for us, the taxi driver was nice (and spoke good English) and he drove us to see the real statue.  What a let down.  The girls didn't even like it.  It certainly wasn't created by Disney.  Ah well, it was one hell of an adventure. 

Another highlight was the day it snowed.  It was incredible.  Huge, fat flakes floating from the sky.  I thought our girls were going to go crazy...they ran around with their tongues hanging out trying to catch the flakes.

All in all I really liked Copenhagen and I'm sad that we couldn't get around to see the other must visit sites, museums and gardens.  Just means we have to go back, right???  :D

A few parting pix:

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