Catch up!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Okay, so since the last time I posted, I forgot that you could change the language of the keyboard. So, yes, I've got it switched over to English and now it's not so torturous to blog to write email.

Since I wrote last lots has happened. I'll try to recap here.

SWEDEN : OCTOBER 5-9
Didn't have internet at all while we were in Sweden. Probably good for me, since I needed to wean myself off of my addiction to computers. Haven't felt the gravity of computers this whole trip, pretty much. Probably 'cause I know that I really can't post any photos on flickr! ;-)

My impressions of Sweden:

It is EXPENSIVE. Sweden has 25% tax included in all goods. Sweden's tax is so bad on goods that if you buy Swedish goods outside of Sweden it is cheaper. (that point seems very wrong to me). After spending one rainy day (only a few hours)in Stockholm we quit shopping and eating out, and stuck to visiting free things like manors and castles and parks. For lunch we spent what was equivalent to $70 CDN dollars on 4 people (3 non-refillable glasses of soda, and four pizzas). We spent $45 CDN on parking for 5 or so hours. It just isn't worth it. I could have blown all my money on three days in Sweden, and that's just not worth it.

It is SAFE. One of Sweden's primary values as a country is safety. Volvo is marketed in North America as a 'safe car', and once you go to Sweden you'll get why they are so proud of this. They have these meters on the highways that take the temperature and humidity of the air. As soon as it seems as though ice could form on the roads, salt trucks are out to work. Speeding is HEAVILY fined here. No one drives above the speed limit. As soon as roads start to develop grooves, they are repaved.

The Swedish people are very good with immigrants. They do not allow new immigrants who do not know the Swedish language to work immediately. They give them a kind of social assistance and put them through a program to learn the language. After three years they assess their language skills, and then allow them to work (or disallow them and have them continue the program. So eventually everyone is able to speak the language. Canada should adopt this for sure. I mean, the part of getting everyone to learn English. There are immigrants who have lived in Canada for decades and still can't say anything past 'Hello', 'Bye', 'Thank you.'

Swedish people, as a culture, and this is completely a generalization, isn't a friendly country. People do not greet each other in the street. I tried smiling at someone passing me in the street and they ignored me. After trying this several times, I concluded this is definitely something they were not accustomed to. They aren't rude. They just aren't warm. This bothered Tom quite a bit since Germans greet each other -- not only in small towns but big cities too.

The girls are pretty. The guys are nothing to write home about. Everyone is tall.

We spent most of our time with Gonzo's family. Sitting around the house eating all the time and talking very loudly. Tom and I joke that we took a quick trip to Chile (and not Sweden). 80% of what we heard spoken was Spanish. Much of his family only spoke Swedish or Spanish. We had a great time with them. They are a sarcastic bunch of people and once you got the idea that they teased you because they liked you, it was made way more sense. Poor Tom had no idea what was happening. He got the term 'Cola' attached to him somehow and day and night he would be called this. 'Cola' is a slang term in Chile for 'gay.' I picked it up quick that you have to have a come back immediately in order to defend yourself. At the end of day one, Tom asked why he was getting made fun of so much. Once I explained it to him, he felt much better. They are a tough crowd sometime -- but they really are wonderful people.

ERLENSEE : OCTOBER 10-11

After returning late on Monday night from Sweden back to Frankfurt, we got picked up and went back to Erlenssee/Neuberg where Tom and Alice are from. In the morning Tom's mom came to pick us up and we had breakfast at the Wahls. They are some of the kindest people anyone could ever meet. I love to spend time with them anytime we can. After that, we got excited about Tom's new release CD that came in the mail for him. We were honoured with the first copy! We got him to sign it, but he wasn't too comfortable with the idea. We told him he had to get used to signing stuff and the screaming girls...

He said that yeah, he'd have to get used to signing... but he's pretty used to screaming girls already. haha.

We went to pick up our rental car in the afternoon that we are going to be taking to Berlin tomorrow. We managed to rent ourselves a Smart Car ForFour. It's automatic with what they call, "TipTronic." You can manually chance the gears forward if you want to. Don't know anything about that....

I do know, however, about driving on the germany highway now. I was speeding down the highway at 160 km/hr and had to move over to the slow lane with germans zipping past me like I was driving like an old woman. It's crazy. I can't believe that people drive so fast here. But I definitely like it! I got to drive part way from Erlensee to Heidelberg where we are today.

ERLENSEE : OCTOBER 11

Heidelberg. This would be my second time to Heidelberg. It's a great city. So gorgeous. Gonzo said though that he was having an overload of experiencing 'old things'. He was serious. So, we didn't get to see the castle in Heidelberg on the hill that was built over three centuries. I saw it last time so even though I wanted to see it again, I wasn't too disappointed. We had schnitzel in the shopping mile at Bier Bretzel. Really cool joint. We had drinks the night before there (european milkshakes are more milk than ice cream ... in case you care). They have awesome french fries there. I have had french fries both times I was there now. My addiction lives strong.

At the restaurant Tom and I played a game with Gonzo where we name a movie and a scene and he sings the soundtrack. I know that he's the Soundtrack Index, but I didn't realize how amazing he actually is at it. Kind of scary, actually.

I am at around 700 digital photos now, of our trip. Most of which are good (I'm good at deleting immediately crappy and mistake photos). I have a problem where I actually feel like if I don't take a photo of a new place that I am visiting I actually feel like my trip was worthless. I might as well have stayed home. I know that doesn't make much sense, but that's what it feels like.

Tonight is soccer night with Tom's roommates. I guess that what would be equivalent to the North American Football night with the guys. I think that I'm gonna crochet...

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