As the title says, after living in Stockholm for almost 4.5 years, my parents finally made it over for a visit! This was a big deal for a number of reasons:
1. It’s not cheap to fly from NZ to Sweden!
2. It’s not quick to fly from NZ to Sweden.
3. My dad HATES flying (a key reason why they didn’t visit earlier).
4. My parents have never travelled so much (but they’re starting to).
5. For many people of that generation (sorry mum and dad…), the concept of hopping on a plane and being on the other side of the world is quite foreign (well, to many of us it is quite foreign).
Anyhow, they made it! I spent a lot of time planning things we could do. After initially asking me if there was enough to do for a 2 week stay in Stockholm, to which I laughed and said, um yea… mum booked her and dad for a 4 week stay. Hence why I had to plan a bit! I was told at the outset that they “don’t like museums”. Stockholm has such a wealth of museums – more than 80 – (for a comprehensive list click here) , so I am pleased to report that their opinions have now changed after I dragged them through at least 6 or 7 museums during their stay here. I prompted and prodded and poked to find out what things they wanted to do, and found out the Vasa museum was a must do (ah ha, a museum!). But other than that, it was more or less up to me to make suggestions (I guess I have lived here a while). But I have to admit, it is hard to come up with a 4 week itinerary when you’re not entirely certain what your parents like to do. That sounds bad right? I’ve known my parents since I was a child, and I guess in many respects I still see them as my parents, rather than as individuals who are fully detatched from me. Well, that’s not entirely true but let’s not get into any parent-child psychoanalysis right now… I know what they like to do when they are at home, but when it comes to travelling overseas, to where I live, that is another matter altogether. It also gave me the chance to re-visit places I wanted to see again, and to visit places I still hadn’t made it to.
So I printed a calendar page covering the dates they were here, and I filled it in…. It ranged from a trip to Gotland, walks in the city, Swedish midsommar, museums (!!!), boat trips, grills and swimming, to a day trip to Uppsala. Oh, and meeting M’s parents after close to 7 years too…. What I didn’t factor in were rest days, and after a few days, when all of us (me included) were getting rather tired from full days out and about on our feet, we started to have a few home days too, or planned only something small to do for half of the day.
Mum and Dad arrived early-mid June, so right at the start of summer. To them, Stockholm was a big city, and compared to where they live and where I grew up, a half hour drive from the nearest city, which has approx 130 000 people (give or take, it is a student city), I can see how they saw it as a big city. They’ve never had to rely on public transport (there is none where they live), so taking the subway and buses was an adventure. They live in a house on a reasonable sized piece of land, with a view of the sea, surrounded by a farm, and neighbours out of earshot (well, unless you are really loud) – sounds ideal doesn’t it? – so staying in a one room apartment in an apartment building in a suburb about 15 mintes from the city centre was quite a different experience. It was fun for me to see Stockholm again through fresh eyes – you forget yourself after so long what it is like to roll up to a foreign city where you don’t speak the language and have little clue what is going on. Both would ask me things such as “what does that word mean?”, “say the name of our subway stop again” etc… It also sort of showed me how much I have adapted and learned while living here.
So let’s end this post as the first in a series reporting on “Mum and Dad in Sweden”, with a (rather blurrry phone camera) shot of their arrival at Arlanda.