Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Fantastic Swedish Wedding Weekend

I can't believe that the whole week has gotten away with me and I haven't managed to post my blog about my amazing whirlwind weekend in Stockholm last weekend! I'm now back in the US (more on that later) and have finally found the time to finish this post, so here goes.

Let me begin by summarizing the weekend in some bullet points.
During my Stockholm whirwind wedding weekend I:

  • Grabbed a quick catch up with my Fab friend A by staying at her place
  • Took a massive digger (he he - I love that word - it means fall in case anyone is not up on the American slang) while running in the park in Kungsholmen - amazingly I managed to fit in two long runs on my crazy busy trip
  • Worked out of the Stockholm office for a day and caught up with my team there over a nice lunch
  • Sat outside of Diplomat and had a glass of Rose while watching the crazy student trucks drive by - Gotta love the student trucks*
  • Celebrated my birthday with a dinner at Josefina's followed by dancing at Cafe Opera with my great Swedish friends
  • Attended a totally fabulous wedding of an amazing couple in the Swedish countryside in the bestest Swedish weather ever!
  • Danced up a storm at the wedding
  • Met one ex boyfriend at the wedding
  • Decided that I preferred my 23 year old dinner partner to the ex boyfriend who was at the wedding
  • Suffered a massively delayed hangover that came on in the middle of the wedding dinner (probably caused by the reaction of my body to new alcohol consumption after way too much the night before) so I spent a good hour and a half basically sweating, unable to eat or talk and just focusing all my attention on not throwing up (truly impressing both of my dinner partners)
  • Managed to somehow shake off the hangover and make an amazing come back including finding my way back to the booze, dancing up a storm, finding sustenance at 2 am in 3 sausages (hot dogs to you Americans) and staying up until about 5 in the morning
  • Fended off a phone call from the beautiful Swede who was either calling because he saw I was in Stockholm or calling because it was my birthday (I didn't answer - aren't you proud)?
  • Was so happy for both the couple that got married and also for my friend A who has just moved back to Stockholm from London and started a new life and found a new amazing man - maybe there is hope for me yet!
  • Managed to sleep only a total of 8 hours in 3 nights (and that might even be an exageration - it could have been more like 6)
 And now for the dirty details:

Ok. Let me start by saying. I NEED TO MOVE BACK TO STOCKHOLM! They say home is where your heart is and my heart is definitely in Stockholm with my friends... And yes, I know all you Swedes are probably thinking that I'm just being lured into thinking I want to return by the beautiful Swedish weather that made the weekend so wonderful (and is unfortunately not the weather pattern 99% of the time). Yes... that did have an impact. But those of you close to me know that even in the dead of winter, I was missing Stockholm badly and saying I needed to move back. But more on why I love Sweden so much later. It deserves a full blog post in itself.

Back to the weekend. So I arrived in Stockholm late Friday night and decided to stay with my friend A. Since she had to work the whole weekend (she has some kind of secret life where she rides around in helicopters on weekends, meets celebrities and MC's huge events - who knew!) I decided to stay with her so that we could find some time in between our crazy schedules to catch up. That time ended up being late Thursday night where we sat on her balcony and talked. A is a former colleague who has recently left London to return to Stockholm. She is so happy with her decision to leave London and has herself a great new job and a great new man. Basically a new and fabulous life. She inspires me. I need to make some positive changes like that (but more on that later).

Unfortunately... I had some minor issues with sleeping. First of all A didn't have any curtains in her apartment which is not that unusual for a Swede - I don't think I had any in my apartment in Sweden (at least not good ones that really kept out the light). You do get used to the light when you live in Sweden. But the problem was: I WAS NOT USED TO THE LIGHT. Below is a picture of what it looks like at midnight in Stockholm. This picture was taken from my friend's apartment. Basically that's as dark as it gets. And I usually think this is kind of awesome and it's one of the reasons I love Sweden (unfortunately you do compensate for this in the winter of course), but I learned the hard way that if you are not used to it anymore, it's difficult to sleep. Note to self: bring a sleep mask next time. The whole sleeping situation was not really helped by the fact that I was sleeping on an air mattress that kept deflating. Seriously, I'm starting to hate air mattresses or maybe they just hate me. This is the third time in a row that I have slept on an air mattress that deflated throughout the night. There is nothing like waking up a few hours later on the floor with the deflated air mattress surrounding you.

This was the darkest it got all night in Stockholm:

So, the next day after a good half hour to one hour of sleep, I decided that I would go for a morning jog cuz I'm kind crazy like that. But perhaps because of lack of sleep or probably more likely just REALLY bad luck and because stupid things have a way of happening to me, I manage to get into a small situation while running... Ok - this is for real. I don't know how it happened, but somehow I manage to get both feet stuck in a hair tie on the ground (one of those big headband ones that go around your whole head). Seriously, somehow both of my feet manage to get inside that thing and I go flying up and away through the air landing several feet away on my but and my hand which immediately begins to gush blood. I can't decide at that point whether to laugh of cry. But finally decide that laughter is the only option because I must be a super talented person in order to get both feet stuck in a hair tie while running. I stand up, brush myself off and continue running cuz that's how awesome and hardcore I am!

But luckily the weather was beautiful and that gave me the energy to get through the day despite my lack of sleep and my bruised but. And the Stockholm office and my team had a positive vibe so that helped. We had a nice lunch and then I managed to sneak away a bit early and take a short much needed nap. Then off to meet my girlfriends at Josefina's which is a fun open air bar on the water. The thing about Stockholm is I have GREAT GIRLFRIENDS and I have a LOT of girlfriends. We were 15 girls for dinner. And it was so great to see them all again. I miss them like crazy. After dinner we went to Cafe Opera where A - the girl I was staying with - showed up with her hot new man. Seriously, I'm so happy for A. And I'm so proud of her for figuring out that younger men (she is 7 years older) are the way to go! I have been telling her this for ages.

After a way too brief sleep, it was morning and it was time to wake up up and beutify myself for the wedding for the wedding. The thing is despite a few too many drinks the night before, I felt good when I woke up. But by the time I met my friends to drive to the wedding, I was feeling a bit shaky. Too much champagne and Rose the night before... But I soon forgot about it as soon as we got out to the church. It was another beautiful day and the bride was absolutely gorgeous. And the bride and groom just seemed in a bubble of absolute and complete love for each other! It was picture perfect.

I have to now make a small comment about this wonderful couple that got married. They are the BEST! S was my absolutely craziest single girlfriend in Stockholm. As far as I know, until meeting the guy she married, she had never had a relationship lasting more than a few weeks. She was one of the most fun girls I know (she still is - I don't really mean to be putting it in the past tense here - other than now she is married and I'm speaking of her former single self). She called men cookies and she sure had a lot of cookies around. We worked together and it was always the highlight of my day to meet her over a cup of coffee and hear stories about all her "cookies." She is the only girl I know who had the stamina to go on 5 dates a week. She introduced me to Internet dating (literally, she signed me up for a Swedish dating site one day when I was taking a shower and she was waiting for me because she felt that I needed to meet more "cookies"). You could say that she was my dating mentor or at least my dating inspiration.

And then one day she met her prince - it was at a work party (of course). She was about to move to Switzerland for work and he was living there and working for our company. I obviously kept in touch with her while she was away and based on that they were soon living together, I realized that this "cookie" was someone serious. And when he left his job and moved back to Sweden, she soon followed him. This was not a surprise, but I have to say that when she told me she was pregnant (less than a year after they met) I was a bit taken aback - although extremely happy for her. I'm happy to report that they now have an absolutely beautiful baby girl. My expectations were high for their wedding as they are both such a fun outgoing and kind couple. I have to say - that I was not disappointed. Their wedding was so amazing. And the way they looked at each other! It was as if there was no one else in the room. And he is such a nice guy! I often have said that he is like the boy version of my friend S. I'm so happy for my friend S. I love the story of how she meet her final "cookie" and I love how quickly they decided to build a life together. They just seemed to know immediately that they were meant to be - and it was obvious to everyone else as well. I wish them the best for the future and lifetime of love and happiness. And I wish that someday soon I will suddenly meet "the one" and it will happen just as fast and be just as natural. But as the saying goes, "you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince." Well, I'm still kissing frogs... but I'm hoping that my prince is just around the corner. I'm trying to stay hopeful.

The wedding reception was held at a castle overlooking a large lake and all the guests were staying over in assigned dormitory style rooms. It was a beautiful place for a reception. And a beautiful day - see picture below. We drank champagne outside on the lawn before heading in to dinner. I was feeling much better and looking forward to the rest of the evening and the champagne was going down nicely. But suddenly half way through dinner and after one glass of wine, I got the shakes and broke out into a cold sweat. And just like that a horrible delayed hangover hit me and knocked me out! Perhaps because the room was so crowded, perhaps because I forced alcohol into my fragile body way too early, perhaps because the appetizer course did not sit well with me... I don't know! But I felt BAD. So bad that I considered leaving the dinner and going to lay down. But I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to disappoint my friend. It was a small wedding and I worried that my absence would be missed. So, I decided to do my best to struggle through.


The thing about Swedish wedding dinners is that they are LONG and full of entertaining toasts and speeches (in Swedish - which means they are not that entertaining to me) about the couple from the friends and relatives. There is an assigned toast master and they guide you through the dinner and keep the pace between the different coarses and the toasts. The last Swedish wedding I went to, we sat down for dinner at 6 and got up at 1 am and witnessed THIRTY toasts! (Ok - I guess even by Swedish standards that wedding was an exception). But still... I knew this would be a long evening so when I started to feel bad, I began to panic.  

The other thing about Swedish weddings is that you do not sit with your date (which was fine for me since obviously I didn't have one). It is customary to spread guests out guy, girl throughout the room and Swedes tend to put a lot of thought into who sits with who. Between toasts, you are expected to talk to both your dinner partners on either side as the bride and groom have usually put them next to you because they think you have something in common. This time was no exception. I had great dinner partners. On one side was the best man who had lived in Boston for years and had previously worked for my company - he was very interesting and had lots of energy and enthusiasm. On the other side was a hot 23 year old guy who was also interesting and engaging but in a very different way - mostly being that he was cute and single and smart - although oh so young. I felt absolutely embarrassed by the fact that suddenly I went from being my usual social (and flirty) self to being almost dead silent. I ended up having to apologize to both my dinner partners and embarrisngly had to admit to them that suddenly I didn't feel well so I was sorry for being so quiet. They seemed to forgive me but both continued to pepper me with questions to which I gave one word answers while trying not to upchuck my dinner all over the table. Although determined to make it through dinner, at one point I was sure that after the dinner I would have to sneak away and go to sleep and skip the rest of the evening. Seriously. It was THAT BAD. I was suffering big time.

But, I'm happy to report that as quickly as my delayed hangover came on, it went away. I suffered through a terrible hour and a half of cold sweats while focusing all my attention on not being sick. But by the time the cake was cut, I was able to actually have a piece although I continued to have to forgo the alcohol for small sips of water throughout dinner. But after dinner I joined the rest of the guests in the journey down to the cabin on the water where the dancing section of the evening was to take place. I am proud to say that I traded in my heels for flip flops and danced like a maniac until 6 in the morning (gotta love the party all-night aspect of the Swedish wedding). And the evening, couldn't have been more beautiful. We experienced a beautiful sunset and an even more spectacular sunrise (see picture below). All in all it was perfect. Say nothing of the fact that the 23 year old who was my dinner partner seemed to forgive me for my weak dinner banter and decided to flirt with me. This was extra good since I then had a reason not to engage too much with my ex-boyfriend the slightly older Teacher who I had dated for a few months a couple years back (not THE EX) who was at the wedding (the bride had set us up once upon a time). Ha ha... what can I say? I love younger men. And turns out, they are not bad kissers either!

All in all it was such a beautiful wedding and a fantastic weekend - one of my top ten weekends in the past years for sure. I have to say that I love the simplicity of Sweden. The wedding was simple yet elegant. The emphasis was on the party and not on the decorations, or the DJ or the bar. It was just good fun with great people. Say nothing of the fact that we partied all night (American weddings tend to end around midnight). I hope the other 4 weddings of the summer can live up to this one. 

*The student trucks seem to be a truly Swedish phenomenon. When the students graduate from Gymnasium, the tradition in Stockholm is to rent a big truck with a flat bed in the back (I think that's how you describe it - basically like a big empty space behind the truck where in this case, around 40 to 50 people can stand and well party) decorate the trucks with birch leaves and the Swedish colors red and blue and usually a handmade flag from the school, and drive all over the city spraying champagne, beer and wine all over yourself and sometimes over the people passing by. They also tend to blare music as loud as possible, wear horns and other noise makers around their neck and just drive through the city getting totally wasted and screaming and yelling and shouting out to everyone. It's a hilarious tradition. And it's so fun to watch. It doesn't matter how old you are, you can't help but smile when the student trucks drive through town and you look at all the young kids laughing and partying and having a good time. The best thing of all is that I GOT TO GO ON STUDENT TRUCK! Unfortunately, I wasn't actually mistaken for an 18 year old and actually invited onto a student truck (that had been my dream since moving to Stockholm). But the second best thing happened and my work had a summer party one year which involved all of us oldies getting on a student truck and driving through town. SO MUCH FUN! One of my top 10 memories of Stockholm for sure!

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