Fine then! Theseus doesn’t like you either!

Upon visiting the Hadrian Arch in Athens, we learned what the inscriptions on this almost 2000 year old gate said:
One side reads “This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus”

The other side reads “This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus”.

I’m not sure why I found that so funny. I guess the Hadrian side REALLY wanted to make sure people knew:

“Hey, if you think this is Theseus, you’re wrong! We are totally disassociatng ourselves with that side, so just get those ideas out of your head. Are we cool? Allright. Move along.”
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Have we forgotten what a Planetarium is?

During a rainy day on our trip to Athens, I took a suggestion from a guide book and took the family to see what was described as “one of, or possibly, the BEST planetarium in Europe.”

Well, let me tell you. Europe must have some horrible planetariums.

First of all, this was not a planetarium show. The only two shows available for us were something about a cartoon polar bear and “Death of the Dinosaurs.” We’d already paid to take a taxi there, so we chose the dinosaur film. That’s right – FILM.

Shouldn’t planetarium shows be about space and the galaxy? I have the same complaint about the one in Sweden, but at least they don’t call it a planetarium. Just make an IMAX theatre then!

This particular show turned out to be a very badly digitized animation film shown on the rounded planetarium screen. Even worse, we bought headphones to plug in for the English translation, which was apparently recorded by someone half-deaf on a microphone with the volume setting stuck on LOUD. Every word was painful. The Greek narrator on the screen would start talking and my body would tense up because I knew the translator was about to scream in my ear again.

Το 90% των δεινόσαυρων εξαφανίστηκε

NINETY PERCENT OF THE DINOSAURS WERE WIPED OUT!!!!!

The only good review I can give the Planetarium was that they had modern bathrooms where I could actually flush toilet paper down the toilet.

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Death by Chocolate

We keep our candy very high up in the cabinet so as not to be constantly tempted by chocolate. I thought I would sneak a small piece so I climbed on the counter to reach the chocolate. IT WAS A TRAP! Half of the chocolate fell down and I was wearing slippery socks. Luckily I half-way caught myself on a chair but I think I bruised my foot pretty badly.

I’m very thankful it wasn’t worse because either the hospital staff wouldn’t believe me, or they would be laughing too hard to help.

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New Year, New Arrival

New year, new arrival! You wanted to hear from someone who just got to Sweden and here it is! Episode 8 of the podcast features Lauren, who just moved to Sweden about 6 weeks ago and is amazed by the queue system, independent children and that people here don’t steal babies!

Available on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. Just type “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow.” 
Also available directly from the page:

https://iceandsnow.se/podcast/8-new-year-new-arrival

Spotify

 

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A week in Athens, Greece

My family and I spent the first week of the new year in Athens. Being around ruins that still exist after thousands and thousands of years makes one feel not so old.

A few interesting things to know if you are planning on visiting Athens for the first time:

  1. In most places, you cannot flush your toilet paper. It must go in the trash can. (Tip, stay in a modern-ish hotel or wait to go to the bathroom at a huge, modern museum – like we did!)
  2. Almost every street is lined with orange trees! They are full of seeds, but you can still eat them. Free breakfast or juice!
  3. These people really like sesame seeds.
  4. Don’t bother rushing for your camera to get a photo of the small 11th century Byzantine church. There will be another one in two blocks…. and then another one after two more blocks… and so on.
  5. You can get a special Greek wine made from pine resin called Retsina. It’s allright.
  6. Stray cats EVERYWHERE! On the flip side… no rats!

Athens was a really nice city, super friendly people, good food and lots to see. I’d definitely recommend it as a fun city trip. Maybe not in the summer when it’s overcrowded, but the winter was perfect (though we happened to arrive on the one week of the year it was actually cold).

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Gingerbread contest

Every year at the Architecture Museum in Stockhom, they hold a gingerbread house making contest during the month of December. There are different categories for professionals, teams, and amateurs. Each year has a theme (this year’s was “luxury”), and everyone votes on the best in each category.

I took the kids to see the entries. Here are a few:

This inspired us to go home and make our own “luxury” gingerbread house. Here is the result of our efforts:

Gingerbread house and hot tub

Bob comes home from his job at the bank to find his wife Barbara in the hot tub. Notice that the hot tub is almost the same size as the house. Also, their house is made of gingerbread. Luxury!

 

 

Are people really this stupid?

A bag of special snack Doritos from the U.S. Is it really necessary to remind people to chew? If you don’t know that you need to chew chips, then maybe you deserve to choke.

 

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Merry Christmas!

From http://www.sebastienmillon.com

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We may have a Christmas goat, but Austria has Krampus

On this very special Christmas podcast episode, Clara from Austria compares some Swedish and Austrian Christmas traditions, we talk about the strange quirk Swedes have about not taking the last of anything, and we learn a bit more about growing up Austrian under the shadow of Krampus.

https://iceandsnow.se/podcast/7-we-may-have-a-christmas-goat-but-austria-has-krampus/

or anywhere you get your podcast- Just type in “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow.”

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Not enough variety of restaurants

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It’s the same way I feel about potatoes.

Wax on, wax off

Yesterday was Lucia day here in Sweden, the holiday where we celebrate St. Lucia and the light in the darkness this time of year.

Two things fascinate me about this holiday:

1. The major fire hazard

2. How does the Lucia get all that wax out of her hair?

Well, the answer to number one is that there is always somebody nearby with a bucket of water (this was my job last year). And yesterday, I found out the answer to number two when I talked to the girl who was Lucia at a concert I went to. She kindly allowed me to take a picture of the wax in her hair (most of which had already fallen out), and I was able to touch some and found that in fact, it did crumble and come out right away. I always figured the Lucia went to the hairdresser to cut everything off on December 14, but I am glad to know now that the wax does come out.

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#6 Lucia Day has Major Health and Safety Issues

Rachel, from the UK, discusses her hatred of saffron buns and Lucia, why you can’t name your kid Ikea here, and lots of talk about stabbing!

All on this week’s podcast episode of “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow.” Hope you enjoy it!

https://iceandsnow.se/podcast/6-lucia-day-has-major-health-and-safety-issues/

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A very Swedish bartering system

On the neighborhood forum today:

Translation:

Shoe Rack. 50 kr or will trade for two packages of oatmeal drinks. 

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#5 Julbord and Dog Sledding

The latest episode of the podcast is up! I talk to Melanie from Michigan who is competing to enter a dog sledding race! We also discuss Christmas markets and Swedish julbord (the big Swedish Christmas dinner). Take a listen. Hope you enjoy!

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/se/podcast/5-julbord-and-dog-sledding/id1440431070?i=1000425085098&l=en&mt=2

Main page – https://iceandsnow.se/podcast/5-julbord-and-dog-sledding/

Spotify –

https://open.spotify.com/episode/1DagYlCQRSqcyycK6eXir9?si=5d2ppUNvSUuejQC9CoYKaA

or

just look up “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow” wherever you get your podcast!

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Life is a Highway, but not on park trails

I got pulled over for the first time in Sweden this past weekend. Ok, I MAY have been driving on a bike trail, but I had a very good reason. (I had to load very heavy music equipment by the forest, because that’s what you do when your husband wants to make a music video in the forest. We’ve all been there, right?)

But anyway, someone reported the car, so right when I got on the main road, the police were just arriving.

Luckily, in Sweden, the police aren’t looking to make quotas. They are smart and reasonable and more focused on serious crimes. We explained the situation and were simply told not to do it again. And of course they were right, and no, I will not be doing that again.

But what my husband thought was funny was when the officer said, “You can’t make a music video in the forest.”  And my husband asked why not. I agree and I did check the sign in the nature reserve and it does not say you can’t record music videos in the forest.

The officer said, “umm…. well, you’re disturbing the animals.”

I think my husband said something like, “Well how do we know they don’t enjoy synth music?”

And I’d like to back up that argument with a photo that I totally took in the forest and did not steal from a synthesizer ad I found on Google.

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What to do when the Queue Machine is Broken

New episode of the podcast is up! As you can see from the title, we tackle a question that many Swedes struggle with – what to do when the queue machine is broken.

This week’s guest is Sharmala from Malaysia, so we get to see moving to Sweden from a different point of view. We also learn a bit about Malaysia in the process (did you know they elect a king every 5 years?)

Take a listen as we discuss why Sweden should not have Black Friday and why Malaysia is “truly Asia.”

Then it’s on iTunes, Spotify, etc. as usual.
 
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New pet… this one breathes!

We got a cat this week! The kids are overjoyed. They say it’s a lot more fun than their last pet, Rocky.

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Goat on Fire and weird pizza toppings

My latest podcast episode about living in Sweden is up – A discussion of weddings in Sweden, strange toppings on Swedish pizza and why setting a 43-foot tall straw goat on fire has become a yearly tradition.
Hope you enjoy it! http://iceandsnow.se
or Spotify- https://tinyurl.com/yc87ncn6
or iTunes – https://tinyurl.com/y6tvl63r

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Climbing Clown

On our recent trip to Estonia, I left my family in a small shop filled mostly with Russian souvenirs and trinkets, which went along well with the very Russian man running the shop.

While I was off trying to find cash so my son could buy a Russian hat, the proprietor started trying to sell things to my husband. Though there were no Christmas decorations anywhere in the store, there was a small mechanical Santa Claus that would climb up and down a chain near the cash register.

The man asked in a thick Russian accent, “You want buy Climbing Clown?” referring to the climbing Santa Claus.  “This Climbing Clown. You like? You buy!”

I guess he calls it Climbing Clown until December, because it just wouldn’t make sense to sell a Christmas item in November. Pretty clever guy. Luckily, I showed up just in time to substitute the hat for the “Climbing Clown” purchase.

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Smoked beaver? Anyone?

The menu at a Russian restaurant in Tallinn.
Smoked beaver on the appetizers…
Bear meat stroganoff on the main courses…
Bear meat dumplings..

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