Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday is the day of Rest!

Sunday is fairly easy, because it was nice and slow...
We woke up late enough and showered and got ready for church and then went down to breakfast, complimentary, on the 3rd floor. After that we all walked down to the subway and rode it for a while. We got off at some stop and we ran around for a while because we didn't really know where we were going. Eventually we got ourselves going in the right direction and we found the church. We knew- because there was a nice, big, friendly sign!! Hooray!
We saw some other people who were dressed up like they were going to church and one of them helped us out. The church was in an office building and she typed in the code, which happened to be a church-related number. :) We were a little late, but we came in just after the opening prayer, so we FINALLY got to take the sacrament after missing it for two weeks in a row!! Church was all in Swedish, but they were very visitor-friendly; there were headphones for the English-speakers to wear and this missionary was translating. All the hymns were Swedish too (DUH), so the words were really hard to pronounce.
After Sacrament, we decided to all go to Sunday School together, because we couldn't find the youth classes and Melissa was too afraid to go to primary. The lesson was a really long church movie (in English, fortunately for us) where Gordon B. Hinckley and his apostles in 2000 testify of Christ at all these different locations and stuff. It was cool, but it was really long and I was sort of tired. Church was over after that, so we walked out and they had some cookies and juice for refreshments. We talked to some people, mostly the sister missionaries from Utah. Then Dad decided that instead of the tube, he wanted to walk home, so we did. There was a pretty park we walked through and some nice streets. Eventually we ended up at our hotel again. I think we just took naps for a while and stuff.
Later, Dad woke us all up and told us to get ready because we wanted to go and visit the Stockholm Temple. We rode the subway to the central station, where we bought dinner at (ahh!) McDonald's, and then we switched lines or something and rode to the closest station to the temple. At the temple, we took some pictures and walked around for awhile and then we decided to go look for some snacks at a grocery store because we were still hungry. We bought some stuff, and rode the subway to our station. I was feeling kind of grumpy because of some stupid thing and so I walked ahead of everyone and walked up 13 levels of stairs to our floor. Once we were home, I blogged for a while, hung around with everyone, and later, fell asleep.
That's Sunday!

S, A, T-U-R, D-A-Y (beat) Post!

Okay, Saturday, I think, is fairly easily summed up.
On Saturday morning, for the first, and very unfortunate, instance, I woke at around three in the morning and could not fall back asleep. I laid in my bed, in the dark, and thought about leaving Gotland.
I really wish that I had written this in the moment; I could remember the feeling better then, but all I could think of was that I didn't want to leave. It made me sick, anxious, apprehensive, even to think about going away from Gotland. I thought about me, on a map, situated safely here on this tiny island off of mainland Sweden; how I'd planned to be here since we'd bought our plane tickets at the beginning of the year, and how, now, it was over. I was still there, on the island, and already, I wanted to turn my future self around and stay on the island for ever.
The next morning, after a minimal amount of sleep, I woke up. The feeling wasn't as bad anymore; it had turned tepid and I could forget it whilst I was occupied with packing my bags, shaking rugs, sweeping, and cleaning up the house we had for the week. The Hummer we had borrowed from Alec couldn't hold us and our bags all in one trip, so Dad made two trips to Visby and back. The boys went first, while the girls stayed at home and finished everything off. When the house was essentially done, Mom sent Melissa and I off to look for wildflowers for a little vase in the house, so we walked down this road and picked some along the walk. When everything was finished with, we sat down, turned the T.V. on, and waited.
When Dad arrived to ferry us over to Visby, we got all the other bags and backpacks still at the house and piled them into the car. Mom and Dad said goodbye to the family that rented us the house, and we drove away. I waved at the lady, who was waving at us, and laughed at her dog, who was barking us off.
We went to the hotel and sometime we met Alec and we decided that, as a last hurrah, we would go see a few more things a little ways away. Alec took us to these hight cliffs where we could look out and see Visby, and if we looked over, on our knees, we could peek over the edge of the cliff to the ocean and rocks below. After that, we drove to this place called Sommarland, where Pippi Longstocking's house is, and we saw her house through this window; not very well, of course, but it was better than having to go through all that commercialized park stuff.
We wanted to get ice cream after that, so Alec and Dad went to get the bags from the Gotlan d Ring office, where we'd dropped them off, and they left us at this ice cream place. We wanted to get something, but the line was really long and our other option was soft serve, which kind of took the fun out of it. We decided to bag the ice cream idea and just meet them at the front of the boat terminal which would take us away.
The feeling came back as we were walking along the harbor. I got this idea that I wanted, needed, to stop, to hold still and stand on the ground, and, literally, grow roots into the ground. It was depressing to leave. So I plan on being back.
We got on the boat, found our seats, and sat around for a while. Some of them went up to the upper level to watch us moving away, and I went up after a while with Melissa when I realized where they had gone. I stayed up there by myself for a while after everyone was gone, which was nice, to see Visby getting smaller; like a goodbye.
The boat ride was long; they showed a movie, which was okay, and eventually (I keep using that word) we were there. We took a bus to Stockholm after getting our luggage, and there, after some confusion, we took the subway to a station near our hotel. After we got of the station, we got lost for a while until we found a sort of bridge across the railroad and towards our hotel. When we got there, Mom and Dad checked in, we settled into our rooms (one of which is this awesome big suite with big windows (you can see the bay from all the windows on our side of the hotel), and then we went down to the hotel restaurant and ate ridiculously expensive meals because we couldn't think of what else to do for dinner. Later we went up to our rooms, read scriptures, had family prayer, and eventually split off to separate rooms, watched T.V. for a while, and went to bed.

The Rest of Friday... these titles are getting repetitive

Okay. After we goofed around in the church for a while, we met up with Dad and Alec at that same restaurant and then we walked to the hotel. We decided to go home after that, where we hung around for a while and then ate dinner. We wanted to see the sunset at least once while we were on Gotland, so we all piled in the car at around 9:30 (no joke, the sun really sets that late) and drove to a beach a mile or two away. We'd actually been there before; it was the beach near the pizza place we ate at with Alec, Sari, and the girls around a week ago. It was really pretty, but it had rained that day, so it was really cloudy and already looked like twilight; we couldn't see the sun. :( We started on our way home, and we stopped by this cool looking cave and took some pictures. When we got home, we ate ice cream and cookies and then went to sleep.
Again, another post for Saturday!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thank Goodness it's Friday!

On Friday we got up and drove to the hotel and all that stuff that I'm tired of saying. :) Dad and Mom and Alec needed to make reservations for Stockholm and Finland (which is later this week), so they gave us kids some money and told us to go spend it. The two boys had about 300 kronor and us girls had 500 (300 is about 50 dollars and 500 is about 80 something). So we ran off to the shopping part of the town and looked around. We split up, girls and boys, because, of course, we wanted to go clothes shopping and the boys- I don't really know.
First we hunted around inside the wall, in little boutiques and stores that we'd passed before while window shopping and stuff. We couldn't find anything we really liked, and a lot of it was way out of our price range, so I elected that we go outside the wall to these other, bigger stores, that I'd seen before, which would probably be cheaper.
We went into a couple stores; I bought a shirt at this store called Ahlens. We found an H&M and we looked around there for a while. I saw this elephant necklace that I really liked, but we kept looking because Melissa and Madelyn hadn't bought anything. We went to another store, called (ha ha) Lindex, and eventually Melissa bought some shoes, Madelyn bought a white shirt, and we had extra money, so we got Melissa a purple shirt and we all bought a necklace. Plus I went back to H&M and bought that elephant necklace :).
We came back to the hotel later than we were supposed to and the boys, who had returned early, had been sent back out until 2:30. So we waited for them with Mom. When they got back, we saw their spoils: Spencer had bought a Swedish soccer uniform, and they each bought some old coins for their coin collections. (Don't worry, Leslie, I'll bring you some Swedish kronor.)
We met up with Dad and Alec at some restaurant and, since we hadn't bought lunch, Mom took us to this hamburger joint where we ate while we, yet again, sent the boys off to go shop more. When they returned, we were almost done, so they helped us finish off our fries and whatever and then we all set off for this ice cream place they'd been to. We bought some ice cream (I had two scoops- some Italian mandarin thing and Violet! flavored ice cream, which was, unfortunately, weird.) and then we went and hung out at this big ruined church, where we climbed around and took some pictures.
Okay, Madelyn and I are going to breakfast now, so I'm going to sign off and write more when I get back.

More of Thursday!

Okay, so while Alec and his racing people taught all the newbs how to drive, I read Jane Eyre and played UNO and stuff with the other kids; I also blogged some and worked on some homework stuff for school. That's basically what I did the whole time we were there; near the end, we Skyped Grandma and Grandpa Brown (we have yet to talk to our Shill Grandparents). :) For those of you who don't know, Skype is a kind of instant messaging software; it enables you to make international calls for free; we used it to make a video call. We talked to them for a while and showed them the ring and everything, which was fun.
I figured I was going to drive the next day, so eventually we drove home and I guess we fell asleep or something. I'm so sorry! It's already Sunday! We're in Stockholm now and my memory's kind of blurred.
Coming up next... Friday!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday: A full week, and nearly caught up!

Yesterday, Thursday, we got up rather late, which was nice, of course. We hung around the house for a long time and later we drove to some store and bought some food for lunch, and then we drove to the gate of Gotland Ring.
That day Alec was holding an event for people (mostly from Finland) to drive cars, so Collin and Dad got to join in. (I could have done, but I would have been embarrassed by my slow driving) :) Anyway, we parked at the gate, and waited for Alec and this guy whose job it was to unlock the gate. We drove in with Alec when we got there.
We went in to the restaurant place where we were before and waited for all the tourist-types to arrive. I read Jane Eyre for a long time after they showed up.
Right; I have to cut this short to go off on some other adventure; more tomorrow, I promise!


Okay, so I'm really really behind. Forgive me. I'm having a good time and not enough time to blog all the time. :( Sorry!
On Wednesday we didn't meet at the hotel. We planned to go to this island off the North coast called Faro(except the "O" has two dots over it and the "A" has a circle over it and I'm too lazy to add special characters), so we bought some food for breakfast or lunch or whatever it was and we picked up Alec at his apartment on Visby(Sari took the car with her, so he's sometimes at a loss for transportation- it's really ironic). After that we drove to the ferry that would take us to Fårö(there, I did it!). We stopped at this military fort turned fancy hotel for a while; that was cool.
Then we drove around to our destination, which was this beach covered with all these weird rock formations. You can see a picture on my family's blog, which I listed somewhere on here. The beach was pretty cool; we climbed around on a bunch of rocks and romped around for a while.
After that, we drove to a different beach so we could actually go swimming. We sat around and ate for a while and then Madelyn and I put on our swimsuits. When we came back everyone but Mom was playing soccer, so we decided to play too. I got tired after a while, so I went and laid in the sun for a long time with Mom. When it was almost time to leave, I went out to the shore; I knew I would regret it hugely if I never actually swam in the Baltic Sea when I was so close. So I waded in. It was freezing! Madelyn and Spencer were there, and they tried to hug me (they were wet), but I wouldn't let them. I waded out to about waist level and then Madelyn told me I would want to make sure I went under. So we counted to three and then we dunked under the black water together. It was so cold! We "swam" a little, though the water was really too shallow to swim in, and later we left.
After that we went to a grocery store and bought some popsicles or something and ate them. Then we all piled back into the car and we drove to this place with sand dunes in the forest(weird, huh?). We jumped off dunes for a while and took pictures and stuff and then we went back to the car.
Next, Mom and Dad drove us to the cabin and dropped us off; I was under the impression that they were going to drop Alec off and come home with dinner. BUT they actually returned about four hours later at 11 at night, after we watched the Simpsons and whatever "football" match was on for most of that time (Of course, I was placidly reading Jane Eyre for a substantial portion of that in the next room). It turns out Mom and Dad and Alec went out to eat at a super fancy restaurant and hung around for a while, which I'm sure was fun for them. After they came home, we fell asleep or something. I can never remember.
And that's Wednesday!

More Tuesday, Anyone?

After we all met up at the hotel, we went to this restaurant for pizza together with this friend of Alec's named Gustav. He was some kind of driver or something; I really have no idea.
Mom, Dad, Alec, and Gustav all sat at one table at the restaurant while all of the kids sat at a separate one. That was kind of fun; Spencer blew out our candle, which was pretty goofy; we had to relight it. We talked a lot and joked around, which, as most of you know, is inevitable when you put my family together. Especially when we're stuck with each other. (Just kidding; I love them)
We went back to the hotel and hung around the lobby for a while until we decided to go home. I can't really remember what happened then; I assume we ate and watched T.V. or something. I probably read Jane Eyre and eventually fell asleep.
And that's Tuesday! I guess I'll start a new post to talk about Wednesday.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Second Tuesday (Internationally)

Okay, sorry I forgot to blog for a while. Now I have to catch up for Tuesday and Wednesday- and I'm halfway through Thursday! Augh! It piles up so fast...
Here's what I have for Tuesday:
On Tuesday we woke up and it was raining outside. We left the house after getting ready and all to play tennis with Alec at some indoor tennis court. At the indoor tennis court, there was some kind of badminton tournament going on, so there were all these people there playing. It looked really funny. It's kind of a weird game.
Alec, Carolina(the girl they're always hitting with), and my Dad hit for a long time; I read my book and watched people while I waited. It was a pretty long time before we left, about three hours, maybe.
When we left the tennis court, it had stopped raining. I think we ate lunch or something; I can't really remember. Anyway, after that we went to Visby and walked around the city. We got hot chocolate and some pie at this place Alec recommended. The chocolate was pure cocoa; hardly any sugar. We Americans couldn't handle the strength of the chocolate, so Dad got some sugar for us, but it wasn't enough. We ended up dumping at least two packets of sugar into our chocolate. I guess things are different in Europe. The pie was fine; we got four pieces of different kinds and we all tried a little of each. One of them was really gross and eggy; my parents, impossibly (or not) liked it. :)
We walked around Visby for a long time, window shopping and browsing around. We bought a bunch of postcards; as it turns out, postage is really expensive, so we're only sending five straight from Gotland. I was really disappointed, since I had at least five people of my own to send cards to. We also bought this cord at an electronic shop so we could wire an iPod to play throughout the car; this proved useless when we switched cars the next day, but it will come in handy at home.
We got ice cream and popsicles at some stand and sat around eating them by this old fountain. We took a couple pictures there in the square. Then we decided to take a walk along the city wall for a while. That was fun. Spencer wanted to play soccer in this little field for a while, so we walked down and Mom and I found out that we had Wi-Fi. (We were too tired to play) We looked up geocaches for a while and I checked my e-mail and stuff. Eventually we decided to keep walking; we were supposed to meet up with Alec at the hotel.
I have to cut this short to work on some school stuff right now; I'll blog more later! Bye!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monday...what I wrote yesterday!

Today we woke up pretty late. I had this oatmeal stuff for breakfast. It's called Oatibix and we got it in London and like to make fun of its name a lot. I didn't have time to shower, so I got dressed and we sat around for awhile until we drove to Visby.
Alec was in a meeting with some Gotland Ring people, so we had to wait for him before Dad could go play tennis and all that. We went to the hotel for a while and I blogged and Madelyn checked her e-mail. Mom wanted to go souvenir shopping, but I wanted to wait and finish e-mailing and blogging and everything and so did Madelyn. So we stayed behind at the hotel and I e-mailed pictures to a bunch of people whose e-mails I had handy. Yay!
When Mom and everyone got back, they had bought lunch, too, so we decided to walk down the coast again and have a picnic, like yesterday. First we were thinking of eating on that walk where those people talked to Madelyn and I, but it was really cold and windy, so we decided to go to the park again. We ate our picnic under a tree, and sampled the Swedish versions of tortilla chips and salsa (you'll think that's funny, huh, Leslie?). Yup. The salsa was pretty pathetic. It was medium hot and was about as spicy as ketchup.
At some point Alec texted us (Collin finally unlocked his phone, so we have communication!- but ONLY within Sweden, so don't- DON'T- call us) and we met up by the hotel, piled into the cars, and drove to these tennis courts outside of Visby that they were going to play tennis on. While Dad, Alec, and this other girl (and whoever wanted to play) hit on the courts, I played UNO and read my book and laid around in the grass nearby. It was nice. Sari and the girls were there too. They're so cute. :)
Near the end, Alec, Sari, and the girls had to leave back for Visby (Alec had a meeting and Sari and the girls were heading back to Finland- where we'll see them later). We said goodbye, and Dad, Collin, and that girl hit some more until she had to leave, and then Collin and Dad hit some more, cleaned up the court, and then we all piled into the car and went home after grocery shopping again at the same big store.
We rambled home, singing all the way, as usual, and ate curry with rice and vegetables and some kind of Barbeque pork we got at the store. We had ice cream bars for dessert. Yum! We also bought this really good swedish chocolate (toblerone- they have it in the US, too).
We watched this English program on T.V. for a while, and the Simpsons, and I recorded this fun song I've been working on with just my voice, and now it's time to go to sleep! Post this in the morning!
Love, Emily

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday- a day of rest

I am finally caught up in blogging! I wrote this last night, so I am just posting it while we have Wi-Fi. More tomorrow!
Today we woke up very very very late, which was great. I had some toast with jam for breakfast, and I spent a lot of the morning looking for an iron so I could iron my very wrinkly dress. Later we all piled into the car (church was supposed to start at twelve) and drove to the location of the branch.
According to the Swedish church website, the branch was held in an apartment complex at number 22, which Dad, when looking for it while we waited for him, could not find. We decided to drive to Visby and look for the other address we found, on the English church site, which was to start at one.
We looked up the branch on the Wi-Fi from the hotel, and then walked out to where we thought it would be, but it didn't appear to be the right place, so we went back to the hotel. While Collin worked on unlocking his phone in the Gotland Ring office, Dad decided to take a walk in this park down by a park on the coast and make a picnic of it, so we took our food we brought for lunch.
We walked along for a while, and Madelyn and I wanted to eat by these trees a little ways down, so we walked ahead that way and sat down on a bench. But Melissa and Spencer wanted to eat by a park, and Spencer had to go to the bathroom, so Mom and Dad went with them to the park by the library.
We weren't sure if they were going to come back for us or what, so we just sat on the bench together and talked for a while, which was nice, because we'd been feeling really crowded. It's easy when you're part of a family of seven.
A guy and a girl came up to us while we were sitting on the bench. The guy said something to me in Swedish; I told him I only spoke English, and he asked if I had a cigarette. i said no, sorry and he asked, jokingly, if I had anything else he might smoke. Then the girl asked if I liked Gotland and I said yes, I did. She asked if I had been over this part of the wall nearby; she was looking for a word or something, what it was called. I said I'd been over the wall. She told me that if a man carried you over that part of the wall, that was the man you were going to marry. She told me, "So next time you want to marry, have the man carry you over." I said okay and they smiled and walked away; I assume, through the gate, though I forgot to look and see if he carried her over. That would have been cute.
Madelyn and I talked some more about that and other things, and then we figured Mom and Dad weren't coming back, so we decided to walk around and look for them. We saw Sari and Ada and Vivian in the park and said hello to them. They were going to get ice cream and Sari told us they had seen our family and she said they were eating lunch at the playground. We walked over and found them and ate lunch.
After lunch, Dad let Madelyn and I walk back to the hotel by ourselves, which was nice. We decided to sit in the library in the hotel while we waited for them. I found a book about J.M. Barrie's life and I read it for a long time, curled up in this library armchair. Madelyn was looking up Swedish words in this swedish book I found about English grammar. We were there for maybe an hour and then Mom and Dad got back. Dad saw me in the chair and thought it was pretty, so Mom took a picture of me.
After that we decided to drive home to the cabin. We talked in the car for a while, which was fun, and Madelyn and I sang a lot of goofy songs. We were going to explore the forest around the cabin, but then I didn't want to go because it was cold and Mom didn't want to let the younger kids go without Collin or me. I went back to the house, ate some oatmeal, and took a nap for a long time, until dinner, when I woke, typed blogs for a while, and then ate rice and vegetables. Right now everyone but Collin and me is off on an excursion in the woods with the GPS so they don't get lost. They should be back soon. Then maybe we'll eat ice cream or something for dessert.
It's about 7 or 8 at night right now, I think. I can never really tell, because it's always light outside. I can't believe I'm finally caught up. Yesss! I'll post this tomorrow when I have Wi-Fi at the hotel.

Saturday- at the racetrack!!!!

On Saturday we got up kind of later than yesterday and got dressed. I didn't have time to shower, so I just brushed my hair and threw some clothes together and later we left. We got to the hotel, and we went in and Alec had left us a note at the desk telling us to go to this nearby church where he was married. Dad figured he was late and called the hotel to give them something for us to do. We walked over there and explored the church for a bit.
We looked around there for a while and then Alec got there and we talked about what we wanted to do today.
where we went in and Collin spent some time trying to unlock his phone some more, which is starting to seem futile. Then Mom checked her e-mail and I blogged for a while. We were waiting for Sari and their girls, Ada and Vivian (who, by the way, have been with us on most of our Gotland trip too). When they got to the hotel, we got into the cars and drove out to a beach, where we walked around and skipped rocks and stuff for a while and then ate pizza at a restaurant (which wasn't technically open because of Midsummer, but Alec kind of knew the owner).
After that we drove to Gotland Ring! At last! Gotland Ring is Alec's project he's been working on since around 2000; a racetrack he built on Gotland. He holds events there and drives cars and does all kinds of cool things there.
I have to remind you all that the reason we are going on this trip is not because we wanted to find our roots, not because we wanted to experience foreign countries, but because Alec has been inviting Dad to visit him almost since they first met at BYU-Hawaii over twenty years ago. Gotland Ring is, basically, what we are here for.
We began our adventure in a building that Alec converts into a restaurant and showroom for every event he holds. It was less dressed up just then, and while we were there, Alec gave us the rundown on racing and how it works and stuff. Then he started taking everyone around the track in turns in one of the cars. I stayed in for a while with everyone else while Dad and Collin took their turns. Eventually, after everyone else, it was my turn, and then Alec decided to switch cars for this way faster, bright yellow, ZO6 Chevy Corvette. 512 horsepower. Let me reiterate: very fast.
I got in the car and first we had to do extra laps to warm up the tires. It was kind of jerky because it wasn't a true racecar, but it was so fast. I kept straining to keep from being thrown around. Need I mention why we all wore helmets? I felt like I was holding my breath the whole time. It was amazing. Such an awesome experience. :)
For dinner, we stopped at one of Alec's friends houses and had swedish sausages and fruit and this great shrimp salad. The quy's wife was a chef or a caterer, and she was really good. She made these amazingly delicious pastries for dessert; they were just sweet enough to be sweet, but they didn't give you a sugar buzz or anything. Plus they were crispy and glazed on the outside. Really good.
On our way home, we stopped by some houses Alec was thinking of buying, one on the coast, which we walked along and took pictures by for a while. We decided to go to a grocery store to get more food for Sunday, and we stopped on the way in this gorgeous field of poppies to take some family pictures. Like I said, Gotland is covered in flowers, and in some spots, they are concentrated so much that they make Mom and I freak out. We had to get a picture in them.
After that, we went to the grocery store, bought a whole bunch of food, and came home, read scriptures, blogged, blah blah blah, and went to sleep.
I am finding that I seem to be exhausting my vocabulary when I am so frequently blogging. As I reminder, I am still sincere when I say "beautiful" or "gorgeous" or "amazing," and I am simply at a loss for a better adjective.

Friday: Day of Root-Finding (sort of)

Friday Friday Friday... what did we do on Friday?
On Friday we got up early and Mom had us shower, so I went in, but the water got cold really fast, which sucked. After I showered, I just put my pajamas back on and I just fell back asleep. When it was time to go, I woke up and pulled on some clothes; I couldn't even brush my hair because Madelyn accidentally left her bag in Alec's car, and it had the brush in it. After that, we all squished into the five seater impossibly and drove to the hotel in Visby by Alec's office. See, for some reason, Alec leaves the key to his office in the lobby of the hotel, so the hotel has become a sort of waypoint for us where we meet pretty much every day. Dad and Alec went off to play tennis, so we decided to go geocaching.
While we were walking, we went through a beautiful botanical garden, which we had passed through the day before. It's not as big as the parks we went to in England, but it was really cute and pretty; more landscaped. We walked forever to this castle ruin, which happened to be near the tennis courts where Dad was playing. Dad and Alec go off and play with this almost-pro girl every morning, and they switch off playing with her.
I searched with everyone else for the geocache for a while, but then I got bored, so I walked off into this nearby field and read for a while. Then Mom told me to come back, so I said I would meet them near the tennis courts. I was up there in about a minute, and I sat around waiting for them to get there for about ten minutes. I could hear them and everything, so I decided to go look around and find out what they were doing.
They hadn't found the geocache, but they were goofing around and exploring in this big castle ruin right by where the cache was supposed to have been. Spencer climbed up in this window and Mom took a picture of him. After a while, we walked back to the courts and waited for Dad and Alec to finish their game. I got kind of impatient and I wanted to leave and walk to the hotel with Madelyn, but Mom wouldn't let me.
Eventually Dad and Alec finished, and we walked back to the hotel. I think at some point Sari and Alec's girls, Vivian and Ada, got there, and we hopped in the car and drove out to the southern part of the island to have a picnic on a beach out there. On the way, we recorded this funny song I made up a capella. We showed it to Collin when we got there. It was really fun.
Once we were there, we all decided to sit on this rock thing, so we spread out two blankets. For lunch, we ate these Swedish things like egg burritos, chicken, salad with tomatoes and feta cheese, a long baguette, and for dessert, chocolate muffins and doughnuts. After we ate, we walked around on the beach for a while. Everyone else skipped rocks, because the rocks on that beach were so perfect, but I'm not the best rock skipper yet, so I just picked up rocks and gave them to Collin. We waded out into the water for fun for a while and then we eventually walked back to the car.
After that, we drove to a church in the South where one of my ancestors, Annie Peterson, was baptized, although I was totally unaware of this until after we visited the church. We walked around in there for a while, and took a family picture by the font. Dad asked me if I wanted to sing something, but I was too embarrased(don't tell me how bogus that is), so Mom and I waited till everyone had left and then we sang "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy" and then I sang Gounod's "Ave Maria." It was very very cool. Everyone should be able to have that experience.
We left the church and drove to another place in the south, with some kind of landmark rock formation that looks like an old man. Its name is just "old man" in Swedish. We hiked up around that it and walked around. We also took some pictures in the flowers on the ground. Madelyn was wearing my purple shirt that day, and it matched the flowers perfectly, which made a cool picture.
After that we drove home and ate noodles with cheese and watched T.V.; the Simpsons with Swedish subtitles. Later we read scriptures (we usually do that, i just forget to write about it) and then we went to bed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thursday: Our First Real Day on Gotland

On Thursday morning, I woke up pretty late. Well- actually I don't really have any idea what time it was. But I know I was completely knocked out until Mom called my room and told me to wake up and come to breakfast. So I got up and got dressed and went down and ate with everyone.
There were all these weird things at the breakfast buffet; pickled herring, these funny crackers and cheese and crunchy breadstick things; then there were all the normal things like oatmeal and corn flakes and fruit and toast. I got corn flakes and these orange slices and apple juice. It was pretty good. This guy saw Spencer's BYU shirt and he came up and said "Is that a BYU shirt I see?" and told us he and his wife were from Orem. It was pretty cool and kind of comforting to see an American; everyone is Swedish her and we all feel a little lost.
After breakfast I went back to my room and showered and got ready and then Melissa came and told me that Alec and his family were here and that they were talking in the lobby with Dad. So I went down after a little and blogged for a while. Alec decided to go get some breakfast (or brunch, since it was elevenish) at this little restaurant close by.
It was modern, but it also looked sort of quaint like everything else around. Everything was white, the chairs and all, but the gate was this old iron one and we ate outside, so we could see the roses and flowers growing all over everything. There was a pretty fountain with some kind of cherub in the middle; really pretty. Some of us ordered mango sorbet, mostly for something to do; that was delicious and had all this fruit on it, blueberries, strawberries, lingonberries(I think?), and this other berry that's orange and I don't know what it is.
Once we left the restaurant, Dad and Alec decided to go play tennis, so we thought we'd go GeoCaching while they were gone. Alec has this office literally right next to the hotel, so we stayed in there and looked up geocaches for a while. Then we walked to this part of the wall on the edge of the city (which is called Visby, by the way- it's the city on Gotland) It took us a while to find the cache, because there were so many deceiving cracks in the wall where it could have been hidden, but we finally found the right spot and logged in on the cache. Then we decided to search for another cache, even though we weren't sure if we would be back on time; then again, we figured Dad and Alec would be late back too). Ha ha.
We found the cache; it was at this mass grave where they buried a bunch of farmer soldiers after a battle a long time ago; very historic. It was pretty cool. After that, we walked back to the office, where I blogged for a while, and Mom and Melissa had to go back and get Melissa's backpack.
When Alec and Dad got back, we walked around for a while and looked at this bike rental place where we could rent for a week, but we decided to wait until later to rent. Then we walked up this hill and walked around by the city wall while Alec told us all this interesting stuff about Gotland. We visited Alec's friend, Mary, who was this old woman who lived in one of these cute dollhouses that everyone in Visby has. She was really nice. We sat in her garden and talked for a while.
After that we all piled into two cars with Alec (a five seater and a two seater) and went grocery shopping for dinner. We bought a bunch of food, and then Alec drove us to a cabin that he found for us with one of Mary's friends. It's about forty-five minutes away from Visby, in a part of Gotland that reminds us of Southern Utah. It's very pretty. One thing I have to tell you that is very important about Gotland is how amazingly gorgeous it is. Roses and poppies and these beautiful lavender blue colored flowers like lupines grow wild all over the place, in fields and forest. Almost everything is at least two hundred years old, so it all looks very historical and adorably picturesque.
Once we got to the cabin, we looked around and the family that is renting it to us helped us out and showed us around a little. We cooked dinner, which was spaghetti with pesto sauce and these long baguettes, with these little chocolate cookies for dessert. Later we went to sleep, and I read Jane Eyre for a while before I knocked out.

The Great Exodus (Wednesday)

Okay. Then on Wednesday we had a big travel fest where we took, I think, seven modes of transportation in one day. Let's count and see:
Oh, whoops. Six. We got up really early, walked to the subway and took that to Heathrow Airport, where we flew to Sweden; I slept most of the flight. Then, when we had arrived, we went through customs and took a bus to Stockholm, where we waited for another bus at this train and bus station forever. It was really boring, so I decided to look for hot guys. Then I decided to count the hot guys; there were about 37 in two hours, if I remember right. But I was lenient. Ha ha ha! Just kidding; there were some pretty cute ones.
When we had all eaten burgers from McDonalds, switched our money, gotten information, and had some Swedish ice cream and popsicles, we got in this big long line of people who were taking a bus to Nynashamn, where our boat was to leave from. On our way to the line, I saw this really really really hot guy who was buying tickets and then he came and got in line for the bus. I was asking Dad a whole bunch of questions because I had no idea what was going on and then he said something about how everyone who was in line was waiting for the boat to Gotland. This made be very happy. :)
We rode a bus for about an hour or two (after we got stuck between some automatic doors for a while) and then we boarded the boat after some struggle with our tickets, which were supposed to be waiting for us there. Madelyn and I saw the hot guy and Madelyn named him Edward after our nation's favorite literary vampire (from the very corny, cheesy Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer)
The ride was about three hours, during which I slept, played UNO with Madelyn, and read my book. We got to Gotland, and Dad's friend Alec picked us up in a Gotland Ring car and took us to a hotel, where we took our bags up to three rooms. It was really quaint and cute and reminded us of Grandma Nora's beach house. I got my own room, amazingly, so I changed, read my book, ate some cheesy crackers and looked around, and eventually fell asleep.

I just realized that a bunch of people are going to be reading this and seeing all my goofy comments about boys. Sorry about my hormonal interests... ah, well; you're probably cracking up anyway. I just feel sort of superficial and silly. :) Whatever.

The rest of Tuesday!

Okay... then we walked for a while on our way to the Houses of Parliament and then we got in lines and went through security to get in. First we went to the House of Commons part of parliament and watched this debate going on about polyclinics, which are clinics that have multiple services for their patients. It was basically about whether or not they were good for England or not; I thought they sounded like a good idea.
After that we went to the House of Lords and they were debating something that sounded less important; I didn't really understand. I guess I was mesmerized by the gilded, elaborate area where the Queen would sit if she were there and all the interesting stuff around. We left pretty fast.
After that, we took the Subway to Swiss Cottage and then Mom and Dad decided to go to this computer place with internet to print our boarding passes and everything. I was getting bored, so I asked if us kids could walk back home by ourselves and they said that was fine, but Spencer didn't want to go with us. We walked to the hotel, but when we got to our room door, the key would not work. We tried it about fifty times. It really sucked. Later we went down to the lobby to wait for them. They also went grocery shopping.
Once they returned, we went up together to the room and Mom and Dad told us we should have gone to the front desk and everything. Then we ate a bunch of food and some ice cream and watched TV for a little because we thought the British programs were so funny.
After dinner, Dad said he would take anyone who wanted to go on a walk through this fancy neighborhood nearby and then to Regent's Park, as a sort of a last hurrah in England (this was our last night). Madelyn, Spencer, Melissa, and I all decided to go. The houses were really nice and probably too expensive to think about. When we got to Regent's Park, the other kids ran around for a while, but I was really cold and so I stayed with Dad and then we walked back home
We got home and eventually Mom and Dad left the kids room and we stayed up pretty late, almost till midnight, joking and stuff. We figured out a formula for how to make Spencer laugh(which was eventually disproved). It went like this:
bathroom humor+body part+lunch meat= spencer laughs
Eventually we fell asleep. And that's Tuesday.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

London, Tuesday

On Tuesday we woke up reluctantly and ate rolls and brie and stuff for breakfast. Then we took the Metro to London Tower, where we decided to tour. First we decided to see the Crown Jewels, which were gorgeous and glittery. One of the scepters had this huge diamond in it called the Star of Africa. In one display case, there were all these interesting gold things called "salts." I have no idea what that means. Collin thought maybe they held salt. I don't know. Everything was encrusted with gold; there was even a royal punch bowl. :)
Then we explored the armory, which was pretty cool, but self-explanatory. Suits of armor and spears and swords. After that we went and looked at all the different towers and learn about all the tortured, captured British people like Anne Boleyn and a couple kings and these two princes who were probably killed when they were only nine and twelve. :( There were lots of towers; one was about methods of torture; real jolly.
Anyway, we stayed there for a while and then we walked for a while because we wanted to go to the National Gallery of Art. We walked for a really long time and then we decided to go get lunch; we stopped at this cool restaraunt called "EAT." It was really modern and good for you and they had all these weird, interesting sandwiches. I had tuna and red onion and Mom got hummus and carrot. We took our sandwiches to a very little park that this woman told us about and ate them in the shade. It was a pretty spot. After that, we decided to go check out St. Paul's Cathedral for a little, but it cost something ridiculous to get in, so we just went a little inside and took a couple pictures outside because it's such a cool building.
Then we walked some more until we came to the National Gallery, which was really cool, but we had to rush through it because we didn't have a lot of time; it was our last day in London. We saw some DaVincis and Monets and Vermeers, which were very cool, and a couple Reniors and Manets, the works. It was really really pretty, but we had to go very fast, so someday I'll go back and move through it as slow as I want.
After the museum, we walked around Trafalgar Square and took some pictures by this big monument and then we walked to Buckingham Palace (Mom wanted to take a picture with those guards with the furry hats). It was nice to be able to see the walkway we'd taken before on the walking tour more slowly. It was really pretty. Sadly, when we finally got to the palace, the guards we wanted weren't on duty, so we took a couple pictures and then walked through this big, gorgeous green park on the way home. I can't remember what it's called, but it has all these random lawn chairs in one area. It's like Regent's Park, sort of. I can't remember what happened next, so I'll have to go look at pictures so I can remember. More later...

More London...

Okay, so this is taking me a really long time to blog...and argh! we're on Gotland now! So I'll get this through with today, since we'll be moving pretty slowly while we're in Sweden. Thanks for your comments, Grandma Shirley and Leslie! I love you! :)

On Monday morning after I had got ready and everything Dad came in and asked if anyone wanted to go to the market with him to look for breakfast, so I did. I was wearing this silver belt over my shirt, which I ditched later because it didn't work. We bought a bunch of doughnuts or something; then we came back and ate breakfast together.
When everyone was ready, we went to the underground and bought tickets for transportation that day and took a train on the Jubilee line to Trafalgar square or somewhere close by. When we arrived, we went up and there was this cool fountain we took a couple pictures by. Then we walked to the actual Trafalgar square and found this tour company that Dad had bought tickets for a bus tour with. We went inside, and they were just starting a walking tour to go see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, so we decided to go watch that. We had to walk really fast to keep up with the guards and the tour guide; it was a big rush. We saw about three different changing-of-the-guards (if you can make that plural); Two at Buckingham, and two others at this really old palace and the current residence of some of the royal family or something.
We took pictures with some of the guards and then we walked to Pall Mall, where the tour guide told us about Margaret Thatcher being the first women to enter a Gentleman's Club, like they have in London. He said she had to sign a contract that said she was an honorary "man."
There was this guy there who was messing with a three seater bicycle. He was wearing this blue and red plaid shirt rolled up so his forearms showed and these blue pants. He had dark brown hair and a really pretty, straight toothed, white smile; I think he was probably the most beautiful guy I'll ever see in my life. WOW.
After the tour we walked back to the beginning and tried to figure out what we would do next. We wandered around for a little, trying to figure out where we could catch a bus to begin the bus tour. We found one close to Trafalgar square and hopped on and rode it for a really long time, while the tour guide told us all these interesting things about London, like that Mozart lived there as a kid and wrote his first symphony there and that one of the bridges over the Thames is called the Women's bridge because the women built it during some war and that this bridge has a cleaning agent, so it cleans itself every time it rains. There were a lot of other facts, and I actually remember most of them, but I don't want to type them all out, so next time you talk to me, just ask me for one.
I think we got off around the tower of London, because then we walked over some bridge and took some family pictures together. On the other side there was this guy playing the accordion in this tunnel; Madelyn and I wanted to take a picture with him, but Mom and Dad wouldn't let us. As we walked along the street or walkway or whatever, there were all these street performers.
For instance, we saw four guys with a boombox who were dancing or something, but I think they were more like a drama troupe because they acted like they were going to do audience participation or something. We were supposed to go on the Eye, though, so Dad was in a hurry and he walked ahead. Mom stayed and let us watch for a little, but she was still all antsy to leave. There was a gap in the circle around these four guys, and just before we left, the main guy looked over and me and Madelyn and said, "You- come closer to me, please," to fill in the gap, but then Mom made us leave, which we both agree sucked because we were dying to interact with any kind of British person.
After that, I was sort of grumpy, but we went and got our tickets and got on the Eye. The Eye is this great big ferris wheel they have in London that's for some kind of observation deck. It is about the 3rd biggest observation wheel thing or whatever in the world and it goes very high very slowly. It takes about half an hour to go around the whole thing, and when you get back, if you go at about six in the evening, there will be no more funny street performers.
Don't get me wrong; the Eye was definitely cool- we could see everything from very high, like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It was pretty neat. Lots of pictures from that. Afterwards we walked across a different bridge to get to this river cruise we wanted to take and we rode that around from around the houses of Parliament to London tower, which was the end, where we had to get off. We walked into some souvenir shop and Mom found this Christmas ornament that she wanted (because we always buy one to remember our trips). Then we walked around some more and Dad wanted to go check out some boats, so I went but it wasn't very interesting and then we walked around on that other famous bridge that they show in all the pictures. All of our feet hurt really bad, so then we took the subway home.
When we arrived in Swiss Cottage, we went to our hotel and Dad got food or something; I can't really remember, but I DO remember that we turned on the T.V. and Collin turned the channel to something really boring and we were all laying on our beds, so I fell asleep pretty early. It was about eight at night.
Melissa and Spencer stayed up till eleven in Mom and Dad's room (we had a parents' room and a kids' room) so at eleven, they rang us twice to get us to open the door. Of course, we were all knocked out and our room was totally dark, but I picked up the phone and someone let them in.
And then I couldn't go to sleep. First, I got out of bed and drank some Emergen-C, which is this fizzy drink that's supposed to help with sickness and stuff. I forgot to say that I've had this nasty, obnoxious cold/cough thing since maybe Sunday or Saturday; I'm all stuffy and I have this hacking cough because there's all this phlegm in my throat or something. So I drank that or whatever and then I was reading Jane Eyre and eating muffins from dinner or breakfast before. I was just reading and drinking Emergen-C or whatever and eventually I woke Madelyn up, so I had to bother her, of course.
First we started talking. We talked about boys and how we wanted to come back to London and how slowly we would move if we were there on our own and what we wanted to do later. I guess that bothered Collin, because he kept telling us to shut up and stuff. (It's around midnight) But I still can't sleep, and Madelyn thinks I'm funny, so we turned it down to a whisper.
Then we started goofing off, kicking each other and pretending to hog the bed, spreading around and stuff. We pretended we were Pippi Longstocking (who lives on Gotland, by the way) and put our feet on the pillows and our heads at the foot of the bed. That didn't last long. We kept this goofing off up for a while and then Collin started throwing pillows. At first we took him seriously, and shut up, but then I started throwing the pillows back.
It was war.
We were chucking the pillows back and forth and I think even Collin thought it was fun by now. Melissa woke up when Collin accidentally hit her, and she thought it was a grand old time, and chucked a couple pillows herself before knocking out again. Eventually we all figured we were going to be dead tired in the morning (plus we were actually tired by now) and we fell asleep.
Well, that's Monday, and I have to go get the bags, so I'll maybe post up to current tonight. I hope.

London continued...

After the taxi we walked into sacrament meeting and sat down in the back. It was kind of an ironic meeting for me because I had been so excited about all the British accents (the main alteration to the standard church meeting) but the speakers were originally from the U.S. and were going to be moving to Idaho, so their accents were American.
Sacrament ended eventually, and then we hung around until we figured out where Sunday School was. Collin, Madelyn, Spencer, and I were all in the same class, since I guess there was one for primary children and Young Men/Young Women. There were two other kids visiting from Utah, so the class was big compared to normal. The only kid who was really in the ward was this Asian kid named Michael. He and the teacher both had accents. The lesson was pretty good; it was about being humble and stuff.
Once Sunday school was over, I got a drink of water and then I went to Young Women, which was in the same room. On a whim, the leaders decided to have class outside, so we went out and arranged two benches so we could sit together. I wasn't sure if one of them was a leader or a youth, but she had a great Scottish accent and her name was Madelyn, like my sister. :) THere were two others besides Madelyn, the other visitor (Elise), and I; their names were Olivia and Melissa. THey were twins, but Olivia was a tomboy (we thought she was a boy at first). They were both British, too, and really sarcastic and funny. That made the lesson. We had a lot of fun; at one point Melissa was imitating other Madelyn's accent, which was pretty goofy.
After church, we hung around trying to figure out our bus route to get home and we found out there was a young couple in the ward who lived close to our hotel in Swiss Cottage, by Regent's Park. Their names were Jenny and Rob, I think...anyway, they helped us find our way home and change buses at the right stops and everything. They were really nice; I talked to Jenny for a while on the bus ride.
After that, we walked into the hotel and napped for a while. When I woke up, we had all decided to go get dinner and then go to Regent's Park for a walk. I got my shoes on and then we left.
First we walked to this restaraunt called Marathon or something where we ate fish and chips. They actually charged us to eat in the restaraunt, because I guess you're supposed to do take out with them. Anyway, we had fish and chips and onion rings, plus Dad ordered this weird pita bread thing like some kind of samosa that was pretty good.
After dinner, we had to walk through Camden to get to Regent's Park. Camden is sort of a creepy place; Rob and Jenny described it as somewhere you could see people with "pink mohawks" and stuff like that. It's true; everyone on that street was smoking; there were all these John Lennon wannabees and guys with long hair wearing cutoffs and weirdos with spiky hair who still haven't got over the punk movement, which I feel is the most retarded trend in the history of the world. Like how some people call emos "Rebels without a cause." There were also a katrillion shops hanging onto the street in Camden full of UK flag paraphernilia and bumper stickers peppered with expletives and confrontational cleverness forcing liberality on everyone. When we got out of there, we passed the London Zoo and finally entered the gate to Regent's Park.

Which is beautiful.

Regent's Park is one of the few green, open spaces in the suburbs of London. It is verdant and peaceful, wide, stretching itself out over acres of land, across streets, up to the edge of the zoo. On the grass people are laying out in the sun, relaxing, walking, playing soccer or croquet, jogging, singing, playing guitars, and being in love. The park's centerpiece is a hill that rises up from the trees and more manicured lawns, but which is covered with deep, soft grasses and dotted with friends and lovers staring at the sky or sitting on benches or laughing together. On top of this hill is a magnificent view of the city, where we took pictures. We hiked up the hill, which isn't very steep or anything, and walked down the other way, leaving the park on the other side.
Fortunately we didn't have to walk through Camden on the way back; we found an alternate route which was actually closer than the first. We stopped at a little store to look for cookies, but we didn't buy anything. Then we went home. Dad went and bought cookies or something at this little market closer, I think, but it's hard to remember. I know we read scriptures together, and I read Jane Eyre for a little bit and later we all went to sleep.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

London... at last!

I know I haven't said anything about this on my blog... but if you read this, you probably know I'm vacationing in London now and Sweden and Finland later. So here's what I have to say about it...
Yesterday I left school after 3rd period, went home, packed around fifty pounds' worth of stuff into my bag, and then the family drove to LAX. We checked our bags, went through security, walked to the terminal... and it was six o'clock. Guess when our plane was supposed to leave?
So... it was time to wait. I sat around in my chair and watched planes and people for a while. Then I laid on the ground and tried to fall asleep (since it was late in England). Then I gave up and sat in a chair. Then I played Madelyn's DS for a while (the sheer excitement of Nintendogs!) Then it was about eight and Dad bought the Wall Street and some peanuts. Then it was about eight fifteen and there were a lot of people showing up. Then it was about eight thirty and I was reading Jane Eyre for school. Then it was eight forty five. Then it was eight fifty. Then time was moving about as fast as a snail. Then it was eight fifty one. Then it was eight fifty two. Then people were lining up for no reason. Then it was nine. Then it was a little past nine. Then our plane was late.
And then- THEN- we boarded.
On the plane, we were on the very first row in our compartment, which was nice, because we had the most leg room of anyone. There were these screens that came up from under our seats which had unlimited movies, so that kept us occupied. Plus we were outrageously tired, so we tried to sleep once in a while. They served dinner sometime, and breakfast, which nobody could eat except some of the yogurt and orange juice. Eventually- and I can now fully understand the gravity of eventually- the plane began to descend.
The scenery looked kind of like Ohio, or the unpopulated regions of New York. It was gorgeously green. There were no mountains. There were also a lot of clouds in the way of our view. I told Dad about how when I was younger I used to think that the plane dipped from side to side so that the passengers on either side of the plane could get a good look at the ground. He thought that was pretty funny.
After we landed, we went through customs, where everyone looked at our huge family oddly, and then we took the subway, where I was embarrassed by my frumpiness after the flight, and by my gigantic rolling suitcase, which was a hassel to get off with. Once we were off the subway, a woman directed us to our hotel, where I was for the rest of the time. Dad went and got cookies and some food, and then he went on a real hunting and gathering excursion and brought us KFC and some other stuff. We ate that, and then we watched T.V. and did some other stuff for a while, struggling to stay awake. At about ten (British time) we fell asleep.

Today, I woke up at around 3 in the morning, and Madelyn woke up a while later, so by five, we were chatting like mad and driving our older brother crazy. Then we fell asleep again. Dad came in at nine and asked if anyone wanted to go to McDonalds with him (for wi-fi), so I went. We found out there that church began in an hour, so we rushed home, told everyone to get ready, and took a taxi to church, at 133 Coppetts Road, which, at first, none of the taxi drivers seemed to recognize. They have something in England called a Post Code, which they can't really get along without. It helps them figure out where things are or something. Like a zipcode but more important somehow.
It's about ten here, even though it's still light outside, like dusk, because this is so Northward on the globe. It'll be worse in Sweden...
Anyway, Mom wants me to go to sleep so we can stay on schedule and go ride the Eye (that one ferris wheel) tomorrow. I guess I'll talk about everything else then.
That's all, then! More soon...