#15: Sweden: Snow, beer and friends at New Year.

imageSweden has always been near the top of my to-travel list. Like the Netherlands, this desire probably partially driven by my affinity to specific Arsenal players; in this case Freddie Ljungberg. Now, having visited just the one city, Sweden has moved near the top of my to-revisit list! I spent the New Year in Växjö with Lisa, Lee and Kerry, who I had also enjoyed an afternoon in Copenhagen with. And it was AWESOME!

It was so great seeing in the new year with friends. New Year’s Eve is often a hyped-up, over-priced, commercial affair. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the fireworks and to some extent a bit of forced reflection on the year that has passed. But, mostly I enjoy the opportunity to have fun with friends and escape everyday life for a while. And that’s exactly what I did with my short time in Växjö.

imageWe wandered around town, icy snow crunching underfoot with every step and catching up. I hadn’t seen Lisa since she moved back to Sweden from London a few months ago! A reasonable amount of layers kept the cold weather at bay for it was unseasonably cold as Lisa told me that as Växjö is so far south it usually has a more temperate climate than the Arctic north, with temperatures and weather fairly similar to the UK.

There was also plenty of beer and other beverages. I was looking forward to going to the Systembolaget which is the government-owned chain of alcohol shops. They are the only places where you can buy alcohol that’s stronger than 3.5% ABV and a day before NYE they were rammed with people and semi-bare on the shelves!

imageOne evening we went to a local sports bar for dinner. Lee and Lisa recommended the venue – good steaks and burgers, with plenty of televisions so we could watch the sport! The local ice hockey team was playing that evening, but they were away so there were plenty of fans inhabiting the bar. It made for a great atmosphere and the roar whenever Växjö scored proved to me know much people loved their team.

imageWe then went home and drank some more beverages and played Cards Against Humanity; the card game for horrible people. It’s one of my favourite games to play and I love introducing people to it! We made a slight error in deciding that if Rando (random card’s nickname) won, then we would have a shot. Rando almost won the whole game and we had polished off a bottle of Apple Sourz, half a bottle of vodka, and numerous cans of beer and cider. It was an unplanned messy night the evening before NYE.

The next morning I felt fine. Lisa however, was worse for wear. But still she sucked it up, got dressed and walked us to a local school hall where we had a morning of sports planned with some friends. I was expecting sports I would understand; maybe football and basketball. Instead we started with dodgeball, where Kerry and I had a definite advantage as we were “unknown” and people did not want to target us! This then became “killerball” which is basically dodgeball but it’s every man for himself rather than two teams against each other. We then went on to play a bat and ball game which translated to English as “burnball” and was like a combination of baseball, softball and rounders. It was really hard to hit the ball as you had to throw it to yourself; there was no pitcher!

imageLater that day, after Lisa had slept off her hangover and made us some delicious dinner, we scrubbed up and headed out to the house party for NYE. And then I was in awe! Matilda’s parents had let her host a party for her friends and the house was beautiful! It was so spacious, with underfloor heating everywhere and a large garden where we watched the fireworks from. It seemed like every house in the vicinity had fireworks and it felt like we were right under an entire sky that was alight with flashes and sparkles!

The party was fun; there were a few party games (Team English won a mini karaoke-based one where we have to guess the song the other is singing; yay!), lots of good conversation and plenty of drink flowing. I can’t remember much more specifically, except for having lots of permanent marker on my face and waking up the next day knowing I had a great time!image

What wasn’t so great was the hangovers that Kerry and I had to nurse on New Years Day through 3 countries as we took a taxi, train, plane and then another train/car journey to get home. The air hostesses felt so sorry for us, but I had to explain it was all self inflicted.

But, totally worth it. Sweden, I’ll be back and I will see more of you.

lisa sig

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