My epic trek has finally landed me in Sweden - talk about taking the long way around! Arrived onto Stockholm on the 23rd and met Belinda at the station - was great to see her again after so long. We had a bit of a wander through the old town in Stockholm before taking a train to Falkoping - towards the west on the way to Goteburg... Falkoping is the small town of about 25000 where Belinda spent her first year in Sweden 10 years ago and where Peter and Suzanne her host parents still live.
Christmas is celebrated on the 24th here and we went to Suzanne's son's house where about a dozen of the family gathered. Was great to meet the family and everyone Belinda has spoken about and experience a traditional Swedish Christmas (complete with the 61 year old tradition of watching a Disney medely called Donald Duck's Christmas - the same program has aired at 3pm every year since 1959 and captivated the nation similar to the Melbourne Cup!). Most people spoke great English although I was regularly not understanding what was going on as the banter was generally on Swedish. Christmas fare was great as was the beer and schnapps to wash it down with! Played some pool also and the incentive to win was not having to run around naked in the snow!
I can see why Belinda enjoyed her year here so much - all of the family and Suzanne especially were so welcoming and warm that it made you feel instantly at home.
Am now on the train back to Stockholm where we will spend the night before catching a flight up to Kiruna to see the northern lights (hopefully) and stay in the Ice Hotel. Fingers crossed our luck with planes and trains continues!