All posts by Johan

We’re so close, I can taste it.

These last few weeks have been super hectic. I’ve simultaneously prepared for a trip across the world, and a move across the country, as well as finishing up my audio engineering course with three big projects.

But now I’ve finally finished it all and I have some downtime tonight before it’s time to sit on a plane and fly to Australia! WOOHOOO! I’M SO EXCITED! (and I just can’t hide it)

The end of term projects might not be that relevant to this blog, but basically, there were two personal music projects and one group film project, where we put sound to a short film.

So, let’s see. Let’s go through what I’ve been up to.

Monday and Tuesday of the last week of school, that is, last week (at the time of writing) were two days of presenting our final projects. The rest of the week was spent looking at other presentations from other courses, like the lighting students, and cleaning the studio etc. And I also packed up all my stuff into boxes. I’ve only lived in a small single room apartment, but I’ve collected a lot more stuff than I brought with me over the last two years, the biggest of which are probably a sofa and a desk, but also studio equipment, musical instruments, a new desktop computer (the old one became a home server) and other knick knacks, like clothes, kitchenware and decorative stuff. Oh, and let’s not forget the box that contained nothing but Harry Potter merch and Kylie’s stuff that she left here last time she was over!

All in all, I ended up with five bigger boxes and half a dozen, if not more, smaller ones. As well as some stuff that went without boxes, like furniture.

Luckily, my brother got his driver’s license just in time to be able to come up and help me get all the stuff down to where my dad lives, which is more or less across the country. So we rented a trailer and he and my mum came up on the weekend, to help me.

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My mum eats a burger on their way up to Haparanda

To avoid getting time off work, we decided to do it on the weekend, so they left early Saturday morning and arrived in Haparanda on Saturday night, at which time we almost immediately set to work packing up my last stuff into boxes, dismantling the furniture (thank you IKEA and your furniture that’s easy to take apart and pack into tight spaces) and load it into the trailer and the back of the car. Luckily I had loaded up with coca cola to provide us with caffeine and energy after the coffee machine was packed away and we managed to get it done in just a few hours.

Since we were on a tight schedule and had calculated that there would be about 17 hours going back down, including a couple stops, we decided to leave straight away after we finished packing (much to Kylie’s panic).

I don’t really know what to say about the roadtrip. It was exhausting, but fun. We spent most of the trip sitting in the car, listening to music. I was awake most of the time, while my brother and my mother took turns driving and resting. We also took a couple of stops to buy food, refuel and have coffees. Which was nice. We also stopped at Högakustenbron, a bridge that had a nice view. So that was cool. Otherwise, it was fun but pretty uneventful.

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On our way back down

The original plan was to go to my dad’s in Skänninge, dump my stuff and then go up to my mum’s in Stockholm, because I needed to be in Stockholm for the flight to Australia. But since my mum left us when we passed Stockholm anyway and it was just me and my brother, and he didn’t have work on the Monday, we ended up staying the night at my dad’s, which was probably the best idea I had in a while, because that allowed us to get the trailer to the return station in time, eat some tacos when we got back, and then sleep in the bed sofa, which we brought from my apartment, so that we were well rested in the morning ready to go back up to Stockholm the next day. It also meant that I got to spend more time with my sisters, which was really fun.

So now I’m sitting here writing a blog post. I’m getting on a plane tomorrow, flying to my beloved Kylie. And it feels almost unreal. I’ve got my bags packed light, with just some clothes, camera, tripod and some toiletries, so that we can load my bags with Kylie’s stuff when we go back.

So the last two days in Stockholm have ben pretty quiet in comparison. I got a haircut and shaved my beard off, which is kinda symbolical actually since the last time I cut my hair or shaved my beard off was just before I moved to Haparanda and started studying Audio Engineering two years ago.

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In about half hour my brother will arrive and he’ll drive me to the airport in the morning before he start work.

Then I’ll get on the plane. And then I’ll get to meet her again. This time, for the last time. this time there’s no separating again. This time, I’m staing with her, and she’s staying with me. And this time, it’s really, really, for real.

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HUGE UPDATE!

You know that application we have sent in?
The one most posts have been about lately
Because without it we haven’t been able to move forward with any plans regarding Kylie’s move to Sweden
Well today is a big day…

BECAUSE KYLIE HAS FINALLY BEEN GRANTED HER RESIDENCE PERMIT!!!

So, a quick recap:

18th of March 2016:
Sent in application.

25th July 2016:
Asked to provide additional information.

4th of August 2016:
Kylie had an interview at the Swedish consulate in Brisbane.

31st of March 2017:
I called them to check on progress. Was told we in queue and had not been assigned a case officer yet.

3rd Of April 2017:
Asked to provide additional information.

4th Of April 2017:
Recieved email that a decision had been made!

So yes, today have been an exciting day! I received a lot of messages while at my work experience place (it’s an obligatory part of my audio engineering course that I go out and do work at a proper studio, somewhat like being an intern, for four weeks) and doing my regular stuff. (Today I soldered a connector, troubleshot a headphone amp and tinkered with a bass guitar, among other things), and all the while, my phone kept vibrating in my pocket and I heard the familiar sounds of Skype notifying me of new messages. I didn’t have the volume very loud, just loud enough that I could hear it but it wouldn’t disturb anyone on the room. But of course, Kylie sending me loud of messages isn’t anything unusual and it’s usually nothing urgent. I can just get around to them when I have the time, and since she knew I was at work, I didn’t think she expected me to reply.

We had heard from people on Facebook (we’re members of a couple of groups for people who are also waiting for a decision) that when you are asked to send in information a second time, a decision might be getting close! That there might just be another few days to a week! We didn’t expect it in less than 24 hours!

So i finally got some time to check the messages, my supervisor was at lunch but i had opted to stay behind and finish up what i was doing so i would be done when he came back and i could take a quick lunch on my way home.

What i was met with was, to put it lightly, the messages of someone freaking out! Apparently she has been trying to get my attention for quite some time because she’s gotten an email that a decision had been made and i had to call up and find out if it was a positive one right away because she was going crazy!

Ofc, being the more mild mannered of the two of us, i said i was at work and i would get to it when i got off, which would be pretty soon. So i went back to work, intending to be done quickly so i could leave and make that call, and then get home so i could Skype call a girl that was waiting for me to calm her down.

Eventually, maybe half hour later, i was in the relatively quiet Stockholm metro. It wasn’t yet rush hour, so it was a perfect place to stop and make the call. So Kylie have me all these numbers to try, because apparently it’s better to call the units directly rather than calling migration agency support number (had to wait over an hour in queue last time) but most numbers were either closed or busy. But after trying maybe 5-10 different ones, i finally got through, and the woman on the other side could confirm, after taking our dossier number, my personnummer and confirming my address, that it was indeed granted! Valid two years! Then we’ll have to apply for extension, so yay. But apparently those have much shorter wait times.

And when i got home and told the news, my mum, (whom I’m living with these for work experiment weeks) greeted me with a big hug and congratulations. And also fresh baked bread. So that was nice.

Aurora Hunting and Border-crossing in Abisko and Narvik

We said goodbye to Kiruna, and headed even further north, on another one hour train, to Abisko.  Abisko is not big. It probably takes about ten minutes to walk through the little town. But it’s a nice little town. It mostly survives on tourists I think, because about half of the shops in the place was tourist places, like tour guides, little shops selling crafts and stuff like that. And most people were probably there for the same reason we were. The Northern Lights.

We stayed at Abisko moutain Lodge, in our own little two story cabin. The bottom floor had a small living room area with a bed sofa where Kylie and I slept, and a little kitchen, while the second floor was a single big room with a lot of beds, where Kylie’s mum slept. It was a nice enough place, but the best thing was probably that it was at the bottom of a small hill from where you could walk to to the highest point in Abisko and look at the night sky.

Pic 6We had Cabin 4, on the far left.

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Granted, the whole town is basically built on the side of a hill, or small mountain, but we were just toward the top. We did see a little northern lights at the top of the hill, but there wasn’t much. Kylie has mentioned before that our photos of the northern lights “lie”, and well, yes she’s correct in a way, but I feel like I need to defend myself a little here. While the lights were kind of faint to the naked eye, it’s easy to simply set up the camera to take in more light, making the lights more visible. So no, the photos don’t lie in the sense that they weren’t there. It was just harder to see them with the naked eye, unfortunately. That said, it was still very hard to get good photos of them, partly because they were so faint and the streaks were pretty small, and also there was still a little light pollution from the town below us. We had a bit better luck at the lowest point, down by Lake Torneträsk.

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Abisko was a really beautiful place though, and we spent a lot of time walking around and exploring. We were surrounded by mountains, that were covered in blankets of white snow, and below us a big lake, mostly frozen over and also covered in snow, the flatness of it making a nice contrast to the mountains.

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As I mentioned before, there isn’t many shops and stuff in Abisko. There’s one grocery store, which wasn’t that big and had limited stock, but for some reason, they have a store dedicated only to candy, and there was a lot of it. Kylie and I filled a bag to share, and Kylie’s mum got even more of the liquor chocolates she loved.

I don’t think we got much sleep while we were in Abisko. It was northern lights hunting during the night and exploring by day. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much northern light, but that didn’t stop us from going out every night anyway, ever hopeful of catching it, tracking the light forecast on our phones and everything! We were thinking of going to the Abisko Sky Station, where they say the lights can be spectacular, assuming they’re out, but we dismissed it pretty quickly once we found out that in bad weather, they close it, and you don’t get a refund if that happpens, and we’re glad we did, because we overheard another couple having run into that problem. Or maybe the ski lift had broken, don’t remember. Anyway, all they got to do was watch some video instead of going to see the lights.

We only got to spend one full day in Abisko, and two nights if you include the one when we arrived, because on the second day, we went on a day trip to Narvik in Norway, almost completing the list of nordic countries visited. Kylie still haven’t been to Denmark yet, but I have, so I only have Iceland left, which unfortunately is a bit too far away to include on this trip (but I did ride an icelandic horse, so I guess that’s something. More on that in a later post).

It was a long drive to Narvik, but we did stop at a few interesting places, like Hotel Fjället in Björkliden, where they picked up some more passengers, and which had an amazing view. We also stopped at the Swedish/Norwegian border and a beach by the fjord.

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In Narvik, we got to go to the top of the Scandic Hotel, the observation deck. You had an amazing view of the town, which its little houses and stuff. The deck had a restaurant/bar, which sold drinks and food, but we didn’t really have anything because it was pretty pricey.

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Pic 14Notice the LKAB train, delivering the iron pellets from the mine in Kiruna. These trains are fully automated and pretty awesome

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Once back in Abisko, we got to exploring a little more, because the day wasn’t over yet. Went back to the little store, bought some supplies, but it wasn’t long until we had to pack up again and return to the train station going back to Kiruna, where we, I think personally, we did some of the most fun things this whole trip!

Haparanda, New Years, Luleå

When we returned to Haparanda, it was the day before New Years. We all unpacked as best we could in my tiny apartment, which left us with basically no floor space. I’m telling you, that place is fine for me, who is just one guy, but you can’t live more than one person there. At least not if you want any kind of personal space. And especially if two out of three people are living out of large suitcases placed on the floor. But we managed, and it actually wasn’t too bad. Kylie and I didn’t want much space between us anyway.

New Year’s Eve is interesting in a town bordering two time zones, as you celebrate it twice. Once for each time zone. The event itself started a couple hours before new year’s Finnish time (which is one hour ahead of Swedish time) and we made our way to the parking lot of the big shopping center that straddles the border between Sweden and Finland, which is where the celebrations would be held. There was a stage and it all started with a dance number, before speeches were made and it turned out that one of the main hosts of the event was the principal of my school, who is a really cool person by the way. Following this, there was a live band that played cover songs and other performances, until just before Finnish New Year, when they lit a fire sculpture display thing in an area just between the two countries. During this, there was more entertainment, until at midnight Finnish time, they lit the fireworks.

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By this time, it had gotten really cold, and the wind was biting at every bit of skin that was exposed on our faces, and finding its way inside our thick layers of clothes. Seriously, it bothered me less being in -40 but no wind than just the few degrees minus but with high winds.

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For the next hour, there was more entertainment on the stage and more speeches being made, until the Swedish new years, when we got even more fireworks. It was nice, and Kylie preferred our Swedish show over the Finnish one, but she still claims they have even better ones in Brisbane. I guess I’ll have to take her word for that. It wasn’t the most intense new years celebration I’ve ever experienced either, though I think the most novel thing was having done it twice in one night! Regardless, we were pretty tired when we came home, and it was very nice to get to crawl into a nice warm bed.

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The next day, we spent walking around in Haparanda. I showed them my favourite places. We went down to the beach by the river bordering Finland, which had iced over. Actually, the town was covered more with ice than with snow. That’s what happens when the weather is mild. Snow falls, partially melts, then freezes again, forming a thick layer of ice everywhere.

I must admit that I was not too happy to go out, I’d probably have preferred to stay indoors, cuddling in the warm apartment, but I know how much Kylie loves the snow and ice, and I wanted to show her the place I, for the moment, call home, so I braved the weather, though slightly reluctantly, and now afterwards, Kylie still says I was grumpy, not wanting to play with her in the icy playground. But I digress. We did get some Christmas decorations though, a christmas goat! It’s a scandinavian thing.

Pic 5One dangerous looking playground!

Pic 6 The town’s hotel… Kylie’s Mum was later horrified to find they’d removed the Christmas tree!

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On the second of January, we started our journey further north, by taking a bus to Luleå, from where we would go by train to Kiruna. We stayed overnight in Luleå though, at a very cosy hotel. Probably my favourite of the hotels we stayed at. It was nice and modern, and Kylie and I had a room to ourselves, which I appreciated. Not that her mum was annoying to be around, quite the opposite, she was great fun! But it was nice to have some time to ourselves.

Luleå is a very nice town though. We walked around for a few hours in the evening and had great fun. The river was frozen over and they had ice skating tracks on it. It would have been fun to go skating there! We got to do a little skating, but only on small rinks, as you’ll see later, but nothing that really let you just skate straight forward without having to turn because you’re approaching a wall.

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Pic 9 A little bit more snow and a lot more ice!  On the Luleå River, where they ice skate.

Nevertheless, we found a park with Santa sculptures, another iced over playground, which I did play in, I’ll have you know, and what looked like a small outdoor theatre thing where they had performed for kids. There was a lot of interesting things to find. Just before we went back to the hotel, we found a time capsule, which was installed on new years 1999/2000 and is not supposed to be opened for a thousand years, new years 2999/3000! At the time of writing, that’s only 984 years left…

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Since we had to leave the hotel early for our train in the morning, the hotel allowed us to make breakfast and bring it with us in paper bags, which was very nice of them. And it was great! They also had hot chocolate and coffee and fruit and little muffins that you could take from the food area at any time, for free. We probably exploited that a bit too much… had quite a few mugs of hot chocolate.

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Anyway, as usual, we ended up running late for our train in the morning. And we had to sprint though Luleå to the train station at 5:30 in the morning, lugging heavy suitcases with one hand and carrying breakfast in the other. Luckily, the station wasn’t that far away. But it seems like we have a habit of being late… I think we’ll need to work on that in the future.

Stockholm. Capital of Sweden!

Stockholm is a beautiful city. Most of the rest of the country has this kind of idea (not entirely unfounded) that Stockholmers are uptight, slightly narcissistic and somewhat rude, and they are often referred to as “nollåttor” (zero-eights, from the landline phone number prefix used to reach Stockholm; 08), and yes, there are a lot of that kind of people, but there are also a lot of amazing people, including my mother and brother and my old school friend, Emma.

But first we need to get on the plane and go there. And boy was that an experience. It was an exercise in keeping calm in stressful situations (but we were totally stressed), because yes, once again we were in danger of not catching our flight!

First of all, we came home late from the Studio Tour, and we had to leave very early the next morning. We grabbed chicken burgers on our way home and after eating, immediately started packing our stuff. Then we double checked our taxi order for the next morning and went to bed at one. Two hours later we had to get up again to catch said taxi to get to the airport at around half past four, where we had our breakfast at a lovely little sandwich place where I had a bacon and egg roll and Kylie and her mum had yoghurt.

After breakfast, we walked around the airport shops a bit. Checked out a toy store and some souvenir stuff but didn’t buy anything. Then we noticed that it was late and of course we had to get to the gate. So we rushed and, with Kylie’s mum in tow behind us,half walked, half ran toward the gate because they were doing a final call for our flight! We still had to wait some time though because the queue was pretty long.

The flight was nice though. I witnessed my first high altitude sunrise, which was spectacular! All the reds and oranges, with the cover of white cloud beneath us. I’d have loved to get good photos of it but it was hard through the dirty window.

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Kylie and I watched an episode of Criminal Minds on her iPad. It’s one of her favourite shows, but I don’t really follow it. I’ve watched occasional episodes, but I’ll probably have to watch it from the start once we live together if I want to keep up with her.

The landing wasn’t as smooth as when I touched down in London, but it wasn’t rough either, but as this was only my second time flying, I don’t have many points of reference. The rest of the experience at the Stockholm airport was pretty uneventful too. We got through passport control, collected our bags and went on our way.

Stockholm: Day One

First stop: the hotel. We got there without too many complications. None actually. We arrived at the front desk, got our keycards and dumped our stuff in our room.

With a few hours to go before we were going to see my mum, we decided to go explore the city. Or specifically, the old town. Kylie especially wanted to visit the Christmas markets at Stortorget, the big square. Getting there though, proved easier said than done. Of course I was a terrible guide, even with the help of Google Maps, and we got lost trying to find both the square and other iconic sights like a small statue and a narrow alley. We even ended up on the completely opposite side of the island the old town is situated on, but it was very beautiful by the water, so there’s that. By the time we got back to the station, it was just in time to catch the subway to my mum’s apartment.

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When we arrived we were all very tired, but it was very nice to see her again. And her fat white cat, Bruce, and new black kitten, Zeldon.

We had a nice dinner of potatoes and meatballs, during the making of which I had fallen asleep on the sofa, and afterwards we were presented with these nice saffron things with gingerbread topping.

After this, things become kind of a blur. We sat down in the living room and shared the photobook we had made from our first visit, then we all sort of took turns to fall asleep on the sofa. I don’t remember the conversation but I do know Kylie’s mum took photos of ordinary objects next to Bruce (the cat) to illustrate how fat he is.

When it came time to leave, and we got to the subway station, there were some complications. Apparently the fire alarm had been set off and police and firefighters were outside. Interestingly enough, we could still see regular people walking in and out from the station. Not many, but a few times. We stayed outside though, not wanting to take any risk. We waited for probably 40 minutes, but the alarm turned out to be fake anyway, or at least, by the time the alarm stopped ringing, the police and firefighters left and we got to go inside, the station looked completely fine. Nothing scorched and no strange smells.

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We waited a few minutes for a train (they leave every 5-10 minutes) and got back to the hotel, where we almost didn’t get in. The lady at the front desk told us that we’d need to use the keypad after hours, but the number wouldn’t work. We found out on our last day that we’d been trying to put in the wrong number! Luckily, a group of other people arrived and they let us in.

Stockholm: Day Two

The next day, we went to the Abba museum, and when I say we, I mean Kylie and I only followed her mum to the museum. We took the tram there from Kungsträdgården (the King’s garden) station, which was fun. We also got to see a really old tram. Wish they still had those in use everywhere. It was a beautiful thing.

When we got to the museum, we helped Kylie’s mum get her ticket, and then left when she’d gone into the exhibition hall to explore the city and went back to the hotel to film a vlog.

Afterwards, we met up with her at Kungsträdgården where they had a Christmas market. They sold all of the traditional Swedish Christmas goods, like gingerbread, glögg (mulled wine) and roasted almonds. It was nice. They also had ice skating, but as we didn’t have skates, we couldn’t get on the ice.

After the market, we went to explore the rest of Stockholm! Kylie had a whole list of places she wanted to go to, and I did my best to help get us there. We started at the old town, where we managed to find the narrowest alleyway. And at less than a meter wide, it truly deserves that title. We also found the big square we had looked for the day before. Unfortunately we made it there just as the markets closed, and we never got a photo of the brick building Kylie liked, just liked we didn’t last time, but you can’t always have good luck, can you?

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After the old town we went to Sergel’s Square, right at the center of modern Stockholm, to look at Christmas lights, which were, in Kylie’s opinion the best in the city.

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Now tired and wanting to sit down more than walk around, we went to ride the subway and experience the subway art, which is a very unique feature of the Stockholm subway system. Every station is it’s own little artwork, with different themes. Hallonbergen (translates to Raspberry Mountain. Children’s drawing themes), Näckrosen (The Pond Lily), Thorhildsplan (Thorhild’s Square. Mosaic pixel art) Fridhemsplan (Peace Home’s Square. Ships and stuff) Solna Centrum (Environmental message) and T-Centralen (The T-Central. Art varies depending on floor). I think my favourite station was the one with mosaic pixel art. That’s really creative!

Pic 6Quite possibly my favourite photo of us so far.

Pic 7Solna Centrum station.

Finally back at the hotel, I was itching to show Kylie another part of Swedish life. The hotel had a sauna, and I was determined that we try it out. So even though it was late and we were tired from our day, the two of us went upstairs to the sauna room. I’m sad to say Kylie was not a fan at all. I can’t tell why. She was of the opinion that it was worse than sweating in the warm Australian summer. I tried to explain that it’s different but she disagreed. Oh well. I’m gonna have to sauna by myself in the future I guess. I’m a little disappointed but what can you do. Not like I can force her to do it.

Stockholm: Day Three

The next day we woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the houses outside our hotel window. Our room was a couple floors above the surrounding buildings and I tried getting some nice photos out the window.

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The agenda for the day: more city exploration! Kylie’s mum had a guided walking tour of the South part of town and all three of us had a walking tour of the old town. But those weren’t until the evening, so we had plenty of time walking around on our own till then.

We started, as expected, in the old town. It’s a beautiful part of the city. It’s not a big area on the map compared to the rest of Stockholm, but it’s packed with sights to see, and cosy shops, cafés, restaurants and old buildings that have a long and important role in shaping the history of the town. Everything in the old town has a unique history, and I’ll get deeper into that later.

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We started at the main Street, which is full of little shops, a lot of which are souvenir shops. We found three of them in the same street corner, all of which sold a lot of the same stuff, and the fact that they haven’t driven each other out of business speaks a lot to how many tourists there are in this area of Stockholm.

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Just around the corner from there, you find the palace courtyard, where you can watch the daily changing of the guards. This time wasn’t as spectacular as other times I’ve seen it. And they called it the changing of the sentries, so maybe it was a different kind of changing, but nevertheless, it’s always fun to experience.

After this, Kylie’s mum had to go to her guided tour of the south of Stockholm, while Kylie and I explored Östermalms Saluhall. It was quite the place, full of luxury food with ridiculous prices attached to them. They had all kinda of things, from marzipan figures and chocolate delights, to whole chickens, with everything still on them, which grossed Kylie out quite a bit, and I admit I was a little too.

Now it was starting to get pretty dark, and it was time to head to head to Sergel’s Square to meet with the tour guide for the old town tour. It was fun, and the guide was engaging us participants. We were a pretty large group, and she did a good job of making everyone feel included. From Sergel’s Square, which is the center of the modern Stockholm, we walked to the Old Town, which is, obviously, the center of the old part of Stockholm. She guided us through the history of Stockholm, pointing out key places and events. It was all very interesting. Of course I cant remember all the places we went, but they include the palace, the statue of St. George and the Dragon, the Big Square, the smallest statue, the narrowest alleyway we had already visited, and many others. Granted, Kylie and I had visited a lot of these last time when we did the Stockholm Ghost Tour, but it was fun to revisit them nonetheless, on a tour with a less morbid theme.

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Next, and the final thing on our schedule for the day was a visit to my old school friend, Emma. She’s living in Stockholm with her boyfriend in a really cosy little apartment with interesting quirky things, like an upside down Christmas tree. They treated us to a couple of hours of nice conversation and raggmunkar (sort of like pancakes with potato in them, served with bacon and lingonberry jam) for dinner. It was very nice to catch up with her, as I don’t see her that often anymore.

Stockholm: Day Three
The last day in Stockholm we didn’t do much. We had a train to catch going to my dad’s in Skänninge, leaving at 12:40. So we spent the morning repacking our suitcases and doing last minute washing before catching that train, where we filmed a vlog and wrote a blog post which can be found here and here!

The Application Process Has Begun!

So today was a crazy day! Kylie was freaking out and not able to push a button, and I tried to calm her down and yeah. But then again, applying for a residence permit to move and live with someone is a pretty big deal, and pressing that finish application button… well, there’s pretty much no going back after that. But it’s not all done yet. I’m now in the process of writing my response application so to speak. We both have to provide basically answers to the same questions about each other, and I guess they compare those answers or something, but yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing today, and because of the Migration Agency’s crappy system for managing these applications, I already lost all my progress once. But I’m getting there. Soon we will be living together and I’m so excited! Well at least if this application goes through. But I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t, so I’m not that worried.

Johan’s First Day in London

In Sweden we have a saying. “Det är lätt att vara efterklok”. It’s easy to be wise after the fact. To have hindsight. And I realized, as I sat on the bus to the airport that maybe, I should have taken the earlier bus.

But how could I have known that I’d end up in a traffic jam? That I’d sit there, stuck on an unmoving bus, checking the time on my phone frantically, watching it slowly tick closer to the departure time of my flight?

I wrote several messages to Kylie, but she was out on an adventure with her mum, going around on a bus, seeing the countryside outside London, and couldn’t talk much, so I was mostly on my own in my panic.

I got lucky though, and eventually, the traffic let up and I got to Luleå just before the connecting bus to the airport left. Which I of course missed, so I had to, again slightly in panic, figure out when the next left and from where. But thanks to modern technology, I managed to get to the airport in time.

As it was my first time flying, it all felt a little intimidating at first, but it passed pretty quickly. I got through security and then waited twenty minutes for boarding, which seemed like forever at the time, and probably another hour on the plane itself before we took off. After that, it was mostly smooth sailing. Or flying, as it were. I think I slept most of the journey actually, but it was dark outside, so there wasn’t much to miss in terms of scenery.

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I think you can sum up my first experience flying with one word. Uneventful. Which is probably a good thing. You don’t want much drama when you’re that high up in the air.

When I arrived is a different story though. First of all, it was a long walk to baggage claim. I was messaging with Kylie as I was waiting for my baggage, and she was waiting for me in the lobby. And when I finally got there, well, let’s say that my heart was in my throat.

The first thing I noticed as I walked through the doors was her mother standing to my right with a video camera. I looked around awkwardly for Kylie but couldn’t see her until she appeared from behind a pillar in front of me.

The second thing I noticed was that, as shewas running towards me, she was limping. She had told me about her accident of course, but I had too much in my brain at the time to think about it.

She had started running towards me, and I didn’t know if I should run toward her, with all my bags and stuff, if I should just drop everything and run to her like in the movies, or if I should just keep walking, and before I could make up my mind, she was already upon me and we were hugging. And we were falling against the railing between us and her mum. It felt really good. But also kind of awkward. I can’t tell you why. Maybe because of the shyness because you haven’t seen each other in so long and you’re not entirely sure of how to act, and maybe because her mother was there. Maybe because we were being filmed. I don’t know, but it passed pretty quickly. Then we looked each other in the eyes, smiled, and with the acute knowledge that her mother were watching, I kissed her. A quick, light kiss, but it was a kiss.

Then I said hello to her mum, whom I had only talked to on Skype previously.

It turned out then, that she hadn’t started filming. So we had none of our first meeting on camera. Which was just typical. This was the second visit, and the second time we failed to get first hug on video. So we had to stage it to the camera, which for some reason felt even more awkward. Though I did like to have another reason just to hug her.

I like hugging her.

After that, we got to the London underground. I got myself a an Oyster card and we were off on my first London adventure.

There are many things you can say about London, both good and bad, but I think I’m gonna keep it pretty neutral. I don’t usually get very attached to places and if I do, it’s usually more to do with a person than the place itself.

I like exploring new places though, and London is a really nice city. Lots of old iconic buildings and nice architecture, which I’m a fan of. Got a few nice photos of Big Ben and the river Thames.

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The first thing Kylie had in store for me was something she had teased me about for a while. A secret surprise. Shrek’s Adventure!

Now honestly, Kylie is definitely more the Shrek fan in this relationship, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was clearly designed for kids but it was definitely fun for all ages! Even for me. There was adventure, a 4D movie section (my first ever) and the guides and actors went a long way toward making it a fun experience all around!  At the end, we got to walk through and get photo opportunities with other Dreamworks characters.

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It was very similar to the London Dungeon, which we visited afterwards, and they obviously borrowed some of their stuff, like the confusing mirror corridor and the benches that felt like they had creepy crawlies inside them which made us squirm in our seats!

The London Dungeon was a very different experience though. It had the same guided nature, but instead of an epic adventure, we got to walk through the dark and disturbing history of London, but it was done in a humorous way. If you appreciate dark humor, that is. It felt really authentic at times as well. Including the horrid smell! I got picked out a few times from the audience during the interactive portions of Shrek’s Adventure, but both Kylie and I took care to stay unnoticed in the back of the London Dungeon.

After we got back out outside, we turned our eyes to the sky above us. We were already on the South Bank, so why not take a ride on the London Eye?

But first we took a walk along the water and we saw a street performer, Tom, riding a tall unicycle among other things.

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We waited ’til just before it got dark before we headed to the London Eye. First we did the 4D experience, which was not nearly as good as the Shrek one, and then we got into our pod. It was just getting dark as we rose up, and by the time we got to the ground, it was night. On our way around, we took a lot of pictures and videos.  It had started to spit towards the end, but thankfully we got to enjoy the sights before that!

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Afterwards, we met up with Kylie’s friend Hayley and her partner Dom. We had a three-course dinner in a cosy little West End Spanish restaurant called Andalucia. We both had the potatoes with homemade garlic for starters and the custard with caramel cover for dessert, and I had pork tenderloin for main course while she had chicken. It was all really good. Very recommended.

On our way home after dinner we passed the Platform 9 and 3/4 shop at King’s Cross. Kylie had told me about how they were expanding the store, and she was surprised to see that they had already finished the expansion by then, which means that within the space of a week she got to see the store both before and after expansion! We got lucky, because we arrived shortly before closing time, but we did have time to buy a Platform 9 and 3/4 t-shirt and Ravenclaw, notebook for me, a key ring and Hogwarts Express ticket and lanyard for her. Then we of course had to take our obligatory trolley photo!

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After a fun and eventful first day in London, it was very nice to finally come home to the apartment we were staying. Kylie and I slept in the double bed in the bedroom, and her mother took the bedsofa in the livingroom. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t great to finally spend a night with Kylie again. There’s nothing better than falling asleep next to someone you love, and I’m sure most of you will agree… Even if her hair gets in my face and it tended to get really hot under the blankets with two people sharing the space. I can’t wait to get to do that for the rest of my life.