So it has been a little over a month since we relocated to Sweden in a town called Gävle about 90 mins north of Stockholm.
It is a nice sized town that reminds us a lot of Lancaster, England. Some beautiful old parts of town, a nice selection of hotels and cafes and a sizeable shopping area in the centre. There is a great park with plenty of outdoor spaces in the summer months like an open air cafe and mini golf just to name a few.
This time round, we are not the only new guys in town so it has been nice getting the lay of the land with fellow newbies. We have started playing Padle, a sport that is basically a cross between tennis and squash which originated in Argentina. We were also lucky to have been introduced to the Swedish summer home experience, when a fellow new colleague invited us to visit her husband’s family summer home on the lake.
It is based on an island in the middle of a lake in Valbo, a mere 20mins away from Gävle. We were amazed how close this beautiful lake was to our home and getting in a little speed boat to reach the island, certainly tested my balance. As soon as we arrived, we were welcomed with open arms and we all sat down to some Fika. Fika is a popular Swedish word for coffee and pastries. It is a time to relax and socialize with friends or colleagues and it is something we have been doing a lot recently. We have never drunk so much coffee!
It is such a peaceful place with stunning views of the lake and we spent most of the day there enjoying the sun whilst eating good food in excellent company.
Before the day’s end, we decided to get in the lake for a swim and try our hand at paddle boarding. Rob’s balance was way better than mine as he was able to stand where I was just about able to get on my knees. We decided to take the paddle board around the island but stuck to sitting, using the paddle board more as a row boat. It was a lot of fun, especially when Rob and I tried to swap places without capsizing. It was a great way to enjoy the sunshine and our first Swedish adventure.
After some afternoon tea which consisted of Swedish cracker bread, cheese and chocolate cake, it was time to go home. It was a lovely day and we had the best send off with a view of the sun setting over the lake.
Our first impressions of Sweden have been good. It has been much easier to function here than it was in Japan but being a European citizen, moving within the EU (for now) has its challenges. All citizens of Sweden are required to have a Personal Number that is linked to EVERYTHING from opening a bank account to even receiving post. It has been five weeks and counting, waiting for ours to arrive, which is incredibly frustrating. Apart from that, we think we are going to enjoy our time here. We like the sporting opportunities, the working hours, the people we work with are friendly and most importantly we are closer to home.
We are looking forward to exploring as much of Sweden as possible during our time here and hopefully Covid will not hold us back too much but who can predict the future?
For now we are just going to enjoy Gävle and any experience that comes our way.