graceless

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

We will rock you

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 10:02 pm

If I’ve noticed one difference between European students here and everybody else, it is where we choose to travel. The European students try to see as much of Sweden as they can. Take my corridormate, Giulia (my favourite Italian) – she has seen more of Sweden in the past 5 months than most Swedes!

Jason and I? We travel every other week but are too eager, too ambitious. We are trying to cover all of Europe! In Sweden, we’ve only been to Stockholm and some parts of Skåne (the southern province of Sweden).

Well, we decided this was a damn shitty shame! So we took a day trip to the southern coast of Sweden to see the city of Ystad and Ales Stenar, the “Swedish Stonehenge.” Lonely Planet’s Sweden says it is just as mystical as the one in England, but without the commercial corruption. You can actually go up to and touch the one in Sweden – woohoo! Who doesn’t love touching rocks?

In Ystad, I found this little patriotic patch of flowers. Yeah, they’re cool – but not the object of the photo. I didn’t notice this until I was skimming through my photos after uploading them on the computer, but the cute little kids in the upper right corner are smoking cigarettes! I guess this is just what kids do in small towns.

I think it’s mating season for the ducks in Sweden. Jason and I witnessed some strange events in Ystad: 3 drakes chasing and sexually attacking one female duck! It was very violent and savage! And when we returned to Lund, some others told stories of similar sightings as well.

This may be more than you wanted to know, but in Dr. Gabbott’s Bio class, I learned that forced copulation is actually quite common among ducks. Female ducks have thus evolved clockwise spiralled vaginas. Why’s this helpful? Male ducks have spiralled penises in the opposite direction! Only when a girl duck is feeling it, can she pull out some tricks to allow fertilization from her “preferred” male partner. Now that’s clever contraception! Girl power!

So, anyway, the stones. Ales Stenar is located outside a little fishing village that is outside the town of Ystad. The village is called Kåseberga – it’s right by the Baltic Sea. The tiny town is very idyllic and pastoral. It’s nestled between the water, some hills, and many bright yellow rape fields.

As you walk up the path to Ales Stennar, the signs tell you that the grassy fields around the stones are grazed by cows. Don’t scare or pet the cows.   …Okay?

I’m surprised that there was no security there, given the presence of cows, the mystical aura of the place, and the historical significance of the stones.

The stones, the stones. The 59 of them, brought from afar, are carefully erected in the shape of a large ship. It’s a beautiful megalithic prehistoric monument from the time of the Vikings, but no one knows their exact origins. The most intriguing fact, perhaps, is that the prow of the ship directly faces the sunrise on the summer solstice. The stern points to the sunrise on the winter solstice.

Is it a tomb? A calendar? A burial? Who knows. The stones themselves were carved by glaciers millions of years ago. Only a few meters away is a steep drop to the sea.

It’s not a very crowded spot. Mostly, I believe, because it is quite difficult to find. Even once you know how to get there, you need to call special numbers ahead of time to arrange special taxis to chauffeur you there and back. Times like these make me miss having access to a car.

The village of Kåseberga is lovely and quiet. So quiet that I would go insane if I had to live there for more than a few days.

I am going to be MIA again as of tomorrow until June 3. PARIS, BABY! Some of you may care that the French Open is going on while I’m there. I’m not attending a game, nor will I post about it!
I’m not too keen on watching sweating boys swat balls back and forth for a day. Pfft.

Just kidding. I’d just rather go to Versailles or Disneyland or some nifty thing like that.

Every four years

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Every four years, there is a big party. It’s a big celebration of people, colour, shows, and activities for everyone. The media comes, people get really drunk and spend more money than they planned.

Olympics? Sure, but that was so 3 months ago…

I’m talking about Lundakarnevalen!! The entire city of Lund and surrounding cities come to party at an entirely student-run carnival. The state-controlled liquor store (Systembolaget) sells out. Once every four years. No biggie.

We got 3 super sunny days. And believe me, where I am, that’s pretty incredible.

Photo fest!

So then we had to give it a go. For old times sake!

Despite my previous work experience as a Games Attendant (not a carny), and my extensive knowledge of the profitability of carnival games, Jason and I played every game at Karnevalen. All we got was a little red pillow that said “I Love You.” Davor, however, struck gold. He played only 3 games and won a loaf of gourmet bread and a French press with espresso! One was a lottery game – impressive!

The handiwork put into the games was amazing!

The Swedes love the sun. I love the Swedes. We picnicked.
I also now love Swedish cheesecake.

The theme of the carnival was “Right and Wrong” – of course the parade was a bit risque!

Everybody eats falafel.

The sketchy Vegas chapel where Jason and I had a really politically incorrect marriage ceremony. The photo is hilarious, but not blog-appropriate.

Not digitally altered

This cover band is called the Leningrad Cowboys. They are Finnish and the Fins sure know how to do heavy metal =P!

The circus show was one of the strangest performances I have ever seen!! It was SO BIZARRE! And not just because it was all in Swedish and operatic singing. Apparently all the performers are all students – but there was a huge amount of talent: singing, acrobatics, juggling, magic tricks, and a generous dose of drama.

Endlessly engaging, for sure! Totally dig the colourful tights.

A good ratio of female to male police officers. Sweden, you are so perfect to mmeeeeee!

Nobody can ever resist an outdoor grill. This is the reason I could never be a vegetarian.

Ain’t no carnival without some pyromania.

Smatterings

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm

♥ I thought I’d seen some pretty excessive alcohol consumption in my college days (all 2 years of it). (And, really, I have.) But HOLY MOLY check out the photos – this is somethin’ else! And to think, I almost went to Cardiff for my exchange! How different would that’ve been?

♥ Not a fan of bottled water. Or bottled juice. Or bottled anything except for pop (ah, the necessity of cheap mix). I’ve lived in Vancouver, and I’ve lived in Sweden. Really, there is no reason to drink bottled water in either of these places.

♥ While we’re on the health-freak stream of thought (nothing makes you worry about this stuff more than a festive weekend carnival), I found this nifty little “dirty dozen” cheat sheet that will help me shop smarter and healthier. It lists the foods that you should always buy organic, and the foods that have low traces of pesticides.

♥ I LOVE THIS WEBSITE. Best thing I’ve stumbled upon since finding Texts From Last Night last summer. I showed Jason, and that site cut his productivity at work by about 2/3. This one is almost as good: My Mom Is A Fob.

Some pictures. Gotta love pictures.

Bad dreams

Good dreams

I trust Einstein to be correct about most things.

There’s no place like home

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I miss Vancouver so much.

The days are long and the sun is kind here, but sometimes I’d give anything to be back in Vancouver with more of the people I love. I guess being away from those people makes you appreciate them all the more. All of a sudden they are not here. They are there. I wish I were there.

Soon.

You know life is good when there’s something to miss, because only the really special things are worth missing.

The Swedish Sauna (really cold skinny dipping)

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Yesterday, I went for my first Swedish sauna experience in Malmö. In Swedish, a sauna house is called a “kallbadhus” – literal translation: cold bath house.

The sauna house is located on/in the sea, connected to the beach by a long pier.

It was a very, very dreary day when we went. The sauna was very busy, I think, because people were wanting to warm their cores and forget about the cold. And since being outside gets you wet anyway, why not get even more wet in a sauna!

The kallbadhus had 5 saunas. 2 on the women’s side, 2 on the men’s side, and one in between for both sexes.

Guess which one I went to? Ohh yeah.

How it works: You go into the change room and get nekkid. You grab a piece of cloth to sit on, pick a steamy sauna and sit until you can’t bear the heat (like any sauna, except you’re naked, and everyone else is naked). Then, you run outside and climb down the stairs that lead into the sea. After skinny dipping for as long as you can handle (about half a second), you climb out and run back into the sauna. Rinse and repeat.

Here is a photo I snuck in the sauna of the part with no naked people. It was a foggy day. The water looks cold, don’t it?

The whole thing reminds me of the annual polar bear swim, but more exciting because everyone is sweaty and naked.

While we were in Malmö again, we decided to go visit the tallest building in Sweden. Actually it is the tallest in all of Scandinavia. The Turning Torso: so named because it looks like a turning torso. The cruel irony is that, because it was so foggy yesterday, we couldn’t even see halfway up the building.

This is what it looks like on a good day.

I’ve seen it lots of times from afar, as in while riding through Malmö on a train.

But, come on, that’s a jerk move to obstruct the view of a high tower (how does that even happen?) when we walked all the way to see it. I’m talking to you, weatherjerk. *Angry fist*

On a brighter note, I finally found pad thai in a restaurant in Malmö. I wish I could describe to you with words how happy this made me ♥♥♥, but I wouldn’t know where to begin, and it would do my satisfaction a savage injustice.

A touch of reality

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2010 at 12:32 am

I am a huge nerd. I just spent my night playing trivia and puzzle games on the PS3 with le boyfriend. I just found out I got accepted into UBC’s Honours Psychology program and I know it will be tough, tough work, but I couldn’t be happier. It’s just kind of a big deal for me.

Also, Jason sent me this link because he felt indignant… because he felt the brief comic was true. I had to post it, because, well it is true. From The Doghouse Diaries.

Smatterings

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2010 at 4:04 pm

♥ Last night I watched a movie that Spencer and Roman recommended to me repeatedly. It’s called Primal Fear (DivX player player required), starring Richard Gere. It’s a twisted movie about a hot shot defence attorney who finds himself in the courtroom defending an altar boy accused of murdering a priest. And, as a psych major, I enjoyed the film a lot. I hope that doesn’t spoil much.

I can see why Richard Gere was casted as Billy Flynn in Chicago 6 years later. Highly recommended.

♥ So, on another note. I was on the Vancouver Sun website last week and found an enlightening article about the 50 year history of The Pill, a handy little med that has both empowered and endangered women for half a century now.

It has put the onus of contraception on women. In many ways it has also liberated women, and the rest of society with us.

♥ I have been considering getting a tattoo since I was 14, but I haven’t gone under the needle. I recently wrote a paper on the tattooing community, both the hardcore and those on the periphery, and I found this article called “The Rise of Body Art” by Timothy C. Davis – I think it’s a must-read before for anybody who is considering getting inked.

Hearing what reputable artists have to say about the art and the trends of the trade has changed my perspective on tattoos and makes me totally reconsider what I really want, or if I really want one at all.

♥ I made delicious banana muffins today. Either everybody was humoring me or there was a consensus that they were kick-ass. Recipe here from Cat Can Cook.

♥ I guess it’s a good sign for Afghanistan that the stationed American soldiers are bored and keeping to themselves? This is an awesome remake of Lady Gaga’s video for “Telephone.” Really, quite good.

Bastard

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 at 1:15 am

As you lovely people may know, or not, I am currently living in Lund, Sweden. It’s the big red dot at the bottom.

Locations are more easily appreciated once pointed out on a map, so there you go! As you can see, most large cities are in the south. Stockholm is only a third the way up. The north, as in Canada, is cold and largely inhabitable. Southeast of the big red dot is Copenhagen, Denmark, where there is more frequent and easily accessible air traffic. Directly south of Lund is Malmö, our nearest “big city.”

What Lonely Planet’s Sweden has to say about Malmo:

Once dismissed as crime-prone and tatty, Sweden’s third-largest city has rebranded itself as progressive and downright cool.

What I love about Malmö is the open squares with alfresco dining, huge multicultural variety, and historical accents from the cobblestones to the rooftops nested right next to large pedestrian shopping streets and malls. I must say that when it comes to luxury, the Swedes love to lie in it.

Not indulgently, but conservatively, sparingly, and deservingly.

There was this fudge/truffle stand in the middle of a square in Malmo so I went nuts buying giant cubes truffles and nougats. They had chocolate/mint, Bailey’s, Irish coffee, cherry brandy, cappuccino, strawberry/coconut… everything to tempt a girl before dinner. *drool*

Also, in Malmo there is a restaurant that Jason and I have wanted to try. It’s called Bastard, and chef Andreas Dahlberg’s focus was to make memorable and delicious dishes from less popular cuts of meat (some would consider them scraps). I was quite impressed by the variety of flavour and meats offered on the menu, and even more pleased with the exceptional service. The daily-changing menu (varying with what’s available at the butcher’s) is entirely in Swedish so our server translated and elaborated upon each item for us.

It was so weird, again, that there was no tipping option when we paid for the meal. I’ve written about tipping. At Bastard, we had to eat at the bar because all the tables were “reserved.” Fine with us, but we noticed that none of the tables started filling up until about an hour and a half after we arrived. When tables are reserved, they are reserved for the entire night. Dining is an experience that can last hours, and often does!

What a concept! I thought we were there for forever but it was less than 2 hours. 2 hours for a 1-course meal? That’s almost absurd.

After the meal we went to watch Iron Man 2. Very action-packed, full of plot holes, crappy ending just like the first. Pretty much what we were anticipating. I thought Justin Hammer’s character was developed very nicely, but they skirted on developing the real villain – Ivan Vanko. Scarlett Johansson was a nice eye-candy addition, though it would have been nice if her action scene was done as well as the numerous machine action scenes.

I am personally more interested in a solid story, so I preferred Kick Ass over this movie. But for the action junkie, this dominates over all, including Clash of the Titans (which totally butchers the original myth – grr). Apparently, producers were hoping that Iron Man 2 would beat The Dark Knight’s weekend box office record. NO SUCH LUCK!!

What cracks me up is that it didn’t even beat Twilight: New Moon, which holds the third top spot. I just told Jason and he is furious! Ahahaha!

We also just did some research. New Moon had a production budget of 50 million. How much did it make? 300 million. That’s a damn good return! Jason is “losing his shit.”

OKAY I JUST FOUND OUT THAT DAFT PUNK IS TOURING 2010-2011!! IF THEY COME ANYWHERE NEAR VANCOUVER I AM THERE!!!

Update: According to leaked dates, they will be in Europe/Australia in July, and the UK in the beginning of September. So, I’m assuming they will come to the States mid-late September. No Canadian dates. *Prays they will come to Seattle*

Home is anywhere

In Uncategorized on May 8, 2010 at 1:14 am

I have come to the absolutely devastating realization that I only have ONE MONTH and 2 DAYS left in LUND!! But not really since we will be away in Paris for an entire week!! THAT MEANS 3 WEEKS!!! THAT’S NOT ENOUGH TIME!!

After leaving Lund?? ONE MORE MONTH UNTIL I WILL BE HOME!! Real home. Vancouver home. Being all over Europe, in so many hostels, so many airports, so many train stations, it feels like I can sleep anywhere. Home is anywhere I can put my bag down and curl up in a bed or seat. But, sometimes I would give anything to be able to lie in the comfort of my own bed.

I know that this time next year, I will wish I were still in Lund, sleeping til noon in my Ikea bedding, pretending it’s not yet light outside, and nudging at Jason to make my sunny side up.

I’m going to miss this place way too much. And the people. Sigh, I’m going to miss the people.

Before leaving for London, we had a corridor dinner. The idea was that we would clean out our cluttered communal freezer and cook anything that nobody claimed (it was a lot of food) among other store bought stuff. It was fantastic, and the company unequalled. Here they are for your viewing inspection!

Left to right: Charlie (Australia), Giulia (Italy), Chris (Germany), me, Mattias (Germany), Jason, Maira (Brasil), Karine (Brasil), Haruko (Japan), Maike (Germany)
Missing: Kevin (USA) – busy pretending to write his Master’s thesis

And the food! Ahh the food. Awww look at Charlie’s photo smile!

Mmmmmmm.

Our contribution was garlic bread and homemade bruschetta. Messy but yum.

Setting the table.

Oh goodness, lookie that feast.

P.S. Jason just read out loud the “instructions” to get to our hostel in Venice and it made me CRACK UP SO HARD!! I’m posting them, even though there is the possibility that a psycho stalker will come find us, because I don’t think even the most iron-willed pursuer could follow these long-winded directions. Also they are hilarious.

From Santa Lucia train station, with your back to the main entrance, turn left and walk ‘straight’. Walk for about 8 minutes in that direction. You will arrive at Campo S. Geremia, cross this small square taking the path which lies ahead of you on the left and you will arrive at a small bridge. Cross the bridge and continue to walk straight. You will cross a second bridge, and then begin to look at the building numbers on the right hand side of the street. Immediately before a third small bridge on your right there will be another small square named Campo de la Maddelena. Follow the building numbers around the small square and you will find n. 2205 where you have to check in. The hostel’s entrance has a private bridge to the front door (which is green), ring the buzzer.

I feel like Mrs Dalloway

In Uncategorized on May 8, 2010 at 12:28 am

Visiting landmarks and streets in London makes me feel like Mrs Dalloway, and Harry Potter. Knocked on so many bricks, couldn’t find that damn Diagon Alley.

After dropping off my parents at Kings Cross so that they could continue their trip to Paris, we visited the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens. You may be thinking, what the heck are we doing going to a garden? But I assure you this is one of the most beautiful places on earth, after British Columbia. The plant varieties and blossoms are endless. And this particular garden holds a very special place in the history of gardens (a very interesting history).

Jason’s 3 favourite places to visit when traveling are: shoe stores, museums, and gardens. Pretty much in that order, but varies with hunger level.

This next photo is a little graphic. Weak stomachs, please turn back.

I feel like the weather here must always be this nice. How could it not?

While taking a stroll around the treetop walkway, we noticed a little showoff down below, so we sprinted down over a hundred steps and ran to catch a better glimpse of his butt.

And then his face.

Once we were there in the gardens, it was so hard to leave (even though our next planned stops were the enchanted Kensington Palace and afternoon tea at the Orangery). We had to check out the lilies, then the rock gardens, then the cacti, then the conservatory, then the fountain, etc etc etc.

Oh how fabulous it would be to be a British child and have your mother take you to the gardens every weekend afternoon for a picnic and a sunny stroll. *Swoon*

After wandering through Kensington Palace (the princess palace) and finding out that the Orangery closed early for a reception, we headed down to Little Venice for a canal boat cruise but found out that was closed too! Nonetheless, Little Venice was a friendly place to stroll around in, especially if you love colourful boats – and who doesn’t?

That night we went to Harrods. What an expensive, extravagant, extremely excessive department store. It has over 330 departments! The food court alone made me want to curl up to avoid the copious amount of choices. My favourite department was the toy section. There were toy demonstrations and huge collections of every toy you wanted as a child and are utterly amazed by as an almost-adult.

One guy demonstrated magic tricks and Jason and I were so intrigued that we bought a tin containing 50 Greatest Magic Tricks (false advertising, by the way). The sad story is I’ve already fallen for a magic set scam once before, and I hardly used any of those tricks, but I bought it AGAIN! When I could’ve bought 3-d restickable decorate-yourself foam stickers instead! I’d better win some free drinks at the bar with my disappearing coins.

At night we set out to do something that Jason has been dying to do again since we set foot on this continent – ice skate! It was like a 70’s date movie – me skating not very well, Jason helping me skate and showing off on the rink, rainbow lights, some lady who fell on her back and winded herself so hard the ambulance was called. Then we wanted to see Iron Man 2 to finish the night off but we didn’t make the movie. Of course, it was also drenching rain.

(We did, however, just train to Malmo to watch it – more on that later.)

Instead, we met up with Jason’s friend Danica and her Lebanese Canadian friend and we went out for authentic Lebanese food. It was perfectly delectable and I must say, I now much prefer Lebanese baklava over Greek baklava (which is way sweeter).

Next morning, we set out for the British Museum since it is indoors and it was raining. Apparently every other tourist in London had the same idea!!

Making our way through the dripping crowds, I really only wanted to see the Elgin marbles and the Hindi artefacts – since I spent so much of my first year studying them (for elective credits that I now know were totally unnecessary).  Eh, the other stuff was pretty cool too.

I understand that the Parthenon marbles can’t be returned back to Athens for supposed “conservational purposes,” but I feel like Greece could use a break right now. And so could the many other countries whose artefacts mysteriously ended up here… (Come on, Britain. Give them back.) On the other hand, it’s pretty stellar to be able to see so many amazing human accomplishments displayed under one roof.

THE FRIEZE! By golly, the Greeks could sculpt!

We spent a few solid hours there and then went to get Korean food. *Drool* I haven’t had real kimbap since high school when I used to steal Jae’s lunches.

Dedicated the rest of the day to shopping.

Then, we spent the morning after that searching for the perfect place to have dimsum (the kind served by real Chinese people). We found our place. Right next to a dragon dance crew in the heart of Chinatown.

Ahhhh revisiting Trafalgar Square.

Spent the afternoon at the National Gallery. I have no photos, but there were many paintings. Too many. Essentially, all the notable paintings that I saw in London can be encapsulated into this brief cartoon (courtesy of my darling Siobhan’s blog Supreme Surprise).