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Midsummer Celebrations

Dear Travel Diary,

Midsummer is one of the biggest holidays in Sweden, and the anticipation alone was unlike anything I've previously experienced.

{Some people like the taste of Schnapps more than others, lol}

The entire country observes the holiday, retreating to either the family's summer house on the sea, a campground, or simply their homestead. A traditional meal is served (herring), a song of toast is sung with each round of Schnapps, and the girls wear floral wreaths. Considered a fertility holiday, the belief is that when a girl collects 7 varieties of wild flowers and sleeps with them beneath her pillow, she will dream of her future husband.

 {Driving on E22 to the seaside town of Rafshagen}

 {The beautiful Baltic Sea}

 {He wanted to touch it.}

A Midsummer pole is constructed and danced around.

{Driving back to Kalmar after a fun day - these are the speed limit signs. 110km is about 55 mph.}

But most of all, the holiday is a time to be together. It was a lot of fun to experience and the location of our celebrations beside the Baltic Sea was beyond compare.

Scenes of Sweden

Dear Travel Diary,

What began at 5:30 p.m. Minneapolis time has culminated in a whirlwind travel adventure across the Atlantic, touched down in one American city (Newark) and two European ones (Copenhagen and Kalmar), and 24 hours later - we dropped off our bags at the First Hotel Witt in Kalmar, Sweden.

So it would make sense to collapse into that bed, correct? NO. Instead, we force ourselves to stay awake, seeking the most caffeinated beverage sold in the city (triple shot espresso THANK YOU) to help us keep up with the local time. That is the secret to winning the fight against jet lag. Until I had my coffee, I could have sworn 'tired' was an emotion - I felt that shit deep in my soul.

The city of Kalmar has quite the historical account to tell amongst its modern city planning. Cobblestone streets and brick pavers still compose the majority of the roads and sidewalks. The city is located on the Baltic Sea, so a stone flood wall constructed in the 1600s still reports for duty. There are ancient cannons still poised, and though one hasn't been shot for centuries, their presence tells a unique story. This scene predates the treaty signed in Medieval times by the Scandinavian countries to maintain peace amongst them.

 These photos were taken at 10 p.m.

There is a castle built in the 13th century, and today, parts of the old jail have been converted into the glass-blowing studios that create Sweden's famous glass. I was in awe as I walked in the footsteps of Scandinavian history.

 Kalmar Castle

My final sentiment? There aren't enough hours in a day, days in a week, months in a year nor years in a lifetime to fully appreciate all this world has to teach. I do feel I received the essence of this portion of Sweden - a lovely summary described in the hundreds of photographs I brought home with me. These images trigger so many memories I'm so honored to have.

Sunset View From 18D

Dear Travel Diary,
I watched the moon rise as night fell somewhere over the East Coast as we flew into Newark. It was just a pit stop until it was time to try for seats on an airplane bound for Europe.

I know I have barely begun to scratch the surface, but when one aspires to travel the world - the most important thing to do is start. I am curious to see how 5 days in a Scandinavian country, at a time when the sun never sets, will change me. Will it alter my perspective in any way shape or form, and influence how I move forward? I am eager to find out. And this trip is my first outside of the U.S. (okay, that is a lie - I did spend a few days in Canada 8 years ago but the cranky border guard didn't stamp my passport) so my eyes are open, my mind seeks and my camera is ready.

Finally, to the woman beside me in Row 18, who silently observed me photograph these sunset scenes - I will not apologize for my own excitement, even if it seemed awkward to press the lens of my iPhone 6Plus against the dirty airplane window. The view beyond was beautiful.

P.S. The look she gave my husband when he sauntered to my seat from the fifth row and asked for my passport was PRICELESS - sorry miss, he's not a Federal Air Marshal just a goofball booking our next flight from the air ...

First Lacrosse Game of The Season!

Dear Diary,
Farmington U9 v. Shakopee
Final Score: 6-1 Farmington (yay!)
Landen played good defense, had an assist, scored 2 goals,
... and served a 30-second penalty for a hit.

 Getting ready for game time ...

 *whistle* GO!

 Landen sets up his shot ...

 Nice move, Dino!

 He either comes out of the dog pile with the ball, or gets the ball to a teammate.

 Face off!

 Good move, Landen!

 ... And this hit earned him a 30-second time out. Whoops.

 Nice block, Landen!

Tigers win! Get your goalie!