Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I eat my words. 
I make a nice little blog post finishing up my last weekend saying i'll have more done then I end up being late for the "deadline" that I set for myself. Sorry to let you down if I have! I wonder if this is foreshadowing that I should not be my own boss in 4 years when I enter the real world. 
From now on I'll have to use ambiguous terms so I don't feel like i've let my loyal readers down! 

Speaking of loyal readers (sorry I know this isn't Sweden.... i'm getting there) I just want to say thank you to everyone who reads! Sounds silly, but you keep me going and wanting to write more blog posts. I have over 1150 views on my blog (I have no idea who you are, but it's safe to say I can probably guess a few :)) but seeing the numbers go up after a post makes me want to do more posts and share more! I wanted to do a blog not only for people who wanted to follow me while I was gone, but for something to read back on (so hopefully the internet stays around for a little while longer). I also have a journal, but both are nice to have. Ok so that is that! 

Thursday night I left for the airport with Sophie. We conveniently could take the train from university straight to the airport! The airport was scary. Why? I didn't have my passport checked once, security was laid back, I didn't even have to take my shoes off! That was new for me. Besides that, I was surprised by all the shopping that was available. There were stores that are in the malls here so I hadn't seen actual clothing stores in airports before. 
We flew to Denmark and as we were finding our next gate (power walking with our short 40 minute layover) I noticed it seemed really clean and nice dark wooden floors. As well as a ton of shops! Victoria Secret, H&M, Oakley, etc.etc. I also realized I have no idea of the currency used in Denmark because I went to the vending machine and it was 18.00 for a bottle of soda. 

We hopped on the next flight (also had never been in an airport where I can read everything because the languages presented weren't English--made me feel like I should learn more languages ha!) Another side note: we are spoiled. Even though none of the newspapers were English and just about every passenger about to board the plane first language was not English the language used to tell us to board was English. After talking with Ville and Caroline they have opened my eyes to how important it is for them to know English and how beneficial it is. It truly has become a universal language. Realize how lucky you are to be able to communicate with people from every country because they had to learn OUR language. Wow. We are spoiled. 

Anyways, so we flew to Finland and we were walking expecting to go through customs but nope. Didn't have our passport checked at all walked right out and Ville was waiting right there with his friend. Hello!!!!! 

It was 1 am, and so we hopped in the car and got going. We stayed at Ville's friend's place in Helsinki. We were lucky to have his hospitality because in 4 hours we would need to be up and heading to the airport again. It was really weird to be in a car because I haven't been in one (not including taxis) since my parents were here and that, uh, interesting experience. That wasn't the weirdest part..... I was back on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the left. Woah. Curve ball!! My brain was so confused. It was an odd odd feeling. It took my a while to get used to being back on the side of the road that I have spent 20 years on. It'll be interesting getting home and actually driving... ha!! :)

We stayed at his friends house and they couldn't have been sweeter. His friend even had a test the next morning! We got up the next morning and Ville had made some breakfast sandwiches. It was rye bread with meat, tomatoes, and cucumbers oh and some butter underneath. I say meat because I have a problem with meat, but as you know I have been opening my mind to just trying things and throwing my old habits away. So I just ate it. It was good, but I needed lots of water for the bread. It isn't something you should eat with a dry throat! I asked Ville later that day what the meat was. He told me ham. I don't eat ham. So +2 points for Abby (remember the haggis). 

We got to the airport and this time I was greeted with pubs. People were having pints with their breakfast at 9am. When we go on holiday sure my family might have a bloody mary or beer or whatever in the airport, but it was different it was so normal for them all. (I have done my morning drinking plenty of times before, but not often just a couple pints with a plate of breakfast and men and women) I apparently need to step up my game a little bit. Our flight to Sweden took 50 minutes. We arrived and took a bus into the city centre of Stockholm. We waited for Caroline. Eeeekk!!! Caroline had arrived. We don't know what all we are going to do with our day, but who cares. 

The memories and stories of Logan started flowing. We probably talked about you, if not, your name was at least mentioned. (not in a bad way people!) 
It was so fun just being around Ville and Caroline. Especially being gone from home, it was like a little slice of home being able to discuss things and have them actually know what i'm talking about or where i'm coming from. 
We walked around Stockholm and I just liked the little streets with colorful buildings. When you see little things like that, that is what always reminds me--yep definitely in a different country.

This is outside of a church that we went by. I don't know all the names for everything but I will do my best to let you have context of what it is. 
 This was inside a church. You will notice a golden something (I don't know what it is) on the left side. I do know that they give their sermons from here on special occasions. I have never seen anything like that before. I thought it was really interesting, and it was so beautiful. They are predominately Lutheran religion in Sweden. 
 The picture below is part of the Royal Palace. They had guards outside, but they weren't as statue as the popular London guards. 

Ah, the picture below is part of old town of Stockholm. It was beautiful. It was fun to walk down the cobble stone streets and cute little buildings. In the bottom of the red building we fikaed (I think that is the term) which (I think means) getting a hot drink and having a pastry (something like that). Haha. I said I wanted to sit and have a tea or coffee and maybe a sweet treat, and Caroline said they do that and call it fika. 

This is Ville and Sophie inside fika-ing! We got hot chocolate (the place was actually named something with hot chocolate) and as you can see in the photo it was a high class hot chocolate! The cups or mug whichever you want to call it were interesting because they didn't have any handles. I don't think i've seen a bowl-y type mug like that and not without a handle. But hey! They were cute and tasted good so that is all that matters. 
 Caroline and I with our hot chocolate and cinnamon bun and lemon cake I believe! 

The picture below is when we were walking around old town and you can see the little shops. Cute!

We went inside another church in old town. If Caroline reads this post she could comment and give me some tips if she remembers any names ;) *hint hint*

This church was beautiful. It had so many colors, and as you can see it had special places on the sides as well. 
 The picture below is an extravagant piece. All the gold and detail, wow. Has anyone else seen these before or know exactly what they are used for? I thought they were beautiful, but found them curious because their placement would cut off 1/4 of the people from seeing (not that you have to see to hear, but it always it nice to have a face to look at when listening). 

After we walked around old town, saw a few churches, and had our snack it was time to move on. We walked to one of Caroline's favorite sights of the city. A sight it was! How cool is it to have a local (well she lives 2 hours away) but to have them show you their favorite spots rather than googling and trying to find things and places to go. 

Caroline, me, Ville

The picture below is also taken from where we were above. I thought it was so cool. The colors of the buildings and the dark roof tops. Ah!! How cute!! Just like Logan! .....not. 

Next, Caroline decided to take us to a market. There aren't a lot of main sights to see, but just walking around in the environment and being with 3 great people (Caroline, Ville, Sophie) made the trip one to remember! 
So the market was amazing. We didn't buy anything, but just walking around it was pretty neat. Every kind of meat you could think of, every cut of the meat (and it's kind of just pretty to look at food. do you other foodies agree?) You name it they have it. Meat, bread, pastries, vegetables, fruits, cheese, more, more, more...everything fresh and homemade just perfect! 
There was a man selling honey and there were three stages of the honey (depending on when you get it from the hive). They were all different colors and had a different taste. Yum! 

As we were walking about the city we ran into an ice skating rink, so obviously we had to rent some ice skates. I haven't ice skated in a long, long while. Turns out it is a little different than riding a bike years later! A little shaky, but it wasn't too bad by the end of the 30 minutes that we skated. No one fell!!! Well.... no one had fallen, until Sophie falls right before she steps out of the rink to take off her skates!! The worst part is... we didn't get it on camera. 

I am a candy freak. So we had to get some candy, and I had some money to waste! (Not waste, but there would have been no point in converting it back to pounds or euros. Their currency is the crown, but can also look like krona so that was confusing and I still don't get it. Their currency has been the hardest to use because it is so confusing. For lunch I paid 100 crowns which would be like 12 euros which is 16 dollars. I felt rich throwing around 100s like they were nothing! 
Back to the candy. I filled my bag way too full and I have a self diagnosed eating disorder called cantstopia. I was sickly full, and felt like a 5 year old for getting a stomach ache from eating too much candy. It happens. 
I wanted to share that they don't sell Swedish Fish (the American candy) in Sweden! Crazy, I thought that stuff was authentic! But they do sell gummy fishies, but they still aren't called Swedish fish or anything of the sort. Bummer. The middle is a Dala horse. I should have taken more pictures of them. But you get a true gummy picture. They were all pretty tasty. 

It was so sad to leave Caroline behind after a short day together. She was so nice coming to Stockholm and be our tour guide and have her awesome company. If I have time I might try and plan a little trip back to see her so I can see how they Swedes really live life. Caroline hopped on a bus back to her town, and we caught the bus back to the airport to leave. Yes I had been on 4 airplanes and 3 countries in less than 24 hours. 

I will need another post to share all my Finland fun! I will say check back in a couple days OR SO. ;) 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stratford-Upon-Avon/ Warwick Castle

Home of Shakespeare, if you were not aware. 

Last weekend, February 17th, we ventured to Stratford-Upon-Avon and Warwick Castle. 
It was a trip organized by the university. My friends and I decided to help on the trip, because that way we got there for free! We all paired up and were the "leaders" of the coach buses. I was so surprised at how many people were going. I think there was 5 coaches full!  I thought they would be exchange students like ourselves, but they were mostly from Asia and probably studying higher levels of education. Oh well! I was with all my friends, so nothing beats that! I was with some new people that I haven't introduced you to yet, so here they are! 

Clare (Ohio), me, Annie (Connecticut), Alison, Jamie, Katie (all Canadians), Jess (Kansas), Sophie (Alabama), and Amanda (New York)
*This photo is taken at Warwick Castle. 

So, we got to Stratford, and we need some coffee. Well, after a quick look around the area we did the typical American (sorry Alison, Jamie, Katie) and went to McDonalds! ha!!  
Most people got their drinks there, then we decided, well, since we are here... and then we got a little breakfast. I had brought food with me, but decided to get a hash brown. I'm not ashamed because that greasy potato was delightful. :) 

Then we headed to the famous RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) Theatre. 

We went in, but you had to pay (what seemed like WAY too much) to see and get a tour of the theatre. So we looked around what we could, and bought a few things in the gift shop from previous or current shows showing. I bought a "I've been to the chokey" pin. Who knows or remembers that old movie?!? I'll check my comments to see if anyone has figured it out....

I am hoping to go back to the theatre in May with my roommate Tilly. Her father lives near by, so it'll be nice to see a show there! I figured when I bought my show ticket, that would double at getting to see the inside as well. 

Next, we ventured off to see where Shakespeare was laid to rest! Funny what we tourist do. 
He would be resting at the Holy Trinity Church.

Above is the ceiling. It was different than what I have seen in the other churches so far.

This is his grave. You have now seen it for free. I had to pay 50p. ("p" stands for pence, so it was only a half of a pound. About 70 cents.) 

Stratford was a cute little town with lots of shopping and little eating places. If you didn't want to pay around 30 pounds to see and know everything about Shakespeare's life, then it was a relaxing little stop. That is quite expensive about 50 dollars, and it wasn't worth for me to see inside his house for that! 

However, what was worth my money was a Museum of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

We had to walk around this with a piece of paper and candle light. 

We weren't supposed to touch anything, but this awesome lady sorted us! 

I don't want to brag, but I was Gryffindor.

We completely the magic spell. 

And became Witches!!!!!!!!!!! 

Took a break for some butter beer. 

And we all got our wands. What a better day!!! 
As exciting as it was, I am still counting down the days til I go to actual Harry Potter World!! This helped me get through the days until then :) 

Next, we went to Warwick. I don't know much about Warwick besides that it was starting to be built in the 14th century and was working and being lived in in the 15th century. It was amazing how big it was. The huge stones are amazing. Makes you wonder how they did it all. Hmmm.

Here are a few pictures... 

 Sword fight above. 
Wax people below. Kind of freaked me out. At a glance you would have never known if they were fake. 

We got to watch the thing above fling a giant fire ball. It was pretty neat. 
Above they would keep bears changed in this room and have bear fights! 

And I leave you with a nice medieval horse. :)

This post was me being behind on my blogging. I just got back from Finland and Sweden last night, so you can expect more posts if not tonight tomorrow for sure!! 

Have a nice week everyone!!  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pancake Day

What do you call the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday? Fat Tuesday maybe?
Well here in England it is Pancake Day! This seemed like a pretty big day here. People were really excited about making and eating pancakes! Stores would move pancake supplies to a special front facing shelf so you could conveniently pick up all your needs at once! 

My flatmates were really surprised that we don't do Pancake Day (well, not that I know of in the US... I told them we have pancake breakfasts generally held by Kiwanis that I do highly enjoy :))  Turns out, it's not the same thing. Who knew ;) 

So I had to be introduced to proper pancake day. Now, don't start thinking you know what pancakes are. The pancakes that you make ever so fluffy with butter and maple syrup, maybe sometimes peanut butter, how about some fruit, maybe you like them plain or with some powdered sugar......anyways....those are completely opposite of English pancakes. 

Till being master chef. 

English pancakes are quite large and very thin. The batter used isn't as sugary and more blah taste than our fluffy pancake batter (in my opinion, and i'm an expert batter, dough, (anything raw) eater)) But, that is for a very good reason (and it probably was partly due to our box pancakes rather than ones from scratch (college students don't like buying ingredients)) it is best how they dress their pancakes. 

We did buy some maple syrup, because Tilly says that she doesn't mind having one with maple syrup and then rolled up.  We bought some fruit, but didn't use any of it. The little lemon packets beside the pancake box was lemon syrup.  I tasted it, and it tasted like lemon pie filling. We didn't use it on anything either. We stuck with the traditional lemon juice and sugar, and then did one maple syrup. Me being the fatty American got some butter out, because my pancake would have felt naked. It's like getting dressed without any of your undergarments on.. just doesn't feel right! 

For the traditional English pancake you take granulated sugar and sprinkle as much as you want on there (usually 3-4 spoon fulls) and then you take lemon juice and squirt away. From there you roll your pancake and you are done! That is the traditional pancake!! 

 Oh, and I forgot to mention an extra little sprinkle of sugar on top! 

I have to admit that I wasn't a huge fan of the lemon juice. Maybe I put too much on, but after eating some of my lemon pancake and then taking a bite of the one rolled with maple syrup, it was like a little taste of heaven! I'm sure the sour lemon juice and going to the sweet maple syrup had something to do with it as well. 

After we saw our mix only made 6 pancakes we were planning on what we would eat after we got hungry in 10 minutes. I was so full after two that I had to give Rose my last lemon pancake to  eat! 
Mmmmmmmhmmmmmmmmm :) 

What do you think???
Which would your prefer?? American "fluffy" pancakes or English rolled pancakes? 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Southern Highlands

Last post about Scotland! For now at least.... there is something that i'm pretty sure i'll go back and see in May. It's called Alnwick Castle and it is where some of the Harry Potter films were made. So of course I have to see it! We shall see how that plan goes ..... :)

On our last day in Scotland we took a bus tour that showed us some country side (I was quite happy to see some fields and horses and cows!) and eventually took us to the southern part of the highlands. On the way I learned some fun facts from the driver (yes, I was the only one taking notes). 

First he claims that Edinburgh is the smart city in the world, because most of the famous inventions/inventors came from people who lived or were born in Edinburgh. 
Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh, but his family soon moved to Canada. We all know he invented the telephone, but what I didn't know was that he was originally trying to invent a hearing aid because both his father and mother were deaf. I was quite interested in that fact, because for those of you who don't know.. I am learning American Sign Language and want to work with people or kids who are deaf and possibly want cochlear implants. 

Our first stop was the Wallace Monument 

 I really quite liked the big stone rope going around the monument (above), and loved the key holes in the side of the monument (below).

If you like the movie Brave Heart, then you should be familiar with Wallace. I have not seen the movie! So, I don't know much about the whole battles. I know that the monument is 237 feet tall making it the largest monument "ever erected" or at least in Britain. Haha the tour guide was really really great, but loved Edinburgh that he bragged it up a bit. 

After we saw the monument it was back on the bus... As we were driving I was staring out the windows, and absolutely love love love love love love the moment you start to see faint outline of the mountains. 
  Look really hard!! You can see them! This was taken while we were driving, so it's not the best picture in the world. But it took me down memory lane in an instant. 

We used to make yearly skiing trips in Colorado, but a few years it was the Foutch, Troshynski, Hansen trip! We would gas up the Foutch van and the Troshynski van and pile in Mike, Shelley,  Bill, Shannon, Lance, Lisa, Jake, Nick, Ryan, Nathan, Whitney, Taylor, Emily, (sometimes a friend of hers), Me, Rachie, and Lauren. Can you imagine!! But it was always a competition in each van to see who was the first to see the mountains, or who was the first to reach the front of the van to be in Colorado first. I could remember Taylor running up there while Bill was driving and sticking her fingers in the windshield so she was the first one to be in Colorado. 
Those were the thoughts crossing my mind when seeing the outlines of the mountains. Oh what great memories! I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!  Just made my day a happy one :) 

The next stop was Loch Lomond. There are 33,000 lochs in Scotland. Wow! On Loch Lomond there are 36 islands. We took a little cruise on the loch, and saw a few of those islands. I also saw some famous golf courses for all you golfers out there! I asked Ryan if he thinks he will be able to golf there someday, and he said that they named the course after him. So you may not have known that fact! 

Can you tell which parts are part of the golf courses? ha! They stuck out like a sore thumb. 
You can tell how our weather wasn't as great as the day we climbed Author's seat in the post before! This is more typical UK weather from my experience. 

After our tour we went to a small town to grab some lunch and then a nice scenic mountain cruise to get to another castle. However, half of this one I was like oooohh pretty, and the other half I was scared that I might not make it back to the US. 

Then we had made it to Doune Castle. If you are a fan of Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie you would probably know what I am talking about. Again, I have not seen that movie. I took a few cool pictures, but have nothing else to tell you about the castle because we didn't pay for the headset. Just from walking around I don't know how they went around that thing with no electricity, or how the went up and down those spiral staircases. You want to talk about some steep steps! And they were so tiny that my foot (and I have pretty small feet) were never fully on a step. I was holding on for dear life on the way down. 

See what I mean!?! Maybe it's harder to tell in the picture.... The stair wells were so dark too. Dangerous mix I tell ya! 
And then God lit a tree on fire to end our eventful day. Kind of overly like this picture as well.

That is technically the end of my Scotland trip!! I hope you enjoyed reading the blog posts about it! Since it was Valentines day I will leave you with one more story that took place in Edinburgh. We were standing at the corner of the street waiting to cross when another girl maybe a few years older walked over and also was waiting to cross. A man pursues her and says "Excuse me, hi, (smiles) ha, well, i've never really done this before, but, I just saw you walking, and you are so beautiful, and so I wanted to come say hi and maybe introduce myself" The woman really wasn't interested, and when it was time to cross she sure got her power walk on. The man walked home lonely. So, hopefully your Valentines Day was better than his!! 

Lots of love <3 :)