As Jen mentioned, I am working towards getting a Swedish drivers license. I might go into a weird amount of detail on this post because Jen’s dad is a drivers ed instructor and will enjoy reading this …
The process basically consists of 4 parts. Part 1 is called Risk 1, and it is a classroom training on all the terrible things that happen on the road with a car. I was scheduled for a Risk 1 class, but work got in the way. Part 2 is a classroom plus in-the-car training on a closed course. I completed this earlier in the week and will talk about it here. Part 3 is a written exam. Part 4 is a driving exam.
So, Risk 2. I was scheduled into a timeslot at the driving site, and it turns out I was in a group of 4. Me and 3 Swedish teens who were getting their licenses for the first time. Before I get into the experience, I have to share this bit. The instructor realised that I do not speak Swedish, and said “ok, today is in swenglish!” (the sort of hybrid of the two that is often spoken). The whole session, the teens all spoke Swedish to the instructor and each other. The instructor spoke English to me.
Here’s how it worked. A short classroom session where the plan for the day was explained. Then, we went to a large room that had a bunch of simulators in it. One was a sled with car seats on it. You buckled in and then slid down a ramp to an abrupt stop at the bottom. It was pretty uncomfortable, but only hit at about 7kph. Then there was a whole car on a rotation contraption. All 4 of us got in, buckled up, and then the car was rotated 90deg to the side. So, one side of the car is lying on the doors, and the other 2 are sagging in the seatbelts. Then the car goes 180deg upside down, and it is NOT fun to hang upside down in a seatbelt! Then you keep going to the other side, and then finally back upright. Made me very sure that I did not want to roll a car! There were a number of other physical demonstrations to make you really feel the impact of an accident.
After the simulation room, we went out on the course. All the cars were Nissan Leafs. We had a number of experiences in the car driving around in low grip situations. The low grip was made by the concrete being painted with a smooth epoxy, and then basically constantly wetted with water to make it really slippery. Here are some pics of the course. These are all I got as the instructor chastised me every time my phone was out.
There were some interesting features of the course. There were yellow rubber posts that the instructor could pop up out of the ground that you had to avoid (to simulate an accident). Another trick they did (and did not tell you about until afterwards) is that they had 2 cars with winter tires in the front and summer tires in the back, and 2 cars with the set up reversed. And you went fast around the slippery corner in both. One you spun out like crazy (I did a full 180) – the winter tires in the front. The other you just understeered like crazy. There were braking distance drills at different speeds. Interesting stuff.
It took a long time to safely get thru all the drills for all 4 of us, including car swaps. And then we headed back into the classroom for debrief and the last thing was to pair up and do a little thought exercise. I looked at my teen partner, and started to stammer about speaking Swedish and she just started speaking perfectly good English. Turns out, all the teens spoke English just fine. Jerks. 😉
I have been driving for over 35 years, but I learned some new things on this outing. I cannot believe that the US does not have this level of training. Esp. in places like Minnesota where it is frequently bad driving conditions. This was a super good session, and gives new drivers practical, controlled experience on what to do and how to handle a car. And super-concrete experiences of why it matters to slow down and not take too much risk.
In order to orient, here is a map of Skåne where we were, as well as a map that shows where we were.
We went up on Friday, dropped Jen at her B&B, and then went to the outfitter (Wetlandi, at #4 on the detailed map). They transported us to the entry site (#1) on the Holjeån River, where we picked up the boat, transferred our stuff to a barrel, and set off!
The river level was low, so there was a lot of exposed logs and rocks to navigate around. But the current was super-slow, so we were able to handle it just fine. Our first campsite (#2 on the map) was on the river, and (it turns out) also on a farm field. The site was OK, but the sound of the farm equipment working until 10pm was kind of a downer. The kids did like sleeping in a tent again!
Day 2 saw us finish the river, and out into the lake. There was a nice stop to use the toilet, and then on to our exploration of islands for a camp site.
We finally found our place on Slättön (#3 on the map), and set up camp by a big rock. We also did some explorations and wading around other islands. It felt pretty BWCA-ish.
Finally, we paddled out, and dropped the boat and borrowed gear at the outfitter to go get Jen and head home. Overall, super-nice trip that had some backcountry feeling, even though it was in a pretty populous area.
Jen has done a great job picking up my slack on the blog front. We have been in Sweden for almost a week, and I have been back at work in a normal time zone mode for that week. Some interesting things happened.
I spent 2 weeks in the US, working from 3am to noon on Swedish time, and then working from noon to 5pm on house moving tasks, and usually to bed by 8pm. I was really grateful to be done with the real estate business and be back in Sweden.
The trip over was nerve-wracking. Our flights were canceled a week before departing, and we got tickets at the last minute on a MSP-IAD-FRA-CPH route that spanned 3 airlines, 4 airports, and a lot of customs/border crossings where we had to explain ourselves as to why we were traveling. And, of course, our bags were delayed for 5 days as Lufthansa failed to load them on our plane in Frankfurt. All in all, still not as stressful as the whole house-selling/moving/renting thing was. THAT was a non-stop cortisol bath.
Jen already mentioned me trying to work from home in the walk-in closet here. That doesn’t work so great because there is only one plug in there, and the light turns off automatically when the door is closed. So, I needed a lamp and a computer. Sigh. Back to the office.
Luckily, the office is a short, 13 min walk from the apartment. And it is a pleasant walk. You basically leave the new construction condos and then – bam – you are in the fields of the last hold-out farmers.
Fun thing today, however, was that we had a fire alarm and all had to go outside. That was a nice little break. And I had a full lunch break, which I went outside for as well.
I write the next part while thinking a lot about our friends and family in the US still navigating the challenges of COVID, and, now of course, wrestling with the murder of George Floyd and the convulsions of pain and anger that followed. I am still processing this, and may write more later.
We also took a train trip to Lund yesterday. We walked around, had sushi, then had ice cream. Overall, a really nice outing.
So, I got back to the US on May 9, after some serious airline adventures. I had an IcelandAir ticket that got cancelled. When I called, they said I needed to call back 48 hrs before the original flight. I did this, and ended up on a multi-leg route from Copenhagen to Amsterdam to Atlanta to Minneapolis. At each leg, I had to re-affirm my valid reason for travel. When we got to Atlanta, we had to stay on the plane and wait for the CDC to come on and take our temps while getting a health disclosure.
I am supposed to self-quarantine for 2 weeks, but we have to move stuff out of a house, pack a shipping crate to Sweden, ship bikes to Sweden, close on the house, pack clothes for moving, and get everybody on another flight all inside of 2 weeks. So, we will see how that goes.
The biggest bummer is that due to COVID and quarantine, I can’t really see the people that I miss (other than my family – who are the most important!) for final farewells! I am sad about that!
A fish fillet, curried potatoes, peas, and a sour cream/creme fresh/dill sauce that Jen makes all the time. What I thought was interesting is that the dill sauce was really salty. I think you have been making it wrong @jennifer! ;-). Kidding – I didn’t like it that salty – it was a bit too much.
Yeah, so I am not really proud of this, but I had donuts for breakfast this morning. I went to poor the milk for my coffee and it came out in lumps. Needed milk (what I get for going into the office to enjoy the free coffee there). At the store, there was your basic bakery cabinet with some donuts. I was weak. Donuts came home with me.
So, managed expectations for grocery store donuts aside, the sugar raised one was actually quite good. Very light and airy. The chocolate one … there is a weird taste to lots of Swedish chocolate to me (at least much of what I have had). I don’t think it is bad, just weird. So, I did not enjoy the chocolate one as much. I have not seen anything like a fancy donut place here, like a Bogarts.