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First Advent Weekend

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Christmas is now really getting started at the Tiny House! Today, I bought the Christmas tree together with my visitors Maike and Julia. Yes, I bought it on a Sunday and I probably was the first (and most eager) customer. The trees are sold literally next to my house. How convenient isn’t that?!

My advent traditions, I’ve realized again, are heavily influenced by the Christmasses I spent in Stockholm: hyacinths, a Swedish-style advent wreath with small red and white mushrooms, oranges with cloves, lots and lots of candles and light, Lucia and SVT’s Julkalender is what constitutes proper advent for me.

Oh, and Bereden väg för Herran! Today, I went to church and was five minutes late. I came in – into an unusually crowded church – to the prelude of this very hymn. Ah, the bliss! I love this song and I love how I can rely on it being sung in advent in the Swedish church. The children’s choir performed today, the confirmees were introduced (and had to interview church members during fika. I was interviewed, too.) and we had a trumpeter playing – very festive. The children give these services a very special atmosphere (yes, they also drop things noisily, but I mean more the cuteness they contribute). The sermon started with the pastor, who is new since August, looking around saying, “I promised that the day I see this church full, I will speak from the pulprit. And my mom taught me to keep my promises”. Then he walked around the altar, commenting on the giant Christmas tree that had been put up in front of the pulprit, “It’s somewhat unfortunate that you chose to put that right here”, climbing under it, making the tree sway much to the exicitement of the children, only to reappear suddenly almost out of the tree in the pulprit. That gave him applause, of course!

Maike,  Julia and I bought some Christmas decor at the church (read: I bought napkins) and after eating lunch at my new other favorite café in my hood (they have the coolest bathroom but that’s not why it’s my favorite) I dropped them off and strolled over the “Sustainble Christmas Market” at the museum in my neighborhood. It was quite nice! Regular Christmas Markets drive me crazy usually but this one was a little different – and not as ridiculously crowded as the ones on town. This weekend, I got three Christmas gifts, among them (the gift recipients can’t read so I can reveal it here!) a Children’s Bible for my godchild (yes, I’m that kind of godmother), and Maike gave me the idea of trying to record myself reading a Christmas children’s book to my niece and giving her that on a CD. I still have to get a hold of the book though because I chose one that I myself got for Christmas when I was little, and of course they don’t sell that in normal bookstores anymore (guess I’m old!).

Now I’ll resume my decoration duties!

Banana pancakes were popular with my visitors for brunch yesterday!

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The decorations in the Levantehaus are among my favorite ones. Maybe also because the Levantehaus is a sophisticated version of a small mall instead of a giant commercialism temple.

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Tree transport!

Time is relative

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The weather is always really bad when I come to Gothenburg. But this view is nevertheless pretty and it’s still a nice place.

Today at 8.24 p.m. I called almost all my close contacts. Only two answered. Most of the others texted shortly after asking if they should call back. Why this sudden need for real communication? Well, I was l flabbergasted! I had arrived to Hamburg with only a five minute delay all the way from Gothenburg. Am-a-zing.

Taking the train meant investing twice as much time as if I had flown, but the only available flight would have been at 7 a.m.. “I won’t use my CO2-budget for such an inconvenience”, I decided and prepared myself for being on the train forever. I left my friend Joraine’s house at 11.07 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive at 8.16 p.m.. That’s already a long journey. But I had booked a connection with 7 – seven! – minutes transfer time in Copenhagen, a railway station I don’t know at all. So I mentally had already conceded that I would strand in Copenhagen, take the next connection that would take much longer and if I’d be lucky I’d make it home before midnight. But then the Swedish train arrived a minute early, the connecting train was late and I had plenty of time waiting for the train.

After going on the Öresund Bridge with its impressive views, we chugged through Denmark (they stop in like every village?) until we came to the boat. Yes, the train goes on the ferry boat! There are actual tracks on the boat. Of course I knew this before but I felt like a child on an adventure. The 45-minute-ferry-ride allowed for a visit to the deck breathing some nice Baltic Sea air, having dinner and browsing the somewhat tacky boat shop.

I had brought countless newspapers for work and leisure to read, made plans to write letters, and do lots of work. I had downloaded some Netflix that I had been wanting to finish. I texted back and forth with Ingrid for a while, I looked out the window and marvelled at being able to follow the route and feel the distance. I also ate way too many dates. I could have been on the train another five hours and still have stuff to do?! (It wasn’t that comfortable, so I was glad I didn’t have to.)

But suddenly, we were already there! “Next stop Hamburg”, it sounded and I was, as I mentioned, flabbergasted. It was only a little after 8 and I was home! My mind was still set to getting home past midnight so I had to readjust to reality. Time is relative, I noticed once again, and expectation management is everything.

Upon arrival, I texted my godchild who I’m going to Paris with next year: “We’re totally going by train”. She replied, “Obviously”.

Now I’m home and finished watching Swedish “Quicksand” and following the shows about the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The East German channel has their theme for the day on the screen, and it’s “Freedom 89”. I started this day with my friend who was born in the GDR and who I’d never have met if it wasn’t for November 9, 1989. I spent the day travelling through three countries without being asked for my passport once. And I am ending it missing the little girl who is Swedish-German-French, a real European.

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I actually didn’t only go to Gothenburg to get my regular Swedish fix and try to charm the baby (she wasn’t easily bribed!), I came for work, doing two seminars about the German market.

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The little one loves music and I could score some points with singing all the children’s songs I knew. Also, I now have Swedish kids songs stuck in my head for probably forever. Lilla bocken Bruse trippar över trollebro…!

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My very international youngest Swedish friend is so international she skypes her family abroad at age 1,5 years.

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We went to the library (such an awesome place!) where they had every magazine imaginable. And when I say that I mean “Magazine for building history” and “Magazine on narcotics”. And this one, a satire magazine that is illustrated with photos from the 1820s but writes about somewhat contemporary issues (or just makes up completely ridiculous stuff).