A Weekend in the Homeland, Ja!

A Weekend in the Homeland, Ja!

My Swedish heritage has always been a big part of my life thanks to my grandparents, who are both proud of where their ancestors came from. I’ve eaten plenty of Swedish meatballs (and Swedish Fish), taken many visits to a local Swedish settlement, and have always wanted to visit “the Homeland”. Over the years my family has done some extensive genealogy research. Extensive enough to find relatives who still live in Sweden. I got really excited when my grandma talked about our Swedish cousins–which is definitely great–I just didn’t realize that our relation goes back about 5 generations. But family is family! Over the last 10 years my family has been getting to know our cousins on the other side of the pond and have both visited in our respective countries. I planned to visit them at some point during my time abroad and when my grandparents  planned a trip to Rome they went ahead and added a weekend trip to Sweden for us and one of my friends.

Friday morning we set out for Sweden. As soon as we landed I could tell how relieved my grandpa was to be out of the city and back in a country he understood a little better. After we finally found our hotel just south of Stockhom, we went to visit my grandpa’s cousins Rolf, Brigitta, and Elizabeth. Even though we were nearly 2 hours late thanks to traffic, they welcomed us in for coffee and desserts. The dessert was delicious and I really enjoyed their company–especially Elizabeth’s who at 96 baked us a cake, still lives on her own, and said her English was no good, but she actually spoke quite well and is leagues ahead of my Swedish.

Dinner that evening was hosted by my grandma’s cousin Martin and his wife Anna. They prepared a Swedish feast for us. And after eating huge amounts of pizza and pasta this semester the meat and potatoes on the stove were an enormously welcome sight. Before serving us, Martin joked with us that we weren’t eating Rudolph, but one of his relatives…as in reindeer stew. I was a little hesitant, but Rudolph was absolutely delicious. We enjoyed a traditional Swedish dessert of ostakaka, which you might compare to cheesecake or custard, but you’ve got to eat it with lingonberries of course.

Saturday morning we left for my Grandpa’s cousins’ farm near Vastervik. We spent the afternoon visiting and relaxing (and of course eating more good food). My cousin Tonja took Jordan and I on walk around the farm, we got to pet her horses and enjoy some fresh (cold) air. That evening a few more of my Grandpa’s cousins joined us for dinner. To keep in our theme of not-so-typical meat, moose was on the menu and it was really tasty. Elsie (another Swedish cousin) made a cake for dessert and even though she didn’t speak English she talked my friend and I into at least 3 pieces. We talked and ate for hours, and even had a little concert partway through performed by cousin Peter and Jordan.

Sunday the girls went into the bayside town of Vastervik to do a little shopping and the boys went to the forest. I really enjoyed wandering through the town and getting to touch the Baltic Sea, even on this chilly day. I couldn’t have asked for a better or more relaxing weekend, which was the perfect mid-terms week prep. I loved seeing my grandparents so happy to be with family and in country that is their home away from home. Sverigie has a way of making you feel extra valkommen, ja?


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