Life has been a little hectic of late, between day trips to the hinterland and taking the dogs south to the beach to applying for a new job, attending an interview (still awaiting an outcome), volunteering at the shelter and going to my weekly art class I haven’t succeeded in finishing my photobook of our 2011 holiday. Not that I’m complaining, I loved doing all of those things except the job application and interview, those sort of activities just make me feel anxious, but a couple of other things have been neglected such as this blog, the garden and my aim to be a little healthier this year.
Anyway, I digress, this is supposed to be about my stay in Sweden in 1999 and meeting my high school penfriend so I’ll move on. The photos were taken on a Pentax P130T SLR, a film camera that I got for my 21st birthday and I took that camera everywhere. When I went to Europe in 1999 I took 33 rolls of colour and black and white film, I still love looking at those photos even though many have been superseded by our more recent trip and the thousands of digital images I have saved on my hard drive.
When I was about 13 I started joined a penfriend program and started writing to a girl in Sweden, her name was Åsa and she too was 13, in fact our birthdays were only 19 days apart. Åsa lived in Gothenburg or Goteborg in Swedish, on the west coast of Sweden and in 1999 on my solo trip to the UK and Europe I was lucky enough to spend 5 nights staying with Åsa in her Gothenburg apartment and also spending time at their family summer house in the countryside. At this stage we had been writing to each other for about 15 years so it was an amazing experience to actually meet and find out we had even more in common than we thought, both of us love lollies, rollercoaster rides, horse riding, reading, dairy foods, pasta and a nice bottle of wine. Åsa was a wonderful host, she showed me around Gothenburg, took me shopping and organised a day out with her friend Annika, we went horse riding and then caught a ferry to the Island of Branno to go for a walk before the sun set at about 11.30pm for it was summer and the days were long. I also met Åsa’s Dad, he didn’t speak alot of English but knew enough to tell me that one of his favourite shows was The Crocodile Hunter starring Steve Irwin, at that stage Steve Irwin’s popularity was yet to peak in Australia.
I don’t recall the name of the area where Åsa’s family summer home was, it was near a Fjord and a popular spot for Moose or Elk and some of the largest seagulls I have ever seen. We spent a day driving to Norway via the Svinesund Bridge, the Svinesund is a sound separating the two countries and you can go ‘duty free’ shopping for cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate and lollies on either side of the bridge or at least you could in 1999. We also visited the two lovely seaside towns of Smögen and Fjallbacka, stopping for a hearty lunch and to walk along the boardwalks as we admired the colourful houses. It really is a beautiful part of the world and the people were so friendly and quite happy to talk English as well as ask questions about Australia, particularly Kangaroos.
Åsa and I still keep in touch, however it isn’t as often as it used to be and sometimes only via a message on Facebook, an email or a Christmas Card, she has a family to look after now and life gets busy for everyone. It doesn’t really matter, I still have fond memories of my time in Sweden and if ever either of us were in the same country we would make the effort to catch up again.