earworms

It seems that with every stop we have along the road of our world tour, a song or phrase gets stuck in my brain and goes around and around until we leave. It’s frustrating. But also kinda funny to see what earworm will come next.

When we were in Oslo, I constantly had “The cat from Norway got stuck in the doorway” in my brain. Have you read that book? I loved it when I was a kid – “My cat likes to hide in boxes”. Full of great lines like “The cat from Greece joined the police” and “The cat from France likes to sing and dance”… Good times. I saw no cats in Norway, and definitely no cats in Norway stuck in doorways….

When we were in Sweden, every thought I had was with the voice of the Swedish chef from the Muppets. At times I was tempted to grow out my eyebrows and wave ladles and spoons about wildly, but there were no utensils at hand. And growing your eyebrows reeeeeally long takes time and effort… And ain’t the most flattering of looks.

When we were in Croatia (and this was the MOST annoying), every time we saw a cat, I would get the theme song from the Snappy Tom ad stuck in my brain. Only instead of ‘Australia’, the earworm sang “The cats of Dubrovnik have made their choice, Snappy Tom”. And the earworm had a thick Balkan accent…

Now that we’re in Turkey, there are THREE earworms on the loose:

In another Muppets reference, “Istanbul not Constantinople” has been doing the rounds (the one that’s sung by the rats – weirdly I can only find this Spanish version on You Tube, but it’s still the same song)

Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer goes on a business trip and Marge arrives and finds a turkey behind the bed? And he sings “O Margie, you came and you found me a Turkey…. On my vacation away from work-y”.

That’s been in my head A LOT.

Today we arrived in Cappadocia, and as soon as we saw the first sign into town, the earworm started to sing ‘California Love’ by Tupac only that stupid worm replaced the opening “California love” with “Cappidociaaaaahhhh”.

Be gone, earworm!!!!

Do YOU have any earworms you’d care to share? Like…. when you’re in your car at the traffic lights, do you ever break into J-Lo’s “Waiting at the Lights” “Waiting for Tonight”? Or sing MC Hammer’s “Pyjamatime” “Hammertime” when you’re getting into your pyjamas? Do tell!

into the woods

And now, as promised, we step back in time – to a few weeks ago, when Rich and I spent a few nights in the forest and had no electricity and certainly no wifi!

While in Goteburg, Rich and I had the fortune to stay at a hotel that was built right on top of the main train station AND bus depot. It was very convenient and meant that there was no excessive amounts of stress/train fever and that we didn’t hafta grapple with any maps. You know how I am with maps!

So at midday on Monday, we checked out of our train station hotel, got on the bus to Odeshog (yes – Ur-des-herg) and away we went. Knowing that there would be no pit stops along the way, and no vending machine in the woods, we stocked up on Copacabana Sugarless Fruit Drops, a salty-licorice chocolate bar called Plopp (how could ANYONE resist!!) and a chocolate-y wafer-y type of bar called Kex. I think. Along with our sugary treats, I also got us my favourite new drink: rhubarb flavoured mineral water!! On his first sip, Rich screwed up his entire face and declared “That doesn’t taste like anything!! ESPECIALLY rhubarb!!!” but I love the quirkiness of MFND and refused to partake in his criticism. All the more for meeeee!

After bussing past trees and red houses and supermarkets that seemed to have a silhouette of my dog Gus holding a picnic basket in his mouth as their logo, we arrived at our destination. Odeshog. Population: very few.

It was cold. And raining. Quite a lot actually. Fortunately, our host Ulrike was waiting for us and we were soon on our way to her property, Urnatur.

It really is a sight to behold. Urnatur is a large property on a lake, with rocky paddocks, and forest, and fruit trees and sheep and a dog and chooks. And a fox. And trolls. Yes! Trolls!

She drove us up to our hut, deep in the woods, about a kilometre away from the farm house on a rocky track. Our hut, built by Hakan, Ulrike’s husband, was surrounded by about six other huts (all empty for the time being) and lots and lots of trees. And trolls. And a huge bathroom/sauna. And trolls. And all the trees. And no electricity. And… trolls.When we got to the hut, we had a quick lesson in lighting gas lanterns and heating up the sauna, and before we knew it, Ulrike was gone and it was just the two of us, alone in the woods, just us and our thoughts. And our gas lanterns. And the trolls.

The rain started to ease and we decided to head into town to get some things to make for dinner. Donned in our raincoats, we grabbed some bikes from the barn and off we went, down winding country roads for the most part, and along highway for a bit, and through tiny villages with perfectly cut grass and apple trees in their front gardens.

Did I mention that my bike didn’t have brakes? It didn’t. It was touch and go there for a while, careening down steep hills, along streets ridden with pot holes, but after 6kms of furious pedalling and agility and squeezed shut eyes, we made it to Dinners, Odeshog’s answer to… well…. Sizzler, I guess.

I ate a fried egg sandwich and had a Coke. I felt like I was Jack Kerouac in ‘On the Road’ only in Sweden, and me, and not a beat poet. Rich is my Sal Mineo. Having a pastrami and cheese roll.

Realising that there were no fresh vegetables at Dinners, and that we were quickly losing the vibe to cook in an outdoor kitchen over a fire, we settled on some roasted vegies and salads and some traditional Swedish cakes. Which weren’t, of course, traditional in any sense of the word, because we had bought them from a roadhouse (yes, a ROADHOUSE!! On a highway!! I’m sorry I wasn’t honest right from the start…) and not a quaint bakery on a cobble-stoned lane…

Back on our bikes, laden with take-away containers and cheap Swedish servo beer, we rode back to Urnatur and again, I managed to avoid being thrown from my bike and into the bear-filled woods.

Home again, we toasted with our large cans of beer and ate salad by the lake as the sun set above the trees. How’s the serenity?

The next morning we were up bright and early – 6.30am – to trawl in the nets and the cray traps in the lake with Hakan. We met him on the jetty at 7am and clambered into the tin boat, which, by the way, was leaky, and which, by the way, Hakan made no secret of. My job was to scoop water out of the boat when it got too full and we were at risk of drowning.

Polystyrene markers bobbed at intermittent intervals atop the lake; under each homemade buoy, a trap was awaiting us, filled with crayfish.

Swedish crays are a little different to Australian crays – they are much smaller, mebbe a little bigger than a prawn. But no less pinchy; these guys still have huge pincers, ready to nip you if you make a wrong move.

Fortunately, we upended all our crays (and wayward fish) into a large bucket on the boat without mishap. By the time we were back at the jetty, the bucket was filled with about 40 snapping crustaceans.

Hakan pulled out two of the biggest fish from the catch, cleaned them and filleted them, and put them in the gas-fueled fridge for our dinner (which, when we fried them up later over the fire, was possibly the greatest meal I’ve cooked in a LONG while!).

Ulrike was waiting for us by the jetty, to let us know that breakfast was ready. Fresh bread, cheese, jam, eggs, juice, coffee and weird fish spreads were laid out on the bench. 

We loaded up our plates and filled our cups and ate and talked and listened to stories of racist Swedes, and a survival course Hakan did in the early 80s in the Australian outback, and the time they found a dead body while travelling in New Zealand. Twas definitely an interesting breakfast conversation.

Full and satisfied, Rich and I made our way back to the clearing by our hut and spent the rest of the day lazing on the grass, reading our books, avoiding the trolls, and feeling a long way from anywhere.

** I’ve mentioned trolls quite a bit in this post. We fortunately didn’t encounter any Hoggle-like dwarves during our time in Sweden, but I have no doubt that they’re there. On our second night in our log cabin, I could have sworn I heard one tap-tap-tapping on the outside wall of our hut…

some observations about sweden

1 – Swedes are exceptionally stylish and good looking. The ‘no shopping’ rule we set ourselves before embarking on this adventure is tres hard in a town like this, where fashion is exceptional and EVERYONE looks amazing.

2 – When it rains in Goteborg, it really rains. Teeming, straight-down, saturating rain.

3 – Dogs are allowed everywhere. Especially in shops. (I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture, but earlier today I saw two long-haired Afghans going for a walk and they both had hairdos! Braided ears!! Twas amazing…)

Here is a nice sign I saw on the train:

A nice sign on the train - dogs & cats sitting together in harmony

4 – Converse hi-tops are making a comeback. Like dogs, they are everywhere. Fluero pink cons on grans, red cons paired with flowing floral skirts on teens, dirty white cons on handsome men in dinner jackets.

5 – There are a lot of Volvos here. A lot.

6 – Facial piercings. Who woulda thunk it? O, and leg tattoos as well. On the most unassuming looking peeps. Vines around calves, massive flowers on feet, skulls on shins. Yes indeed.

We arrived in Goteborg yesterday after catching a bus, a train, and another bus from Oslo. After checking into our sauna-inspired hotel (all the walls are wood-panelled), Rich headed off to spend his birthday at Way Out West festival while I spent the afternoon doing handwashing. What an exciting way to spend the day. For the first time, I wondered what it would be like to be a Morman with a sister-wife or two, so the task at hand could have been halved (or quartered). But alas, Rich is no Bill Hendrickson and I am without a Margene, a Barb and a Nikki to assist with menial tasks, rivalry and bitchiness. Probably for the best…

After washing my smalls (and nearly pulling a muscle in my shoulder after some vigorous wringing), I read some book, watched some Swedish TV (and saw an ad for IKEA), did some emailing, and then ventured out into Goteburg for a walk and some dinner.

I have realised on this trip that I am no good at reading maps. The concierge at our hotel drew a line on my map, leading the way to the great restaurants of Goteburg (very straightforward as well – turn left out the door, hang a right at the canal, follow the water and you’re there) and I still managed to get lost.

But in a good way. You always hafta make the most of getting lost, right?

After twisting and turning my way through several cobble-stoned streets, I ended up at an outdoor Thai restaurant opposite a river lined with beer-drinking hipsters. And a barge (with a dog on it) that was a bar/restaurant/nightclub-type affair. A balcony in the distance was adorned with two life-sized horse statues. Fo real!! The food was good, the beer was better, and it was lovely to have a bit of time out with myself and my book (The Information by Martin Amis – you should read it!!).

Tomorrow we head north to a place called Odeshog (how do you think that’s pronounced? I went to the bus depot and asked for “Two adult tickets to Oweds-hog please” and the guy at the ticket counter looked at me blankly, then said “Ur-der-herg?”).

Yes. Ur-der-herg. I think that every time I attempt to speak Swedish, I need to channel a bit of Swedish chef from The Muppets.

Anyhoo, we head north to Ur-der-herg for a few nights in a wood hut with zero electricity. But there are canoes. And bikes. And crayfish in a lake. And a SAUNA IN THE WOODS!!! I plan on taking 800 photos and will give you a full report when we get back into a wifi zone later this week in Stockholm.

Hurrah!

Until then, I’ll leave you with this nice snap of a pooch I met at the station earlier today.