Can I just share that the Swedish automated parking machines are confounding? Poor Steve always gets the task of figuring this out when we park somewhere, and I think each machine is slightly different. He paid enough for a few hours on Saturday, but apparently that got us enough to park through Monday evening. Maybe they don't charge on the weekends? I don't know. Knowing Swedish would probably help, but it's just not worth the time and effort when most things are also in English or there's a friendly Swede nearby to ask.
Anyway, we walked through Slottshagen park, past the medieval Kärnan tower, and down this rather impressive stairway into Helsingborg's main square.
At Centralstation we were able to purchase one-way tickets to Denmark just before the next ferry left. And by ferry I really mean mini cruise ship. This thing had multiple decks, multiple restaurants, and lots of seating by the windows. Swedes like to tura, which basically means take a booze cruise. By purchasing a one-way ticket you can enjoy going across the strait and back as many times as you wish while enjoying your snaps & smörgås, duty-free shopping, and maybe even a beautiful sunset before disembarking in your original location.
The ferry pulls into Elsinore, Denmark right next to Kronberg Castle, the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
When docked, the railing on the bow lifts up to let all the cars off, and then lowers once the Sweden-bound cars are safely aboard. Then the bow becomes the stern and the ferry makes the 20-minute journey back to Helsingborg.
The kids' naptime has been my sacred time to get things done around the house, to focus on a task without being interrupted, to break up the day and give me a second wind to get through the hours before dinnertime, or even catch a few winks myself. I used to be confused when moms would long for the days when their kids would no longer need naps. I guess I haven't really had anywhere else to be during early afternoon for 5 1/2 years. Ahem. We knew we wouldn't have a good place for Bowen to nap in Helsingborg unless he fell asleep in the car. Which he didn't. But, he and Olivia liked being on the ferry and busied themselves with crayons and a matchbox car I found in my bag. I was so proud, and now I am starting to understand that it is liberating to be able to go somewhere for the whole day.
Once we had made two trips across to Denmark it was time for dinner, a dreaded time in my day. In our family the kids eat what we eat or they don't eat at all, and there are definitely nights when they go to bed hungry. The kids don't eat out much, when they do it's usually at Pizza Hut, and eating at "normal" restaurants almost guarantees a hunger strike, so my expectations were pretty low. I actually considered just not ordering any food for them so we wouldn't waste it. We found a restaurant downtown with a barnmeny (kids' menu) and the kids each picked something different (another potential hazard since that usually means food envy once we're served). We watched an EPL game while waiting for our food, and then the strangest thing happened: The kids ate what they each ordered. Period. I was in shock and kept mouthing my amazement to Steve across the table. I know it's just one time, but I hope it means we're turning a corner. Also? No high chair and the kids drink from glasses. I'm so proud! It's the little things.
|Sweden is like one big Volvo museum|
After dinner we walked back up to our car and checked into the hotel, which has family rooms: a double bed for Mom & Dad and bunk beds for the kids. We haven't stayed in a hotel together since Bowen was in a crib, and the novelty of sleeping in the same room ("peek-a-boo"!) was a little too much fun for the kids even with all the walking we had done. How do families with young kids normally do hotels? Do you get two rooms and split up? Do you all pile into one bed in co-sleeping bliss? Hotel sleeping is not in the manual. I ended up crawling into bed with Bowen just to get him to settle down and fall asleep, and then we all slept until morning so it was fine.
On Sunday morning we piled into the car after breakfast, and it began to rain. Our plan was to see some of the seaside communities on the way back up to Gothenburg. We did enjoy the overlook in Mölle...
|Our little photographer|
...and even their little maritime museum located in the stern of an old ship.
But then the sky opened up again so we got back in the car. (The Swedes must think we're made of sugar because we stay inside when it rains!) We got a glimpse of Norrvikens trädgårdar (gardens) in Båstad and we'd like to go back for a visit on a prettier day, but after that we headed home.
Historically when we took a road trip we'd hook up the dual-screen DVD player so we could ride in peace. When we moved to Sweden we only brought the necessities in suitcases, and we couldn't put anything in Steve's car during its voyage, so the DVD player stayed in Virginia. Now when we get in the car I get a little nervous that the kids will just mess with each other and complain the whole way. On this trip we bravely brought library books, which was a risk because they're expensive to replace if damaged, but they proved to be all the entertainment the kids needed while in the car and Bowen did fine even with the "real paper" books. (!) That's not to say we didn't need to say, "Keep your hands to yourself," or "Let's use kind words," or get the occasional, "Are we there yet?" but it wasn't that bad.
I had several "light at the end of the preschooler tunnel" moments on this trip, which was really encouraging since this age has ...ahem... not been my favorite so far. I love our kids and they are generally very good and well-behaved, but they're still 2 and 5 so sometimes they just drive me crazy. But sometimes they really surprise me and I think we'll make it through this chapter of parenting after all!