Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sweden Trip || Stockholm

First off, let me just say how thankful I am that I speak English. I’ve traveled to Africa, Mexico, and Europe before, but I guess I didn’t realize how useful it is to know English until this trip. When in doubt, speak English, and 90% of the time the other person will understand you. Hooray for that. 

Wednesday, April 6
We began our trip by loading up our bus in Akranes at 3:30 in the morning. Let me repeat that, 3:30. IN THE MORNING. I managed to only get about three hours of sleep that night, but thankfully I slept the three-hour duration of the flight to Stockholm to make a whopping total of six hours. I guess six is better than none, right?

Jaclyn, me, and Megan at the Keflavik airport

Just a couple of hours after we landed in Sweden, we walked to a soccer field by a school close to our hotel (when I say close, it was about a 15 minute walk) and had our first practice there. The walk was very cold and very wet. My legs made sure I knew that they were tired from traveling so much. Three flights in seven days. That’s a lot of air-time.

Our practice field 

Thursday, April 7
Practice number two came quicker than my body expected. A rough night of bad-quality sleep, interrupted by far too frequent trips to the bathroom to blow my nose, left me craving some serious shut-eye. For whatever reason (probably so much traveling and the poor weather), I came down with the symptoms of a cold. Lots of coughing. Lots of nose-blowing. Lots of trying not to be a mouth-breather (yuck).

We had a practice in the morning, ate lunch at the hotel, had a few hours of free time, then another practice in the middle of the afternoon. Luckily for the girls, and unluckily for our bank accounts, a mall was located about a 10-15 minute walk away from our hotel. 

The hotel where we stayed (so tall!)

During our free time in between and after practices, a lot of the girls (yes, including me) went shopping at that mall. Iceland doesn't have an abundance of good stores to shop at, and the few good ones are extremely expensive. Whenever Icelandic girls go to other places in Europe or the states, they make sure they leave a ton of empty space in their suitcases to fit all the clothes they'll be buying while traveling. It's a lot cheaper, and there is such a larger selection. (Everyone here is obsessed with H&M... after this trip, I am too.)

Friday, April 8
GAME DAY!!! Our day began with a light practice after breakfast, then free time until we had to leave for the field around 5 p.m. Megan and I spent that free time napping, which made the day go by a whole lot quicker. Warm-up was cold and rainy, but once the game started and the rain subsided it wasn't too terribly cold.

Y'ALL. I SCORED MY FIRST PROFESSIONAL / FIRST INTERNATIONAL GOAL! I cannot begin to describe how high my heart jumped and how excited my soul was. Scoring is always fun, but after a lot of shots taken and missed, to see my goal hit the back of the net when we were 0-0 in the first half was seriously the best. The ball soared to the back post off a cross, Megan volleyed it back across the face of the goal close to me, and I shot it straight into the goal. Just like that. Magical.

We ended up winning the game 2-0 against a Swedish team in the top Swedish division, so that was definitely a good win for our team. The first game I played in Iceland was kind of me running around like a chicken with my head cut off, hoping I remembered names and how to kick a ball (haha), but after getting to know the girls for a week and spending lots of time with them, I felt a lot more comfortable playing in this second game. All my teammates played really well and we all played really well together. I love games like these!

My team after our win 

Saturday, April 9
A team-jog and stretching session in the morning loosened up our legs from the game, and also prepared us for a long day of exploring downtown Stockholm!

Some of the team at the train station

I researched Stockholm a little bit before we left, reading several times about the uniquely-painted subways. The internet didn't lie!

Two of the many painted subway stations

Megan, Jaclyn, and I walked around downtown, making our way through a section of the city called Old Town. The buildings are huge! And beautiful! I didn't take a lot of pictures of the buildings, but here are two of me with buildings in the background ;)

After exploring and a little shopping, we took the train back to the hotel, got ready for dinner, then took the train back to downtown to eat dinner at an Italian restaurant. After dinner the older girls were allowed to go out in the city if we wanted to, so Megan, Jaclyn, and I decided to see what the Old Town Stockholm nightlife had to offer.

I was tired and my feet hurt from walking around all day, so I didn't really feel up to going out that night. As much as I love being boring, I had major FOMO (fear of missing out), and who knows the next time I'll be in Stockholm?? I'm learning to say "yes" more to experience all that life has to offer. I already said yes to moving to Iceland to play soccer for six months, so I might as well say yes to a few drinks and the possibility of an adventure with fun memories with my friends in Stockholm, Sweden. Great logic, right? RIGHT.

Incredible logic, actually. The night was definitely an adventure with lots of fun memories. We started out and ended up staying at an Irish pub for the majority of the night. We met a cute Irish bartender, and managed to find a group of people who spoke English! The group was a bunch of older, hockey-playing, Canadian pilots who seemed to be perpetually double-fisting beers (they're Canadian though, so who is surprised by that?). Interesting conversations, along with honorary Air Canada hat-wearing and singing lots of classic songs with the live guitar player, capped off the already adventurous day with good vibes.

Trying to find our way back to the train station in the middle of the night and trying to find a restroom for an hour (thanks, Meg), was another adventure in itself. What matters - we found our way home :)

Sunday, April 10
Breakfast, packing, and then a full day of shopping - Sunday turned out to be more relaxing. We shopped at the Mall of Scandinavia, which is apparently one of the biggest malls in Europe. One thing I've learned on this trip: Megan and I shopping together is dangerous, and the last thing we want to do afterward is check our bank account. But hey, we'll be looking stylish for our trip to Italy!! :) Also, thank goodness for tax refunds at the airport, am I right??

After five hours at the mall and a few hours at the airport, our flight departure time moved up an hour because the air control workers at the Keflavik airport in Iceland were going on strike. We needed to land by 11 p.m. or we would have to either turn around and fly to Denmark, or land in Greenland until the strike was over. We landed at 10:45! Thank goodness for that too!!

Overall, this trip was such a fun adventure to experience with my team and our coaches. I'm becoming better friends with the Icelandic girls on the team (which I love), and I feel our team bond becoming stronger and stronger each day. It's been easy to get to know Jaclyn so far because she's American and it's easy to communicate with her, and Megan, well, we've been really close for the past four years. The best teams are the closest teams, so I have confidence that the closer we get the better we will play together. Icelandic or American, we're all football players on the field!

Bye Sweden, we will meet again.

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