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When I got the “Sure, let’s do it!” response to a story idea I pitched in Sweden, I was stoked! So was my producer Caroline. I believe she even said to me, “Is this real life?” In an effort to make this trip worthwhile, she managed to set up three different stories that we were going to shoot in just 48 hours.
I boarded the red-eye to Stockholm on a Monday night and slept as much as I could. Because of the 6-hour time change, I landed around noon Sweden time. I had time for a quick pastry and cappuccino. I then met up with Caroline for a quick hour and a half flight to Kiruna, Sweden.
We met up with our guide from Sweden’s Tourism Board and drove another hour and a half north to the beautiful town of Bjorkliden, right in the Swedish Lapland, which is about 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle. On our ride up there we happened to see a reindeer just strolling along the side of the road.
At this point, I should have been sleepy, but the land of the midnight sun kept me awake and the view from my hotel room was priceless. That curve right there is nicknamed the Gateway to Lapland and is one of the most photographed formations from this area.We ate dinner with a fine local flare — moose sausage and arctic char. I’m glad I tried it, but not going to lie, the fish was a little fishy and the moose sausage was a little greasy. It was good, but I had a little mental hiccup knowing it was moose.
All fed and ready to go, it was time to hike to the golf course — literally. There were no cart paths, and well, no paths at all for that matter. If we weren’t with our tourism guide and Patrik, the man I played the round with, I would have gotten lost.
I honestly didn’t think I’d stay awake past midnight, but there’s an energy in the air this time of year. If there weren’t any mountains, the sun never would have set at all, but because of the mountains, it dipped behind them enough to make it look like dusk for a couple of hours.
Still, it felt like 4 p.m. in October when it was actually around midnight. That was enough to keep me up for a post-round beer (at 1 a.m.), which was local beer of course — I tried Inland Common.
Now a normal person would sleep in the next morning, but not Caroline and me. She had the brilliant idea (sense the sarcasm?) to go fly-fishing at 7 a.m. the next morning. Caroline got the last pair of waders and looked like a total pro, while I looked like a girl plucked right from NYC.
I didn’t pack for fly-fishing so I had on black leggings with high socks pulled up over them paired with an over-sized purple sweatshirt and a golf visor for good measure.
Let’s just say mosquitoes bite through this type of clothing. I caught nothing on this adventure except several mosquito bites. But the scenery more than made up for it!
After our little fly-fishing jaunt, it was time to head back to Stockholm. We had an hour and half drive back to Kiruna, then a flight back to Stockholm. After much more traffic than I was expecting, we got to our hotel to check in, then ran out to our next shoot. Good thing taxis take credit card because I haven’t even had time to take out money and, for that matter, I didn’t even know what the local currency was! Turns out they use kroners. Don’t ask me to do the exchange!
The next story we shot had to do with Sweden’s incredible recycling program. Did you know they recycle 99 percent of their trash? Think of all the IKEA kitchens filled with several bins to recycle everything you can imagine. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to give the whole story away. That’ll air sometime in the future — stay tuned!
But I can share with you that we went out on these awesome GoBoats, which are made of recycled materials and have a picnic table in the middle. You can bring your dinner and a bottle of wine and cruise the waterways of Stockholm with your friends for only about $80/hour. How fun does that sound on a warm day?
When we finished this shoot, it was finally time to eat some dinner and have a drink. We’ve earned it at this point! So Caroline and I had some more local beer (Abro this time) while we waited for our table (I’m not sure the significance of the large cucumber in the bucket behind us).
Then we sat down for dinner and had a whole bunch of small plates…and they were out of this world! Who knew Stockholm had such good food?!
We had a lovely stroll back to our hotel after dinner (despite getting yelled at by a biker, but that happens to me in New York too so I felt right at home). I passed out from pure exhaustion after an incredible day and a half. The next morning, it was off to our final shoot before heading back home on a 1 p.m. flight.
Breakfasts are incredible in Europe: pastries, breads, meats, cheeses, jams, eggs. It’s such a spread, with the most amazing coffee I’ve ever had. Thick and strong, but not at all bitter. Paired with fresh baked bread, delicious butter, and my new favorite jam (Cloudberry!), it was a great start to the day.
We headed back to Stockholm airport to shoot our story on the Climate Portals they have there. Imagine feeling the weather in the location you’re traveling to before you ever get there…that’s what these portals do.Check out the story on those here.
We finished shooting at 12:30 p.m., ran to our gate, and boarded our plane back to JFK. I passed the time watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which has now become my new favorite show. If you can check it out, watch the ones with Kevin Hart and Sarah Jessica Parker first. You’ll be laughing out loud!
And that was our whirlwind trip to Sweden!