Apologies in advance, I don’t have a keyboard that does the umlaut over letters so bear with my spelling (but I do in fact have a Japanese keyboard…).

Today was an especially special day that is close to my heart.

When I was younger, I used to be obsessed with virtual pet sites like Neopets. It’s really the thing that got me into programming in general, but that’s not the only thing. Through the pet site community, I met lots of people and made friends here and there. One friend I made at the time was another fellow pet site owner who went by the name Star. We talked a lot over messages, but could never meet in person for the simple fact that we were an ocean apart. Eventually, the pet site industry stuff kinda died down, but we kept in touch through Facebook and will sometimes message each other off and on.

It’s been ten (about that many anyway) years since we first met each other online. Today, we got to actually meet in person for the first time! I was really excited for today, and I have to say, it was a really fun day.

the train station

My day started early in Oslo since I had a 7AM train. I said goodbye to Pao who was kind enough to even get up with me to say bye before heading to the station. The train ride was much shorter than the ride from Bergen to Oslo, but just as scenic, if not more. At one point, people who said they were with Customs and Border Control came into the car I was in (no surprise, because I was crossing the border), but they didn’t talk to me at all which I found strange.

scenic train ride

I also accidentally took a survey from a lady on accident because I didn’t know how to say no and when I opened it up, it was all in Norwegian. Using my limited Norwegian knowledge (one of the few Scandinavian languages that I actually have some knowledge of), I bumbled through the survey and turned it back in because I didn’t know what else to do.

just my luck...it's all in norwegian

Lucky for me, most of it was dissatisfied, neutral, satisfied in terms of questions.

When I got to Gothenburg, I waited a little for my next train to Skovde. I was a bit confused at first since I didn’t know which train to take, but it was easy to see when reading the board that I wanted to take the one going towards Stockholm. I fell asleep for most of the ride and was surprised no one checked my ticket (maybe they did and I was just asleep).

At Skovde, my friend, Therese, met me at the station. This really was one of the most exciting days I’ve had. It’s interesting meeting someone in person for the first time when you’ve talked with them long before that. There’s only two other people that I can think of off the top of my head that I haven’t met in person before, but have talked to extensively online, so it really is a special occasion for me.

We only had a few hours, so we had to be a bit quick about using our time. First, we dropped my luggage off at her school’s reception so I wouldn’t have to carry it around. Skovde is a pretty small city compared to most of the other cities I’ve been to on my trip, but there’s still a lot there. There’s a fairly large looking church in the city, as well as a lot of older looking buildings interspersed with more modern looking ones. Therese showed me around a bit, mostly the campus area of her university and the general town area, before we went to lunch.

For lunch we went to this really good restaurant called Gladje, which Therese told me meant “happiness” in Swedish. The restaurant served really good Swedish food and their lunch seemed fairly affordable when compared to places I’ve seen in other Stockholm (although it’s Stockholm, so I would kinda expect it to be expensive). We both got this dish that was a potato puree, peas, lingonberries, and a beef burger/patty. I can’t say enough how good it was. The meal also comes with salad as well as the option to have a Swedish fika afterwards (basically like a chat over coffee/tea with some sort of sweets).

our lunch

swedish fika

After lunch, we just walked around the city and mostly walked into shops to look around. The first one we went to was a candy stop because Therese said I really did need to try Swedish chocolate. Their selection of loose candy was pretty impressive (think of the candy selection by the pound places in Krogers/Publix/etc). We also went to a small design shop which had lots of “Scandinavian design” items as well as a children’s section with a Pippi Longstockings book! I learned that Scandinavian design is not just a phrase that is thrown around, but it’s still hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it is. Therese mentioned there were particular patterns and shapes/images that were very well known parts of it, but it’ll probably be a while before I can confidently say if something is Scandinavian design or not.

Our time together was nearing an end because I had a train back to Gothenburg to catch and she had a class to attend, so we had to kinda make a mad dash for the station after we picked up my stuff. I fell asleep on the train back from Skovde and once I got to Gothenburg, had a bit of a hard time finding my actual hostel (I eventually found it).

Today was a good day, and I’m so happy that I finally had a chance to meet Therese in person. I had a fun time going on a tour around Skovde together, so hopefully we’ll have another chance in the future to meet in person again!

therese and i

Stay tuned for more adventures. Tomorrow’s episode: Heather takes on Gothenburg.