Monday, August 30, 2010

Välkommen till Sverige!!!

Here we be on the island of Gotland, the largest of the islands of Sweden.

We are in Gotland's main town of Visby, which is a medieval walled city, very picturesque.

The people of Sweden, what we know as the "Swedish" and as they refer to themselves, "Svensk" (pronounced "Svensk") are cool. Not in the sense of "with it", but more in the sense of "we detect your presence, but prefer not to acknowledge you".

What's the difference between a dead fish and a Swede?

(1) When asked for directions, the fish will point.

(2) You can tell when the fish is smiling.

(3) Some Swedes look better in a bikini.

We have been very successful on prior journeys in traveling from point to point, and finding additional information from the locals before moving on to the next destination. Here the people are very circumspect about what they say. For example, a greeting of hello from us is often met by them moving their eyes to ground and moving quickly on, even if they are the reception host. It is a bit difficult to move on from that point to the next topic.

Of course, part of our difficulty has been an undue collection of doctors in the region. There is some sort of international doctors convention going on here. If anyone out there cannot find a doctor this month, send us a note. Sweden is lousy with them. I'm not sure whether the inn keepers and restaurant managers are sick of people in general, especially doctors, or they prefer doctors. In any event, Karen has had to resort to playing the "doctor card" pointing out that I am a doctor of law (though judiciously leaving out the "of law" part). Apparently, it worked this morning. Upon finding out that I wasn't just a cranky American, but a cranky American doctor, a hotel that had no rooms suddenly had three available. I'm kind of hoping that someone here needs me to operate on them.

Tomorrow morning, we board the ferry to return to the mainland and head towards Stockholm. We have reservations for the next couple of nights, but we are still looking for accommodations for the weekend.

Wish us luck!!!

Dr. and Mrs. Barnum

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