Archive for March, 2008

Root Canal

// March 31st, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

It all started back in December 2007. I had a little cavity below the gum line. My dentist said he could fix it easily. After 2 straight hours of working on it he was able to finish it. It should have healed in about 3 to 5 days, but it took almost 4 weeks in my case and I did not push the issue, because it always seemed to be getting better. (Rhonda kept on telling me to go in just to check it out. Not me I can take a little pain and it did seem to heal.) Over the next four months I took it easy on the tooth, because if you bit down to hard on it is hurt, just a bit.

Now it’s about 4 months later. While walking through the Aeroseum yesterday I was chewing on some food that made my tooth feel like it was on fire. Not good. I washed the food away and everything was ok. Hmm…I don’t like where this is going.

So this morning I decide to make sure my teeth are clean and brush them like normal. However, when the brush ran across the tooth where the complicated cavity was filled, a large chunk of the tooth broke away. This is just plain painful. Ouch.

After spending some time getting the bleeding to stop, the cavity went below the gum line and thus the gums bled some when the chunk broke away, I immediately emailed Rhonda to have her ask around the office for any great dentists. I had three offers, but with the first two I could not get in until tomorrow. I did think I could make it until then. Then one of Rhonda’s co-worker suggested the Swedish public dental services. She got me an appointment with them while I was on the phone with the others.

At 15:00 today I went to my appointment only 3 block away from the apartment. Insurance does not work here so I had to use my credit card to make a generic payment just for stepping in. No problem. At that point they could have charged me a thousand dollars and that would have been great if they could get the pain to subside. I’ll do anything. Please help.

Ok, so I get into the office and I really wish I could speak and understand Swedish now more than ever.  However, my dentist knew a little English and that proved to be enough. She first thought that it was just going to be a temporary filling to be installed. Upon testing the area I almost exploded out of my chair when she hit the exposed area with the tools. She then said my gum might be a little bit infected. Ok. So she injected me with a bit of topical pain killer. That worked ok until she sprayed something like an antiseptic on it. That was extremely painful and I could not take that anymore. I think she suspected something was very wrong. She immediately injected me about 10 times all around the side of my mouth with pain killer. Finally, I could concentrated again. They then took an x-ray and when they came back several people were discussing the results. She then asked me if I knew any Swedish and I said no. She ended up telling me my root was very infected and my gum tissue under the tooth was very infected. She immediately proceeded to do a root canal to release the pressure inside the tooth and also used some sort of antiseptic/cleaner around the tooth to start the gum to heal.

After 2 hours I was finished and scheduled my permanent crown for April 15th.

I just now need to take care of the tooth and gum and hope the gum heals well.

Looking back I should have went back to my dentist in December and complained about the little pain and slow healing. I think he would have seen the filling failed. He could have fixed it then instead of me letting it get the cracks filled by food over the last several months.

Exposed gums and broken edges of teeth are extremely painful and it gets worse when you aggravate it with an infected root and gum below the tooth. For as much as I don’t like going to the dentist I’m extremely thankful they are good at what they do. The Swedish doctor was excellent and at this time things look good for everything to heal.


Smögen and the Aeroseum

// March 30th, 2008 // 1 Comment » // Trip to Sweden 2008

Houses near the shortline in Smogen.We decided to do something close to home this weekend considering we traveled over 2000 miles last weekend. We started it off by going to a fishing village called Smögen. It’s about an hour and a half north of Göteborg and is a very popular hangout in the summertime. As noted on Wikipedia “Smögen is well known today for its long, wooden pier (around 600 meters), filled with shops in old fishing huts, which are frequented by a multitude of tourists during the summer. Smögen is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Swedish West Coast, well known for it’s fish, prawns and other sea-food, and one of Sweden’s few fish markets is located here.”

Before getting there, we had to cross Uddevalla bridge along the way. Rhonda remembered it from a year ago and we decided to find our way to the bottom after getting off of the freeway. It’s a very modern looking bridge and is unlike most bridges in Sweden. We made several wrong turns getting there, but with the help of a GPS Rhonda borrowed from a co-worker, we found our way. Below are some pictures of the bridge.

You can click on the next picture to get a large panoramic view. We made this one black and white for a different effect and because of the lack of color during this early spring.

After looking at two locations around the bridge, we made our way to Smögen. It was lunch time when we arrived so we decided to grab some lunch at the local pizzeria. Even though we wanted pepperoni, it is not the local favorite. This is our second pizza place we have been to in Sweden and ham, called skinka, seems to be the most common type of pizza.

We finished with lunch and found a place to park near the sea. It was a very windy, cold and rainy day. During some of the gusts, you could lean sideways into the breeze.

We took a nice walk by the water. There are many tiny buildings that open as new shops during the summer season. They are different every year. Below are some of the pictures from our walk.

Below is a view of the village houses when you enter the city.

Here is another view of some of the houses on the shoreline as a boat passes by.

Smögen is a great place to visit and is probably even better in the summer season. We may have to go here again in May.

On Sunday afternoon we decided to try to hit a few museums. The first was called the Aeroseum. It was opened up 2 years ago for public viewing. It was constructed during the cold war for the purpose of storing Swedish military aircraft. It is completely underground and is about the size of 3 football fields. We thought it would only take 2 hours to take the guided tour, but we ended up spending 4 hours because our guide did the tour in 2 languages, Swedish and English. Since the tour took much longer than expected, we decided to forgo the Volvo museum tour this weekend. Below are some pictures from the tour.

Rhonda always wanted to be a fighter pilot. Here she finally got her picture taken inside of one.

It was interesting to learn this bunker was built 50 years ago. However, the people of Göteborg only learned it existed 5 years ago. At one time they were going to fill it in with dirt and sand, but some “important person” got it approved to turn it into a museum. There are plans to build an amusement park on top of it, but it may be a while before that happens. It was a great tour.


Great morning today

// March 26th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

Not much happening lately so I thought I would show you our great morning after yesterday’s snow.


Our trip to Kiruna and the Ice Hotel

// March 24th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

The train we boarded in Gothenburg on our way to the Ice Hotel.Wow, what a long exciting journey! Chad and I are on our luxury train ride back home to Gothenburg (compared to other train rides). We have about 3 hours left on the train, so we thought we would give you an update of our trip!

On Thursday evening (03-20) at 6PM, we headed off to the Gothenburg central train station which is just down the road from our apartment. We had to get ourselves prepared for a long trip. Waiting for us was an 11 hour train ride in a cabin with 4 other Suedes, then a 12 hour bus ride, then finally another 1 and half hour bus ride ending in Kiruna. Sweden is a very long country, so this trip was like traveling from Greensboro, NC to Dallas, TX. We took a limited amount of luggage, but still wish we could have consolidated a bit more. We had to take a backpack full of food; we had 6 diet cokes, 5 sandwiches, plus a few other junk food items. We hoped that it would be enough to get us there without having to buy expensive food on the train and during the bus stops.

During the trip up, we mainly spent our time sleeping, reading books and looking at the country side. Most of the homes typically in Sweden are red wooden small homes, however some are yellow. The further north we went, the more snow we saw on the ground. One of the 4 suedes on the train was very social and actually offered both of us a beer.

On Friday night, we arrived at our destination in Kiruna at 8:30PM. To our surprise, we only had to walk 5 minutes to the Scandic hotel where we were staying. The hotel itself was very nice and I think it was the largest hotel in town. See a picture of the hotel below. It offered a free full breakfast and the restaurant/bar was the local’s favorite, so it was quite busy. After checking in, I was able to talk Chad into going to the bar for a drink before bedtime. The bar was small with live music and overall the perfect “bar” atmosphere. I can understand why it is so popular.

We had a pretty relaxed Saturday morning. Our bus ride to the Ice Hotel wasn’t until 10AM, so we slept in and then had a big breakfast! I don’t think I have eaten so much food for breakfast before. They had everything you could ever want (except biscuits and gravy): scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, cereal, waffles, oat meal, your typical cold sandwiches for the Europeans, and the list goes on… It turns out the bus ride to the Ice Hotel was free! I guess the driver was being generous on Easter weekend. So, the money we would have spent on the bus ride was now going to be spent on at the Ice Hotel! 🙂

I was told by many people, that if you ever got the chance to make the long trip to the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi which is 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, it would be well worth it. During the 30 minute bus ride there from Kiruna, I hoped that I (we) would not be disappointed.

Well, the other folks were right! It was truly amazing. Every year in November, the artists and workers start building the Ice Hotel. Most of the rooms are complete at the end of December. Each year the hotel gets bigger and bigger. This year is the 18th season and it contained 60 rooms.

There were about 20-30 artistic rooms, where different artists from all over the world applied for the chance to design an Ice Room. Many apply for the opportunity, but only a few get their design approved. It is a shame that these amazing pieces of work will melt in mid-April. Every year, the Ice Hotel is rebuilt in a different form. In the beginning, people thought that this was a crazy tradition, but you know what, they have a totally different opinion now. There is a lot of money being made now and there is nothing else like it in the world!!! What an incredible place to see…

After viewing a few of the rooms, we took a guided tour where we learned a lot about how the hotel is made each year. Below you will see some excellent pictures by Chad. The last one is my favorite of the room with all the ice circles!

The hotel also has an Ice Church which is mainly used for weddings and baptisms. There are approximately 150 weddings each year from couples all of over the world who want to get married in a unique place. The baptisms are mainly performed for the local families in the area. It’s kind of funny because we went from visiting the Ice Church to the Ice Bar.

The Bar is the main hangout for those visiting. Drinks are served in a real ice glass! They make a million ice glasses per year! In order for liquids not to freeze in the ice glass, mixed drinks with vodka are only served. Of course we wanted to buy a drink to take in the whole experience! There are actually 4 other Ice Bars in Europe, one in Stockholm, Copenhagen, London, and Tokyo. All the ice for each bar though comes from the original Ice Hotel here in Jukkasjarvi!

Our bus back to Kiruna was at 2:40PM, so we had some time to waste before our dog sled evening adventure which Chad will describe next…

Rhonda  (PS: Check out Chad below at the bus stop looking not too excited… 🙂

That afternoon we had an early dinner at the restaurant/bar downstairs. I had sautéed Reindeer which is fairly common. Overall good, but it needs more spice/flavor.

At 6 pm, our guide Dyson (I’m not sure how to spell his name) showed up at the motel to pick us up. He was wearing a coat made from reindeer. He had very long gray hair and a beard. To Rhonda, he looked like an Arkansas mountain man. We cruised around town and picked up 5 more people and headed to Jukkasjärvi to get geared up with very warm clothes.

Upon arrival at the sled dog area we were given some warm boots, hat, mittens, and a suit to wear. Lots of layers worked great. I decided to take my tripod and camera and it turned out I could not use them due to the extreme cold and the fact it was so dark. Anyway, myself, Rhonda and another person got on one sled and the rest on another. Each sled held up to 6 people. The first thing I noticed was the dogs were very small. After asking, I learned the smaller dogs with good coats and not to much hound blood, do the best. Large dogs use more energy trying to stay warm. We had 12 dogs pulling us.

We went for about 6 kilometers and met up with the other sled at a cabin in the woods for tea, coffee, and sandwiches. We sat around a table bundled up for about a half hour and enjoyed all they had to offer. They talked about sled dog racing and the business they had built up over the years. Dyson informed us it was about -25C and it was going to get colder. He made sure the front of the sled people were covering their face properly otherwise they would suffer frostbite with the breeze.

Along the way I did manage a few snapshots. However, the camera started freezing up. Another passenger, Lou, had his camera completely ice over trying to photograph while riding. This kind of activity is not good for camera equipment.

On the way back a full moon started to rise. It looked orange and hung large over the horizon. All you could hear were the dogs, a few commands from the musher, and the sled riding over the snow. It was a great time.

(One note here. For some reason my left toes froze on the sled ride back. I was riding fine one minute and the next minute I couldn’t feel my toes. I believe I stopped the circulation in my leg for a short while. My toes quickly cooled with no blood circulating. Once I realized my toes were froze, I quickly made some adjustments. It took me a while to get them thawed out!)

The next day we went largest wooden building in Sweden, the Church in Kiruna. It was an amazing building and was very large. You can see the bell tower on the right hand side. Everyone walks to Church as only about 20 cars can park anywhere near it.

Later that day we started on our way back home after getting lunch.

We went to the Kiruna train station to meet our train at 2:10 pm. Just before 2:10 there was a Swedish announcement that a train derailed and it would be 1 hour before our train arrived. Rhonda scrambled to get the announcement translated. Within the next 2 hours they had the train running and picking us up. We also learned they held up all other connecting trains along the way. This was excellent since we originally had only 16 minutes to catch our connecting train. Below is a picture of the Kiruna train station.

We made it to our connecting train and road it for the next 20 hours. The ride was good, but very long. You can see Rhonda below in our room. The second bed is right above her head.

Overall the trip was excellent. I need to learn how to speak and read Swedish. Life is definitely more interesting when you can not understand what the announcements are saying. We relied on very friendly Swedish people translating everything for us.


Some Various Notes

// March 20th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

This weekend we are taking the train up to the “Ice Hotel” located in Jukkasjärvi Sweden near Kiruna. After visiting the Ice Hotel we are going on a dog sled ride for several hours. Finally, after that we are staying out late hoping to see and photograph the Northern Lights. Kiruna is about 200 km North of the Arctic Circle. (Still about 1300 miles from the North Pole.) The train ride is 24 hours long going North and a little East of Göteborg. So you probably won’t see any posting from us until Tuesday of next week.

This brings me to another question people have been asking. How far North is Göteborg in relation to the States? Göteborg is located at a latitude of 57 42′30.00″N On a map of North America that is about 620 miles North of the Canadian border or about 150 miles South of the Northwest Territories.

Kiruna is near where the Ice Hotel is located. Kiruna’s, latitude is about 1350 miles North of the Canadian Border. That is equivalent to about 3/4 of the way to the top of Alaska.

I hope that gives you an idea of where we are going.


St Patrick’s Day

// March 19th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

2008-03-19-001-20080318-042We had a great St. Patrick’s Day. After work a good friend of ours, Martin, showed us around town a bit. We started out by moving our parked car to another parking spot. Rhonda thought she got a great parking spot because she was able to park so close. After we walked out of the apartment, Martin told us that on certain days of the week they do street cleaning. Our street is cleaned every Tuesday morning from 2am to 7am.  You will get a ticket if you are in the way.

After moving the car we had an excellent dinner at a restaurant called the La Vacca. We had pizzas and Carlsberg beer. Very good overall. Along the way we learned if you “take away” (never use the words “to-go” in Sweden, it confuses the translation.) the food, it costs about 50% less for this place. However, the atomsphere was great and it was worth it to be there. Also, the place is about 10 meters outside our apartment door!

After dinner we went to a great bar. Martin has spent some time there. It’s called the Dubliner. The place was full and amazingly enough almost everyone was speaking English. I had a few pints of Guinness and Rhonda was drinking Carlsberg. We hung out for a few hours and talked with some of Martin’s friends who he plays football (soccer) with. In fact one of them may be going for a jump at the local DZ in June. We hope to be there when he goes.

Before leaving Rhonda worked hard to get a popular hat from the bartenders. After going through three of them she was able to get one. Here a picture of her wearing it at home.


2008 ISU Competition in Göteborg

// March 19th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

ISU Workd Figure Skating Championships 2008 in Gothenburg Sweden.On Tuesday, we went to the International Skating Union’s World Figure Skating Championships 2008 held in Göteborg, just down the street a few blocks. We bought our tickets about 6 hours before the competition started and ended up about 3 rows from the very top. Neither of us had ever been to a skating competition.

Tonight it was the Compulsory Dance and the Pairs Short Program. It took us a while to figure out what was good and bad. Some of the routines did not look as good as others, but scored very well. After a few routines we learned the technical score has a lot of weight and also how synchronous the pair performs holds a lot of score. By the end, we could estimate what the scores would be to within a few points before being posted. (Rhonda guesses better more often than me.)

One routine we saw was the Chineese pair Dan ZHANG / Hao ZHANG. They were excellent and won the evening’s competition. Here is the ISU’s web site and here are the results from the competition.

Here are a few pictures we took.


Weekend in Gothenburg

// March 17th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

Rhonda on top of Sjomanstornet statue.Greetings from a cold and snowy Gothenburg!

It’s Monday morning and we woke up surprised to see that it’s snowing outside! This was not the forecast. It was suppose to be partly cloudly today like yesterday. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day. I guess the weather is unpredictable here.

Anyway, I will tell you about our weekend, but one thing first. I recently found out that since our Volvo C30 is a flex fuel environmental car, most of the parking places in Gothenburg are FREE! I was very excited to hear about this news. This will make life much easier and we can now park much closer to the apartment.

On Saturday, we ventured out to see a little of Gothenburg. We used Gothenburg’s public transportation and headed off toward the mall which is called Nordstan. Chad needed some type of electrical device for his work phone. We then walked a few blocks to view the Kronhuset. The Kronhuset (Crown House) is the oldest building in Gothenburg. It was built in 1642-54 and was used to shelter ammunition and supplies. Today the Kronhuset is used as a concert hall. Below you will see pictures from our walk and the Kronhuset itself.

Our next stop was the Sjöfartsmusset (shipping museum). We were planning to see the statue called Sjömanstornet, but it was to be closed until summer, however they would open it for 2 hours on Sunday which was the next day! Until then, we could see the shipping museum for free during this special viewing weekend. It was usually 40 Swedish crowns (English plural version of Swedish Kronor) to tour the museum. Tomorrow, we would see the statue which was normally not open until summer. This worked out great for us!

After visiting the museum, we made our way back to the apartment. We found a small grocery store next to our apartment, so we decided to pick up some more diet coke. I think stopping at a grocery store each day for diet coke will be our normal routine. 🙂

Saturday evening, I took Chad over to Hisingen Island which is the fourth largest island in Sweden. This is also where the Volvo headquarters is located. On the island, there is a nice park called Keillers Park that offers great panoramic views of the city of Gothenburg. Below are a couple of pictures that Chad took, one of which is a picture of our Volvo C30!

On Sunday, our plans were to head back to the Sjömanstornet statue. It was open from 1PM – 3PM. The woman statue stands facing the water and it symbolizes all women saying goodbye to their husband who is leaving for sea. The top of the statue is 230 feet over the ocean and at 170 feet is a viewing tower/platform.  The platform is round, so we could see both a view of the entrance of the harhour and also of the city. It was a beautiful sunny day, and Chad got some great pictures. Check out a few of them below. The last one is a panoramic view, you will need to click on the thumbnail to view a larger size.

Well, that’s it for now!


First Regular Day of Work

// March 13th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

The livingroom in our Gothenburg apartment.After waking up in the middle of the night and trying to get back to sleep we awoke to a bit of rain outside. We’re told it rains here quit a bit during this part of the season.

The jet lag was still hitting us a bit, but it is getting better. In another day or two we should be all done with that.

We are located just 1 block away from Ullevi stadium. It’s the biggest stadium in Scandinavia and holds about 43,000 seated people. For us it means a good parking spot underneath.

I walked Rhonda to the car this morning and parking at the Ullevi stadium seems to be a fairly good spot at about $20 for a full day. Hopefully we can keep the cost down. Maybe we’ll find a better spot around here as we explore the area in the upcoming week.

The apartment and the internet connection that came with it are excellent. It will allow me to work from here without any problem. Here are a couple of pictures of how it looks.


First Day in Gothenburg

// March 11th, 2008 // No Comments » // Trip to Sweden 2008

It has now been exactly 24 hours since we took off from Greensboro for Gothenburg.

Chad and I both are very tired, and I think we will end our day soon since we have only had about 2-3 hours of sleep, but I wanted to post a short description of how our day went.

When we arrived in Gothenburg, Magnus (my team leader) picked us up at the airport. He cracked jokes about how much luggage we had…he said we could easily stay a full year with the amount of luggage we had.  We are located on the 3rd floor of an older apartment building. We piled up all of our luggage on top of each other in the tiniest elevator you have ever seen. The elevator was about 3 feet by 3 feet square.

After saying goodbye to Magnus, we headed off to the grocery store to stock up on some food. We spent about 2 hours shopping because we couldn’t find simple things like salt and cinnamon.

Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, that we are driving a Volvo C30. It is brand spanken new. I love it. We will have to take a picture soon so you can check it out.

After we returned from the stressing trip from the grocery store, we tried to find a parking space for the car.  Let me tell you, it’s like living in NYC, there are no parking spaces available. I had to call my team lead again (Magnus) and ask for help. He told me to try an underground parking lot not too far away. Anyway, that worked out great after asking for some help from a pedestrian to help us understand how to read and work the parking fee machine.

Once back at home, we got everything unpacked, which took about 2 hours as well. The apartment is going to be very nice. It’s a big one bedroom and it even has a dish washer in the kitchen!

That’s it for tonight; we are going to now get some rest!


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