Feeling Nostalgic in a Strange Place

It’s 4:30 in the morning in Sweden and I’m suffering from my usual jet-lag induced insomnia.  We’ve been here less than 24 hours and already my head is swimming with thoughts and feelings triggered by this new foreign place.

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Gilles’ chosen Ironman race this year has taken us to Kalmar  – about a 5 hour drive south of Stockholm.  Since arriving yesterday I’ve felt a deep sense of nostalgia …. for Holland, of all places.

As a teenager with a bad case of wanderlust, the home of my mother’s family was my first destination in what would later be a never-ending desire to experience the world.

Here I am – many decades later – and this Swedish community is flooding me with the same impressions I had on that first European vacation.

Surely it can’t be the tidy cobblestone streets or the ubiquitous bicycle – used by both the young and old as they scurry about on errands.

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It can’t be the lack of Stop signs at intersections with a general understanding that Yield is implied  …. or the generous use of round-abouts where heavier traffic can be expected.

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All of these are common sights throughout Europe.

It can’t be the puzzled and somewhat helpless feeling I have staring at an incomprehensible menu. Nor can it simply be the flat terrain and the gentle tang of seawater in the air.

It’a all that … and the people.

It’s the soft, lilting cadence of their speech and a certain familiarity in their accent.

It’s their surprised. but curious, deer-in-the-headlights look when we stop to ask questions with our stiff lack of linguistical ability.

It’s their polite patience as our lead-tongued North American mouth proceeds to butcher attempts to pronouce their unfamiliar words.

I’m sitting in a hotel room in a foreign country as the first rays of dawn are breaking, but already I feel like I’m in a familiar place.

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About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in 52 New Things, Adventure, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Feeling Nostalgic in a Strange Place

  1. Bit behind on my reading, but OH GOODY! Can’t wait for posts and pix of another wonderful trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Wind Beneath Their Wings | My Life Lived Full

  3. Sweden.. very lovely! Lots of bikes, Joanne!

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  4. Bea dM says:

    hello, thanks for sharing the pictures – bikes vs sea-highway ? – but specially your feelings of otherness, past experience and gradual new reality. So typical of travelling… well!

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  5. Sue Slaght says:

    I saw you had arrived via your post on Facebook. Like you I often write at 4am when having travelled to Europe. Best of luck to Gilles and I very much look forward to your updates.

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  6. You make it sound so lovely, Joanne. Not just the physical but the way the people think and interact. All the best to Giles for the Ironman!

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  7. pike says:

    Welcome to Scandinavia, though the Baltic is between us! 😀 Kalmar is a nice place. Enjoy!

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  8. You really bring this area of Sweden to life, Joanne. I like your “gentle tang of seawater” and the reference to lead tongues. It’s so true, isn’t it? Look forward to seeing a bit more?

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    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks Barbara. Whenever I travel I’m reminded of how linguistically inferior we North Americans are to many parts of the rest of the world.

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      • So true. My Taiwanese friends’ children speak perfect English, one without a trace of an accent. Of course they’ve gone to intense language schools all their young lives and learning English wasn’t really an option. Now one is studying Japanese and the other Spanish. Fotunately, they love speaking English with Americans and enjoy all the slang and idioms. “You crack me up!” cracks them up.

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  9. NancyTex says:

    Yay! Enjoy Sweden! and good luck to Gilles in the race!

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  10. How nice that you have an affinity for this country. It’s strange how some of us are able to relate with certain cultures and so wonderful that you have the opportunity to discover this.

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  11. Lynn says:

    Europe just seems to embody the spirit of slowing life down a wee bit & enjoying your surroundings. Have an amazing time!

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  12. Oh, yes! Don’t be shy with your pictures. But also, don’t miss a moment on your trip. Your computer/phone/tablet screen is not a good thing to be in front of when there is so much wonderfulness around you! Have fun!

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  13. bikerchick57 says:

    Will you be renting a bicycle and going for a ride? Yup, that’s the first thing I thought of with so many bikes lined up. Enjoy your stay and those nostalgic feelings. Looking forward to more photos…when you have time and after you get some sleep.

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    • joannesisco says:

      I’ve rented a bike a couple of times when Gilles was racing … and of course I’ve had my own bike a number of times. I won’t be doing that this time though.
      There will definitely be more photos before I get home 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’d be most happy to enjoy your photos of a beautiful country! Safe travels!

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  15. mickscogs says:

    Lucky you. All of that just seems so far away from here. Apart from SE Asia, everything’s far away from here. Hope you get the energy to travelogue; looking forward to it.

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  16. Su Leslie says:

    Hope you have a brilliant time. Post lots of pics! I need even a vicarious European experience, and the Scandanavian countries are so on my bucket list!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I didn’t know you were jetsetting again! Did I miss something? Anyway, no matter. I loved this post. You described perfectly the feelings of being in a strange yet familiar place. Looking forward to more from you on this part of the world. 🙂

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