2 hours in a car from southern Minnesota where we joyously celebrated my sister’s wedding, 6 hours by plane to Iceland, then 3 hours to Stockholm has brought us joyously to Sweden!

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We’ve enjoyed Lingonberry juice, Pilsner beers, Swedish meatballs (here they just call them meatballs!) in a sweet brown gravy, lingonberry reduction sauce, and sweet pickles with mashed potatoes, num!

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We will be in Stockholm for a day, floating to the island of Gotland with old city walls and architecture tomorrow, and start our drive north the next day!

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After a night in the capital, we decided to go to a place where Swedes vacation in the summer, am island in the middle of the Baltic Sea called Visby, so we loaded onto a 3000 passenger ship with many amenities like this play place for our 2 year old, Jonah and sailed 3.5 hours back in history to medieval walls and castles.

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Visby is a place from another time. As I look for painting inspiration in Sweden this place definitely stirs love for color, architecture, and beauty.

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Church bells from 13th century cathedrals ring every half hour making there way through terra cotta buildings, reverberating and bouncing off of the cobblestone squares on the ground.

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Jonah bumpity bumps and toddles on the cobblestone chasing pigeons and giggles as they fly away up into the bell towers.

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Pilsner mugs clink as Swedes enjoy a holiday in the sun on this picturesque island 3 hours off the coast of Sweden.

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This place transports you to instant relaxation and helps you travel centuries back in time through its ruins. My Art History bone is tickled as I gaze on cathedrals I learned about in my gothic architecture class, how can these stones and wood hold up for so long?

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We meander along the old city wall which weaves in and out of recently built houses, it’s a fortress and a 14th century castle all in one. I’m transported back to Ireland inside long city walls and stone castles, Jonah loves to hide behind the large stones of the ruins and play peek a boo.

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It’s beauty is unmatched in any other Sweden island town and reminiscent of Scandinavia I see so many styles like Swedish architecture and animals abound!

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Jonah runs and plays at a park near the university where a lake with a beautiful fountain and ducks serfs the scene for utter serenity, he enjoys the belly flutters of a teeter totter for the first time and feeds bits of his sugar cookie to crows who happily nibble on the sweet treat. All of this bird talk is giving me inspiration for my next children’s book. Stay tuned…

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We love ice cream, every day, because we are in what Swedes fall an African heatwave, 87 degrees average every day when it’s supposed to be 20 degrees cooler. I blame pregnancy cravings 😉 they put cute Swedish flags in all the cones, every time Jonah insists on ‘blue ice cream.’

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If you think it’s a walk in the park to travel with a toddler, honestly, it is. Lots of parks and playing. The hardest thing is toddler’s body clicks fight tooth and nail to stay on a sleep schedule, poor Jonah has jet lag that has woken him up at 1 and 3 am respectively, we’ve been hurting. But hey, he woke up at 4:30 this morning and slept through the night so that rocks!

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We are hoping for 8 hours of sleep tonight. He’s having so much fun with birds, throwing rocks, riding boats, and playing at new Swedish parks, our motto is one park every day, and this has made him a happy boy.

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To get to the Art Residency summer drive 3 hours to Uppsala in the north, 4 hours north to Östergötland, then 4 hours north to Rattvik, before our final 3 hours north to Lappland where we will be staying in a rustic cabin surrounded by reindeer for painting the rest of the month!

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