Are you so reliant upon technology, you need a “smart” phone to dictate your every move? Does GPS more closely stand for Going Places Securely, else you end up lost, alone, somewhere along the Rio in Tijuana? Well, I am you and you are me and we are all together. If this is indeed the case, you may be familiar with the occasional glitch in the matrix that happens when you type your intended location into a MapApp – be it Google, Bing, Apple, whathaveyour device – and you end up someplace completely different from where you mean to go; as in thousands-of-miles-away-on-another-continent-different.
I think this is fun!
This accidental happenstance has brought forth a new blogger-ary adventure series called “Places Google Maps Has Sent Me”… because, honestly, life is too short to actually go the places you’re supposed to.
What is the thought process behind choosing a vacation destination? Travel and resort marketing professionals must have a better insight into this, but I want to know why people jet-off to the places they choose for a holiday, when not visiting family or friends. A totally solo venture with you or a partner/travel buddy. What exactly is it about a location that draws a person for R&R, sight-seeing, or broadening their cultural horizons? Do you spin a globe and declare, “wherever my finger sticks, there, with the grace of God go I.”
When I think back to my wild, child-free jetsetting years (all four of them), each country outside the US I visited was chosen deliberately, however, there was a small percentage of pure randomness thrown into that choice for good measure. China, 2009? The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century took place and that was something pretty incredible to witness. I read about it happening in a news article and decided, “hey, that might be cool to see.” So my friend Jessica and I spent 4 weeks backpacking across the Chinese countryside. We did end up being there for the eclipse, however, it was raining and overcast in Shanghai that day.
It is that bit of randomness I wish to explore in this blog series. Now, as a parent to three curious children, I very much desire to expose them to as many different cultures as possible. I get all Sancti-Mommy when I come across other Mom and Dad bloggers who practice and preach insular parenting. Homeschool. Small Town Religulous Lifestyle. Why? Why shelter your children from the reality of this beautiful and diverse planet? Would they have chosen such a lifestyle when they themselves were children?
Perhaps we will traverse these places one day. With the time, and the money, I would really, really like to. Being that opportunities to engage in such unfettered jet-setting are in my rearview mirror, at the very least I can leap up this haphazard roll of the proverbial dice and learn a thing or two about Inner Scandanavia…or South Africa…or Kansas. So, without further ado, “Places Google Maps Has Sent Me”; far-flung, randomly selected corners of the world I hope to see someday.
WHERE I MEANT TO GO:
Lottie’s Lounge, Seattle, WA – a homestyle-food, comfy café, perfect for a weekend gathering with friends
WHERE GOOGLE MAPS SENT ME:
Lottie’s Kok Café, Hammarstrand, Sweden
Let’s explore the things we know about Sweden. IKEA…Fish…Meatballs…Penis Pumps? OK. Check. All sensuously go hand over ‘is zee pressure too hard?’ massaging hand said country is also known for. Sweden and its Scandinavian neighbors are all up there on the places I am highly anticipating a visit to one day. So if Google Maps is going to send me to a restaurant in rural fucking Sweden, I AM ALL ABOUT THIS. Let’s go!
What, and where, is a Hammarstrand?
Hammarstrand is a city (locality) in the midshaft of Jamtland-cannot-write-umlauts County, North-Central Sweden. The county is dominated (dominated! hah!) by the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the Swedish Rural Centre Party, which is unique in Sweden, but corresponds to the situation in the bordering Norwegian county of Nord-Trøndelag. Which, thank you Wikipedia, but this explains nothing of said “situation” in the bordertown along the Norwegian side. Drug and gang violence? Political murders and corruption? Do the opposing factions scatter stealth landmines throughout the heavily thicketed forest? Because of Wikipedia’s ineptness, the world may never know the scandalous and tenuous situation taking place this very minute along the Sweden/Norway border.
Hammarstrand is about a 5 hour drive from Stockholm. Presumably, Stockholm is the Int’l hub airport one flies into. Rent a Volvo, epic road trip. Although, according to the never-confusing GPS, Klarastrandsleden becomes Blekholmstunneln followed shortly by Blekholmstunneln becoming Klarastrandsleden again…shit! I don’t know what this means, but I securely leave my life in your hands GPS. I’m sure some friendly locals will be able to help us on our journey North. Swedes seem to be quite competent English speakers, more so than quite a few native English speakers I know.
What’s the first thing you do when you get Hammarstrand?
Go to Lottie’s Café, of course! You must be very hungry after a long day of driving. Look at the quaintness! Oh mein Gott, can you get any quainter?
The empty chocolate paper wrappers may not look satisfying, but the dessert popcorn should satiate you!
I loaf you times three!
This mystery meat in a jar, however, I do not trust.
It’s okay though, if this puppy is the Café Mascot in residence, all is clearly right in this world. Oh my goodness.
We’ve eliminated our hunger, enjoyed some provencal Swedish cuisine, and loved on some puppies. Where are we going to stay? There appears to be at least one hotel in Hammarstrand…Hotell (double L) Hammarstrand, motto: “Camp Wild Life”!
Wild, and absolutely gorgeous.
How do you feel about camping in the wintertime on a pillowy blanket of snow in an IKEA-grade cabin? Hammarstrand provides.
FUN FACTS ABOUT HAMMARSTRAND:
*It is the site of a retired World Cup bobsleigh and luge track. Curves 9 and 10 of the track are named “Ding” and “Dong”, respectively.
*It’s latitude and longitude coordinates are 63°06′N 16°21′E.
*The Zorb Center for recreation has giant inflatable hamster balls you can climb into and attempt to run in, as if you were a spazzed-out hamster in an inflatable golf ball. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a pretty good time.
*There is a giant sign mimicking the famous HOLLYWOOD landmark which greets you upon entry into Hammarstrand. What more do those cheeky Swedes have in store with a welcoming such as this?!
Thanks to a propitious glitch, I now have a reason to visit rural Sweden. Planning vacations to places Google Maps sends you may be the modern day equivalent of spinning a globe and ending up where your finger lands, usually middle of the Indian Ocean. It does, however, make me smile to zoom out, zoom out some more, and exclaim, “oh, that is definitely not what I wanted, but wow! Sweden! Okay!” Suddenly there is a new place to discover which never would have crossed my radar before. So who knows…with a little more time and money, Google maps may actually send me to Lottie’s Cafe after all.