Aswat - Syrian Voices

How does it feel to leave everything behind and start afresh in a foreign country?

One of our more moving experiences was visiting the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg and walking through the exhibition, Aswat which means 'voices' in Arabic. The exhibit shared the stories of Syrians who had immigrated to Sweden and told their stories of leaving their homeland, the losses they endured and what hope they had for the future.

After more than six years of civil war in one of the deadliest ongoing conflicts in the world, seven million Syrians have left their homes and in 2017, Syria became the largest group of immigrants in Sweden.

In 2016, a web-based project #Syrien200 was launched by Swedish TV. The website presents 200 people who have fled from Syria to Sweden. Their stories focus on the escape, the reasons for it and about how they are doing in Sweden. 

This exhibition shows Sweden's commitment to bring more awareness and compassion to the struggles of the Syrian people living in their country. After November 2018,  the exhibit moves to Stockholm.

Click on the image to hear their stories.

Click on the image to hear their stories.






After hanging out on the 69th parallel in Tromsø, Norway, we headed back to our dear friend Eddie Ardow, a roommate of mine during my college years at UCLA. His home overlooks one of the many waterways that flow through Stockholm. 

We spent a few days luxuriating at Eddie’s and getting to know his girlfriend, Marie Blomqvist, his daughter Anja, and meeting more of his family. We visited a few well-known tourist attractions including hip and touristy Gamla Stan, the wildly popular children’s literature museum Junibacken, and the amazing photography exhibitions at Fotografiska.

Surrealist Fashion Photographer Catherine Naundorf

Surrealist Fashion Photographer Catherine Naundorf

Our modes of transportation were subway, bus, by foot, and the popular red hop-on hop-off boats. Each of these tour boats is named after one of ABBA’s hit songs. Bicycles and super efficient pubic transportation are the way to get around in Stockholm.  And boats.  Stockholm is comprised of fourteen islands, and we saw all kinds of watercraft, from canoes to cruise ships, in the surrounding waters. It all started on the central island of Gamla Stan, the hub of ancient Stockholm.

Exploring Tromsø

Tromsø, Norway—Summer in the Arctic circle.  The air and water are unimaginably pure.  The sunsets last for hours.  Around midnight, the sun barely sets, and already it rises again.  The weather is warm and sultry.  The locals sit out late on their decks and porches.  We fall asleep to the sound of their laughter and the shrilling of Arctic terns.   We hear the seabirds 21 hours a day.  They are everywhere.  They settle down during the brief hours of darkness.

Click on image to enlarge.

The landscape is vast and sculpted by glaciers. We see reindeer twice, right on the roads. We feast on smoked salmon, which is more like lox, from a famous market where they smoke it themselves. 

Stands of blooming lupines line the roads.  Brightly colored wildflowers are abundant . The coast of northern Norway is a profusion of islands, an archipelago.  Here, life is all about the sea. Tromsø is known as the place to go in winter for viewing the Northern Lights, and as the gateway city for Arctic expeditions. 

On our first full day there, we are taken on a fjord tour by car and visit Sommarøy, an island known for its white sand beaches.

All Day Fjord Tour to Sommarøy

The next few days we spent exploring the city of Tromsø. Highlights were a Werner birthday celebration at the Art Cafe, a cable car ride overlooking Tromsø, as well as a few other surprises shared in the video below.