A new home.

After a long stretch of uncertainty, the setting for the next chapter of our adventure has finally been decided, officially bringing a conclusion to this first year of life in Europe.

We are moving to Sweden.

In a little over a month we’ll be packing up our Dutch life and moving north, to the beautiful city of Stockholm – home to picturesque Scandinavian landscapes, IKEA and some of the world’s tallest (and most attractive) people.

We paid the city a top secret visit before our trip to Italy and found it suits us very well. We know we’re going to miss Amsterdam but we leave knowing we’re going to love Stockholm. It’s another beautiful European city with it’s own unique character. And though the people are a wee bit shorter and the population is just a tad smaller, Stockholm certainly feels BIGGER than Amsterdam. And in many ways, it is. It’s spread over an archipelago of 14 islands and much of its architecture is based on the grand buildings of Paris. Julie said it reminded her of Vienna. We both felt that some parts even reminded us of sweet home Chicago.

So what is taking us there other than the meatballs? I’ve accepted a new opportunity with Nike as Running Brand Manager for Stockholm. Working on running will be a great new challenge for me as it is the sport at the company’s core. But I’m probably more excited about that last part, Stockholm. Notice it’s Stockholm and not Sweden. For now, I’ll get to focus on a city. Not a territory, not a country, but a city! And a great one at that. But the best part is what it means outside of work.

Julie and I have had an unbelievable but difficult year. We had the perfect wedding followed by the perfect honeymoon then we uprooted our lives in Chicago to start our life together in Europe. I spent half the year in Ukraine, most of that without Julie. I won’t get into how stressful it can be trying to get things done in Ukraine. Add on an ambitious personal travel schedule and you’ve got one year that takes the toll of five. Though we did a lot together, Julie and I had very different experiences. We spent a lot of time apart. I never had a chance to settle in and really feel at home.

The new job is, more than anything, an opportunity to take a deep breath and slow things down. Sure, I’ll work just as hard as I always have, but I’ll be in one place, dealing with first-world problems. I couldn’t be happier that for the next indefinite period of time I will find myself, very comfortably, located in a city, with my wife. Exactly where I want to be.

In Exile

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Man found frozen on Ukrainian bus. Authorities say he wasn't drinking enough Vodka.

I arrived in Ukraine today…Or should I say I was exiled to Ukraine today? The weather is what I always imagined Siberia to be like so being here feels like I’m being punished.

The ice in Kiev does not have the same charm as it does in Amsterdam, or Chicago for that matter. Let’s be honest, the city isn’t all that pretty to begin with and do you think they really have a system for snow removal in a place where the parking meters have a pulse? Don’t think so. I almost killed myself on the sidewalk outside our apartment because they’re covered with ice. Imagine if I’d cracked a rib in this place! I will say crossing over the frozen Dnipro with the snow falling was pretty cool.

Fortunately, when I arrived at the apartment it was nice and warm and the smell from the bathroom was here to welcome me – one of the joys in Ukraine is the smells (My wife wrote extensively on the subject a while back). We have a lovely stench which our landlord refuses to admit exists coming from our bathroom. Hoping to finally get that taken care of this week.

It’s not all bad though. I’m excited to get some work done here and I’m hoping to meet some new people and see some new places. Fingers crossed that a few of them are winners. So long as I don’t freeze to death or slip on the ice and fall into a coma, I’ll consider this week a success. Wish me luck.

First Snow

It snowed for the first time since we moved here. Seeing Amsterdam as a Winter Wonderland is something I’m happy we are finally getting the chance to do. The picturesque canals are even more beautiful when frozen over and covered with a soft blanket of snow. But as is often the case, what makes a place charming also makes it a little less practical. Example: narrow cobblestone streets. Not surprisingly, the Dutch will still load the whole family onto a bike and hit the streets – life must go on after all. We, however, will be keeping Lazer and Cocoa under the stairs until the snow melts (Lazer and I had several close calls on our way home from work after the snow fell).

We took a stroll through Sarphati Park on our regularly scheduled Saturday walk to see families out enjoying the few inches of snow. Dogs were everywhere, kids were being pulled around on sleds and the hundreds of resident ducks were confined to about a tenth of their usual pond – it looked like a frozen South Beach for ducks. It was like pretend.

We will see what life is like during the week, something tells me riding the train isn’t going to be awesome. The snow doesn’t have anywhere to go until the sun comes to melt it. But as with everything, we will figure it out and are the best of it.

Until next time.

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