What do you get when you combine a group of young foreigners, a nightly open bar and a castle surrounded by water? A DAMN GOOD BUSINESS TRIP! My team from Amsterdam joined our coworkers from Stockholm, Berlin and Warsaw for a 2 night conference and meet ‘n greet at Vaxholms Castle, just outside of Stockholm, Sweden. And yes we slept IN the castle! The castle is actually a fortress that sits in the middle of a pristine blue lake with views to the small, forested town of Vaxholm. Once we arrived, we were treated to an open bar and dinner served in the dungeon…too cool! Each morning we awoke to the smell freshly baked bread and at night, the hallways and spiral staircases were lined with twinkly candles, leading us from one room to another. However, we there to get plenty of work done so during the day we got to know our fellow Swedish, German and Polish comrades, pounded out issues and participated in teambuilding events and icebreakers. On our last night, we mingled with our newfound friends over a 6-course meal including lobster bisque, goat cheese and honey tortes, halibut with dill-crème sauce and banana ice cream…oh and the wine glasses seemed to keep refilling themselves :).
Since I had just gotten back from California the day before I left for Sweden, I was pretty traveled-out but an open bar and tons of laughter seemed to keep me up late enough to cure my jetlag almost immediately. Although my inability to sleep past 5AM each morning allowed for my own wanderings around the castle grounds at sunrise snapping away pics with my iPhone…sometimes jetlag ain’t so bad! Luckily we had a few hours to kill before scurrying off to the airport and headed straight for Stockholm to enjoy some beers under the Swedish sun. I had been to Stockholm once before with Christian when we were studying in Finland after taking a 17 hour party boat from Helsinki and loved how colorful Sweden is. Actually the Nordic countries are pretty unique compared to the rest of Europe. The people are extremely friendly, the air is incredibly crisp and fresh and the cities are centered around anything and everything involving the sea—not to mention the streets are so clean that you can practically lick the ground you walk on!
I thought about two things while on the plane back to Amsterdam—how great my two days in Sweden were and how the sights of lakes and trees really gave me the itch to revisit Finland, I think I’ll pay Finnair.com a visit tonight :).