Monday, December 26, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas eve

Christmas eve is the most important of the Holidays here.  For the past 40 years, at 3:00pm, the entire country sits in front of the TV to watch "Kalle Anke" (Donald Duck), a medley of snippets from various Disney animated films, always the same except for a couple of"surprises" each year. Here is Christina getting into it.


Today was the big day.  We were having Tom, Kerstin, their son Martin, and another friend, Annette, for a special dinner at 2:00.  The tables were set, the food put out for serving, and the doorbell rang, just as Kristina had said, at precisely 2:00.  Over the next 6 and ½ hours, we ate, talked, looked at photos, and generally had a great time.  Most of the conversation was in English, for my benefit, and they were all very fluent.  The photos show the various parts of the dinner, primarily herring of several types, potatoes, red beet salad, gravlax, baked salmon, ham, roast beef, salami, meat balls, small sausages, short ribs, and cheeses.  A very typical Swedish holiday feast, and extremely good.  

Friday, December 23, 2016


The day was bright, but windy and cold.  I decided to go back up to Murberg to visit the open-air museum, take some photos, and just wander.  The way up was a bit easier this time, since much of the ice had melted, and the sand/gravel on the sidewalks was more effective.  I got to the area a little before 1:00, found the old stone church, actually a replica built in the early 20th century, the bell tower, and several old homes/shops, all of which were locked up tight.  One building was said to be the only building left over from a destructive fire set by the Russians in the early 18th century, and why it should have survived is not obvious.  Since the sun goes behind the mountain about 1:30, I headed home about then, and missed some of the best light, but I wanted to get back for coffee and cakes!  



We left Stockholm on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 8:00am by bus.  The trip started in darkness, but daylight came fairly soon, so we had a chance to see some of the countryside on our way to Harnosand.  After an hour or so, the road was enclosed on both sides by forest, which limited our view, but there were frequent meadows and homesteads to see.  The trip took nearly 7 hours, but about halfway to Harnosand there is a “truck stop” where the buses , trucks and other travelers stop for lunch or coffee.  We have stopped here many times, and they always have some decent food as well as clean restrooms (important for a 7 hour bus ride).  The restaurant sits right on a lake shore, and the sun was low, so a photo was called for.

We arrived in Harnosand just as it was getting dark, and were met by a taxi (the driver was a man called Ove!!) who managed to get all of our luggage into the car, along with us, and took us quickly to Aunt Kristina’s.   She had made arrangements for us to stay in the guest apartment close by, so we got the keys, hauled our luggage in, and made ourselves at home.

View across the bay in front of Aunt Kristina's apartment.

The next morning I walked to Willys (similar to King Soopers or Safeway), after getting a pair of slip-on ice studs for my shoes.  The sidewalks and roads were covered in ice, and though they had been sanded, the surface was extremely slick, and the studs made a huge difference.  At Willys I got some things for breakfast and snacks, and just wandered around the store to see what was there.  The grocery stores are not really very different from ours, but with a bit nicer presentation of some of the prepared foods.  I checked out using my Visa card, no problem.  Two days later, when  I went back for another couple of items, they couldn’t figure out how to make the visa work since I did not have a PIN code for it.  I ended up paying cash after holding up the line, then being transferred to the manager’s desk to complete the transaction (he couldn’t figure out how to make it work, either).  I showed him the receipt from the previous day, but he still couldn’t make it work.

Sunday evening we went to a very nice restaurant on top of the hill overlooking Harnosand, at the top of the ski slope.  Kristina drove us up to the restaurant, with the understanding that I would drive us home, since it was going to be fully dark at that time.  We had an excellent dinner, and the drive home was uneventful.

Monday Christina and I walked to the Murberg Museum, about 2.5 miles away at the top of a hill on the opposite side of the river.  Kristina drove up, to meet us for coffee and sweets (that happens just about every day at 2:00) , then she drove back home before it got too dark (the sun sets about 1:30pm) and Christina and I went through the exhibits before heading home.  The sidewalks were still icy and treacherous, but we made it without any problems.  We got home about 4:30, in plenty of time to be ready to go to a friend’s home for dinner at 6:00.  Tom and Kerstin were long-time friends of Kristina’s and Christina had made great friends with Kerstin on a previous trip.  They are both retired (Tom is an Architect, Kerstin a teacher) and have traveled literally the world over.  We talked about many of their trips, and then Tom showed us a travelogue of their recent trip to Spain (Almunecar, Alhambra, Grenada, Cordoba).  It was a great evening.

On Tuesday I thought I would walk back up to Murberg, where there is an open-air museum (lots of old buildings), but the weather was a little nasty, so I wandered about town, eventually went to the main library which I think Tom designed, then on to Willys, where I had that experience of being unable to use my Visa card.  Back home, coffee, then a brief rest, dinner, and reading.

Wednesday was windy and cold, and cloudy, so Christina and I walked up to Willys for some more supplies (using cash this time), then down to the ducks on the river where we fed them some old bread.  After that, I walked into town and found some slip-on studs for our shoes that we could take home with us.

While I was at the library earlier, I had seen posters about some of the music presentations.  Wednesday evening we walked to the main church, where the local college, renowned for its music program, presented some familiar Christmas songs as well as some original compositions.  The singing was outstanding, and the church was full.  The evening program ended with a great performance of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus, by the choir.  The walk home was chilly but invigorating!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

5 days in Stockholm

Much has happened since my last post.  Monday evening we were really too tired to go out for dinner, so we opted to eat in the hotel restaurant.  The food was much better than I had expected, so I was not sorry we were a bit lazy.

Tuesday we walked about 5miles while taking care of banking and locating a supply of special deodorant for Aunt Kristina, visiting the tourist office, and finally spending time in a museum(Hallwyls) which was built in about 1900 as a private residence with more than 40 rooms.  A bit ostentatious!!  A fireplace in every room, but never used since they had central forced air heat.

The piano in the photo is a Steinway from the early 1900s . 

That evening we found a nearby restaurant which specialised in seafood, and had a wonderful meal of lobster bisque followed by a fish stew with shrimp, salmon, crayfish and other goodies.  

 On Wednesday we went to the Fotografiska museum where we saw a wonderful exhibit for more than 100 portraits of famous and not so famous people who were involved in humanitarian causes.  We spent several hours at the museum which we had to walk to from our hotel and walked back home through Gamma Stan (old town) . 

 That evening we had dinner in the hotel lobby and met with several friends Marianne Martin and Christian . 

Thursday we took the train to Uppsala to spend the day with Lotte and Jonne.  The train ride was fast, very comfortable, and  we could see the countryside as we zipped along.   We met for lunch in the remodeled old train station, then wandered around downtown Uppsala.   We went into the old hotel/restaurant which once belonged to Christina's uncle, and is now an upscale clothing store.  We spent time in the Uppsala cathedral, the largest church in Scandinavia, which was built beginning about 1250, and finished about 200 years later.  They are cleaning and protecting the big stained glass windows, so some were not visible.  

Jonne then suggested that Christina and I visit the museum which contained the first anatomy theater in Sweden, as well as many original instruments of faculty physicists, chemists and physicians.   We really were fascinated by the museum, and spent a good hour there.  It's definitely worth a visit.  

We had a beautiful dinner at Lotte and Jonne's then took the train home.  

 On Friday we were to meet Jennifer at a fish restaurant in this southern part of Stockholm (Sodermalm) about 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  We decided to walk to the restaurant which took about 45 minutes but that was a nice walk and then had a two hour lunch with Jennifer and her son Emmett.  The walk back was just right to give us the exercise for the day .  We got back to the hotel and packed
 for an early departure the next morning .