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.
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!