Sweden 2003


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Sweden/Holland 2003: [Sweden] [Ice Hotel: Visit] [Ice Hotel: Suites] [Ice Hotel: Miscellaneous] [Holland]

Thursday, December 25, 2003: Our journey began on Christmas Day in Indy, but we took our first photo during our first layover in Detroit. We enjoyed riding the red train inside the terminal and watching this fountain.
Friday, December 26, 2003: We had a second layover in Amsterdam, where we found some comfy chairs to spend some time before our next flight..
Next, we had a five-hour layover in Stockholm before our final destination of Umeå, Sweden. We stored our luggage in lockers and took the Arlanda Express train to the center of Stockholm to do some sightseeing.
We made our way from the train station to the island on which Gamla Stan is located. There, we passed Riddarhuset and Jill found the first of many statues to mimic. This guy is King Gustav Vasa.
A block away stands Riddarholmskyrkan (Riddarholm Church) which we only photographed before heading to the eastern side of the island.
We stopped to admire the front of the royal palace. We have a distant photo on our previous Stockholm page, so we've treated you to a close up this time.
Looking across the water from the Royal Palace, you are treated to a nice view of the Grand Hôtel. (Ten years later, we were lucky enough to have lunch in the hotel.)
Parked right in front of the palace was this tourist-oriented Viking ship.
In Gamla Stan, Jill posed for a photo nearly identical to the one taken of Debbie in 2002.
We showed Jill the awesome St. George and the Dragon statue.
We're creatures of habit, so we stopped for lunch in the same cafe we ate at the last time we were in town, Cafe Nova. Skink and ost sandwiches are delicious!
Here's a charming photo of the narrow streets of Gamla Stan.
As we approached the main part of the Royal Palace, we passed several groups of the Högvakten, the royal guard.
Half a block further north, we encountered this statue of Olaus Petri who was involved in the Protestant reformation in Sweden in the 1500s.
More guards, ...
... and another statue to mimic, this time, a woman named Kristina Gyllenstierna, leader of the resistance to Christian II of Denmark in the 1500s.
We crossed the first part of Norrbro Bridge and passed the Parliament House on the small island of Helgeandsholmen just north of Gamle Stan, ...
... and saw this sign as we continued on the second part of Norrbro Bridge leading to ...
... Gustav Adolfs Torg.
Heading north on Malmtorgsgatan, we admired the lovely statues of the city.
Shopping! Shoppers! We had reached Sergelstorg (Sergel's Square).
Alas, we could not stay and enjoy it, because we had to get back to catch our next flight. No, not even a moment in the block-long Åhléns City, unfortunately.
After a train ride back to the airport, and a flight to Umeå, we rented a car, checked into the Scandic Plaza Hotel, and finally got some sleep.
Saturday, December 27, 2003: We spent the next day with Debbie's second cousin, Kristina, and her family, who live near Umeå in the small village of Sävar. Although Elina and Jill could not speak each other's language, they played with Elina's new Bratz dolls. As the days went on, they got along quite well, playing hide-and-seek, rock-paper-scissors, and other funny non-verbal games they made up.
Edvin is crazy for hockey, and he and Tom played a game on his hockey set.
David and Kristina cooked up several delicious meals for us, including Christmas porridge and sandwiches for lunch, and chicken pasta for dinner, followed by a fruit tart and ice cream for dessert.
Then, we had to leave, so we could make it back to the hotel in time to watch "Expedition Robinson" - the original Swedish version of the American show "Survivor." Although it was completely in Swedish, we were able to follow along fairly well since Kristina had filled us in on some of the characters. Here's a scene from tribal council.
Sunday, December 28, 2003: During the day, we did some shopping in Umeå, including at Debbie's favorite Swedish store, Åhléns. We drove to Örnsköldsvik to visit Debbie's mother's first cousin, Karin, her husband Bert, and their sons Daniel and Robert. We had tea and a delicious dinner of pork, with ice cream for dessert. It was a nice visit, but we were sorry that Karin's sister, Eva, wasn't able to make it due to the icy roads from freezing rain the night before. Karin and Eva's father was Debbie's grandfather's twin brother. Debbie's grandfather and his twin both came to the U.S. when they were young but only Debbie's grandfather stayed, so all of her relatives on her grandfather's side are Swedish.
Monday, December 29, 2003: We spent the day with Kristina and David again, heading to a mystery destination. We stopped several times along the way to Bjurholm to enjoy outdoor artwork as part of Konstvägen Sju Alvar (Seven Rivers Art).
Elina, Edvin, and Jill immediately started playing in the snow at each stop.
This piece is called Eldsoffa (Fire Sofa). There was a fire going under the seat. David added more logs and swept the snow off the bricks.
This sign shows the location of all of the various art installations along the 350 km route.
Here was another piece, titled Hägring (Mirage). It is a stained glass sculpture shaped like a church.
Tom and Debbie were surprised and delighted to find that our top secret destination was an elk ranch called Älgens Hus (Elk House). In North America, the animal we refer to as "moose" is actually an elk, and what we call "elk" is actually a type of deer. For our American readers, we'll refer to them as moose here. The owner, Christer Johansson, was very kind and opened during the Christmas holiday just for us. One other family joined us after a while.
When Tom and I visited Kristina and David in 1996, we wanted to see moose, so they took us out driving one night until we spotted some in the woods. This turned out to be even better. The moose were tame and gentle, and we all got a chance to pet them before heading inside.
Here's 6-year-old Edvin on his papa's shoulders, watching the moose/elk.
Inside, we visited the small museum, ...
... then enjoyed some snacks in the cafeteria. Although it was still mid-afternoon, it was already getting dark outside.
Edvin had some ice cream, ...
... as did his sister, Elina.
Back in Sävar, the kids found ways to amuse themselves, ...
... including numerous games of hide-and-seek. Look closely for the two little blonde heads hiding in this photo.
Edvin challenged Tom to more hockey.
We had a tasty meal of capercaillie, which David had hunted himself. After dinner, we toured the attic of their large home and looked at some walls that had been papered with newspapers dating back to 1855.
Tuesday, December 30, 2003: With sunrise at 9:30 AM, it's easy to wake up well before the sun.
The building across the river showed the first hints of light.
We headed across the street from our hotel to do some shopping in Umeå. It was still fairly dark out as we walked past this statue to buy some clothing at H&M.
We passed Åhléns, where we had dropped some cash the day before to buy Jill some replacement shoes.
In the U.S., we do not get a warning when the light is about to turn green, but in Sweden, they do! Here's a photo of the phenomenon occurring.
We headed back to Kristina's home in Sävar, ...
... but this time we headed to Burträsk, the town where Kristina grew up. We picked up Kristina's mother Birgit and went to the beautiful Burträsk church. Edvin caught a ride on his hockey opponent's shoulders.
Debbie's grandfather and his family were also from Burträsk. His brother, Einar, is Kristina's grandfather. Birgit, Eva, Karin, and Debbie's mother are all first cousins, and this is their grandfather's family grave in the church in Burträsk.
Here's the grave of S. A. Normark and his wife Maria. Birgit told us that there were three Normark brothers (including Debbie's great-grandfather Nils Johan) and that they married three sisters.
The church in Burträsk is large and beautiful, both inside and out. It stands at the end of a large lake and is one of the first things you see as you approach Burträsk from the other end of the lake. Here is the interior.
Next, Birgit treated us to lunch and a visit to Ostens Hus (Cheese House), a cheese museum which had recently opened in Burträsk. King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia were present for the grand opening in May. The museum shows the history of Västerbotten cheese, which is made only in Burträsk.
It's a light, airy building, with fun exhibits.
Västerbotten cheese is so famous that it is served at the Nobel Prize dinners in Stockholm.
Here's a statue of Eleonora Lindström, the dairy maid allegedly responsible for inventing västerbottensost when she was interrupted while making cheese. We bought a tiny version of this in the gift shop to take home.
Edvin found his favorite exhibit at the museum.
There's an observation room where visitors can watch the cheese being made, and can enjoy a sample of the cheese. We had some every morning with breakfast at our hotel. After returning, we started to order it once a year from food importers to enjoy at home, but one glorious day we found that IKEA sells it so we stock up when we shop there.
We had a great lunch of meat and cheese pies (like tiny quiches), followed by cookies decorated to look like the famous hairy feet that Burträskers are rumored to have.
Before leaving, we posed for a group shot with Birgit.
It was so nice to see Birgit again. Kristina's father, Gunnar, was recovering from the flu so he hadn't been able to join us. We dropped Birgit off at home, ...
... then drove back to Umeå.
It was our last evening together, and Kristina, David, Elina, and Edvin joined us for dinner at our hotel. It was hard to say goodbye!

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Sweden/Holland 2003: [Sweden] [Ice Hotel: Visit] [Ice Hotel: Suites] [Ice Hotel: Miscellaneous] [Holland]

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