Scandinavian spring continues to amaze me! If blossoms were sounds, these last months would have been deafening! Each week seems to have a new treasure that I stumble upon as I make my way around town and the region.
We are still over two weeks away from the longest day of the year, but already I’ve had to alter some of my habits in order to sleep enough. Since it is not dark until after 10pm, I have to fool myself by lowering my blackout shade an hour before I want to go to sleep so that I can unwind. My heart goes out to all of the parents trying to put their children to bed while the sun shines brightly! The upside for me is that I have an energy, which was absent for the winter months.
An American colleague and her Swedish husband invited me out for a day trip around our region of Sweden, Skåne. The bright yellow rape blossoms were stunning against the blue sky, and I was thankful for the car ride. My Swedish host joked that rapeseed oil is the olive
oil of northern Europe; how fortunate for the area that one of their main crops is also gorgeous for a few months a year. Though I enjoy traveling by train, and the transportation in Scandinavia is excellent, the flexibility of the car ride was great fun.
We visited an apple orchard and processing plant where we stocked up on fresh apple juice and other tasty goodies, before stopping at an ancient gravesite. The grave is unusual in that it is an enormous mound, I would guess at least 9 feet high at its center, built of rocks. From there we were off to Ale Stenar, which had been on my list of places to see. Along the coast near a cliff, are a series of giant stones stuck in the ground in the shape of what appears to be a ship. The orientation of the stones aligns with the solstices, but there are many questions about the original function of the site. Ale Stenar itself and its setting were impressive. I am always amazed when I visit such places where we have so many questions about what the purpose was-where does the knowledge
go? I think part of me is glad to experience places that have more questions than answers. There is still much to wonder about though at times everything seems definite or discovered. After a few more visits to small coastal towns, we armed ourselves with ice cream to enjoy in the sun, while we visited the southernmost tip of Sweden. I wonder if I’ll make up to the northernmost site?
These last few months have brought a personal development of a Danish boyfriend, Mads. This is not the venue to rave about his numerous attributes, but it has been great fun to have a partner in crime to enjoy adventuring about with.
On my first visit to Sofiero in the late summer, I learned that the grounds are full of rhododendron plants. As I spotted the rhododendron blossoming around town a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to hop on the bike and take see if Sofiero lived up to its reputation. There is a certain “friendly” competition between Denmark and Sweden, and I cannot pretend that I do not take some pleasure in
showing off Sweden’s delights to Mads, even though I have no claim to this country. Thankfully, the rhododendrons were indeed stunning and impressive in their scale, so I was able to give one point to Sweden.
Mads has opened up a lot of Denmark and Copenhagen, where he lives, to me. Since his preferred mode of transport appears to be a bike, I have had all sorts of new experiences. I’ve now taken my bike aboard the ferry from Sweden to Denmark-perhaps this does not sound impressive, but I had not taken on the challenge of navigating this process before. A nice bike ride from my home, onto the ferry, and down along the Danish coast allowed us to enjoy the Louisiana Museum, which is quickly becoming a favorite museum of mine. It has also been great fun to bike around Copenhagen. Mads has all sorts of hidden treasures and stories to share, allowing the city to become evermore familiar. But, I am still not a natural biker as those here in Scandinavia appear to be! I’ll have to practice my mount and dismount over the summer...
A friend at work suggested that I take the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo one weekend. So, Mads and I took advantage of my long weekend last week to take the trip. Though it is called a ferry, it is truly a small cruise. One leaves from Copenhagen in the afternoon, sails up the sound, waving to Helsingborg, and then sleeps in their cabin waking up in time to appreciate the fjord into Oslo, where we arrived at 10 am.
Since we took the ferry back to Denmark that afternoon, we knew we could not pack in all of Oslo. We took our time and decided on a walking route that Mads’ cousin, who lives in Oslo, had suggested. The Oslo opera house is indeed impressive and unique. We put our hands in the harbor water to test the temperature, chilly!, and then hiked up the slope to take in the view from the top. We made our way up the main pedestrian street to the palace and its gardens. A wonderful late lunch in the sun at Café Skansen rounded out the day. I was glad to have the chance to
see Oslo, as I had heard many mixed reviews. I know we were fortunate to experience it in full sun, but I really enjoyed the city. I would surely like to return another time to take in some museums and see the interior of the opera.
It is the end of the school year here, and those graduating from high school had a day, or maybe it is the event, called “studenten.” The graduation traditions here in Sweden vary enormously from my own experience! The student wear white with hats which, to me, look like sailing skippers’ caps. Their day begins with champagne brunch, so the events of the day must become increasingly silly. After the ceremony, families and friends hang various goodies around their necks, from flowers to stuffed animals, and then the students, who are carrying big signs of themselves as babies, run through a line of all the students at the school who cheer for them. Then all the students of the town gather in the center of the city for more cheering and the party goes on! Depending on the size of the school, they might have a flatbed
truck that the students drive around on, drinking and celebrating the day away. The American in me was a little surprised by how much drinking is involved in the day, but I do appreciate that the celebration is outside of a school auditorium allowing for the community to celebrate the milestone.
Tomorrow I’ll be picking up a dear Denver friend from Copenhagen! I look forward to a few weeks with her. We will be taking an overnight ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, so I will then be able to compare all of these capital cities. I'm also looking forward to experiencing midsummer on the 20th!
Feeling very grateful for the spring and sun here! Hoping this finds you happy and healthy.
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