holidays

My Gothenburg Christmas Delight

From what I had heard and read, Sweden is a country of innovation. Just take Ikea for example. A furniture business that not only sells their wares disassembled for convenience, production value and price point but excites people to master the skill of carpentry with little more than a pack of screws and a pictorial graph. A society that cultured such a premise was one well worth visiting in my opinion.

gothenburg-SwedenUsing some frequent flyer miles I had saved up I got a ticket to Gothenburg. Arriving in December after Queensland (Australia) summer temperatures was quite a shock to the system, but my interest in sport spurred me on to face the weather. I love being active and travelling in winter meant I had to take advantage of the chance to ski.

Brudarebacken Ski Slope is Gothenburg’s only downhill ski slope and its length and drop favoured my rudimentary ski skills nicely. Everyone was so friendly that falling onto people in my clumsy state wasn’t so terrible. A nicer way to develop my ski skills was the cross country skiing I did at the OK Landehofs ski resort in Landvetter. The mix of artificial snow and real snow track gave me plenty of time to hone my use of the ski poles as well as learning to balance myself more appropriately on the skis themselves. Sweden has such beautiful countryside that it made for an extraordinary setting for outdoor exercise, compared with the rugged bushland or yellow sandy beaches of Australia that promote water sports above all.

Gothenburg’s Christmas markets were phenomenal. Australia just doesn’t have the same vibe of Christmas compared with what the Northern Hemisphere countries deliver. Liseberg Christmas Markets are the biggest in Scandinavia and they certainly delivered. The stall holders were traditional artisans and local producers who were very passionate about their wares. They were also easy to converse with due to their exceptional English skills (now that I think about it, most people spoke great English). I am not one for shopping but the experience of buying traditional and handmade gifts for my family and friends for Christmas was very enjoyable.

When travelling (and really any other time) I always think you should follow your stomach. One of the best ways to experience a new city, country and culture is to dine on traditional fares. Gothenburg is a wonderful hub of modern eateries, conventional restaurants and hole-in-the-wall delights. Smorgas became one of my favourite lunchtime choices; they were a delicious twist on my standard Aussie Vegemite ‘sanga’. The colourful faces of Prinsesstartas sang out to me from bakery windows and I’m glad I succumbed as the reward was an amazing amalgamation of Victoria sponge cake and custard tart, a truly delightful afternoon treat. I couldn’t possibly visit Gothenburg without procuring the best example of Swedish meatballs I could find. Kock and Vin, a Michelin star restaurant, was a lip-smacking example and I was more than happy to break with convention and lick my plate when I was done. And I’m thankful I’ve read a recommendation for Rokeriet i Stromstad, where I’ve had one of the best meals in my life. Trying foreign cuisine does seem to bring lots of joy to most travelers, and it is certainly the same with me.

Overall Gothenburg has a very open, welcoming and inviting feel to it. The city centre is kept so beautifully and the snow really does create the clichéd but much appreciated winter wonderland experience, especially for someone coming from the Land Down Under known for its heat.

This article was written by Mark Tomich.


Glad Midsommar!

Be marry and dance while you celebrate the longest day of the year!

Midsummer


Happy Walpurgis Night!

Ahhhhh! Spring is here! Officially! Because you can’t have spring without a bonfire…

valborg

Read more about Walpurgis Night, or Valborgsmässoafton, and how it came about in Sweden. Remember to grill some sausages on the bonfire or bake some Swedish pinnbröd on a stick!

Whatever you do to celebrate spring this year, celebrate it well! What will you be doing to celebrate spring?

 


A Swedish Easter

The Swedish word for Easter – Påsk – has it’s origin from the hebrew “Pesach” meaning “Passover”. In Sweden it is
considered to be a christian holiday but have, in reality, become a mix of chirstian and old folklore traditions.

An example of this is Easter budles of birchtwigs that we nowadays decorate with feathers of different colors.
These probably originated in bundles of twigs that were used for playfully Whipping each other to remember Jesus’
suffering but in the mid 1800s people began decorate with the bundles of Birchtwigs with feathers of various
colors. While Easter decorations adorn our doors and table small children walk around dressed up as Easter witches
and asking for candy at the doors of people’s homes. This takes place on Maundy Thursday which was the day when
witches fly to the mythological place, “Blåkulla”, to celebrate with the devil.

On Easter will also give each other Easter eggs full of candy. An Easter Egg is a hollow egg, usually made of
paper, which you fill with candy. The color of Easter color is yellow and most of the decorations you’ll find will
be in yellow.

Naturally relatives and family also meet during the weekend to enjoy a good dinner together.

A tradition that is emerging right now is that in a couple of different geographical locations in Swede, events
are organized, so-called Art Runs (Konstrunda), where you, during the Easter weekend, can visit different
exhibitions from locally active painters, photographers and craftsmen.

Since there probably are a lot written about Easter and its traditions already, I will take you on an excursion I
made on Maundy Thursday in the vicinity around Uppsala.

Swedish Snow
As this year’s Easter falls quite early in the year, the winter’s snow has not yet melted away and exposed the
arable land available thereunder. But you can not complain about the weather – clear blue skies and sunshine – so
this day I took the car and went out to a place where art and crafts were displayed by its practitioners.

Ulva kvarn

On of the places I went to is called Ulva kvarn (Ulva mill) which is a small craft center outside Uppsala. Ulva
Mill literally means “wolf-mill.” The mill is built at an old ford over river Fyris where you could sometimes see
wolves wander over and this is how the mill got its name. The mill building shown in the picture was built in 1759
but the place has been used for continuing operation since the mid 1300′s.

Fika in winter
Naturally, people want to sit outside in the nice weather and have a “fika”. It does not matter whether it’s snow
or cold. You just have your coffee!

Ulva kvarn

“Ulva kvarn” with its small shops for arts and crafts

Swedish Witch

As you all probably knows, witches are flying to “Blåkulla” this evening and, unfortunately, it happens that they
are flying too low at times and then the above occur.

Fika time

“Fika” time. A small “fik” (a place buy coffee and cookies) in “Österbybruk”, a couple of miles north of Uppsala.

Another Swedish Witch

The witches are everywhere.

Birchtwigs

A traditional bundle of Birchtwigs decorated with eggs. There also are Daffodils which is the flower for the
season.

Great place for a fika

A nice place to have your coffee.

"Fika" buffet
Today they had a “fika” buffet. “Fika” buffet means that you pay a fixed price, approx. $ 10, and you can eat all
the cakes, pies and pastries you want. The quantity of coffee or tea you want to drink is included in the price.

Swedish Easter decoration

Another variation of decoration of the bundle of twigs.

More Easter decorations

And yet another one

Birch Tree in Sweden for Easter

If you do not think that a bundle of twigs is enough there are Birch trees you could use.

After having all this “fika” I had to go home for some well deserved rest.

Happy Easter to you all!

//Bengt