McKinney Gypsy Caravan

One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Category: Scandinavia (page 1 of 2)

3 days in Copenhagen, Denmark

Overall, short story: Copenhagen is a really nice city with a lot to see and do. It was the busiest and most ‘New York”-y of all the Scandinavian cities we’ve seen… but that also meant a good mix of history, culture, food, art and architecture.

We had 1 short evening, 3 full days, and one morning at the end total…and even though we had a couple long days of exploring…it felt like the right amount of time to feel like we had seen the highlights of the city…and according to my steps app, we walked 20 miles! ha

Now, the Play by play:

The first evening was uneventful. We arrived on a RyanAir flight…which means it’s like a mile from the real airport haha. Every RyanAir flight, I feel like they built a special terminal with a half mile hike just to deter you from booking the cheap airline.

Just like most cities in Europe, there is an awesome public transit that will run you straight from the airport to the center of the city in under 15 minutes. We purchased Copenhagen Cards for the trip because we had 4 days here and this city’s pass actually sounded like a really good deal. Free transport on all of the metro, buses and trains in the city and like 70+museums and places with free admission. In hindsight-it was awesome. So convenient. We did canal tours, museums, rode the metro, took buses around town and never had to spend a dime.

We arrived a few hours ahead of Juliana and her family, so we got our room at The Square hotel. Fairly small…especially for the price- but it’s Scandinavia and it’s RIGHT downtown…so I have just resigned myself to the fact that everything is double price here.img_6088 img_6087 img_5801 img_5803 img_5805 img_5807

We found a close restaurant: Axelborg Bodega, a Danish comfort food restaurant and pub. For being in a touristy location, it was quite good. Norah said it was “too fancy” but when asked why, she said it was because our waiter had a mustache. lol

img_3248

A Hoegaarden on draft in a giant glassimg_3250

img_5815

Once Juliana and Ryan and their two little ones arrived, we just hung out with them for a couple hours and let the kids play around before heading to bed.img_5825 img_5829

Full day 1

We ate breakfast at the hotel- a very small Swedish style spread… but not a lot of stuff. It was charged to the room so I didn’t pay attention at the time… but it was $60 for the 3 of us! For the equivalent of a continental US breakfast. wowza. So…we didn’t eat there anymore. lol

We started off on our walking tour of the day seeing so many sights and buildings…The most famous part of Copenhagen probably is Tivoli Gardens. It closes two weeks a year. Guess which two weeks…yep. this is one of them. haha so we just saw the gates. and a lot of construction.

img_5830

We walked across to City Hall Square.img_5834 img_5836

This dragon fountain of a Dragon fighting a bull was pretty cool. It’s been here about 100 years… it looks good for its age I think 🙂 On down we passed some cool doors, a crab on the cornerstone and Dragons on the doors.img_3258 img_3260 img_5840 img_5813

We took a Canal ferry tour.img_5881

Of course, the Asian people loved Norah. Taking her picture before she even got on the boat.img_5882

They were selling Carlsberg beers on the ferry platform- so when you can drink in public, you do… lolimg_5883the tour went past a lot of the famous sights of Copenhagen including Nyhavn with its picturesque street of colorful buildings and old boats.img_5909img_5902img_5899img_5897img_5921img_5941img_5953img_5957

The Korean guy across from Norah gave her candy. This child is going to learn a hard reality that adults don’t just give you things and think you’re amazing once you grow up 🙂 img_5888

Once we finished our canal tour we kept walking through the city. Past Holmen Church, an “as close to original” church as you can find in Copenhagen. Finished in the early 1600s, it was largely unaffected by city attacks and the two major fires that ravaged Copenhagen in the 1700s. The current queen of Denmark, Queen Margrethe II, was married in this church in 1967. She’s an interesting lady…. She’s a painter…an illustrator. Most famously, she did the illustrations and translation of the Danish version of the Lord of the Rings. She speaks 6 languages, she has designed costumes for theatre and ballet and she’s an absolute chain smoker. ha I’d hang out with her. She has no real political power…and has even publicly stated that she will abstain from all voting to ensure no partisanship. She is also the first female ruler of Denmark, as the law was amended to allow her to ascend the throne after her father as he had no sons. Sounds like she is a great ambassador for her country but I admittedly don’t know a lot of details about her.img_5862

Also, in the same area across the bridge is the old Stock Exchange from the 1600s with an amazing dragon spire on top. It’s hard to see, but that spire is 4 dragons, spiraling up to the top. It’s now just a boring Chamber of Commerce building, but it’s an awesome example of 1600’s “Danish Renaissance” architecture.img_5864

After a little walk, we found a Joe & the Juice and had a quick recharge. Lucca (aka “Yew-ca” as he says ..most adorable little boy ever.) tried helping the girls with their puzzle which they weren’t big fans of. haimg_5871img_5874

We found trampolines in the middle of the street so we jumped on them. They do make you happier! img_6007

Denmark is widely considered the happiest country in the world. I would be careful to not confuse happy with smily and “midwest” friendly- as most folks we met were just doing their own thing…but truly happy with their life? The Danes got it going on. They have free healthcare, free child care, free preschool, a year of maternity leave (3 months of that at 100% pay!), paternity leave, the highest level of volunteerism in the world, almost 90% of their population voted in their last election due to the perception of fair and uncorrupt leaders. (compared to under 40% in the US and the train wreck we’re looking at in politics.) Also, 50% of the population in Copenhagen bikes to work and for travel. Literally- if felt like EVERYONE had a bike. This picture was taken out our hotel window. This isn’t the Tour de France… this is just a side street downtown on a normal Tuesday. Insane. Bikes have their own real traffic lanes and their own signals. It was incredible to see that kind of infrastructure. img_5809

We made our way over to Paper Island, famous for its Street Food scene. I could have eaten here every meal! Foodie paradise. Stall after stall of everything you could think of. I ordered two meals basically because I couldn’t make a choice and I thought I’d never be back! ha (breaking news: we went back haha)img_6015img_6021img_6022img_6023img_6025

I got this Brioche bun pulled Duck burger… omg. i have no words.img_6026img_6030

and also this terikyaki rare flanksteak with tempura green beans. so worth it. even if i couldn’t breathe. img_6033

Kegan went for the meats, choosing a Brazilian churrasco style street meat stand. img_3261

We walked on down to Nyhavn to explore the canal a bit by foot instead of boat and pose for the quintessential pictures.img_3262

We next walked through the “Freetown of Christiania” but photography is banned, so we didn’t chance it and take any pictures. Christiania is a real life hippie commune thats been functioning for over 40 years. It is a self-proclaimed autonomous state…and there is even a sign when enter that says “you are now leaving the European Union”. The police used to warn against entering because they didn’t have access to everything inside… but I think that was before last month’s events. To understand “last month’s events”, some history is needed. The commune started in the early 70s when some hippies, as a way to protest the military and government’s abandoned lands, decided to squat on some seaside property that the military had recently stopped patrolling. This quickly became a full blown movement… and the Danish government actually met resistance from citizens who wanted these hippies to be able to stay as part of a giant social experiment.

The one aspect that has seen the most controversy is the open drug trade that was basically allowed up until 2001. You could go down “Pusher Street” through stands made of plywood and pick your drugs. The police knew what it was, but it was allowed as it kept the drug trade out of the rest of the city. A conservative government came to power in 2001 and all of that changed. No longer was it ignored… but it was still the known place for softer drugs like cannabis and hash, although not so open and in your face. Just a few months ago a tourist was beat up for photographing some of the stands on Pusher street. But…all of this came to an end on Sept 1. On August 30, police tried to stop a guy leaving pusher street with a box of money (proceeds from a day’s worth of cannabis sales) when he pulled a gun and shot 3 police officers, one of which died. This was the first police officer to die in Denmark since 1995. It was a big deal. They found the guy… but this was the last straw for residents of Christiania who saw this as their Achilles’ heel for public approval of their lifestyle and commune and they bulldozed down all of the stalls along pusher street themselves the next morning and really started taking a stand against drug sales in their area. So… now it was just a peaceful walk through a spray-painted hippie land… and it was hard to see what the allure of the whole thing really was… I’ll admit, I really wanted to see Pusher Street, but it turns out I was just a month too late.

After leaving Christiania and “returning to the EU,” we passed  The Church of Our Savior, famous for its 400 step external staircase to the top. I really wanted to climb it but a mix of walking through the city all day and not wasting more of everybody’s time plus Kegan probably having to carry Norah made me decide it was a bad idea. Ha Next trip, Copenhagen….Next trip.img_6044img_6049img_6059

On our last leg, we passed The Round Tower. It was built as an astronomical observatory attached to the church and has access to a library in the same building. What makes this so unique, is the fact that there are no stairs in the tower. Instead, the inside in a giant ramp that winds around to the top. It was designed wide enough so that a horse and carriage could ride inside to the library to move books in and out. We didn’t go inside… but another one I’ll save for next time. img_6069

We made it back to the hotel having walked about 7 miles! We could have had one more interesting experience, there was some sort of intake center for the Church of Scientology right outside of our hotel. img_6085

As fun as that could have been we decided to just laugh at them from the outside. Am I the only one who feels like Scientology is some sort of inside joke I’m too nerdy to understand?img_6083

We hung out in the lobby for a while and then headed to our rooms for a bit. We got Indian takeaway from the restaurant downstairs that we found to be quite good but Juliana and Ryan didn’t really care for it.img_6090

Day 2

We started our morning walking the opposite direction from yesterday passing the Planetarium on our way to the Carlsberg Brewery

img_6100img_6101img_6133img_6137

************

img_6151img_6152

Yes, you are seeing correctly below. That is a swastika on an elephant. Carlsberg used elephants and swastikas on their beers since the late 1800s…but discontinued the use of the symbol after the Nazi’s obviously ruined it’s use in the 1940s. However, the original elephant gates from 1901 still surprisingly remain.img_6154img_6155

I caught this awesome rare photo while we were there. There are almost no other people visible -which by itself was rare- but then this horse drawn carriage came strutting up the street! and then made a U turn right before the gates and….all I had was an iPhone. lol I did the best I could. Figures. I’m still happy with it and think this might be one of my “framers” from our travels. img_6162

We continued on through a park looking for The Cisterns. I had read that it was hidden underground through a little glass triangle entrance. We found it and it was awesome.img_6177

This used to be a giant tank that held 16 million liters of water in the 1800s, when the city’s drinking water wasn’t the cleanest. Now it’s empty and sort of haunting. They have a featured artist right now that has created a haunting low soundtrack and some projected animations throughout the cisterns to give it a very surreal and artistic feel. If no one has used this yet in a horror film, they should.  This is a MUST visit if you go. I will go back anytime we are close to see another artist’s rendition of this underground space.img_6188img_6190img_6196img_3266img_3268

After The Cistern we parted ways with The Wilsons. They had to head back to catch their flight and we were off further away from the hotel in the Nørrebro neighborhood. After finding all of the restaurants I had researched closed for lunch, we found a pizza joint. I asked the guy what the best pizza was, he said chicken pesto… so we got that. I cant complain. In a city where Indian takeout cost us close to $80, an $18 pizza with water and fries that was pretty good felt like I stole it. haha
img_6228I wish we had little cute plant shops in the US and Ireland like they do across Scandinavia. I would buy sooo may plants. and kill them all.. and then probably buy more, because they’re adorable.img_6236img_6245

After pizza comes beer as we found this great Brewery pub with 40 taps of outstanding craft beer and sours. And since it was raining and iOS 10 killed my battery life, I needed a charger.

img_3272 img_6249

We found a good bakery that is famous for their Kanelburrer (cinnamon buns) so we got some for breakfast in the morning.

img_6248 img_3278

We also picked up a sampler box of chocolates from Ro Chokolade which has the reputation for being the best chocolates in Copenhagen. They were good but I don’t know that I’d need to rebuy them again.

img_3280-jpg img_3283-jpg

We took the bus back down towards our hotel, and ended up with some terrible kebab meat from a place near the hotel.

Day 3

We grabbed pastries and coffee downstairs outside our hotel . I got a chocolate orange latte which I figured would end up being entirely too sweet (thinking of a Starbucks type American drink) but it was actually really good and just an essence of orange and chocolate in it.

img_6253

We took a bus way up to the north side of the city during commuter hours which meant we were crammed in and I was beginning to question my idea to try to use only public transportation this trip. Haha but it was short lived and the bus dropped us off right outside of the church that we were traveling to see. This is Grundtvig’s Church-the largest Lutheran cathedral in the world and the most Scandinavian church in the world. 6 million yellow bricks. 20 years to complete. And we couldn’t go inside.img_6254 img_6258

img_6267 img_6273

They were having a funeral that morning… so I just had to Google pictures for Kegan and show him what he was missing. So… I guess I’ll do the same for you guys. ha

grundtvig2 grundtvigs_church_in_denmark

Simplistic beauty. So Scandinavian.

We disappointedly walked towards the Zoologic museum…their Natural History Museum… but the disappointment was short lived, because we LOVED this museum. It’s a can’t miss in the city, too. I won’t go through everything… and trust me, I have about 200 more photos I didn’t include here. I’ll just leave some photos with a few notes below.

img_6283img_6289

They treated the museum like an art exhibition, which actual art intermingled, like this glass spider art. I’d hate to meet the real life version of this guy!img_6297img_6431

They have the beer that started it all on display. Neat sidestory: Laboratory scientists for Carlsberg were able to extract original yeast cells from this bottle. The yeast is considered to be the first pure cultivated bottom-fermenting yeasts to be used in industrial beer production which didn’t cause the beer to spoil. Therefore, this beer is the father of the modern lager. And they remade THIS beer. But so far, only 30 bottles in the world. It’s a 140th anniversary tribute.

img_6313

A whale skeleton.img_6315img_6325

A preserved “football fish” or angler fish. I felt like he was mocking me…img_6499

My little OCD child… it was totally bugging her that some of the stools were on their side… so she had to go through and fix every single one of them. She wanted to line them all up but we drew the line there. lolimg_6332

A hand drawn and colored book from the 1400s on plants and trees. In my lifetime, I hope I can own one hand written book. That would be like a #lifegoal. hahaimg_6341

A Dodo bird skull. One of only 2 known in the world. So cool.img_6344

A 2 tusked Narwhal. The long tusk is actually a tooth… and 1 in 500 males has two tusks. A double unicorn of the sea.img_6347img_6353img_6363img_6376

The taxidermy animals were out of this world… and you could pet them! I had no idea beaver fur was so soft. I want a beaver skin blanket now. lol img_6378

A Hippo skull!img_6383img_6389img_6390img_6393img_6498

They had a wall of preserved “oddities” if you will. Enough that i could make a fine Halloween collage. hahaimg_6406

We even got to visit the lab and see the scientists working on piecing together a whale skeleton that was found washed ashore in February of this year. They said they have been soaking the bones in giant vats of water at super warm temperatures to speed up decomposition and also leach out the oil from the bones. The smell was really strong but it was so cool to see. Kegan got to talking to the scientists who were trying to figure out why we were spending our vacation at the Zoologisk museum. haha I just said “he’s a geologist” and immediately we were all best friends. Discussed Wyoming, geology, moving to Ireland… it was fun.img_6432img_6437img_6496img_6440img_6443

I definitely learned something at the museum. 3 words that now strike fear into me: Giant. Ground. Sloth.  Holy mother of Jesus. Haha I didn’t know that was a thing until now. Apparently those cute little 3 toed tree sloths had a meaner older brother who would grew to be 14 feet tall and had leg bones the size of dinosaur’s.

They have found skeletons as old as 2 million years old but also as young as 8,000 years ago!!! These aren’t some ancient dinosaur- these guys were roaming the Earth with humans! They think humans might have actually wiped them out in the end by hunting them. This makes me want to go all Jurassic Park and find Giant Sloth DNA in the bones and release them again to attack humans. We’re like WAY overdue for a good plague anyway. What better way to go than by Giant Ground Sloth? How have no sci-fi or horror movies ever been made about my friend the Ground Sloth? I’m thinking we film one where we are trapped in the Cisterns with a Giant Sloth chasing us. img_6474

After a stellar museum trip-seriously probably one of my favorite museum trips ever- we were set on the path to Himmeriget. Yesterday’s beer tap post on Instagram prompted my friend Kyle-a fellow beer snob- to tell me about a special Cantillon beer brewed only for Denmark that we should try to get our hands on. For you non beer snobs, Cantillion is like the White Whale of all beers in the US. If you do manage to find it, you’re looking at $70+ a bottle and some major bragging rights. So…. imagine if there is a special edition Cantillon that they only sell at one bar in one country….yeah. We won at beer today. img_6477

Not only did we have the 2015 Cantillon Blåbær Lambic, we also had the 2014 Rosé de Gambrinus, the 2015 Gueuze and an Oude Gueuze from another relatively rare brewery 3 Fonteinen.

Then because our child is awesome and took a nap while we drank.. (Seriously. Child of the year award) we also tried the 2015 Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett Raspberry on draft and it was the best beer either Kegan or I had ever had.

img_3307-jpg

 

Up until we had that one at the end, the Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus was my favorite but it had to take a backseat.img_6483img_6493

We managed to get ourselves back downtown by bus and met some soccer hooligans from Manchester on our way back to the food truck place that just loved Norah. img_6502img_6503

Norah had homemade carbonara pastaimg_6505

I had Crispy Duck from the chinese place and Kegan had fried chicken which he forgot to photograph. hahaimg_6506

We walked the almost 2 miles back to the hotel and took a different route than we had previously gone, so we saw some other cool stuff- but only having my iPhone, it was too dark to photograph anything very well. You’ll have to settle for these.

img_6554img_6534img_6511

Overall, we had a great trip. Amazing sights, clean city, tons to do, great infrastructure. I think we will definitely be back at some point in the future. If for no other reason than the Cisterns and to climb that round tower and church spire! 🙂

Lindsey and Kaleb arrive in 2 days and I’ll try to post some highlights from Ireland, especially if it’s somewhere new I haven’t already blogged previously. Also, I’ll do a post for our 2 day trip to France- both Normandy and Paris city.

Days 8 and 9-Stockholm -End of trip

This morning we had some breakfast and left Avesta headed for Stockholm. We dropped our car a couple days early at the airport at Marie’s advice. We took the Arlanda Express train straight to Central Station and checked in to our hotel that was right beside the station.

img_1479

After checkin, we went out walking towards old town “Gamla Stan” to check out some sites. img_1501 img_1507

I think this was the Swedish Parliament building…it was very cool sitting in a half circle in the middle of the river. Quite impressive.img_1509 img_1510 img_1511

Marie tells us as we are standing in front of this building that this is sort of a royal house…and that she has been here for dinners before because her grandmother is still part of a noble family. Wow. I didn’t know we were in the presence of Swedish royalty! so… that was pretty cool…img_1513 img_1514

As soon as we crossed the bridge, we saw this Italian restaurant that my friend Juliana recommended. She said it was the best pizza outside of Naples she ever had. So, since we could use some lunch- we checked it out. I can see why it could have been great, but I think they were having a bad day with too many people and not enough help- the people beside us got up and left after 20 minutes with no soup, so it was pretty good…but I cant rave about it 🙂img_1516

However, funny- I told Juliana we were there on her recommendation- and she tells me that our waitress and her are Facebook friends.. hahaha- so I showed the waitress her Facebook picture and we were instantly friends. ha We even all got a selfie.

img_5296

We continued on through old town, walking past the old German churchimg_1520

The Royal Palaceimg_1523 img_1525 img_1527 img_1528 img_1531 img_1532

The temporary home of this statue. It is usually a few blocks away, but they are doing construction because that part of town is sinking into the ocean, so they decided this was a good spot for him. The statue is of Charles XIV John, who was a king of Sweden, a king of Norway, a governor of Rome, a general in France…and I’m sure a lot more. He lived in the late 1700s- early 1800s…and fought for Napoleon. He actually became King of Sweden because the real King of Sweden was growing old and childless. Since this guy had made such a name for himself in assisting Napoleon, the Swedes elected him the heir elect of their King, even though Charles XIV John had no idea. The king ‘adopted’ this grown man so that he could legally ascend the throne. He was actually well liked and really united Sweden. Napoleon totally took advantage of his “friend” being in control of Sweden and basically invaded Sweden as a vantage point for a conflict with Russia. It’s said that on his deathbed, he was still proud of defending Sweden against Napoleon and that history saw what side of the conflict he was on. Sounds like he was a fairly decent guy for a military leader. haimg_1534 img_1535

We next arrived at Stortoget- the big public square. I did some research on the buildings… they’re cool… but nothing too crazy or fun to talk about surprisingly.img_1536 img_1537 img_1538

Marie says that back in high school, this cafe was THE cool place to hang out. haha

img_1540

There’s a Cannonball stuck in the corner of this building…img_1541 img_1543 img_1544 img_1545 img_1546

I had to have one of these sock Vikings.img_1547

Our last stop was the most narrow alley in Stockholm. Martin Trotzigs Alley. It’s only 35 inches wide at it’s most narrow point.img_1548 img_1549 img_1554

When we got back to the hotel, we checked out the rooftop terrace on our floor. Panoramic views that my wide angle lens doesn’t do any justice to… but it was cool.img_1563 img_1564 img_1565 img_1566 img_1567 img_1568 img_1570

We ate dinner at a little restaurant around the corner called Polpette (meatball in Italian) that was an Italian Swedish fusion restaurant. (I’m not sure what that is haha)

(there is some glitch in this stupid site that is flipping pictures taken on my iPhone…and they dont fix, even when I flip them and look right to me…so I assume most of the following photos will be upside down- sorry….)
img_5312 img_5313 img_5314 img_5315

When we went to order our food, Norah said “I want a Donut please!” because we had passed a donut truck on the way into the restaurant that smelled amazing. Our waiter laughed and we continued our dinner. Well, that guy snuck out sometime while we were eating and bought them donuts from the truck outside and surprised them with them once they had eaten their food! That was so sweet! and he did good, because Norah loves M&Ms. hahaimg_5317 img_5319 img_5323 img_5324

We came back to the hotel, I did a little bit of work, watched James Bond Spectre and we slept.

This morning, we started with the hotel’s extensive Swedish breakfast and we took the bus to the Vasa Museum. The Vase ship was a Swedish warship from the 1600s that sank as soon as she started into the harbor on her maiden voyage. oops. people scavenged the bronze and metal back in the day but it was left at the bottom of the ocean until the 1950s when they dug it back up and brought it here where it is an amazing piece of history. This thing is massive.

img_5329 img_5336 img_5447

They think that the original wood carvings were painted like this… would have been a sight.img_5448 img_5449 img_5450 img_5453 img_5457 img_5460 img_5467

After the Vasa museum, we headed to Junibaken….a children’s museum/funhouse for stories by the author that did Pippi Longstocking. But it turns out they are closed on Mondays. So, we thought maybe the aquarium? …nope. Closed on Mondays, too..  So, we went to Skansen.
img_5470 img_5472

Skansen is an open air Swedish history museum. It has some animals, cafes, old stores and buildings, and other things.img_5475 img_5478

We played some old time games: ring toss, stilts, jump rope, and that game where you roll the metal hoop around.img_5480 img_5481 img_5483 img_5490 img_5491 img_5492 img_5496

Norah and Axel found the car ride. img_5502 img_5505 img_5509 img_5510 img_5512

Spent some time on this playground before we headed out.img_5513

We were boring for dinner, Norah wanted McDonalds so we had that and some sushi from Sushiyama next door. Both are right beside the hotel. We packed everything up and we’ll head out at 6am to head back to Ireland.

We get our short term rental house Tuesday afternoon that we’ll stay in while we remodel our house. We got this place for $150/week- and it’s within 15 minutes of our house, with a working kitchen, bathrooms and wifi! 🙂 So…it was a no brainer and will make the remodeling go so much faster and easier. I’ll try to post a few photos tomorrow or Wednesday of it. We plan rent it through Christmas…. so that gives Kegan a deadline. haha I currently have 1 bathroom planned out, a 2nd bathroom half planned…. and the kitchen cabinet color picked out. I have a BIT of planning to do.

Our first order of business will be to get the container unloaded on Monday the 19th when all of our stuff arrives! woohoo.

Thanks for reading along with our crazy adventures!! 🙂

Day 7 – Uppsala, Sweden

We enjoyed our morning around the house, had some breakfast and the kids played. We eventually headed out towards the town of Uppsala to see a few sites I had in mind. Marie and Johan hadn’t been tourists in their own area, so it was sort of new for them, too!
Uppsala is a town of “-ests”. They have the oldest university in Scandinavia, The tallest cathedral in Scandinavia, its the 4th largest city in Sweden…and back in olden times had the biggest pagan temple and now has the most famous Viking burial mounds in all of Sweden.

We started out at these burial mounds at Gamla Uppsala, or old Uppsala. This site was the site of the Thing For All Swedes. A thing was a gathering. Political, Legal, information….is was a gathering of the tribe, the area…or in this case here, great things usually regarding the high chieftains and visiting chiefs and kings from neighboring lands. All free men (because Vikings had slaves…) who were able to wield a weapon were about the participate in the things.

These are called the Royal Mounds. they think initially, they were built to give sacrifice to the three Norse Gods Thor, Odin and Freyr. img_1372

There is an old medieval church standing on the site of the original Temple of Uppsala. This area was the last area of Sweden to adopt Christianity. Supposedly their large wooden pagan temple here had large wooden statues of the Norse gods, but of course there is no trace of them left now. This church was the site of the archdiocese of Sweden in the early christian days before it was moved to the amazing Uppsala Cathedral. Erik the Saint (Erik the IX) was killed here around 1160 and decapitated, then buried here for 100 years or so until the Uppsala Cathedral was built. (more about that below)img_1375 img_1376 img_1377 img_1380

The guy that invented the Celsius temperature scale in buried underneath the red aisle carpet. img_1382 img_1388 img_1389 img_1390

Of course, we climbed the mounds.img_1391 img_1393 img_1400

After that, we headed downtown to the Cathedral. Swedish monarch coronations were held here from the middle ages through the 1800s.img_1413img_1419img_1423img_1424img_1427img_1430img_1431img_1435img_1437

The Vasa chapel is the biggest and most ornate of the chapels. It holds the bodies of Gustav Vasa and his three wives (although there are only 2 wives on the tomb Ha). He was the longest serving king of Sweden up to that time… he reigned in the 1500s. He helped defeat Denmark and free Sweden, found against Ivan the Terrible in Russia and was the first to really “unite” Sweden.img_1438img_1439img_1440img_1441img_1442img_1446img_1448img_1449

This relic box holds the remains of Erik IX (the one who lost his head at the old church at Gamla Uppsala around 1160) They dug up his remains there and placed them in a box that was used during all of the king’s coronation ceremonies for hundreds of years. Saint Erik/King Erik IX/Erik the Martyr is the patron saint of Sweden. They opened the relic box and analyzed the bones years ago and found that his bones did match the stories… that he had multiple stab wounds that had healed and that he had been stabbed multiple times and was decapitated, as the story goes.)img_1451img_1453img_1455

After leaving the cathedral, we walked around the side and found they were having a large festival of some sort…but that meant food trucks. We picked the kebab truck. too bad…because it was terrible. hahaimg_1459img_1460

I had promised Norah a balloon if she was good…she picked Dora.img_1465img_1468img_1469img_1470

We ended by visiting the dessert stand.img_1473img_1475img_1476img_1477

We drove the hour and half back to Marie and Johan’s where we had a late afternoon “fika” where we enjoyed chokoladbolls and coffeeimg_5292

Later in the evening we ordered Pizza from the local restaurant. We tried Kabob Pizza which is apparently very popular in Sweden… and it was tasty. We packed up our stuff and got ready to head to Stockholm in the morning.

Day 6 -Avesta with Friends

Woke up this morning to Marie’s vicious attack dog Nellie. She’s so sweet, she’s coming home with me. Next dog I get… I sure hope it’s a calm smart one like Nellie. Ha


We had a lovely spread of Swedish breakfast 

Including…wait for it…


The tube of kaviar! Marie said its a very Swedish  thing and she eats it sometimes in Eggs, the boys eat it on bread with butter in the mornings. So it turns out real people do eat it haha

After breakfast the kids all played around the house with Legos and toys and the iPad. It didn’t matter that they didn’t speak the same language, giggling and shrieking is universal across languages hahaThey bounced around on the trampoline and played together in the sandbox.

After lunchtime we took the grand tour of Avesta including a photo op with the giant Dalarnian horse.

After our compulsory photo op, we headed over to this cute little park where they have Bison. The kids thought it was great to run around wherever they wanted. They also had a cute little playground.

They had those red toadstools like you see in cartoons or Fairy tales. I’ve never seen those before!
Everyone of course had to have ice cream from the cafe.

Total Swedish item- they had sets of stilts on the playground for you to play around on. Kegan and I were supposed to take a picture together on stilts… But I couldn’t stay upright for more than 1 second lol it was bad. 
After we got home and had naps, it was time to go feed the goats. we collected apples from the yard and some crusty bread and headed down the path.

They also have some show rabbits that you used to jump in competition. Like a horse steeplechase but funnier. Ha

Day 5- Lillehammer, Norway and ending in Avesta

Today we started out with another fabulous spread of Swedish foods. I gave the tube of “kaviar” another chance, and it was MUCH better today! So, that leads me to believe that the first tube had just gone rancid. ha The kaviar redeemed itself. lol


We drove up to the top of the mountain where we were supposed to stay last night. I had found this “Alpine Apartment” on Booking.com. We drove all the way up here around sunset and couldn’t find where to check in. So I called the number on my reservation… and she tells me that my confirmation should have told me that I had to pick up the keys in Häjfell. It did. But it was like size 7 font at the very bottom. lol So we backtracked back down to town and found the empty hotel where I was to pick up the key. So I started to pay and she asks if we have our own bed linens and towels… I say no…. and she says it will be like $40 to rent them… so I’m like, can we just stay here for the night??? ha and she’s like…uhhh, yeah..duh…sure. ha So, we got the hotel room and breakfast for the same price.

But… I still wanted the pictures from the top of the mountain so I made Kegan drive back up today

img_1308 img_1311

A lot of houses in Norway especially the more traditional or older homes, have a “sod roof” which is sort of misleading to what it actually is. This goes back a thousand years, with Vikings having sod roofs on most of their houses. The sod sounds like its just dirt, but really its a bottom layer of birch bark that makes the house waterproof. With a knife, you can slice the tree bark straight down and the whole bark will peel off of the tree. They then unroll it and lay it flat with weight on it to help it dry flat. Once it’s dry, they lay a layer of the birch back down, then cover it with sod to hold it in place, which also acts as insulation. They look so cool. Now I want a sod roof.img_1315

As we left Häjfell, we could see the fairy house and troll across the lake/river.img_1316

Saw this big dam on our way to Lillehammerimg_1320 img_1325

We stopped by the Olympic Park up on the top of the hill.img_1326 img_1329

Everything in Norway has an amazing view.
img_1333 img_1334 img_1336

We got to the ski jumps from the 1994 Olympics and we were lucky enough to see the skiers practicing. That was AMAZING. I never realized just how far they flew off of that ramp!img_1337

Because there’s no snow, they have astroturf on the jumps.img_1342 img_1344 img_1347 img_1350 img_1351 img_1353
Norah LOVED the skiers. She didnt want to leave. She just sat here at the end of the ramp and watched them over and over. She wasnt happy when we made her leave.

But eventually, we started back towards Sweden. We had a 6 hour drive to Avesta. Not much to share, just some scenery. Lots of forest.

We met Marie, Johan and the boys, Axel and Gustav and had some nice dinner and  conversation. I didn’t photograph all of our dinner, but they did serve us Moose! It was awesome.


They have the cutest country house… and it has a three story guesthouse! I told them we were moving in. It is just spectacular.


img_1358 img_1359 img_1360 img_1362 img_1364 img_1365 img_1366 img_1367

and these beautiful rustic old barn stairs.img_1370

Tomorrow will be pretty light because we’re just hanging around with Marie and living the good Swedish country life! 🙂

« Older posts