Winter Break!

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there!

This week was Winter break for the schools in and around Linköping, so Jaclyn and I had a free week.  Well, free from school.  Because we haven’t really done much since we got here (6 weeks ago!), we took the time off to experience some things both familiar and unfamiliar.  We went skiing, to a medieval town, and I went to Copenhagen!

Romme Alpin

We started the week by going skiing at Romme Alpin on Tuesday.  The central station in Linköping has a terminal called Fjärrbussterminalen, where you can catch buses that go longer distances.  Every Saturday (and Tuesday of this week because it was break), a bus goes directly from Fjäarrbussterminalen to Romme Alpin, leaving at 6am.  The whole “leaving at 6am” thing was a huge bummer since the station is about a 35 minute bike ride from Ryd and we had to be there 15 minutes early.  That meant being packed up for the day — breakfasted and coffee-wielding — no later than 5:10am.  Which meant getting up around 4:30am.  Oy.  Thankfully (because we paid in advance) we were both able to get up and out by then, and make it to the bus with time to spare.  And even better, the bus ride was about 3.5-4 hours, so there was plenty of time to rest up before we got to Romme.

We arrived around 10am and got our skis, boots, poles and helmets and went looking for a place to store our stuff before we headed to the slopes.  One (very noticeable) difference was that the storage spaces were all open-air shelves!

You just plop your stuff in an empty space on the shelves and go on your merry way!  This was a little weird for me.  I wanted some lockers!  With LOCKS!  But alas, they were nowhere to be found.  We left our stuff here all day and it was undisturbed when we got back.  I can’t decide how I feel about this.  It seems that Sweden is a country that’s more comfortable operating on the honor system than the US, but it also seems so risky!  Maybe that’s because I’m foreign — if my driver’s license and credit and debit cards get taken it is a lot more of a hit and hassle than it might be for a Swede, who would be able to do something about it from within the country.

Despite the anxiety about our stuff, Jaclyn and I had a great time skiing.  Jaclyn had never been skiing before!  EVER!  Pretty neat that her first time was in central Sweden, no?  We stayed on the bunny hill with all the 3 year-olds for a few runs and then moved on to more advanced hills.  We were exhausted by the end of the day, and thankful for the 3.5-4 hour ride home.  Afterwards, though, we did have to ride our bikes all the way back to Ryd which was not ideal.  We accidentally took a little detour, though, so we got more exercise than we intended to.

Me, on the bunny hill.  I can’t tell if my eyes are shut or not, but you get the idea.

Top of the second easiest hill.

 

Vadstena

After Romme Alpin on Tuesday, Jaclyn and I went to a medieval town called Vadstena with Ann-Sofi and her daughter Amanda on Thursday.  Ann-Sofi picked us up at 9:30 on this delightfully windy day, and we headed out on the 30-minute ride to Vadstena.  It was a beautiful day, and we got to walk around shopping, chatting and generally enjoying the day.  Vadstena is on the 2nd-biggest lake in Sweden, Lake Vättern, and has a castle, an abbey and a huge cathedral to its name.  We first toured the cathedral and, as we always are, Jaclyn and I were breathless at the size and beauty of it.

I think I might as well call this trip the Cathedral Tour of Northern Europe.

After the Cathedral (Domkyrkan Vadstena), we wandered around the town while Ann-Sofi gave us a little history, stopping every now and then to go into a shop.

Street in Vadstena

Vadstena is host to many little antique shops, and when we went in one, we saw this:

Apparently Vadstena is known for its lace-work, and the keeper of this shop makes lace when it’s not to busy.  It is obviously incredibly intricate work.

Left to Right: Me, Ann-Sofi, Amanda, Jaclyn.  Vättern is in the background.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Jaclyn and I could not have been more lucky with our cooperating teacher than we were with Ann-Sofi.  We both love her to death and were very sad to leave Tornhagsskolan.  She insists we visit, so I’m already working out a day when I could pop in.  We sincerely loved working with here, even if it was for such a short time.

Roskilde / Copenhagen

I mentioned in my last post that I had been thinking about going to Copenhagen (København) for the weekend.  What I didn’t say was that I’ve wanted to go to Copenhagen ever since I read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry in 3rd grade.  If you haven’t read or heard of the novel, it centers around a young girl during the Nazi occupation of Copenhagen.  Her best friend is Jewish and after she tells her parents about the Gestapo stopping her and her best friend on the streets of Copenhagen, her parents try to figure out a way to get their daughter’s best friend’s family out of Copenhagen and into neutral Sweden.  The plot is more intricate and gripping than the crude summary I just gave, but it is a fantastic book and it still remains one of my favorites.

Back to the point: I have wanted to go to Copenhagen for a very long time, and after I posted about it last week, one of my best friends’ moms emailed me to say that she had family in a town (Roskilde)  just outside Copenhagen, and that her cousin said I was welcome to stay with them.  (For future reference, if you’re travelling to Scandinavia it helps to have a best friend of Scandinavian [Finnish] descent with an incredibly generous and welcoming family.)  I emailed Mette back a forth a few times, and she offered to pick me up at the airport and allow me to stay with them, so I took her up on it.  Mette and her 7 year-old son, Samuel, were fantastic hosts — I felt so welcome and at ease in their home.  After I arrived, Mette took me to see the Roskilde Domkyrka, where all the former Danish kings and queens are entombed.  (Cathedral Tour of Northern Europe!) I honestly can’t believe I hadn’t heard about it before.  It was breathtaking.  The walls and ceilings are hand-painted and the tombs are incredible ornate.

Then, Mette showed me around Roskilde a little — we saw the Viking Museum and shopped around a little bit.  Roskilde is a small town kind of like Linköping, so it wasn’t a terribly exhausting sight-seeing trip.

The following day, I headed into Copenhagen by train and promptly signed up for a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour.  Because I only had one day in the city, I felt like this was the best way to see all the things I would likely be interested in seeing.  Also, my grandma recommended it.  And man, was it worth it!  The hop-on hop-off buses travel in a loop around Copenhagen and you can hop off at any site, spend as much time there as you see fit, and hop on another bus that comes in a loop later on.  It’s so neat!  The sites I saw (and hopped-off at) were Rosenborg Castle, the National Gallery, the Little Mermaid statue, The Amalienborg Palace, the Resistance Museum, the Gefion Fountain and Nyhavn.  It was unbelievable and to write about it would not to the experience justice.  There is a link to photos from Copenhagen at the end of the post.

The next day, I was all ready to fly home but when I got to the airport, I found out that my flight had been delayed by about 2 hours.  This was a huge bummer since I had a) unintentionally doubled my waiting time at the airport and b) a train to catch in Stockholm and now only had a 17 minute cushion to get from Stockholm Bromma airport to Stockholm Central Station and on my train.  Speaking of Stockholm Bromma, here it is in all its glory:

Lucky me, I made it just in time for the train ride home!  All-in-all, it was a fantastic week and one I’m sure I won’t soon forget.

Since people keep asking to see more photos, here are the links to my photos from

Linköping and Romme Alpin

Vadstena

Roskilde and Copenhagen

Enjoy!

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