Our week-long trip to Sweden is winding down; tomorrow we head back to France via car, train, plane, and then another train.
This trip was essentially one big, continuous circle of fika, or coffee, sweet cakes, and light conversation. Of course, most of the time I didn’t have any idea what was being said, since I don’t speak Swedish! Knowing about five words – speedbump, frog, sausage, and beach – doesn’t get you very far in a real conversation.
I am in love with Swedish cakes, however. Nothing like texture of French pastries, the Swedes like softer things, much like their temperament. Sugar cake with a layer of butter in the middle, vanilla-cinnamon muffins with custard on the top, and cardamum rolls. They take their coffee strong, but not too strong. Not quite espresso, but way darker than the American cup o’ joe.
Being from California, I’ve certainly seen snow, but I’ve never seen snow covering a large expanse of land, or lakes frozen over completely. I love the brightness of snow, it makes winter bearable by being so smooth, sparkling and reflective. In Paris, where snow doesn’t fall very often, the grey color of winter is so heavy, there’s no brightness about it and you start feeling depressed. Today is our last full day in Sweden, and the snow has started to melt, revealing more of the brown-green land underneath. I’d love to come back this summer to see the stark contrast between the seasons.
I was also fascinated to see the differences in home décor and architecture. Even the differences in street signs, appliances, grocery stores, and pizza toppings. I love discovering all those details that are everyday norms for the people who live here. I noticed that most Swedish country houses look like red barns, but they have a lot of windows. Each window frames a lamp, and as you drive by in the night the windows are wonderfully illuminated. In the US, we would never think to put a lamp directly in front of a window, it seems counterintuitive to us. I also love the decorative front porch railings, sun rooms, small chandeliers, and mix of old & new.
We made a friend in Grolle the cat, he was always cuddling up to us and being cute.
So much of this trip was about food. I had authentic meatballs, with the mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce, I had traditional breakfast of buttered flat bread with homemade sausage and soft-boiled eggs, I had roasted moose and moose tacos, and even licorice-flavored hard alcohol. I hope to come back to Sweden in the summertime, when I can swim in the lake, hike up the small mountains, and stay in the summer cabin. I’d also like to explore Stockholm next time, but it’s been so nice to have the fresh air and slower pace of life here in the Swedish Norrlands.