One thing we have been trying to do during our around-the-world trip is to take the time and spend it with the family. While in Europe, some of our original plans changed but we made the best of it. One, not getting the visa extension as we had hoped. Two, not going camping due to colder and wetter late spring and early summer. We spend nearly 8 weeks of our 90 days in Sweden with the family during which we did some day trips and some over-night stays. Enjoying the view
On our way back after making our visa request in Västerås, we made a stop at Drottningholm Palace which is the private residence of the Swedish Royal family. It was built in the late 16th century in the French style and was regularly used as a summer residence during most of the 18th century. We enjoyed strolling through the landscaped garden and a guided tour of the Palace.
The Royal ThroneWhen used, it would stand in the middle of the room. One of our day trips was a 3 hours (220km) to Falun to visit a cooper mine. Falun Mine was once Europe’s biggest copper mine, producing as much as two thirds of all the copper that Europe needed in the 1600s. The copper was used for castle roofs, church bells, coins and utensils. The copper made Sweden a European superpower and funded many of the wars and probably also Drottningholm Castle.
The waterwheel house. The water would enter at the top.Falun Coppermine
Copper ore15 year old boys would carry 100 lb rocks on stretchers like this
The largest copper coin in the world 19.7 Kg.
Church tower in the city of Kopparberg There is no exact date, but studies show that the mine started in the 10th century and was in operation for over 1,000 years until they closed in 1992 when most of the copper had been mined. Today, the site is a museum and a UNESCO world heritage site. You can visit the underground with a guide and learn about the working conditions during that time. At the same site, there is a factory that produces the red paint that you’ll see on most Swedish homes. The Falu red paint is made from stones with too low copper content. The factory has about 80 years of material left on the waste heaps outside the actual UNESCO world heritage.
Falu red color in Västerås In Mid-June, we had the great pleasure of meeting Lars Nordström. He is a very skilled man with many traits, but we’ll simplify it here and describe him as a writer, born in Sweden, grew commercial grapes in Oregon, and is now back in Sweden. Look him up, he has written some interesting books. We had a delightful time together. He recommended one of the hikes we did on our way back home: Seven Torpsleden located in Finnish Forest = Finnskogan.
Lars NordströmAt his place in North Värmland Seven Torpsleden is a hiking trail that took us through seven crofts, all with Finnish origins. Two of the seven crofts are on the Norwegian side of the border. Some of the homes are still inhabited today, and some left abandoned. During WWII, many used the path to escape Norway to Sweden. From the middle ages, Finland was under Swedish rule and remained part of Sweden until 1809. In the 1600s, a group of Finnish farmers settled in the forest area in Lekvattnet.
The root cellarAt Ritamäki, Finnskogen, Seven Torpsleden Barn at RitamäkiSeven Torpsleden Main houseRitamäki, Seven Torpsleden Another barnRitamäki, Seven Torpsleden At Ritamäki Seven Torpsleden The Sweden Norway borderSeven Torpsleden Mosquito streamYes, there were many! Initially the immigrants were well received but tension grew with Swedish farmers which led to persecution and in 1636 a decree evicted all Finns who did not pay taxes. The Finns brought a special type of rye suited for the cold temperatures and slash-and-burn agriculture. In 1964 the last descendent of Finnish farmers moved from the croft Ritamäki and was made into a museum. Today there are still no roads to the croft, to reach it you must walk a small path one miles through the forest.
Arriving at RitamäkiSeven Torpsleden On our way home from our visit with Lars Nordström, we also made a stop at Ekshärad. A small town of just over 1,000 inhabitants but famous for its historical church built between 1686-88. Adjacent to the church is a cemetery with metal crosses. The metal crosses symbolize the tree of life and the local folklore says that the sound from the metal “leaves” keep evil spirits away.
Ekshärad Church in Falu red Ekshärad Cemetery EkshäradView from the cemetery The iron crosses at Ekshärad cemetery Vanessa got to experience her first Swedish Mid-Summer celebration. We went to the nearby town to watch the folkloric dances and festivities. A traditional dinner on this day is pickled herring with fresh new potatoes accompanied by aquavit. For dessert fresh strawberries are customary. Soren got to be reminded that this is also a national holiday which means everything is closed for Mid-Summer and everyone stays home, maybe to nurture their hangover from the night before.
Decorating the midsummer pole
The midsummer pole is arriving
Erecting the midsummer pole
Folkdance in traditional outfitsThe outfits were better than the actual dancing
The kids turnVanessa is in there somewhere with Soren's nephews
Midsummer Celebration in SwedenFolk dance around the midsummer pole During our 8 weeks, we enjoyed many day hikes, biking along the former railroad track path and seeing many wildflowers (lupine, fireweed, lily-of-the-valley ….) and Vanessa got to see her first moose in the wild.
Our usual bike path Beating the storm on the way back The lake Vänern in Karlstad Hiking thru the pine forest Lily-of-the-valley.There was an entire field of them Moose timeA small second year calf. Biking in Västerås
Old bridge in Karlstad
Not a bad place to playIn Karlstad During one of our hikes, we found cloudberry! This is a special berry because it grows wild in marshy grounds and it has only one berry per stem. It has a beautiful orange color and a very distinct flavor.
Unripe cloudberry Lupines on Hovfjället Soren's niece an excellent hiker Enjoying the view Where cloudberries grow Cloudberries The advantage of spending so much time in one place, in addition to spending time with the family, you get a chance to create a little routine and visit with friends too. And Vanessa enjoyed training with the local Capoeira Angola group twice a week.
A hike on the country side
Swedish Blueberries or Huckleberries
Swedish BlueberriesPerfect snack when hiking
He was gone two seconds later
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