So, how is life in Sweden?

I know, I know, in the last post I promised to keep you updated… and then all of a sudden it was months later :/

But, to answer that question up there, life in Sweden is very very good 🙂 Can’t really believe it’s been 3 months already since I came here! Time certainly did fly this summer and only the calendar and the slowly changing nature are telling me that it will be autumn soon.

So what happened in the meantime? I learned how to survive in an all-male household, that would be the biggest change 😉 One teenage boy and his little brother plus their dad did take some adjusting for me who had been living alone for the last 12 years 😛 But now we have worked out a pretty good rhythm and I think everyone is quite happy – I know I am 🙂

With the man in (and of) my life being away at work for two weeks at a time comes a certain responsibility to make sure that the oldest gets breakfast in the mornings and leaves in time to get the bus to school, then taking care of the household chores and cooking our dinner before driving him to and from sports training and church events. Actually, from Thursday on, it’ll be the first time that I have the car to myself since I came here, so I’m training driving it 😉 Should be fine, only the garage is a little bit scary 😉

During the summer, we did a lot of walking around the area and the city, you have probably seen the pictures on fb and Instagram. Yes, we had beautiful weather most of the time and yes, we have forest and water just outside the door 😉 We’ve eaten wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and now blackberries straight from the bush, covered a lot of kilometres walking and cycling and it feels like home to me now!

There was a baptism and a confirmation, the most baffling feature (to me, a German raised Catholic) probably being the young, female (!) priest who loves a woman (!!) and also draws people in so much that even I would consider going to church again 😉 Apart from the fact that the Swedish church seems to have taken all the good bits from the Catholics and mixed it with a very modern Protestantism.

We also spent a little time up in Dalarna at his dad’s and I think this country is even more beautiful up there 🙂 Not to mention that granddad has a lake just outside the front door and a big bbq behind the house 😉

Some setbacks have been the fact that pretty much everything is closed for a certain period over the summer, so not much progress with bureaucracy and such, and also I had no luck finding a job yet. But it’s work in progress and I’m sure there’s something out there for me 🙂

If you want to know anything specific, just put a comment and I’ll reply quickly 🙂

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Hike part 2 – or the long way back ;)

So we spent an actually very quiet and restful night in our tent and as we had set no alarm, were rather surprised to wake up at about 8 a.m. Guess we were a little tired 😉 Breakfast was a hot cup of soup and some bread with fresh lake water and then we slowly packed up our things again to leave this heavenly spot – very reluctantly I have to say.

At least it was not very hard to find our trail again and somehow we made really good progress. It wasn’t long until we came back to the top of the waterfall again (and to the rocks there) and once more we took in the gorgeous scenery with blue skies and no clouds in sight! After a little break for nuts and water, we started moving again. What I had not thought of: If you have to climb up rocks to get up, chances are that there are a lot of rocks on the way down as well – even if you take a different path…

This time, I was getting tired very quickly and because I had thought the way back would be easier, crossing the rocks was getting harder and harder. I was struggling between wanting to get back as soon as possible and being shit-scared as it was quite steep on the sides if you took a wrong step… Thanks to my friend still doing the Icelandic horse thing, I did get to the next crossing safely, if exhausted both mentally and physically. From there onwards, it was a bit easier, mainly because we had come below the tree line again and they were quite useful to hold onto 😉

The last stretch of the trail of course was extremely easy and so we managed to do the way back in about 3.5 hours. Judging by my fitbit steps, we must have walked a total 10 – 12 km in those two days (Edit: it was closer to 17km I’ve been told!) 🙂 We put the backpacks in the car and went to the restaurant to stuff ourselves with well-earned calories. The German in me went for the Schnitzel, but maybe shouldn’t have – after so much yummy food in Sweden, it was rather disappointing. But it filled the gap and I didn’t care much 🙂

In the car, we set the gps to home, but discussed a bit about what to do with the rest of the day as it was just after 2 p.m. The options were going a big detour and spend another night in the tent, go a small detour and spend the night in a tent somewhere closer to Kalmar or go straight there. As said friend is very interested in Urban Exploring, he had a certain place in mind and we finally said we’d go there and then drive home. Even if that meant we’d get there in the middle of the night, we’d rather be there and don’t have to bother too much about getting home on Sunday.

It was my first experience with UE, but of course I had seen pictures and heard stories about it. The place we went to sounded very interesting, even had a good view on the outside and I was quite excited. However, it might not have been the best place to take a newbie like me… I had my own torch of course, but being stuck in there, in an extremely dark, wet place full of strange noises, it didn’t really help much. In fact, maybe because I was also still tired from the rocks business, it really freaked me out! We were there for quite a while, but when my friend went to a spot for photos that meant I had to stay behind, I really couldn’t handle it anymore. Of course I didn’t remember where to get out, so had to wait until the last photo was taken. And as I was so keen to get out, clumsy me came in and made me bang my head really heavily on the way out. So I stumbled out, in tears, seeing stars – only to be smiled at by two other UE guys…

Some sweets and a coffee later I was feeling much better and even able to drive again. It was very weird though because the night got extremely dark – headlights in bendy and hilly conditions also don’t really help a lot. When we did our last change, it was around midnight and we could actually see the stars and the whole Milky Way – beside the motorway! It was beautiful 🙂

Unfortunately, there are no photos from this whole day – sorry about that!

Edit: I completely forgot about the funny couple we met just after the rocks. There are hipsters everywhere in Sweden these days of course, but hiking hipsters were new 😀 These two asked for a trail and received the confirmation that they were right – only to take a different one in true hipster fashion 😛

Epic hike – normal trails are for losers ;)

So there we were, at the sign of the national park, ready for the hike and a night in the tent. We had the official map and a small printout of the bit we wanted to walk, which looked easy enough. The backpacks were about 10 kg (me) and 14 kg (my friend) and seemed to be perfectly suitable to walk for some time in the glorious sunshine.  😀

Our first direction was of course the Njupeskär waterfall, Sweden’s highest after all at 93 meters! The trail there lead us through some bogland and then through the forest along the little river that came from the waterfall. At the huts close to the waterfall, we had 3 options and tried them all. Up on a steep rock to get a good view (and a geocache), down some stairs and a wooden pier to the bottom of the waterfall (close enough to feel the spray from it), and finally upwards following the trail.

Njupeskär

The trail was fine, pebbles held in place by wood in some construction between a stair and a ladder – constantly leading upwards. But then it happened: it came to an end just at the bottom of a big field of rocks, where we could see the orange markings… I was ready for hiking, but climbing with 10kg on my back? Hm…

rocks

We didn’t really have a choice though, so we started climbing. Good thing my friend was able to find a way around the rocks easily (Icelandic horse came to mind), I just had to follow. I was scared shitless of course: never done such a thing before and with my funny ankle, not sure if it would hold. It was fine though and by the time we had reached the top of the waterfall and seen the amazing view, I felt relieved that we had made it. 🙂

 

How was I to know that again, we would not take the easy way, but opt for some more rock climbing, equally steep as before? 😉 Finally we had made it across the top and reached a small lake where we took a well-deserved break. The water was absolutely delicious, not only because of the climbing before! From there we walked on and at some point managed to find the actual trail we wanted to walk again – this must have been one of the first times when we actually used the map 😛

lake after rocks

If you look at this: we wanted the yellow trail, but instead ended up on the pink one, taking the black shortcut southwest to the yellow…
trails...

Once we were on the yellow trail, the walking was a lot easier! There were still rocks, but smaller ones and easier to avoid than before – much better for little me! However, I was beginning to feel tired and we decided to walk the yellow trail halfway and then try find a campsite, so the walk back the next day wouldn’t be too long. By campsite I mean a flat place to pitch the tent, ideally next to some water 😉

Eventually, we did find such a place and prepared the tent quite quickly, despite the wind trying to make it fly away all the time. What next? I needed a nap and it was the best nap ever 😀 After that we cooked water on the gas burner and poured it into our bagged meals. These were surprisingly delicious, no extra spices or anything needed!

campsite

For a moment, I had been tempted to have a swim in “our” lake, but I changed my mind very quickly once I had put my feet in. Probably was a good idea, especially because of the mosquitos which were very happy to see humans they could hit on. They were so bad that at some point we retreated into the tent, even though the sun hadn’t gone down yet. And when I dashed out one more time very quickly, they were all over me – I’m guessing 15 bites in not even 5 minutes…

Other than the bussing mosquitos though, there was no sound, we didn’t see any other people and just enjoyed the calmness of the place. I never had that feeling before, but I understand now why camping is special 🙂

Part 2 will follow soon 😉

How I got to sleep in a tent on a mountain…

Those of you who know me also know that I have started this trip with zero experience in camping. Me, that’s the girl staying in nice B&Bs or Airbnb places, the odd hotel – but a tent? Never!

the tent

So when a friend suggested we go on a hike together when I am in Sweden, I was very surprised at first, but then agreed to join – should the timing work out, we have a history of planning things and the timing getting messed up, ruining the plan. At this point, I was clearly not thinking of any details of said hike. The deal was for me to be the company and my friend would sort out the rest 😉

As it happens, the timing was actually absolutely perfect this time, it was even possible for me to be picked up on my way down from Värmland instead of sleeping a night in Stockholm or taking a whole day’s train trip. Södertälje was the meeting point and after meeting some friends, we drove down to Kalmar where we spent the following day with last minute preparations (mainly shopping insane amounts of food, fearing we might starve on the mountain) 🙂

Early the next morning we packed the car and set the gps for Fulufjället – it was telling us we’d be driving for about 10 hours straight. We took turns driving and as we have a rather similar driving style (though I need to work on my rallye skills a bit more 😉 ), we managed to get to the entrance of the national park about half an hour before the time estimate from the gps – that’s with a lunch stop for pizza and a fuel/fika stop in between – and a gravel road where I was very happy I was no longer driving!

(Pizza btw: standard size overlapping the normal pizza plate by about 10 cm… HUGE! See the cutlery for comparison?)Swedish pizza

We checked out the entrance area and the facilities, but as the parking sign stated no overnight stays were allowed, we took the car back down to the campsite we had seen earlier. It was very nice, right by the river edge, so we pitched our tent and got the mats and sleeping bag ready. Then we had dinner from our icebox, very luxurious and we enjoyed it a lot. After washing our dishes in the river and filling our water bottles from it, we decided to retreat to the tent for the night. We were tired from the driving and also the other campers didn’t seem interested to interact with us.

riverside camping

With the air mats and the sleeping bag, we spent a surprisingly comfortable first night in the tent, it was warm as well – nothing like I had imagined in my camping nightmares 😉 The sun of course rises early in the summer, so we were up and eating breakfast around 7 a.m., resulting in starting the real hike around 8 a.m. up in the national park – backpacks and all! Little did we know what the day would bring… 😉

Sun's up!