Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Island of Öland

Off the southeastern coast of Sweden lies the island of Öland. It wasn't really a planned stop, but after I told my dad I was interested in visiting the castle ruins there, he ended up booking some rooms on the island. I didn't realize just how many miles it would add to our trip, but the good thing about Öland was that it was WARM. In the morning, we set out to explore the ruins.

The castle was used as a fortress to protect the area from invasions from the sea, and it dates back to the 12th century. There was a great museum inside depicting the history of the castle and what life was like during its long and storied past.

Like most buildings that old in Sweden, there was a fire.

The kids loved this castle because they were free to explore and nothing was hands off... and it was HUGE!

All hail the king of the castle!

K, I just thought this was awesome.

I kept saying the castle reminded me of a labyrinth in a Zelda game. Yep, convicted Zelda fan here. I think it rubbed off on my kids... they pretended to search for rupees in the grass at the bottom of this rotunda.

"Mom, take a picture of us on the stairs to nowhere!!"

So many nooks and crannies to explore.

As I mentioned in my last post, there used to be thousands of windmills on the island. Now there are maybe a few hundred that are being preserved as part of the island's history. Most were quite simple, but we liked this one that obviously had interior rooms.

And sadly, that concluded our time in Öland. We had a tight schedule for the couple of days we spent crossing the country, and I sure could have used an extra day on the island to explore, but it was off to Malmö for us. My parents stayed behind to relax a little longer before we would meet up later in Stocken...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Story of Stockholm

For many years, it was just a dream. One day we would visit "The Motherland," where some of our ancestors lived before joining the Mormon church and heading west to Utah; the place where Grandpa Clayne had spent two years away from his young family to teach the Swedish people the gospel. This year, we made it a reality.

Our first look at Sweden. It looked like something from a fairytale!

Our hotel happened to share a lobby with the Abba Museum. My dad was so excited, he became an Abba fan overnight.

The first order of business after checking into our hotel was to get some Swedish meatballs. We had to.

The next morning, it was drizzling, so we decided to go to the indoor Vasa Museum. This enormous ship was built in the 1600's as a display of the king's power, but it sank soon after leaving the harbor because it was too top-heavy. I think there's an allegory here! The ship was finally raised in the 1960's and put on display here. The mud in the harbor had preserved it well.

They had a model showing what the ship might have looked like in its day.

This exhibit showed what would have been happening on the inside of the ship when it was in service (which wasn't very long).

There were also many artifacts from the wreck on display.

The lighting was very low, so it was hard to get pictures. This is my best one.

Amazingly, a lot of the sail was preserved as well.

This guy made the Vasa his grave.

In the afternoon, the sky cleared up and we headed over to Gamle Stan (Old Town) to see the palace. Sadly, the palace apartments were closed, but we did get to visit the treasury and see the crown jewels. We couldn't take pictures in the treasury, so we had to settle for pictures in the adjacent cathedral. This was the entrance.

The ticket also got us in to see the marble sculpture collection that was amassed by one of the Swedish kings.

By then, Russ, my mom, and the kids had had enough walking, so we sent them back to the hotel on the ferry while Kyle, my dad, and I continued exploring. We found a fruit stand and purchased some fruit that looked delicious even though we had no idea what it was. One bite and I was sold... it tasted like a dreamsicle!

Walking the streets of Old Town, we stopped at a bakery and purchased one of Sweden's famous cinnamon rolls with pearl sugar on top (which my brain thought was rock salt for the first several days even though it didn't taste salty at all). I want to go back!

But I still don't want to eat here. Unfortunate name.

A telephone booth in any country is vintage these days, but this one was especially cute.

The next morning, we headed to the Skansen open air museum, one of the oldest in the world.

First we headed to the north end of the park to see the Nordic animal display. The kids thought it was hilarious that all the reindeer were showing their rears.

We were all amazed to see this bear climb a tree with the greatest of ease. Note to self: bears can climb... really well!

I was happy to rent a stroller for the day, even though it turned out to be a point of contention.

This museum had houses, churches, farms, shops, and other types of buildings gathered from all over Sweden to show what life was like in days gone by.

In some areas of Sweden, timber was in short supply, so they made their homes just tall enough to stand up in... for most people, anyway.

Kallie at the schoolhouse.

Meanwhile, Brandon was outside keeping his claim on the stroller.

See how short this house is? And a straw roof? That would never work in Arizona!

I guess the benefit of the rain is that the country is so green.

There were people in period costumes in many of the buildings around the museum, who taught us about life back in the day. This woman is showing Kallie how to spin straw into twine. Glad we don't have to do that anymore.

This cute little house is a summer "stuga" where people would live during the warm months while tending the crops.

This was one of the windmills that used to be on the island of Öland. We didn't know at the time that we would be seeing many more of those later in our trip!

This was the iron monger's home. He sells the goods made by the iron master in a shop connected to his home. It was like an old-fashioned Ace Hardware!

After the museum, we journeyed out to find the location where my grandpa took one of his pictures back in the 1950's (which will be a whole separate post). To get Russ to go with me, I knew I would have to figure out the public transportation system. I found a website where you could enter your current location and where you wanted to go, and it would tell you what trains, buses, and ferries to take to get there, as well as which ticket to buy. We had a trolley stop right outside our hotel, so we hopped on and then caught a bus to go a little farther. Really efficient! I wish our cities had better public transportation like that!

The next morning, we headed for Stadhuset (City Hall). I had read about the golden hall, and I wanted to see it. This was the city council chamber room. The guide is talking about how the architect wanted the ceiling to look like the inside of a boat turned upside down. She said in Viking days, government meetings would be held in boats turned upside down on the land.

The walls of the golden hall were completely covered in tiny golden mosaic tiles. It was real gold, and it was really magnificent!

The Nobel Prize banquet is held there every December, and this was a display of the type of dishware you would see at that banquet.

We were running late, as we were scheduled to check out of the hotel and go pick up a rental car, but I wanted to recreate another picture from my Grandpa's mission, so we walked toward one of the bridges back to Old Town.

This was not the picture he took, since that will be in another post, but this was the place where he stood when he took it. Pretty cool architecture everywhere we turned.

On our way to Öland, we stopped at the Stockholm Mormon temple for a picture. I had done a ton of family history work to find names of Swedish relatives that we could do temple work for in the Stockholm Temple, but it just happened to be closed for maintenance the exact two weeks we were there! Luckily my dad and my sister's family stayed longer, so they were able to do it instead. We were happy to visit anyway.

Next chapter... Öland!