Category Archives: Travel

Walking Stockholm. With Gifts and Christmas Snow.

She smiled and greeted me when I stepped into the British Airways lounge area close to my departure gate at Chicago O’Hare airport. I greeted her and handed over my two remaining boarding passes on this “points trip” to celebrate Christmas in Sweden. She lifted her head and with a big smile she asked if I would like to sit in the first class on my trip to London. I said I would love to but didn’t have enough points to do the upgrade. She smiled even wider and handed me my first class boarding pass. “You’re worth it”, she said.

It was an early Christmas gift I was grateful for and thoroughly enjoyed. After a delicious dinner and some champagne, I changed into my provided pajamas, received my pillows and a comforter, and slept practically until touchdown at Heathrow. For the first time ever, I slept through the breakfast service! But there was one more ribbon on my gift yet to be opened, a wonderful sit-down breakfast in the 1st class arrival lounge.

I felt rested and well fed for the rest of my journey to Stockholm. When we approached the Arlanda airport I glanced out of the window – and saw snow! I would experience my first white Christmas in over 20 years. Another unexpected gift.

I thoroughly enjoyed the long walks that Beppe, the poodle, took us on every day along Stockholm’s snow covered sidewalks and paths through the many parks. As you can see this Florida girl was properly attired for the winter weather with a hooded buffer jacket, snow boots and borrowed warm gloves.

I made some interesting discoveries on our walks, like this Santa climbing up the side of a tall condo building in my sister’s neighborhood. And the sentinel cats guarding a shop door.

The blue hour was always beautiful…the snow adding a magical hue.

And the late night walks allowed me to immerse in the feeling of warmth of the Swedish Christmas – despite the below freezing temperatures. Most windows in the city were lit with chandeliers or Christmas stars, like this one at my sister’s…

… and many courtyards of these over a century old buildings were decorated with lit trees.

Very festive and beautiful indeed.

On the Saturday before Christmas I visited my aunt in Gothenburg. A convenient MTR Express speed train now provides a three-hour connection between the two cities. It was great to see her after 13 years! And I couldn’t complain about the all natural Christmas decorations at the Central Station in Gothenburg.

On the Sunday before Christmas, as is customary in Sweden, we visited the grave site of a recently departed loved one. The cemetery was beautiful in its all white outfit. And light snow was still falling.

After some silent moments of remembering our loved one, we felt it was time for an afternoon ‘fika’. And the nearby café offered coffee and lots of goodies to choose from.

Warmed up by a good fika I decided it was time for an afternoon solo walk. I wanted to see some of my favorite places again.
The old town was charming with snow-covered sidewalks and lots of lights outside and inside the shops.

I walked the narrow streets and slippery cobble stone alleys to the Royal Palace, which rises at the north end of the Old Town.

The Old Town is sometimes called “the city between bridges” as there are seven bridges connecting this island, first inhabited in mid to late 1100s, to other islands that form the city of Stockholm. I walked out from the Old Town via the Riksbron bridge.

From that bridge I admired the City Hall and the Centralbron bridge on one side and the Royal Opera House and the Strömbron bridge on the other.

I loved the beautiful Christmas lights on and around these bridges.

By now I was really cold and needed something warming. I stepped into a busy bistro and Santa kindly offered me a tasty Irish coffee.

I lingered inside long enough to feel my toes again. Then stepped back outside on the busy Queen’s Street full of shoppers making last minute gift purchases.

I walked to the Central Square and took the metro for a couple of stops back to my sister’s. My walking quote for the day was full.

Now it was the time to carry home and decorate the live tree… and bake the Christmas tarts. While my sister decorated the tree, I baked the tarts. To be enjoyed with a cup of warm glögg, of course.

In Sweden the Christmas Eve is the time for a sumptuous Christmas dinner, glam and gift giving, while the Christmas Day is more for quiet contemplation and celebration of the real gift of Christmas.

Our dinner was delicious with all the traditional Christmas dishes, from two kinds of hams, all the vegetable casseroles and Janson’s Temptation to small sausages, meat balls, beet salads, red cabbage etc. etc. Poor Beppe was left guarding the presents under the tree while we lingered at the table enjoying all that food. Finally Santa came and Beppe could open his presents, among them a toy squirrel from Florida. He thoroughly enjoyed chasing it.

Needless to say my Christmas was warm and wonderful. Full of love…

… and good food 🙂 Luckily Beppe took us out several times a day, and on Boxing Day we did a long walk around the Karlberg Kanal in the bleak winter sun.

At a marina out there, I spotted an interesting weather forecasting device. A hanging stone.

Since many of my readers don’t speak Swedish, I will provide the translation of the forecasting guidance here:

CONDITION OF THE STONE FORECAST
The stone is wet Rain
The stone is dry No rain
The stone casts a shadow on the ground Sunny
The stone is white on the top Snow
The stone is not visible Fog
The stone swings Strong winds
The stone jumps up and down Earthquake
The stone is missing Tornado

That made me smile. And I saw a faint shadow of the stone on the snow, a treat during a long walk in nature.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and soon it was time to travel back home. But the good memories last. I am still musing on the wonderful time I had.

I wish you all ‘happy continuation on the new year’ or ‘god fortsättning’ as we say in Sweden. May this year bring you many blessings.

Finally above water. And Flying.

The last few weeks I’ve felt like I’m underwater. It’s been hard to get a really deep breath. And impossible to sigh. Too much going on, particularly on the work front. But finally it’s slowing down. On Sunday I was able to sit down and dive into my pictures (fair warning: they are many). I had to find out what I’ve been up to between all the Sundays that have flown by in a flash. And, indeed, I’ve been underwater for real. For the first time in years. Here’s the proof.

However, I wouldn’t bank on a career as an underwater photographer. For obvious reasons. But as I’m flying north and more north today, it warms my soul to look back at pictures from a short cruise to Bahamas with my friends last month. That was so much fun. And food, I might add.

During the first day at sea, we had time to examine our ship, the Enchantment of the Seas. And there was much to explore, from vast sundecks, solariums and common gathering places to bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and shops. Plenty of programming too. Anyone so inclined could easily put stress right back into their lives and run from one event to another. Not me and my friends. We wanted to relax and enjoy the sail. Lagom is best as we say in Sweden. Life onboard was full of small delights, such as the ‘animals’ I would find in my cozy stateroom waiting for me on the sofa or on the bed every night.

Our first port of call was Nassau, the capital of Bahamas. It seemed to be the port of call for some other ships as well. I suspect this scene gets repeated many times each week.

I had been there twice before, but coming from the north I had spent my days mostly on the beach. This time was different. We set out to discover the city. We started off by visiting Fort Charlotte (est. 1788) situated on a hill above the town. It certainly was a great place to spot enemy ships approaching from the ocean. Luckily we were only approached by an army of vendors.

Quite unexpectedly, we spotted Christopher Columbus.  In October 1492, he sighted a Bahamian island (probably the Watling Island) and believed he had arrived in East Asia. Poor man. He went ashore and claimed this Asia for his sponsors in Spain. Sponsorship is quite an established phenomenon.

We also visited the John Watling Rum Distillery. It was a tasty experience. The Pina Colada we were served didn’t leave much to desire…other than perhaps a more generous serving.

On the distillery grounds I finally got an opportunity to ‘shoot’ some birds. Two handsome roosters were touring the front yard.

I also discovered that the flower and fruit trees along our route matched the many colorful buildings in town…

… and that the little barrier islands out in the sea were, indeed, very Caribbean.

We also visited the Paradise Island, just over the Sidney Poiter Bridge from Nassau, famous its trademark hotel, the Atlantis.

We politely declined the offer to stay at the Michael Jackson Penthouse Suite for the bargain price of $25,000 a night. We simply couldn’t stay for the required minimum of four nights as we had to head back to the ship. But I have to say the hotel is quite impressive. Both outside and inside. The massive aquarium was definitely worth a visit.

Our second port of call was Cococay, a tropical island less than a day’s sail away from Nassau. That day was all about relaxation. On the beach, in the water and underwater. 

The only wildlife, in addition to some seabirds, I spotted on the island were iguanas. Several families with parents, kids, aunts and uncles.

That was a fun little cruise which still warmed me when I had to go to chilly NYC shortly after coming home. My week there was filled with meetings, but I got one free afternoon. I decided to play tourist…and take pictures.

I started at the 911 memorial and museum. That visit was a stark reminder of that sad and chaotic day in 2001, which I had experienced in Washington D.C. All my memories from that horrible day came back.

While there, I decided to visit the Observatorium at the new World Trade Center One. The views from up there were fantastic. 

I rounded up my afternoon on a cruise around Manhattan. The city appeared softer and somewhat more … human in the warm light of the setting sun.


And I really wanted to see Lady Liberty again. It had been quite a while, but I still remembered the steep staircase up to her crown. Now I admired her from the water. Amazingly, she  doesn’t seem to age like the rest of us.

Okay. After a work filled couple of weeks at home onto the next adventure. Right now I’m in the windy city waiting for my next flight over the big pond to celebrate the holidays with family. I’m hoping to exchange the warm holiday lights at home to a white Christmas.

Thank you all for heart-warming friendships here in the blogging world. I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas and lots of blessings in the new year. 

Help! Where was I?

The answer is here, there and everywhere. And I don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps warm greetings from a chilly NYC, where I’ve worked this past week, would be in place?

I can’t believe I’ve been away from here for over six weeks. Various adventures near and far with my friends visiting from Sweden have filled my days… sprinkled with some necessary work sessions. And then a completely unnecessary bout of severe cold kept me ‘lying flat’ for days. But now I’m upright and on the go again. Feeling thankful for it.

Our nearby adventures included, of course, the salt marsh. This past month that little village has been lively. Many migrating birds have made a stopover there to mingle with the locals.

The Mayor has tried to keep peace among the sometimes unruly crowds, but despite his watching eye, the Clown (aka the Reddish Egret) got into trouble. It started innocently enough. A Wood Stork was trying to catch a fish. But the Clown got upset and flashed his red hair… and that was it!

The larger bird went into attack. And the Clown had to flee!

That was the first time I have seen him retreating. Ever.

He had met his match and settled on a small islet. He was sulking. Or maybe mulling over what just happened.

That day the marsh had more than fifty visitors. Birds everywhere. Some were flying…

Others were running…

Many were fishing…

One or two were dreaming…

Or just mingling and giving speeches…

Mama Sandy was, as always, only watching the nest and the skies. She couldn’t be bothered with the crowds. She knows they come and go.

One day my friends went for a walk with Dylan when I had to take a break … for work. And Tony spotted something special. Sandy had allowed Stanley to the nest although the nesting season was still more than a month away!

I hadn’t seen Stanley for a couple of weeks, so perhaps they had an argument and he’d gone away for a while? To let it cool down. And when he finally returned and brought her a fish as a sign of reconciliation, she allowed him to perch on the nest. Here is the proof. Thanks Tony!

And after that they have been flying a lot together. The other day when I was trying to work while battling a bout of bad cold, they flew several times past my office window.

And one morning I saw them working together. They were chasing a huge Bald Eagle away from the salt marsh. I had no camera, but Dylan is my witness. They took turns to dive on the back of the eagle until it got tired and flew to the other side of the bay where it lives.

But I spotted a juvenile Bald Eagle on one of our trips to Taylor Park. It was trying to fish, but gave up after several unsuccessful attempts and flew back into the forest.

My friends liked Taylor Park too. So many birds always show up…
…just to disappear like magic.

And it is quite a thrill to spot a gator lurking around and looking at you…

We got to see many more of them on an airboat ride with Captain Duke we did in the central Florida swamps.

In fact, we were guests in their very special world.

We spotted numerous huge old ones in and out of the water…

And deep in the swamp, we saw a baby gator who had dared to come out of the nest hole all alone.

It was a great journey through the St. John’s River swamps, or the ‘real Florida’ as our captain put it.

Of course we spotted lots of birds as well, but it was not easy to capture them on camera while speeding through the waters.

It was an adventure deep into nature my friends appreciated.

Although they flew back home a couple of weeks ago, you can still participate in more adventures right here in the coming weeks.
Thank you for coming along to the salt marsh, the Taylor Park and to the central Florida swamps. Have a great weekend. Lady Liberty says hi.

Multitasking. On Wings and on Foot.

Hi everybody! I can’t believe I’ve been absent from here since mid August. Life has been overly busy since I returned from my summer vacation in Sweden. That doesn’t mean it’s been all work, not by a long shot. Lots of fun with family and friends too. But time has wings. And the faster they flap, the more difficult it becomes to slow down and pause.

After checking on our salt marsh friends this morning I decided it was time to sit down, pause and reflect back on my late summer adventures. So here it is. A long hodgepodge of birds, rhinos, sea creatures, travels and reflections.

Grandkids ud170I’ve been lucky to spend quite a bit of time, on several occasions, with ‘my girls’. They have an incredible curiosity and desire to discover – and the energy to match. So we’ve been on ‘safari’ in Busch Gardens observing the rhino family, mom, toddler and dad…

baby rhino and mama ud170

rhino ud170… lots of stripy zebras and numerous different antelopes …

zebra ud170

antelopes ud170…and several families of giraffes.

two giraffes UD170Even some beautiful flamingos.

flamingo UD170That was a full 12 h day of countless rides and animals! Fireworks at the end of the day, both literally and figuratively. Some of us slept already on the way home.

fireworks at busch gardens UD170On another occasion it was time to explore the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. To our delight they had tropical gardens where some ‘duckies’ and familiar shore birds could come and go as they pleased.

wood duck and moorhen ud170

male ruddy duck UD170

tri-colored heron ud170

adult roseate spoonbill UD170And the underwater world was full of wonders from sharks and numerous other fish species to sea turtles and other small and big creatures.

shark FL aquarium ud170

stringray UD170

sea turtle 16x9 ud170

florida aquarium ud170

jelly fish 2 UD170

giant lobster ud170A fascinating world of its own….followed by other adventures at the children’s museum and elsewhere. All these excursions provided welcome breaks from work that has intruded my world a bit more than I had bargained for…but it’s all good. Although I work mostly from my home office with a view of the ocean, the bayside and the salt marsh, I have also been traveling. Last week, for example, I worked in the Big Apple. Right in midtown Manhattan where the sun only reaches the ground in small spots between the skyscrapers.

Manhattan midtown ud170

Midtown manhattan workplace ud170

It is, indeed, a city that never sleeps. And it’s a city of travelers from all around the world. Convoys of carry-on pieces walk the streets intercepted occasionally by jugglers of larger luggage.

traveller NYC ud170

And the yellow taxis are still there. Racing up and down the streets alongside with Uber drivers in black SUVs.

taxis ny ud170

I didn’t have time for sight-seeing, but walking the streets to and from my meetings I observed the diversity of buildings lining the streets. Glass towers that reflected the skies next to older buildings with some character, intricate details and windows into the soul of the city…

manhattan midtwon skyscrapers UD170

new and old in NYC ud170

detail of old building in NYC ud170

window ny ud170

And I realized I could see it all captured on the façades of the glass towers…

NYC reflections UD170

Is it all stone and glass? No it isn’t. It’s a melting pot of everything. People from all over, food and drink from every corner of the world and … dogs patiently looking for that little green patch. Or just happily posing for a photographer and making her smile.

dog ny ud170

In the coming months I’ll have a more opportunities to rediscover the spirit of this place, such a contrast to what I am used to here on the beach. Talking of home, I have to tell you that Dylan and I have discovered a new park, not far from home, to walk in. It’s been hot, but the other day we ventured there for a short stroll between thunder storms.

lake at Taylor Park ud170

This park has a beautiful small lake and you can walk around it. Even in the afternoon heat we spotted some familiar birds: a Great Egret, a young Little Blue Heron, several Moorhen and Anhinga.

Great egret at Taylor Park ud170

young little blue heron 2 at Taylor Park ud170

Moorhen at Taylor Park ud170

anhinga 2 ud170Once it gets cooler, we’ll visit this park more regularly, but for now we walk right here in the neighborhood.

I have to tell you that I’ve been worried about Mama Osprey. While I had seen Papa perching at the Sailing Center in the evenings, I hadn’t seen her since I returned from Sweden. So this morning I decided that we would go out soon after sunrise and look for her.

mama osprey at sunrise ud170

Because she has not been perching at the nest like she has done the previous summers, I decided to walk on the bayside. Right off the bat we discovered Papa Stanley on his favorite perch at the Sailing Center. He nodded a friendly greeting as in wondering where we’d been.

papa osprey at sailing center ud170

Then I looked around for Mama Sandy. She was nowhere to be seen….until I trained my camera on the small spot at the far end of the pier.

mama osprey at sailing center ud170

There she was! In the company of a pelican and some gulls. And I happily took her portrait in the golden haze of the rising sun.

mama osprey ud170From there we walked to the salt marsh and discovered it was quite lively after several months of little activity. I was delighted to see the Mayor in his slightly untidy office again.

mayor the older GBH in his office ud170He was proudly surveying his village. I noticed that Great Egrets were back from their summer vacation in big numbers and so were the smaller Snowy Egrets. The grass was so tall that it was difficult to get good shots of them.

Great egret ud170

snowy egret ud170Suddenly we saw that the Mayor flew up to a higher branch and trained his eyes on something.

the older gbh mayor ud170We walked a bit closer…and noticed that Harry, the younger GBH, was walking towards a group of egrets exercising his self-appointed authority…

Young GBH and a great egret UD170He glanced at the Mayor and noticed he was under surveillance. He knew from previous experience how such a confrontation would end, so he stopped at his tracks, turned around and walked away. We walked home too. I was happy to have spotted both osprey parents and realized that the new nesting season is only three months away.

Dylan and I wish you all happy fall days.

Walking Stockholm (2). Touched by a Paint Brush.

Sunset in Stockholm’s Old Town brings the centuries old buildings to life in warm hues. I reflect. It’s is like walking in an old painting. I can feel the touch of the paint brush, sometimes gentle, other times more intense. Life in vibrant colors.

old building at stortorget ud164

storkyrkans torn ud164The streets are still lively at this hour and I melt in like I had never left.

vasterlanggatan ud164I soak in the history of the narrow alleys guarded by old residential buildings. The echo of little feet running on the cobble stone streets in their Sunday shoes from the 1800s is still there.

grand 2 in the old town ud164And in my mind’s eye I can still see people from long ago drinking from the fountain at the Big Plaza.

drinking fountain at main plaza ud164From there I walk to the Royal Palace. And from the top of the palace hill I admire the huge canvas opening in front of me. The blue hour in Stockholm.

royal palace ud164

painted view from the royal palace ud164Leaving the palace and the Old Town behind me, I walk towards the city center.

royal palace stockholm ud164Crossing the first bridge, I spott familiar buildings, like the Royal Opera House…

operahuset ud164… and the City Hall, where I’d gotten married so many years ago. The sky glows in the colors of love. And I feel a profound touch of the Painter’s brush.

stockholms stadshus ud164 painted 2I stand here for a long while. As the day is fading away, I walk out of this painting into the next. The one depicting my current realities. And I still feel good.

from gamla stan till city ud164 paintedTo my delight, I also get an opportunity to visit an art exhibition of recent works by Lars Lerin at the Liljevalchs art gallery. And I invite you to join me.

Lerin is a beloved, contemporary Swedish watercolor master. My sister is a fan of his paintings, and while I have not seen his much of his work previously, I immediately fall in love with his fascinating watercolor worlds. The play of light is mesmerizing – whether he depicts Nordic nature scenes …

Lars Lerin lake in Lofoten ud168

Värmlandsskogen watercolor by Lars Lerin ud168

Lars Lerin Birds ud168…or ships on the ocean.

Lars Lerin Sailor ud168

Lars Lerin 1 ud168

Lars Lerin Sailing Boat ud168His cityscapes are captivating too, not only because of the typical drama of light and darkness…

Lars Lerin 3 ud168… but also because he gives us a peek into the life behind the lit windows. Love, disagreements, fights, forgiveness and laughter. Looking at the details in his multi-panel paintings, like the one below from Agadir, Morrocco, I feel touched by the lives of the people living there.

Agadir Morrocco Arrival by Lars Lerin 2014 UD168And in his darker paintings, such as the ones below from Syria, the pain of destruction brought by war is palpable.

Lars Lerin 4 ud168

Lars Lerin city scape from Syria ud168Whether Lerin portrays drama and darkness or a quiet night camping under the stars, his work moves me. A new fan is born. One of many.

Caravan by Lars Lerin ud168 This post concludes the summer 2018 Stockholm series. Thank you for walking with me again. Have a wonderful week ahead.

 

A Sentimental Journey. To My Roots and My Toothless Smile.

After two weeks in Stockholm, my sister and I embarked on a 3-day journey to Finland. You see, we had not managed to bring home our dad’s photo albums when we put his house on the market last fall and subsequently sold it. We left all these memories with our friend, to be retrieved later. And we had to take care of issues related to the forest dad had left us. Two city girls living abroad and forest ownership was not a great combination. We badly needed advice on how to best take care of this precious natural resource. So now was the time for a ‘sister trip’ to the heart of Finland.

cruise ship 2 ud165We hopped on a big ship that cruises between Stockholm and Turku on a daily basis – a newer sister ship to the one pictured above. Slowly this giant navigated the tight fairways in Stockholm archipelago. And we enjoyed the sights of small islands with countless summer houses, an occasional old fort and a magnificent sunset from one of the outer decks.

boat deck ud169

stockholms archipelago ud169

old fort ud169

sailing boat at sunset ud169We sat out there quite a while with a glass of wine before getting something to eat and then retiring to our stateroom for the night.

sunset at Baltic sea ud169

on the boat 169

moon over the Baltic Sea ud169We arrived in Turku the next morning and after a 4-hour drive we reached our dad’s village in central Finland where our ‘business’ was to be conducted. We met our forestry consultant at a café we used to frequent as kids. It was still there, fresher than ever, and the view from the tables outside was as beautiful as I remembered. A sparkling summer day.

on the top view Lankipohja ud169After that meeting, we received all dad’s pictures from our friend and then decided to visit this year’s summer exhibition at the nearby art center, Leporanta, like we had done so many times in the past.

leporanta ud169I just love the rolling countryside where this art center is located right next to a lake.

leporanta 2 ud169An exhibition there always starts in the front yard of the main building. This year there was a charming collection of cows made from scrap metal. Those cows gave us a big smile. One cow was going from the morning milking session to a dance party in the evening – on a tractor. We thought she looked fabulous. You go girl!

from morning milking session to evening dancing session LR ud169Another one was going on vacation. With a big tiger-cat, mind you.

Summer Holiday LR ud169

detail ud169A third demonstrated milk delivery balancing on a unicycle. What a hoot!

skillful milk delivery LR UD169Another new exhibit was the “Heads” of three important looking men. We noted that some very self-important men had just visited Helsinki earlier in the week. Maybe there was a connection…you just never know. These three men were tight-lipped about their meeting.

heads LR ud169The metal eagle some of you may remember from last year was still there. It had wintered well, like most eagles do.

steel eagle LR Ud169From there we entered the barns that housed the art works, mostly oil paintings, of several Finnish painters. The barn entrances hosted other types of art…

We walked though the barns and a few paintings caught my eye, like these two works by artist Markku Uitto titled “Flowers” and Fall Harvest”.

And these two by artist  Leena Raussi, titled “Flowers” and “Summer Forest”.

There was so much more to see, but I’ll leave you with these amusing metal critters exhibited on a table in one of the barns.

bugs LR us169At the end of the day we drove to our hotel in a neighboring town – past our dad’s house. We decided not to stop there. It was our childhood home and we wanted to remember it just as it had been last fall when we left it.

koivuranta finland home ud142Looking at dad’s old photos, I found pictures of the house being built when we were very small. In the first picture our mom is still pregnant with my sister and in the second one we are both there, pictured with mom and an aunt visiting with a baby cousin. The house was still under construction. It took several years to build as dad built it alone in the spare time he had from ‘real’ work.

The next morning we visited our parents’ resting place at a nearby cemetery and planted a flower. All important issues now taken care of, we wanted to tick off a longstanding bucket list item. We would visit the tiny village in eastern central Finland where we used to spend our childhood summers at our maternal grandparents’ farm. I hadn’t visited that village since I was 16, but remember promising myself that I would come back one day. After getting some directions from our uncle, we took off trusting the GPS would eventually take us there.

kärkisten silta ud169We remembered that there was a small ferry that used to take a couple of cars at the time over a big river. It was always exciting to be on the ferry and, indeed, we passed a road leading to the ferry harbor. Instead of taking us there, the GPS took us over the river on a beautiful bridge built fairly recently.  And eventually we arrived to the ‘town center’ of the municipality where the small village was located. We found the church and planted a flower on our maternal grandfather’s grave at the cemetery.

joutsan entinen keskusta Jousentie ud169The ‘main street’ we remembered as a lively place with many shops and a nice ice cream parlor, was very quiet. Most of the shops and restaurants were now located in a shopping center half a mile away.

After a late lunch we continued towards the small village. We soon found ourselves on a gravel road. It was the road we remembered from many decades ago, nothing had changed. Closer to the center of the municipality we found a few newer houses, but the further we drove, the fewer houses we saw. Sadly, most of them badly run-down. After driving for about four miles we recognized a few houses and the hill leading to what used to be our grandparents’ farm. The house was still there, like forgotten by time.

harjumaki 2 ud169We knocked on the door and a man who lived there kindly allowed us to walk the grounds and take some pictures of the house and the dilapidated cowshed and sauna that were no longer used. Nobody was farming here anymore.

Harjumäen navetta ud169

jousan savusauna ud169This was the place where we had spent many summers, sleeping in the attic bedroom, playing in the yard and the meadows behind the cowshed. It was surreal and quite emotional to stand there with all the happy memories flooding in. In my mind’s eye, I could see us all gathered there, like in the picture taken when I was almost four years old (our family on the right, our grandparents in the middle and mom’s sisters on the right).

I was happy we had finally managed to get to this part of our roots, but a bit sad to see this tiny village all but abandoned. It started to drizzle, we said our goodbyes and drove back to the lively small town where our hotel was located, about 90 minutes drive away. In a completely different world. We ate dinner at a nice establishment and sat late in the evening in our comfortable suite remembering our adventures and all the mischief we did as kids. And we laughed a lot!

The next day we drove back to Turku and met with a dear friend and her lovely poodle. It was wonderful to see you after so many years Anja and Hertta! In the evening we boarded the overnight ship back to Stockholm. Now it was breezy. I was watching the somewhat subdued sunset over the Finnish archipelago soon after departure and my hair almost blew away. Here’s the picture evidence.

windy 2 ud169That was a trip to remember. Thanks sis ❤ Remember my toothless smile and the little ‘play corner’ we had as kids?

sisters and parents in the play corner Thank you for coming along on this nostalgic journey. My next post from the artsy quarters of Stockholm will complete this travel series. You’ll find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Walking Stockholm. On the Water.

The inner city of Stockholm, Sweden, is a collection of islets connected by bridges. Soon after Stock(log)holm(islet) was founded in 1252 more and more islets were connected together by log-bridges. So even today water is a dominant feature in the city and its surroundings. Please come along on a 7-mile tour by foot, guided by my sister’s dog Pebbe, and then a short trip by boat to learn some of what summer Stockholm has to offer in terms of waterways.

karlberg canal ud164We’ll start our walk along the Canal of Karlberg. This canal runs in the western central Stockholm and connects two lakes. On its shores we find lots of greenery, water lilies and other wild flowers.

karlberg 2 ud164

karlberg water lily ud164

karlberg 1 ud164

karlberg walk ud164Along the canal we spot fishing boats, hostel boats, houseboats and, of course people kayaking and paddle boarding. Pebbe is a great guide and keeps up the pace. Photo stops are carefully timed.

fishing boat karlberg ud164

karlberg boat ud164

karlberg housebaoats ud164

karlberg canoe ud164

karlber paddler ud164We also find some familiar birds and cute wild rabbits, who live under one of the bridges.

gulls in stockholm ud164

mallards at karlberg ud164

juvenile coot ud164

wild rabbit karlberg ud164We pass some beautifully planned new developments right on the water.

lindhagen ud164

cafe at karlbergs kanal ud164And walking back we spot the Karlberg Palace that now hosts the Military Academy.

militarhogskolan ud164By this time we have walked about four miles and stop to rest along the canal before heading home through Solna – another three mile walk.

aulikki at karlberg ud164Once in Solna, we marvel about the 2014 building of the year, Aula Medica of the Karolinska Institute, a Medical University, by Wingårdh Architects. It houses a 1000-seat auditorium/lecture hall and catches the eye with its unconventional, modern architecture.

KI Aula ud164

aula stockholm UD164

KI Aula Medica 2014 by Gert Wingårdh UD164We walk home through the little forest surrounding these new, and old, buildings. I hope you’re doing fine after this seven mile walk. The fact that this July turned out to be the warmest in 265 years in Sweden should not make you sweat. But I am exhausted and Pebbe wants to sit for a bit too.

Pebbe UD164After resting for a couple of days, we’ll embark on a short boat tour in the very heart of Stockholm, now on the eastern side.

sightseeing boat ud165We go out right along the most exclusive neighborhood in the city, the gorgeous old buildings on Strandvägen.

stockholm strandvagen UD165

stockholm strandvagen 2 UD165

old buildings on strandvagen ud165And far away we spot a landmark, the Kaknäs observation tower.

kaknastornet ud164We pass the Nordic Museum and the Wasa Museum that houses the only 1700-ship ever salvaged (mainly) intact, the 64-gun warship Wasa that sunk on her maiden voyage in 1628.

nordiska museet stockholm UD165

wasa varvet ud164Next we pass the largest amusement park in Stockholm, Gröna Lund. We used to visit this park frequently when our son was small. It now boasts several new rides that I wouldn’t even imagine trying out … and still a few old ones that look more familiar.

grona lund 3 ud164

grona lund swing UD165

grona lund carousel UD165Then we glide past more peaceful sights, like the Fåfänga park …

fafangan park ud165… and continue a bit deeper into the archipelago, in good company.

old sailboat ud165I leave you with a hint of my next post about a nostalgic trip to Finland on a ship like the one below.

boat traffic stockholm ud165I hope you enjoyed Stockholm on the water as much as I did. Thank you for coming along.