Letters from Sweden
Long term House of Sweden members Ingrid and Calle moved back to Sweden in June of 2020. They both have been very active in the House of Sweden for many years and both have served as President of the organization.They have been sending us newsletters since their arrival in Sweden. You can read them here.
“Secret Destination” Summer Bus Trip 2023
We were 23 pensioners who departed from Upplands Väsby at 07.00 for an unknown destination. It’s exciting that so many dared to order a trip without knowing where we were headed.
We drove along E-18 to Enköping where we picked up another 14 pensioners from Uppsala. The journey continued west. When the driver turned off at route 70, we guessed that Dalarna was our destination. We had no idea what, where, whom, when, we would stop.
A bus trip for pensioners includes several stops during the journey for: FIKA (stands for coffee, something to eat & time to visit with friends), tour/sightseeing, lunch, dinner, overnight stay and breakfast. Our guide, Susanne, shared marvelous information about places, people and events as we were traveling along the road. These stories made the travelling so much more interesting for me. Ingrid kept her notebook handy in order not to miss anything of value, hence this long travel story.
We drove past Franciskus Gården in Jonsered. This beautiful brick building was erected in1899, originally thought of as a retirement home, but now is now a Catholic monastery and guesthouse located in a beatiful environment. PAX et Bonum = (Will peace be with you). Our journey continued past the Sala Silver Mine, where mining began in the 15th century and continued until 1908. Silver was an important coin metal; 'without silver there would be no smartphones'. Mineworkers spent 10-12 long hours, every day, and 6-days/week working underground. A large water system supplied the mine with power. Small horses from Gotland and Öland were used to pull the waterwheels. The horses had the right to be hoisted up out of the mine every two years. We saw the world's largest Dala Horse in the round about in Avesta. The horse is 13 meters high, built in 1989 and it weighs 67 tons. The welcome sign to Hedemora is “A rider on a Dalahorse” greeting us on the approach to Dalarna's old town”. The town was founded in 1446. Next town we passed along the road was Säter. It was then called “the white city” because of its large white mental hospital built in 1912 designed by Architect Carl Westman. It had rooms for over 830 mentally ill people, who were well cared for.
Our morning FIKA stop was at the idyllic old Erik Larsgården. Kultur gården (manor-house)was built in Brovallen around 1815. Father and son worked together in their business. The father baked and the son served homemade cookies, cakes, tarts etc. Upstairs we admired unique Dala scenes painted on tapestries. During the summer months many concerts were performed, with guests seated on the lawn leading to the lake. SILJANSRINGEN in Dalarna is Europe's largest impact crater astroblem (it is what remains of a very old meteorite crash) with a diameter of about 52 km. The crater was created when a meteorite with a diameter of 5km crashed down and hit the earth's surface about 365 million years ago. The astroblem's edge forms a circle of low-lying areas, which today contain many lakes of which Siljan is the largest. Smaller lakes are Orsasjön, Skattungen and Oresjön.
A guided tour of Hildasholm in Leksand was next on the program. Hilda Pennington Mellor (1876-1967), born in London, married doctor Axel Munthe (1857-1949) in 1907. They decided to buy land in Leksand and had a "summer house" built, which was completed in 1910. This was a three-story building, a far cry of the looks of a common Swedish summer cottage. Their sons Martin and Peter were born there. They lived in Biarritz for the rest of the year. Hilda arranged amateur theater performances every summer together with the local people. Axel was a “royal-life-doctor” to Queen Victoria. Axel was best known for his home 'Villa San Michele' on Capri. Hildasholm is a magnificent home surrounded by a large park filled with statues and garden sculptures.
The next stop was Jobs-Boden - ceramics and textile design center started in 1930 by Lisbet & Gocken Jobs in Västanvik. The new workroom, constructed 1944, is 40 meters long and contains two 30 meter long tables, where cotton fabric made especially for them in Belgium, is stretched on the long tables ready for hand printing. The rails on the tables are markers, where to place the square form, that has the fabric design. One color is printed and it must dry completely before next color is printed. It takes a whole day to print a 2x30-meter-long fabric when many colors are used. Why a length of 30 meters I asked? That is a maximum of weight that can be handled by a person. Siblings Lisskulla, Gocken, Peer, Gittoch and Mait Job are known for timeless classic flower patterns. We had a fantastic demonstration of how the pattern is printed. It is not so strange that the fabrics are so expensive. The sun was shining when we were walking down the hill, but it changed to pouring rain when we were going back up the hill to the bus. The last ones to reach the bus got a real soaking.
A good lunch buffet was served at the Moskogen restaurant. After our lunch, the trip continued through Leksand and north to Rättvik. A major tourist attraction is the "628-meter-long iconic Långbryggan" (7536’ long bridge) built in 1895. Steamboat S/S Rättvik, which operated on Lake Siljan during 1895-1950s, docked here. “Roddarmadammerna” (Rowing Ladies) rowed long boats across the lake. They handled all the ferry traffic, transported people and goods across the water in return for money. They were known since the 15th century for their strength and endurance. In Rättvik you’ll find the fantastic Dalhalla outdoor music arena; Rättvik's Market attracts visitors from near and far; Rättvik's Spelmansstämma is a special folk music event. At a short distance north of Rättvik we stopped at Nusnäs to watch how the Dala Horses are made and decorated. In Nusnäs it is common for men to whittle horses from birch wood, then sand them at home. Men have whittles horses for over 400 years. The horses are then dipped in a color bath. Grannas Anders “Pelle” Olsson was the eldest of 9 siblings. Together with brothers Nils (9) and Jannes (7) he started manufacturing Dala horses in 1922. Everyone helped out after school. Pelle's investment in a band saw paid off with by improving production. Together they opened up Grannes A. Olsson Hemslöjd (handicraft) in 1922. The Dala Horses were originally used as toys for children as well as “recognizing the horses work in the fields and being a source for food”. The horse was the sacred animal of the Asa gods, the faith of (the Vikings). There are many traces of several Viking settlements and graves. A giant Dala Horse was displayed at the New York World Fair Exhibition in 1939. The Olsson brothers knew how to build a great business. Over 100,000 Dala horses of all sizes and made and sold each year. After a long, content-rich day, the journey stopped at Hotel Fridhemsgatan in Mora. In addition to pleasant hotel rooms, a tasty dinner buffet was served, and in the morning a delightful buffet was presented for breakfast. By 09.00 we were off for more adventures.
Mora is well known for being the goal for the ‘Vasaloppet’. Thousands of skiers compete every year on the 90 km long route from Bergaby in Sälen to Mora, on the first Sunday in March since 1922. Sälen is not only known for being the starting point for the world’s biggest ski race, but also the starting point for the entire history of our country. Over the goal posts are written “I färders spår för framtida segrar” (following our peoples trail for future victory). This is where Dalkulla crowns the winner of the race.
Gustav Vasa statue was designed by Anders Zorn in 1903, and it stands on the hill where Gustav Vasa spoke to the Mora people in 1520. At Zorn Gården, we were given a personally guided tour. There was also time to visit Zorn Museum & Mora Church. Anders Zorn (1860-1920) married Emma Lamm (1860-1942) in 1885. Emma came from an upper class Stockholm family. Zorn bought land near the church in 1886 with a view of Hemulån where he built his home. Emma decided that she wanted certain comforts in her home, i.e. central heating; a built–in hot water tank in the kitchen; cold & hot water plumbing; modern fridge; as well as a vacuum cleaner. The home is richly decorated, grandiose, rustic, cozy and comfortable. Mora church pews, also dated to 1600, are built into the house on the second floor. The kitchen, living room and informal dining room dominate the ground level. On the second floor are several guest rooms and large formal living room, and on the third floor is the 'great room', which is both tall and long. It is Zorn’s most famous architectural drawing. The details are many and important. Anders and Emma had no children; they had many dogs during their lifetimes. Zorn was important to the preservation of homesteading. At the entrance of Mora Kyrka there is a collection of "bookmarks" that represent all farms, whose men helped rebuild the church steeple and roof in 1671. The men could not sign their names, thus used their individual sign to indicate that they had worked on the restoration. It was a carpenter from Färnäs who noticed the markings in the timber during restoration in 1936, and decided that their work would be preserved. Fascinating!
The Dutchman and Kurbits champion painter Klas Hanspers (1929-2013) painted the world famous "Old Age Staircase" painting. “Krusning” is the simplified form of the “kurbits” style of painting, often seen in Dalarna.
Morakullan Julia Carlsson-Horta (1876-) was married to Victor Horta, an internationally known art nouveau architect from Belgium. She was the model for Anders Zorn's painting "Skating Princess". Julia was trained as a physiotherapist and also worked as a war correspondent in Belgium during the Second World War. She made hundreds of presentations in Norway and Sweden about the war. Because her war stories described the horrible war in such detail, Hitler’s henchmen tried in vain to catch her.
A delicious lunch was served at Fryksås Gestgiveri in Orsa, located at the northern tip of Lake Siljan. If there had been time, we would have walked around the Fäbodar (simple chalets) that are part of Fryksås Gestgiveri and are still in use today. In years past, young girls would walk up the mountain with their animals for summer mountain grazing. She would care for her animals, milk them, and make butter & cheese. She walked along her grazing animals, always carrying a basket with knitting yarn, and knitted. With the animals out-of-the-way in the mountains the farmers could use their fields for growing crops etc. It’s a shame that the rain stopped us from exploring the area further! My dear friend Kerstin Brorson wrote the book in 1983 “ Sing the Cows Home: A field study of the Swedish Fäbod”. The Fäbodkullorna used an ancient form of “kulning” (herding call) to communicate with another.
We continued our trip south along Kopparleden (copper road) to our next planned visit to Våmhus Gammelgård built on the shore of lake Lintjär. We were first invited to view a slide show by Anders Hander “Hårkullan & Korgmakaren” (female-hair-artist work and special basket making technique by men). The open areas between buildings were carefully landscaped, walkways leading us to all the exhibits and crafting area. We watched teenage girls making jewelry with regular human hair, producing beautiful and functional products. They would weave, knot and tie hair into a special design. When the model was finished, it was boiled in water to make it more stable/firm. You could donate your own hair if you wanted to have something made, be it a necklace, broche, earrings or bracelets. This was a unique way for women to create something very special. The young men showed us how to detach thin slices of pine, one slice of another. When a certain width and thickness was reached, he would weave the slices into useful sturdy baskets. This was a wonderful visit for me, as I sew, embroider, knit and crochet, and love to create items with my hands. Between 1860 and 1880, the Morakullor (girls from Mora) began to travel far and wide with their wares, i.e. jewelry made with hair. Large population growth forced many from poor villages to allow seasonal work outside the villages as well. Dalkullor were employed at Skansen (open-air-museum in Stockholm) as early as 1896. Martis Karin Ersdotter (1829-1902) was born in Våmhus. She is an internationally known hairstylist and craftswoman of hair jewelry. Queen Victoria became one of her many customers. Martis wrote on her business card “Supplier to Queen Victoria”, implying that her work was good enough for the queen. Martis was great grandmother of Erik Wickman. Erik Wickman (born Wretman1887-1953) Erik immigrated to Hibbing; MN in 1905 and changed his name to Wickman. He worked in a mine and began to shuttle co- workers from his hometown to the mine. In 1914, he opened his first bus line, “Hibbing & Alice”, the precursor of the Greyhound Bus Company. Erik also paid for the renovation of Våmhus Church. Stora Stöten (big shock) is what the open pit is called, which created the biggest landslide in the history of Falu Koppar Gruva (Falu Copper Mine), occurring on Midsummer's Day 1687. Previous days the miners reacted to the fact that the rock had started to make strange and horrifying noises. Above ground, there were working in two large open pits. The walls between them suddenly collapsed. Underground, a mass of rock was found as deep as 350 meters underground. The big shock, with a circumference of 1.6 km and a depth of 95 meters, was revealed only afterwards. Words of the incidents reached many, not because of the collapsing walls but because not a single miner lost his life. They had time off for Midsummer Day.
During the 17th century, the miners worked 67meters underground, in darkness, keeping a lit peace of this wood between their teeth in order to see. Chunks of copper ore were put to in baskets that were to be hauled up to the surface. For this they needed strong ropes. Hundreds of oxen were slaughtered, their skin cleaned, sliced then twisted into long ropes. 200 oxen hides were needed to create 125 meter long ropes. Copper was used in making, cannons, bullets and coins. Next came “what to do with all that meat”? The early creation was sausage making! Animal intestines were cleaned; meat was chopped, salted and filled the intestines; sausages were then smoked; easily stored in dried conditions. Already in 1930s the sausage was called Falu Korv.
The last coffee stop was planned at Fridolin's Lustgård near Krylbo. The poet Karl Erik Karlfeldt (1864-1931) lived and worked there. He was the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1931. We enjoyed coffee and yummy coffee bread and looked into his studio where he wrote his poetry.
We returned to Upplands Väsby according to the program around 19.30 after a fantastic trip around Dalarna. A big THANK YOU to Högbergs Buss company, guide Susanne and driver Rolf for a most enjoyable trip in and around the county of Dalarna.
Ingrid & Carl "Calle" Englund
The Pros and Cons of Living in Sweden
By Karen Roldan
Dec 23, 2022
Are you considering moving to Sweden? This Scandinavian country is a popular destination for expats, but it’s not always easy to decide if it’s the right choice for you. In this blog post, we will take a look at the pros and cons of living in Sweden. Whether you’re thinking about making the move or just curious about what it’s like, read on to find out more!
EXCURSION TO NYNÄSHAMN
A bus trip to Nynäshamn with lunch served at Kroken restaurant and a boat ride on lovely M/S Flora around the archipelago and through Dragnets channel.
THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL SEA VOYAGE
Act 2: PREPARATIONS IN SWEDEN
Act 3: Documents for Calle
Act 4: The Move
Act 5: Living is Sweden
Act 6: Calle wanted to live with his wife
Act 7: Life is full of adventures
Act 8: Money and Taxes
Act 9: Nordic Happiness
Newsletter December 2020
Vikings December 2020
Newsletter November 2020
Newsletter #4 October 2020
Newsletter #3 August 12, 2020
Newsletter #2 July 23, 2020
Newsletter #1 June 21, 2020