Back to my roots
30.09.2015 - 06.10.2015 16 °C
Day 18. Continued
Stockholm. We took the airport bus to the bus station. The 40ish male driver was listening to the radio quite loudly and singing, just as loud, to songs like Eleanor Rigby and Satisfaction. It was quite entertaining and nice to see someone enjoy his job so much.
A cab ride from the bus station to our hotel, and again the cab driver was very happy friendly and helpful.
I booked Hotel Esplanade on Expedia and got a terrific deal so wasn't sure how it would out. We are thrilled with the choice. It is located across the street from the water and it is an old building that has been recently renovated to its original charm. The two women on staff greeted us with open arms and because we prepaid it was the fastest checkin ever. Our room has rounded walls, high ceilings and crown mouldings. Beautiful.
We had a sleep for a couple hours and then went out to explore. The buildings are gorgeous, I love the architecture. Close to our hotel we explored an area like Robson St. Gucci, Prada and all the high end expensive stores. For dinner we popped into a little Mexican restaurant and it was very good.
Everyone once again is so dam good looking! Tall blond and thin. Well dressed too, great clothes and quite often white running shoes for walking around outside.
Bike lanes are wide and prevalent. Lots of people riding bikes, all well dressed and most talking on phones through their earbuds. People walking the street all seem to be talking on the phone into earbuds as well.
The weather is a lot warmer, I actually didn't need much more than a light sweater.
Displays in store windows are fabulous, so artistic. The designs are wonderful and quite unique, very clean lines.
This is our hotel:
A fabulous breakfast included with our room was enjoyed before heading out to walk to the Royal Opera House. I had read about a good overview tour that was at 10AM and we finally found it just in time. There was another couple about our age from Germany looking for the same tour so we worked together.
A one and a half our bus tour with earbud comments on a double decker bus. This was different from the hop on hop off, ( which had bad reviews here). I snagged the front seats on the top level for the best view and picture taking. It was an interesting tour and gave us a good idea of where things were. This was followed by a one hour boat trip with commentary, to see Stockholm from the water side.
One of the places we went through was Gamla Stan, an old medieval area of Stockholm, one of the best preserved in Europe. This is where Stockholm was founded in 1252. We decided to head back there after the tour.
The streets are narrow cobblestones, most are pedestrian only, and lined with many shops and restaurants. A lot of other tourists and locals are here, it is very popular and busy.
I looked at some clothes and was surprised how reasonably priced they are. Everyone is so well dressed because they can afford these amazing fashions. We find that Stockholm is not that expensive, certainly less than Norway and Iceland.
The architecture is fantastic. I just love these old buildings. We went in for lunch at one of them for a great Indian meal.
On the walk back we passed the royal palace, city hall and many other grand buildings.
Stockholm is made up of a bunch of little islands that are connected by many bridges. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have been in, right up there with Prague.
We walked and walked for hours. For dinner we just picked up a couple of things at a grocery market and brought them back to the room to eat.
Such a long busy day meant we had an early night.
Our day started off once again with an amazing breakfast. The staff, and everyone we meet in Stockholm, are so happy and friendly.
The day was a little windy but sunny and around 15 degrees, just needed a light sweater. We walked over a bridge not far from our hotel and visited the Vassa museum, the number one museum in Stockholm. We weren't really sure how a museum that is just all about a ship that sank could be so incredible but decided to check it out.
The story goes that Sweden really didn't have much experience in ship building, so brought in two guys from Holland to build it.. It was a 64 gun warship and looked magnificent, but it ended up that it sank on its maiden voyage right in the harbour and 50 people died.
It was salvaged on 1961 and is the most in tack ship of its kind. The museum was not just about the ship, but the politics and life of the times in Sweden and Europe.
The last picture is a copy of a painting of the original ship
Further down the road was an outdoor open museum, the first of its kind in Europe, Scansa. Buildings were moved from various parts of Sweden to show how life was in earlier times. They also have a zoo and petting zoo area but we did notgo to that part. It was quite interesting.
Back to the room for a while then off again for dinner, Thai food, and walking over a bridge to another island to visit the modern art museum. We were bagged at the end so took a cab back to the hotel and called it a night
After breakfast we gathered our bags and took a cab to the train station where we collected our rent a car. What kind of car company doesn't have a map? Seriously? We have our GPS but we also like to have an overview. I went around the train station to all the shops and around the area. No maps.
We set off using the GPS and did fine anyhow. We were getting a bit hungry so took a detour and ended up in the town of Orebo. It is a university town of around 140,000 and such a pleasant surprise. A beautiful little town that seemed to have more bicycles than cars and they seemed to have the right of way. Very few cars on the street in the downtown area, mostly people walking and on bikes. We parked the car and walked around for a bit and the first resteraunt we checked out has a great salad bar that we enjoyed.
Our destination tonight is Filipstad, another 45 minutes away and we checked into our hotel in this small town. We are the only guests here and have a large room on the second floor. We drove off to Nordmark, the next town, before it got dark to quickly check it out.
The reason we are here is because I have been doing some ancestry research and found that my dads grandmother was born and worked here before emigrating to Canada in 1896 . I am hoping to find graves, or better yet, living relatives or more information.
A trip to the grocery store on the way back to have a light dinner in the room.
We like to travel around a lot, as you notice, and the way I find I can manage that, checking in and out of hotels every night, is to have two bags. If we have a car I leave my big bag in the car overnight, and just put a couple days worth of clothes and essentials into my day pack and bring that in with me. It seems to work well for me.
Our hotel manager came and talked to us at breakfast, he is from Oslo, and been here around seven years. He finds the town very small and quite economically depressed, so the locals don't go out to restersunts for dinner much. The town is shrinking, people need to move to the city for work, and one of three family's need help from the community to raise their children. It is that way in a lot of the smaller communities in Sweden, and a lot of other countries as well really.
This used to be a huge mining area, hundreds of years ago. Nordmark, where my family is from, had a population of over 2,000 back in the 1800 s and now around 200 people.
There are two manufacturing plants nearby, one is Wasa, the crisp bread cracker, which has just been bought by an Italian company but still in production here. The other is shipbuilding, which was also sold, this one to Norway.
We passed a few Volvo plants, and we see many Volvos on the road.
Sweden is so beautiful, the fall colours are coming in, lots of farmland, lakes and meadows. It is quite flat, with rolling hills ( quite different from Norway), I can see why a lot of Swedes would feel comfortable moving to the prariesin Canada.
The weather here in winter gets down to minus 20 or so, but a dry cold with blue skies. No northern lights here however, maybe further north.
A few hours were spent walking around Filipstad, a beautiful little town on a river with parks and walking trails alongside. Sunday morning and the streets are almost deserted. I wonder if my great grandmother, who worked here as a maid, was employed at any of these large homes along the road.
Doug went into one of the only open resteraunts in town to get a kebab and was having difficulty ordering, as they did not speak English. A fellow came over to help and they soon started talking, he said he was in Victoria a few years ago visiting his cousin and he was from Nordmark. Doug came out to get me and we sat and talked to he, Ronald and his wife Alice for well over an hour.
I showed him my notes of dates and anmes of ancestors and he made a few phone calls for me. Dead end, but he will continue to look for me. We may even be related as one of his ancestors had the same last name as one of mine, Sjogren.
As soon as I saw him he reminded both of us of my Dad, Doug thought more so my uncle. He had this wonderful twinkle in his eyes when he told a joke, which my Dad did as well.
We said we had to head off to Nordmark, and he said to follow him, he would show us some things. He spent most of the afternoon with us and told us a lot of history and showed us buildings and sites from back in the 1700s. We never would have found these on our own.
Our first stop was a couple of old mine sites, in fantastic shape, obviously the towns people spend a lot of time and money keeping them in good repair.
Iron ore was mined in this area and employed a lot of people. Ronald told us to pick up this medium size rock and we found that it was much heavier than it looked, it was iron.
There were two young men at the mine site, packing up their car with backpacks with oxygen and water so as they could hike the mine shafts.
There was a little jail here too, which Ronald said his relatives and many others spent a night or two in for being drunk in years gone by.
A huge water wheel was the next stop, which would pump water out of the mine shafts, as they would constantly fill with water otherwise.
Nordmark's church and cemetery was our last stop. This is a Christian church now, as there are not many churchgoers they need to appeal to many. It is not open every Sunday, and it didn't look like there was a service today. Ronald and I walked the graveyard looking for the names of my fathers grandparents, but a lot of the older headstones were so worn you could not make out the names. There is also a chance that they were even buried in the backyard, as commonly done in the 1800s . There is a master list of the graves that a woman in Stockholm has and Ronald will try to get that for me.
We say our goodbyes, I am so very grateful for his information and company today, and hope to stay in touch.
Doug and I head east towards my Great Grandfathers area, which we will explore tomorrow. The landscape is breathtaking, reminding us of northern Ontario or Quebec in the Fall. So many lakes reflecting the yellows reds and orange trees. Most of the homes in this area are painted the gorgeous brick red colour.
We arrived at our hotel for the night, again the only guests, and we fall in love with this beautiful old home that has been converted into a hotel.
The second picture is of a Swedish fireplace, very efficient for heating the homes. A couple of hours of burning wood and then it would continue to hear for hours after. We saw similar ones in Russia, but I think that the Swedes invented it .
Our last day in Sweden. I could easily spend another week or two here, certainly a few more days in Stockholm.
During breakfast we talked to the manager and told him how much we loved his place. He has only been here for a couple of years but it is very busy most of the time. There are a lot of weddings in the Summer, and I can see why. The dining room and lounge are so charming and there is a path down to the lake with an arbour for vows. I could easily spend a while here, it is so peaceful with natural beauty. In the summer the lake is popular for swimming and boating.
We spent some time here this morning walking around and then headed out in the car again going east.
On the drive we came across this old iron ore plant. This original smelting location dates back to the 16th century, but these buildings are from the 1920s and production stopped here in the 1960's.
My great grandfather lived in the town of Stora Tuna for a number of years, and this is where his first two wife's ( sisters I think) died and may be in the Stora Tuna church cemetery. We were surprised to see how big it was. It looks like a lot of money in this church and everything was manicured perfectly by the caretakers. We saw a half a dozen workers just while we were there.
The grave yard is massive. The church dates back to the early 1700's and so do the graves. Finding one would take weeks, but there is a master map. Unfortunately the secretary was not in, and great grandpa ( Olof's) first two wife's are not my direct relatives anyhow, so it was okay. Again, most of the really old markers are almost impossible to read anyhow.
I much preferred the smaller one yesterday, it also had a much nicer feel to it. Ronald has emailed me a few times and still trying to find information for me. He may know which house they lived in...what a sweet man. I may have to come back when I am more prepared with family history data.
The afternoon was spent making our way back to Stockholm, stopping in a couple of little towns here and there to walk about a bit.
We are now in an area of many large farms again.
Our luggage was dropped off at the airport hotel and then we dropped off our rental car and took the airport shuttle back to the hotel for the night.
One of the smallest rooms I have ever seen, but the price and location was right for one night.
I am sad to leave Sweden, I really felt a strong connection here, but believe that I could be back one day.
The alarm went off at 4AM and shortly after we stumbled bleary eyed to the lobby for breakfast. The shuttle whisked us off to the airport at 5AM and we found the self check in for SAS. Bag drop involves putting your bag on the conveyor and scanning the airport bag tag, that you put on, and off they go. No agents are involved anymore.
We were at our gate at 530AM for our 715AM flight. Doug was not amused that I got us up so early, but you never know.
Self serve hotels and airlines. No wonder our young people are finding it hard to get work with all the jobs being taken over by automation. But with airfares being rock bottom and oil prices high, something has to give. It was the same in Paris at Air France.
I allowed us a 3 hour connection in Paris and it was barely enough time. What a huge airport!
Now onto our next adventure. France.