Saturday, June 18, 2011


The birds have come back from their long vacation to the south in search of a warm clime amid the winter coldness. They've come once again to frolic in the warm spring and summer sunshine.

Here in Umeå, nature reserves for bird-watchers abound throughout the city. Some ornithologists and bird enthusiasts visit such sites to check on the different kinds of birds and, of course, take pictures. Since I'm also a bird lover, I, along with my hubby, sometimes take a short trip to some of such nature reserves. At times, even though we may not be able to spot the most sought-after birds because we don't stay long enough to wait for them to appear, at least the beauty and serenity of the area are pleasurable to the soul that finds its kinship with nature.

Here are three of the protected areas for birds within the city that we have looked around.

Several kinds of birds can also be found in the open fields. Sometimes, flocks of birds, like the gulls, cover a wide tract of field while foraging for foods. 

We spotted these birds along the way while driving around the countryside.

Here's also a couple of swans that we have seen while passing by this lake.

Looking at these birds always fortifies my conviction that we are very precious in God's eyes and that he will never fail to provide for our material needs as long as we put him first in our lives. Certainly, we are well-taken care of!

"Observe intently the birds of heaven, because they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses; still YOUR heavenly Father feeds them. Are YOU not worth more than they are?" 
- Matthew 6:26

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wanderlust On The Go

The "itch in our feet" has been working again this year since the start of spring. Which means that days are here again to get moving around to explore places and witness firsthand how spring is coming along in different corners of the country.

Some days, after completing our jobs and accomplishing our other important responsibilities, my hubby and I would feel the need to relax and drive somewhere, to nature, or to different towns or cities. Yes, we deserve to travel around after working hard. And our travels need not be expensive. The only things we need are our car and enough gas, and packed lunch, mostly sandwich or something to grill.

The towns and cities are so far apart, but it would only take a short time to travel because of the good highway/road condition here. So we usually stay in a town/city for only a few hours before going back home. We can also enjoy sightseeing while traveling in the night since sunlight prevails all night long.

I want to start this travel journal from April 20, 2011. Off we went to a city in the north of Umeå, called Skellepteå. Like what the people here say, seasons come later in the north. So we were not surprised to see that the trees and bushes were still bare, though some were budding out. Just the usual evergreens freshened up the otherwise dull scenery.

The lakes along the highway to the north were still semi-frozen.

We just looked around the city, stopped by this famous hotel, went inside to see and admire the charming interior of the building.

At this time, there was not much to see, but at least, the little that we saw was good enough to get us relaxed and to satisfy our wanderlust.

After some days, our feet took us to Vindeln, a small community in the northeast of Umeå. This place is popular for its downhill skiing in winter and its river with powerful rapids. Here, we grilled the sausages that we brought and ate them while breathing in the fresh spring air and listening to the merry chanting of the river that blended with the chirping of the birds.

On April 29, we headed to the south, with Strängnäs as our main destination. It's about 653 km from Umeå. To get there, we had to pass by several towns and cities. We took this Swedish coastal highway E4 with majestic views of the mountains and the sea.

Unlike in the north, the trees here had been crowned with fresh yellow-green leaves. We passed by several little towns, villages and vast forests and green fields. As usual, my camera kept on clicking as I spotted some scenery that really stunned me. And sure, I accumulated heaps of drive-by pictures, most of which are a bit blurry.

We passed by this small town Hudiksvall, drove around a few minutes to see the structure of the town. It's also a cute place like the other little towns.

When we reached Gävle, we veered from the coastal highway, drove westward to the inland and kept moving on to the south. 

We finally got to our destination, Strängnäs, where we had to stay for three days, from April 29 to May 1. It's also a little town packed with interesting sights.

The town is also bedecked with this windmill standing on a hill
overlooking the small harbor.

We attended a Christian gathering in this assembly hall/arena with our spiritual brothers and sisters coming from different places in the south of Sweden, and from the other places in the north for the English-speaking section.

After the session on Saturday, April 30, we visited the Gripsholmslott, a castle in a municipality within Strängnäs community, called Mariefred. This is the first castle I've ever seen in my life, the magnitude of which stunned me.

On Sunday afternoon, we set out on our journey back to the north. Since the trip would take about 7 hours to Umeå, we decided to stop by Sundsvall and spend the night there. We were tempted to drive straight to Stockholm since it would only take an hour  to get there, but we opted on putting off our journey there some time when we have more days to spend so that we can really SEE the whole city and absorb its richness and beauty.

Once out of the town center, traffic halted for some minutes as a swing bridge was in the process of pivoting to let a sailboat pass through. All vehicles stopped and watched the event.

On our way to Sundsvall, we stopped off at a restaurant along the highway and had a light dinner. There's a dining area in the second floor which was designed like a Viking ship.

After dinner, we moved on again, passing through forests and fields, taking lots of pictures of the sky and the ever-changing cloud formations, and the sunset that never really sank even at past 8 p.m.

At last, we reached Sundsvall, which was then so quiet since it was already in the dead of night.

We got up early in the morning, took our breakfast, then started out on our journey again. This time, instead of following the coastal highway from Sundsvall, we took the inland route to Sollefteå, where we found this immense waterfalls called Västanåfallet.

Here are some views that I photographed while driving around Sollefteå.

West of Sollefteå lies the Österåsens Hälsohem, a health resort, where the magnificent nature with stunning views of the river valley gives one who stays there a soothing silence with refreshingly clean air. We took a few minutes to stroll around the trails behind the buildings, and watched the lovely scenery down the valley.

After being "intoxicated" by these marvelous sights around the area, we proceeded to our journey home.

We turned back toward the east and passed along Örnsköldsvik, a cute little town/city which I've visited several times. On our way to the center, we stopped by this ostrich farm, with many ostriches coming to meet us.

We arrived at the city center, and from there, we traveled straight home.

Despite the vast distance of our travels, the journey was far from tiresome. It was actually delightful, relaxing and educational. The beauty of spring in these places is simply awesome. It was just a short journey but the extent of enjoyment lies not only in the destination but also en route to the destination. Just like in life's journey, we can find happiness along the way while reaching for our goals.

At least this time, I've been to the south, the farthest I've traveled here so far. What remain to be seen are the northern and the southern tips of the country as well as the western parts, which I'm hoping to reach in the future.

Once again, I'm thankful that I have this opportunity to enjoy life in a way that I want it to be; thankful to my husband that he too loves to travel and drive around; and most of all, thankful to God that he gave all these gifts that make life a joy to spend.