Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Glimpse of Sweden's Largest Lake

We spent the Midsummer day  (June 23)  on the road.  From Dalarna, we moved forward on our journey, heading southwest. Our target destination was Lysekil, a cape city located along the fringes of Sweden's west coast. To get there, we had to pass through many towns and cities, forests and lakes. One of these lakes is Vänern, the largest lake in the country.

We were supposed to set up tent in a camping site here, but since we still had ample time to get to Lysekil and the camping site we found here didn't really suit us, being too commercialized and modernized and lacking the "feel" of nature, we opted to go camping in Lysekil.

And so we just stepped along the shoreline of the lake, breathed in its vastness and serenity, felt the coldness of its water, and took a few pictures. The lake is so big that we could not see the other end. It actually looked like a sea.

After satisfying my curiosity and desire to come in touch with the country's largest lake, we kept going westward to the sea. And I took this one last shot of the lake.

Lysekil is a stunning place which is completely different from any other places in Sweden.

(to be continued in my next blog)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Midsummer Night's Tale

It's not a dream. Doesn't even have anything to do with Shakespeare's play. It's my reality, my own simple adventure.

It happened on the eve of Midsummer, June 22, 2012. Midsummer this year was June 23. We were going to Silkeborg, Denmark to attend an English district convention for the whole Scandinavia. It would take a distance of about 1,300 km to travel one way from our place to our destination.  The occasion was set for June 28-30, but we started out early so we could visit other places in the southwestern part of Sweden. We had planned to spend the nights in different camping sites.

Our first stop-over was Ludvika, Dalarna, the birthplace of my hubby. He wanted to show me where he came from. So this was a time travel, back to their old house in a forsaken little village, where happy childhood memories resurfaced along with the unpleasant ones.

After traveling for a whole day, we needed to stop somewhere to sleep. We checked on some camping grounds, but unfortunately, the receptions were closed due to the midsummer eve's celebration. The sites  were full of trailers and camper cars where people chose to spend some of their summer days.

Where should we stay? Midnight would come soon. We scouted around, tucking away the thought of staying in a camping site. Somewhere along the lake in Dalarna, we saw a homecar/camper parked in an open ground, and we decided to put up our new pop-up tent nearby. It turned out that our camping neighbor was a German family.

It was already past 10:00 p.m. when we prepared our dinner. The sun remained suspended in the horizon.  The place was so quiet with only the sounds of ducks and our neighbors interrupting the silence. I was bathing my soul with the serenity of the lake when noises of playing children from the house across the lake reverberated in the air. And then I saw the smoke from a bonfire. They were celebrating the midsummer's eve!


When I studied Shakespeare in college, the play A Midsummer Night's Dream was one of his comedies that we were required to read. Although I had loved the story, I didn't really understand the significance of midsummer at that time. It was only when I moved to Sweden that I got a real picture of the renowned midsummer celebration. And it's a big thing in this part of Europe. (You can read more about this holiday HERE. You may scroll down to Sweden.)

We retired to our tent around midnight and slept in the stillness and brightness of the midsummer night.

Midsummer day came with the sun. The wildflowers and the meadows all over cheerfully greeted us good morning.

After packing our camping paraphernalia, we went about for a short tour. We passed through this "time portal", under a short railway bridge to visit my hubby's old village, which seemed to be forgotten by time. I was so immersed in his nostalgic stories as he showed me some memorable spots that I forgot to take any pictures of the place.

Jaunt over, we stepped back to reality and moved on to our next destination: a section of the northern shorelines of Vänern, Sweden's largest lake.

Follow me to my exciting journeys in my future blogs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Day in Copenhagen

(Part two of our May vacation in the south)

It's been part of our plan to cross over the bridge from Malmö to Copenhagen and have a brief tour around Denmark's capital city. Anyway, it's just about 30 minutes ride by train, so it afforded us the opportunity to maximize this vacation.  But we were not sure which day we would go there on account of the erratic weather, though Saturday was the best choice.

It was showering that Saturday morning when I woke up, but my hubby and his brother decided to push ahead with the plan. And off we went. The thought of riding a train that would pass through that bridge that had awed me made me so excited. And I did feel like a little girl on her first train ride to another country.

Copenhagen is a big city with many tourist attractions, as we discovered after thorough googling , which we usually do whenever we travel to other places. But since we only had about eight hours to spare there, we picked only a few that interested us most.

We arrived at the railway station before noon. As a first-timer to this station of a renowned capital city, I was fascinated by the imposing edifice of the whole terminal.

First in our must-see list is the Botanical Gardens, which host a large collection of flora from different countries.  The medley of colorful flowers accentuated the joyful ambience of the gardens.  There's also a huge glasshouse containing plants from the tropics.

Next was a castle standing just across the road. Its immense size and the surrounding vegetation stunned me.

Sight-seeing in the city center is also a must. We strolled along the cobblestone squares and streets lined with various shops and outdoor restaurants. I kept looking up at the buildings with designs typical in this country, and my camera went clicking the whole time.

In some street corners, there stood or sat statue-like people wearing attention-catching costumes. They remained still like real statues, and only moved - smiled or handed a rose - when one dropped coins in their receptacles. There were also musicians who sang beautifully and played soulful music with their musical instruments.

One of the most frequented places in the city is Nyhavn, a 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen, and is lined by brightly-colored 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants. All the cafes and restaurants were packed with people when we strolled along the canal. This area is also associated with beer-drinking, as people customarily drink beer here.   

Our last stop-by was the Tivoli, a popular amusement park similar to Disneyland, though a bit smaller. It's a place for young people and the forever young-at-heart, like me. I was dying to ride the most thrilling ones but my companions had no desire to ride at all, and it would look awkward if I'd be screaming by myself. So I just ambled along, feasted my eyes on the surrounding beauty and kept  my camera shutter busy.

Our day in Copenhagen ended with a train ride back to Malmö. Again, it was a day filled with memories of fun and beauty, a day of sheer relaxation.

...a day for which to be thankful to the Provider of such everyday gifts.

"I have come to know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during one’s life; and also that every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work. It is the gift of God."
- King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 3:12,13)