Friday, April 13, 2007

The world of silence

Sunday, 24 Sep. 2006 Rattvik

The train from Mora arrived at Rattvik. The weather had changed, the sky was all gray. I was going to go back to the hostel straight but maybe it was too early, so I decided to walk to the lake again just to kill some time.

The lake was dead calm. Absolutely dead. There was not a single ripple on the surface. The world looked like all black and white. I even didn’t see the border between the lake and sky. What is going on?

I have seen this kind of mirror lakes before, but those lakes were quite small. This one is not. The circumference of the lake is about 140 km. It was amazing that this large lake was perfectly still. This is the world of silence. I felt like I was in another world. Maybe this is the sign that the lake is calling me to make me come back here.

The dead silence lasted for 15 minutes or so. The surface began to ruffle again, then the lake got back to normal with regular ripples. Maybe that was just the time of lull. Though, I would never forget that silence.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nils's Path

Sunday, 24 Sep. Mora

Ok, Nobody’s there, and all the shops were closed. What shall I do? My friend recommended me to visit Anders Zorn’s museum. I didn’t know about his works at all, but he is actually a very noted Swedish painter who was born in Dalarna. I have heard that many artists love to live in Dalarna. Maybe this place inspires something. I would see. Many of my favorite bands also come from Dalarna such as The Hives, Atomic Swing, Mando Diao, etc. Well maybe they might have been bored here and they didn’t find anything exciting except playing. Anyway, this area dedicates to Swedish arts a lot.

So what shall I do now? I could have visited the museum, but because the weather was so nice so I didn’t really wanted to go into a house. I preferred to be outside. I just wandered around and happened to find a very pretty path along the river.

Wow, it is so pretty. I would not be surprised if I would see little boy Nils flying on Duck’s back. A Swedish juvenile called Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige was animated in Japan and it was very popular.

That was a real pleasant walk. I was just wondering where were all the people in Mora on such a great day. I didn’t see anybody on the path. No one.

I missed the museum. It was closed when I got back. Well, It was OK because I had a great time on the path. I walked in a picturesque scenery but the beautiful day was not over yet.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mora on Sunday

Sunday, 24 Sep. Rattvik - Mora

Weather forecast had said that it was going to be gray sky. Yes it was, when I looked up the sky through the window in the morning. But it was getting better and better while I took a walk to the little white church by the lake. I was planning to go to Mora by bus. While walking, I saw a white horse grazing in the meadow with a red wooden barn. That scenery was very Swedish to my eyes.

Have you heard of Princess Cake? It is called prinsessbakelse in Swedish. It is a typical Swedish cake covered with green marzipan, whipped cream, jam and almond paste inside. It would be one of the reasons for the large amount of consumption of almond in Sweden. Cake covered by marzipan sounds and actually looks pretty sweet, but less sweet than I thought. I was very interested in this cake so I was not able to stop trying every time I found this. Each bakery had different taste of course. While waiting for the bus to Mora, I dropped in a bakery near the station and had a piece of princess cake again. I had some in Stockholm too but this one had better taste and much cheaper. This is very Swedish photo for me too.

Maybe taking a train would be much much faster and it would cost less, but I wanted to go there by bus to see smaller villages on the way. It was right choice. The local bus went through white birch woods stopping at several villages, so I was able to see a bit of every life there. I like going slow. This kind of stuff is my joy of travel.

After an hour, I arrived at Mora. Mora is rather big town compared to other villages in this region, well, it is still small and quiet, though. The bus driver slightly smiled at me and said ‘welcome to Mora’.

I walked down the small main street. There were only few people in town and most of shops were closed. Of course, it was Sunday. There was a camp site and a small canal in town also. Next to the camp site, there was craft shop district. All the shops were closed again. Mmm, nothing to do actually, but just walk around this pretty quiet town was relaxing. I happened to find a nice little path along the river, so I went.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Out to Dalarna

Saturday, 23 Sep. 2006 Rattvik

Out to Dalarna for a couple of days. I had a thought that Dalarna would be the most ‘Swedish’ place. I mean my images of Sweden seemed to come from Dalarna such as Dalahest, mid-summer festival, reddish wooden houses in the woods of white birch trees, something like those, although my friend pointed out that Swedish and Dalarna-ish wouldn’t be the same. Maybe. Anyway I love to go to country side. I decided to stay in Rattvik because it is located between Mora and Leksad, which are most popular place in Dalarna region. I wanted to stay around Lake Siljan.

I took the bus to Rattvik from Stockholm. As soon as I got out of the city of Stockholm, I just saw plains and little ponds for about 4 hours. That was I had expected maybe boring but peaceful scenery.

The bus arrived at Rettvik 4 hours after. In front of the train station, there was big Dalahest. There it is. Now I am in Dalarna. Rattvik looked very small pretty town and I didn’t see people around. It was so quiet.

The station was on the lakeshore. Right back of the station, there was a long wooden pier toward the lake whose length was about 6650 meters. It is connected to the man-made small island in the lake. Several white birch trees were planted on that island. You can see beautiful sunset from the bridge.

It was already in the evening, so all I would do for the day was just going to YH. Rattvik would be popular tourist town in summer, but the this time of the year, I really didn’t see any tourists. My friend was right. Rattvik YH is located in the park near town center. It looked like a old school from outside, but it was pretty modern and well-equipped inside. I got a whole dormitory room all for myself. I just saw a couple of elderly people in YH.. The tourists’ season was certainly over.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Drottningholms Slott

Friday, 22 Sep. Drottningholms Slott

My friend took me out for Drottning Slott where is the residence of the Royal family. It was like a mid summer day. The sun shined strong and the sky was so blue. The castle was located by Lake Mälaren out of the city center. It was called castle, but for me it looked like a mansion rather than a castle. It had a simpler structure to call it ‘castle’, which was actually nice.

I got a sore throat so I bought an ice cream at a kiosk. Don’t you need ice cream when you get a cold? I do. I was just looking at the sky and the lake while eating absent-minded. It was, let’s say, there was nothing special in sight, but it was special for my eyes. The color of the sky, the lake and the trees were vibrant. I can never get tired of looking at, I thought. I can spend for a couple of hours just sitting here doing nothing. All I could say was beautiful, beautiful, so beautiful. My friend smiled a bit. Is it funny? Yes, this might be just normal scenery for you, nothing special…but
‘well, yeah. it is nothing special’ my friend goes.
Nothing special? Do you mean it? This is the view that the King sees every day! Of course it is special!

There were few people around. It was already late afternoon on weekday. We wondered around the site and came to a lawn garden. The lawn was well trimmed (of course!), velvety, looked very fluffy. We didn’t see anybody else. It was all ours. I felt like screaming and rolling around on the grass like a kid. It should be fun. But I am a grown-up, so I controlled myself. Grown up sucks. I just fall down on the grass for a while. I wish I could have taken a nap for a couple of hours at least. But unfortunately it was too late to take a nap. My cold might get worth. I envy the King. Your highness are living in such a nice place. Really.

40 years love story

Thursday, 21 Sep. Stockholm

I visited my Mom’s friends. They are married couple in their 60s and both Japanese. The husband worked for Swedish Post for 40 years and now he is retired. The wife was my mom’s classmate from jr. high school. They met first time in their early 20’s when the husband went back home from Sweden for a vacation. The wife had got already engaged to another man at that time. He went back to Sweden soon. She married her fiancĂ© and had a kid. Several years past, she got divorced. He met her every time he got back to Japan, then they started their long distance relationships between Japan and Sweden. It was like 30 or more years ago. There was no Internet, and overseas travel was not so popular like nowadays. It sounds quite tough. Especially, going to Sweden from Japan was quite rare. She was not able to move to Sweden because of her family and her own shop, and he did not try to move back to Japan. They were on and off, sometimes they didn’t get in touch for several years, they had a big fight a couple of times, but 3 years ago, finally they got married and she moved to Sweden. She was already in her 60s and had never lived abroad. The only language she speaks was Japanese.

How romantic that they kept their relationships over 40 years in that tough situation, I thought. It is so sweet they got together at last. The interesting thing is their personalities are totally opposite. The husband is quiet, intelligent, and sophisticated kind of guy, and the wife is chatty, loud, rough kind of person. I have no intention of speaking ill of her. She is kind, happy person and I like her a lot, but objectively she is that sort of person. During my stay of 2 days, they yelled at each other sometimes, but I saw they needed each other and cared of each other so much. That was clear. 40 years romance is alive. Well, of course. They are still newlyweds.

‘Well, what a fate’ She goes.
‘He had owned a dog which had had the same name of mine before I first met him. So we were fated I guess’

The wife had a small diner in Japan so she is a good cook. She fed me lots of good stuff and also the husband made me excellent pasta. Twice a week, they go to a fresh market with a backpack. It takes about over one hour by bus, but they need lots of veggies. They eat 9 kinds of veggies for breakfast every single morning.

The wife took me out to the lake nearby.
‘I don’t like living in Sweden. It is too cold for me, food is no good, and winter is too dark…’
She murmured a couple of times while I was there. Though, when we were walking through the forest, she told me earnestly;
‘The forest is not vivid right now, because it hasn’t been raining. It is so dry. But in spring, maybe in early May, the trees are so beautiful. It is so green. They become so alive suddenly after long cold winter, and it blows me away. She enjoys her life here certainly. I would like to see that beautiful season too.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Swedish Thursday Lunch

Thursday, 21 Sep. Stockholm

I went back to Stockholm from Tallinn by ferry. This time I cruised with Tallink. Not many people were on the boat. Still they had a midnight show on the boat, so I went to see. They had Estonian Dance Show at the lounge. About twenty boys and girls danced with 80’s pops. They all were wearing pretty flashy costume and full of smiles, and the choreography looked old-fashioned. Yes, of course, it was 80’s pops dance show. I felt like going back to 20 years ago really.

Then I met my friend for lunch in the center of Stockholm. We went to a cafeteria in the Stockholm cultural center which was located by the center square. So we got a good view of the square and a tall glass-made monument through the glass window. They had a selection of daily specials for lunch. My friend told me that Pea soup and pancakes were standard lunch for Thursday. How come?
‘I don’t really know why. Anyway, they don’t have to think about the menu on Thursday. So it would be good for them’ my friend goes.
Right. So I should try that standard.

It might look so sweet, but actually it was not really. The cream was less sweet so it went good with some jam. Many of the guests were eating this menu indeed. It looked kind of cute to see many middle aged guys were happily eating pancakes with plenty of cream and jam.

I was planning to stay in Sweden for 10 days. I had not planned where I would go before I started this travel. I just made up the plan while staying in Tallinn. I had plenty of time to think about it. I decided to visit Dalarna for 3 days, and Oland for 2 days. Other days, I would visit a couple of towns for a day trip from Stockholm. It was already late September, but still temperature was quite high and weather was also good. It was like summer, even it was supposed to be off season in Sweden.

‘You would be the only traveler if you go to the other area in Sweden’ my friend said.
Really? Youth Hostels in Stockholm are pretty much packed now, and the weather is still so nice. I have seen so many travelers everywhere in Europe even if it was off season. Traveler never stop traveling, so I don’t think so.

My friend was right. People don’t travel in off season in Sweden, regardless the weather. I was almost only traveler outside Stockholm.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Tallinn Signs Gallery

19 Sep. 2006 Tallinn

There were so many pretty signs all over the old city.