Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jul markets

The thing to do in Sweden in December is to go to Christmas markets. SWEA DC had its julbasaar at the Swedish Embassy last Saturday, and we spent the day at a few central, historic Christmas markets in Stockholm.

Andy in Central Stockholm, 11.15am.

Glögg (mulled/spiced hot wine) is a crucial component of any jul celebration.

Very cute traditional market in Stortorget (the Big Square) in Gamla Stan (Old Town)

Our fellow revelers, yo.

The tramride that took an hour to go 1 mile. As you may be able to tell, it was cold. Like between 0 and 5 Fahrenheit.


Now this is the kind of coat you need in Sweden.

The Christmas goat (the julbock) watching over the market at Skansen.
We even got to witness the crowning of "Sweden's Lucia". These seven girls (one is hidden) had been voted on by people around the country, and the winner is going to represent Sweden in Italy (where the story of Lucia originates). On the left you can see the Italian ambassador speaking to the crowd. My cousin's daughter sang in the choir you can see behind the Lucias. Very nice!

[This picture is actually from another night, when I found this statue in the snow, accompanied by beautiful carols played out into the cold evening on a trumpet.]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snow and stuff

So, we've actually been back for a while from the north. Here are some photos of what we have been doing and seeing.

Above is Stockholm in winter. You can see City Hall peeking up behind the trees. This was taken about a week ago, before the more copious snow we have gotten.

To the left is the Åhlens building, which is a Macy´s-like department store down town.

This is Sergels torg, a central hangout area in the shopping district of Stockholm. There's a little Christmas fair going on there, where you can buy wool sweaters and princess dresses (the latter, however, only if you are 3 feet tall or under).

At Thanksgiving, we had an awesome pot-luck dinner party, hosted by Expat-in-Stockholm and her lovely husband. There was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato mash, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and three delicious desserts! Yuuuuuuuum!

And we have gotten some of that northern weather with us down here. It has dumped snow. We have about a foot on the ground, and it has been snowing a bit every day. We are at a high of 10 degrees Fahrenheit today (-12 Celsius). We are told this is unusual for Stockholm, but as far as I can tell, rumors of the "not snowy" Stockholm winters are completely untrue and we have actually moved to the Arctic.

Which caused us to get ourselves early Christmas presents...

Cross country skis! (oh yes)

And we really lucked out when we got this apartment (through the equivalent of Craig's list). This photo shows me, about to ski into the woods, with our apartment building behind me. We can literally put on our ski boots and walk out the door to ski. No travel needed. So totally awesome! Now I just need to figure out this skiing thing...

Above is "Winter Road" - one of the forest roads that are purely for pedestrian/bike/ski traffic. Somehow, they are plowed, but not salted or graveled. Perfect.

The last day or so, we have also gotten beautiful rhyme covering our trees. Here's the view out of our living room!

And a 'night time' (most of the time) closeup.

I have to admit, it is hard to deal with the darkness. And it's been so cold over the past few days.

Naturally, we focus on the fika to stay warm and happy.

Happy first of advent!