Thurs 12th May 2016. Stockholm to Ostersund and Trangsviken
Excellent hotel breakfast – those home-baked breads smell divine, and the eggs are the deepest gold colour (wrote our first note "buy eggcups for camper truck!"). Lovely 14° weather with blue sky, but water out of tap too cold to clean teeth!
Carola and Anders good friends of our soon-to-be Swedish hosts Eskil and Julia, picked us up in their motorhome for our biometrics appointment with Migrationsverket, very quick in and out to have photo and fingerprints taken for our Swedish Residence Permit (which will take ten days and be posted c/- J&E).
Carola is a travel journalist, Anders was in technical sales, semi retired, he does up beautiful old vehicles and hires them out for movies. They took us to Koppartalten Royal Haga Park, Solna castle to see ancient Sultan's Copper Tents, originally three buildings for the palace guard, designed by painter Desprez and built 1790. The illusion of a sultan's encampment on the edge of the forest comes from facades of three Turkish tents, clad in decoratively painted copper plate, built facing the main lawns. The park was magnificent with huge trees, school children having picnic on the green green grass.
We had an early lunch of feta pie and Swedish sandwich, ignoring the pleas of the duck wandering underneath tables. Shared a traditional "Nigger Ball" sweet (now called “chocolate ball day”) - heard about other national food days such as “cinnamon bun day”. Spotted tiny squirrel in trees. The pretty small white flowers in trees are hagberry, which only flower briefly. Lilacs are due soon.
We enjoyed chatting on a wide range of topics. Carola said she was glad we weren't staying in Stockholm for weekend as Sweden was not exempt from terrorism threats to disrupt Eurovision this Saturday night. News reports growing fear of "excessive" numbers of asylum seekers in Sweden (population was 9m 1yr ago now 10m due to refugees). Swedes can pay up to 75% tax, accepting cost of national infrastructure and retirement welfare system; but many are concerned they are a small attractive country to economic refugees and thus vulnerable (with large numbers of refugees on welfare, will they rapidly deplete the retirees nest egg?). Saw beggars in streets mostly women in bright clothing, each fiercely guarding own "territory", some Somalian, some from Eastern Europe Romanies/ gypsies, ironically sitting on blue plastic bags from Ikea, filled with their few possessions. Carola was interested in our itinerary and said she will forward links to stellplatz and must-see places. Said campers are reporting free camping is now riskier in some places eg near refugee camps. Showed us her online travel journal articles and took photos for article on our travels! May be lucky enough to meet up again when they travel to Europe in July.
Said goodbye at airport, with plenty of time we were able to walk all the terminals to book our excess luggage for the leg next week from Stockholm to Munich with Air Berlin; take excess baggage and store in lockers for the week; book in electronically with Scandinavian airlines for flight to Ostersund (such a relief not to have to lug the vehicle spare parts around any further than need be!) Goof flight with SAS, Eskil met us at airport in his arctic sweater which suited the 8° and rainy weather. We loved that the red houses and barns immediately felt familiar! Stopped at 4 different towns on way to Trangsviken searching for special Pea Soup only made in Trangsviken (it become so popular so fast that the new co-owners haven't kept pace with demand). Eskil compromised on a pea base, we purchased a box of mixed Australian wines (shopkeeper said he bought for his wedding over 20 years ago and each of 4 times he'd renewed his vows he drank it!) Turned towards the lake, driving into Trangsviken, pulling up in front of Romeo and Juliet's neatly-painted grey 2-story house (plus basement). Eskil and Julia could not be dissuaded from giving up their bedroom for us, choosing to sleep in their motorhome in the yard for the week of our stay (guilt, guilt).
Met son Magnus, partner Nina and son Irvin who live in self-contained 'apartment' on second floor of house (J&E lived there for most of their married life, with his parents downstairs) Magnus's son Sigge, also 4yrs will join the family on Monday. Were given an aperitif of bitter tasting "medicine" to cure all that ails us, including jet lag. Enjoyed Eskil’s wonderful traditional Swedish 'Tuesday meal' of pea and ham soup, followed by pancakes with cloudberries (only grown in region’s snow covered mountains) Flattered to see our gift of eucalyptus leaves trivet and coasters on the table in glass-walled conservatory on back of house. As evening encroached, bizarrely became sunnier and quite warm. GirlRob sneezing - Julia says it may be the Spring pollens, everything is budding/ flowering. Drank warmed 'punsch' 26% alcohol, first produced in Royal Cellars of Stockholm. Julia was saddened at declining community interest in entrepreneurial school she had worked to develop for the latter part of her teaching career. We asked how they had met Carola? Apparently Eskil criticised her company's plan to take a convoy of motorhomes to Lofutans in Norway (too expensive for camper trucks; missing "awfully pretty" roads) - he was rewarded by being asked to redo the itinerary and lead the group of 15 or so vehicles!! We staggered to bed, making room dark with roller plus the venetian blind, happy to at last have shaken off the stress of the renovation rush to the finish line....