The week before we left for Sweden I came down with a righteous sinus plague. The Saturday before our flight I went to the doctor to get loaded up with medicines to take along with me. I have been ignoring the cold and living my life, but today it caught up with me a little and so we took it kind of easy. I still have a lot of time left here and it's only going to get colder as we go further north. I'm committed to 16 hours of rest, starting tonight. This post will be more words than pics, but I'll make it up to you.
Today was very grey and a little ominous; the sky felt low and heavy like it would snow at any minute, but it never did. I had precipitation anticipation. Jimmy told me yesterday about some crazy historical stuff within minutes of the house, so today we got to go see some of it up close. It didn't make for great photos but it is always moving to see and touch things that were made more than a thousand years ago. A few minutes up the road from the house is a small hill. We got out of the car and scrambled up (I scrambled, Jimmy is 19 and jumped up) to see a large runestone and a small plaque. The runestone dates back to the Viking age, circa 1020-1050. According to some translation on the Wikipedia page, there are two snakes whose heads and tails are locked together, and runes on the stone say that it was erected by two sisters to honor their brother.
Further up the road we came across this. There should be more of these.
The hillsides in this area are dotted with many neat little country houses and horse farms. Every house is painted the same shade of red with white trim, and I made it my job to find out why all the red. It's a special paint they call "Falu red" that came from minerals in the copper mines. Most of Sweden's homes are wood and the color makes the wood look like brick. Up north a lot of homes are also yellow, and I always call them ketchup and mustard houses because I'm an ugly American. It looks wonderful in the snow and I would love to see it someday in the summer. Here is a nice example of the red.
Just a few minutes more up the road from the unicorn crossing is a big church, Österhaninge Kyrka. Jimmy told me over a beer in the pub yesterday about this church with a huge crooked spire. The legend is that the man who built it was so upset that it came out crooked that he hung himself in the tower. Even though it is crooked, it's still a very beautiful church. Today, though, it looked particularly spooky with the grey sky looming.
In the little churchyard cemetery there are some lovely gravestones, and one in particular that Jimmy wanted me to know about, Fredrika Bremer. She was a prolific writer, but more than that she was a feminist who won the right to her independence from the king. She's worth a google and I'm so glad I got to learn about her today.
Headed back towards Stockholm from the church, we passed the house of the guy who sang the ooga-chaka song "Hooked on a Feeling." So I had that stuck in my head the rest of the day. Swedes sure know how to craft a hook.
We made a quick trip to an area in Stockholm with more small wooden (red!) houses on a big hill overlooking the city, with this gorgeous church at the top, Sofia Kyrka. We were quickly losing the light and my cold started getting nasty, so we called it a day, after one quick stop to see the city across the water.
In the interest of science and to be able to better replicate this treat when I get home, Jessica blessed me with the best kebab pizza yet. I don't quite understand how it is so good, but it's incredible. A simple thin crust, a little bit of tomato sauce, some cheese but not anything like what we'd do in the states, that shaved kebab meat, tomatoes, pepperoncini, garlic sauce, and the best bit: a pile of salad on top. There will be more pizza salad in the weeks to come. For now, this was the perfect way to end the day early. Robert arrives from Helsinki tomorrow and we'll see more of the family, too. Still bubbling with excitement for my niece's arrival on Monday. The time is flying but I'm doing my best to enjoy every little moment.