My niece Sydney had to take a train through the ice storm in St. Louis up to central IL, then another train up to Chicago, then a taxi to the airport, then her flight was delayed two hours, then she flew for ten hours to Stockholm. I was so nervous and anxious waiting for her, I swear she was the last person from her flight to come out of customs. I was very un-Swedish in sweeping her into a huge hug and carrying her off into the airport.
We checked into our next flight very early and I loved how our luggage was a neon rainbow.
Rainbow luggage Arlanda airport is so modern and bright, and we found a place to sip beers and have snacks while we waited for our flight to Luleå.
Once the sun finally started to go down, the real show was out the windows.
Arlanda sunset We picked up our rental car in Luleå and headed to Viking Sister Solveig's house. We were so lucky to have Solveig and her partner, Christer and his son visit us last year in LA. Just like the rest of the family, they are fantastic people to be around and were so warm and welcoming to Sydney. Solveig surprised us with a lovely dinner and Sydney got to try Julmust, which is a holiday spiced cola drink here in Sweden sold only at Christmas. (There is an Easter version called Påskmust). It tastes like Christmas and Coca-cola had a baby.
Solveig is also a prolific and extremely talented watercolor artist. She was so generous to let Sydney and me choose a few to take home with us. This bad collage doesn't do her work justice! Check out her instagram!
We left Luleå in a hurry after dinner as the weather was turning nasty, with rain and temps just at freezing. That same weather that made Sydney take a train back home. But we have snow tires! And we plodded northward to Haparanda where Robert's mom was waiting for us. Twice while driving, the radio suddenly blasted horns and off-key guitars, then someone started talking in Swedish. This is their emergency road information system! The warnings were about moose that had made their way onto the highway much further north. It scared the shit out of me.
First thing this morning we headed out into the sun to show Sydney a little of Haparanda. This is the bank of the Tornio river on the Haparanda side. Across the water there is Finland, with the rail bridge silhouetted.
I was excited to go to Taavolagården, a gorgeous cafe and antique shop we visited last year. The buildings are all painted that bright iconic red.
Inside one outbuilding is the Loppis, or flea market.
Sydney found the perfect lil Santa in the Loppis and he came home with us.
'sup Santa In the main building is the gift shop on one side...
...and the cafe on the other. We had fika! Sydney, Roland and I had gingerbread. Robbie had a special cream puff.
Fika table These are saffransemlor, which are cream puffs spiced with saffron. Normally they are made without saffron but these are a Christmas version.
The light is golden and glorious as ever up here, as is my sweet Sydney.
I got her to make a shadow T-Rex. I love T-Rex. Is the plural of T-Rex "T-Rex?"
The sunset goes on and on.
Sunset from Taavolagården We drove over to Finland to pick up a julskinka, Christmas ham. The ham in Finland is better. While we were there, Sydney fell in love with some tomtar (Santas). The security guard was laughing at us.
Here is a final pic of the sunset today, and I'm not even ashamed to have taken it from the grocery store parking lot. While you do get a shorter day up here, it's a short, stunning, technicolor day.