Christmas was a whirlwind of family and delicious meals and frozen walks in the snow. On the 24th, we had traditional Swedish julbord, with ham, meatballs, potatoes, salads, sausages, pickles, breads and an incredible selection of home baked fika by the Viking's aunt Vuokko. Family came in from all over, and I cooked dinner on the 25th. No one was poisoned: success! I'm most proud of my cinnamon brioche bread, which I've made before, but it's so tricky with metric conversions and fancy Swedish yeast.
In between cooking and having meals, we made some trips to the local store, which meant getting bundled in all the layers and trudging out into the snow. It was bitter cold the whole visit, as low as -25C, which is about -13F. Cold! But with air that cold and a little snow, everything looked magically frosted. I found this gorgeous tree on a walk to the grocery at dusk, about 2 pm.
Spotted in the parking lot. In Sweden, people ride their bicycles in all weather, even in the deep of winter.
Every year I try to come up with a fun photo project. This year I had an elaborate idea involving cups of colored water we froze and fancy gingerbread and small trolls...but I could not execute. It happens! It was bitterly cold and I just couldn't make it work. But we did have sparklers and an extra person, Robert's niece Petra, to help out. At least I got some fun long exposures. Running with sparklers is good for keeping warm. That's what I said to Petra, and I hope she's forgiven me for keeping her out so long!
After thawing out, we took a walk across town to a family member's house for yet another incredible meal. Uncle Lasse and Aunt Vuokkko put on a spread--we had three kinds of moose! Plus nice cocktails and exotic dessert with Swedish cheese and cloudberries. I had my first cloudberry. It was all so special.
On the walk back home, I took a few shots of the town. It wasn't as cold after wine and a sip of Lasse's good whiskey.
We packed our things last night and got up early to head to the airport. As always, it was so hard to say goodbye to the family. As always, everyone was so welcoming and warm and we can't wait to come back. Once a year is not often enough! I keep promising to visit in the summertime, but I hear that the mosquito infestation in the northern summer is biblical. It's a tossup, mosquito vs. weather, as this was the sky today when I first woke up. Snow and dense fog: not such a great prospect for a 90 minute drive.
We piled in the car and headed south to the airport. I had Robert take a pic and some video of the road. Grateful for studded tires and plow trucks. We made it with no problems.
We arrived in Stockholm this afternoon for our final night here. The viking booked us at a boutique hotel in old town, in a building from the 1760s. We took a short walk, had a nice meal to close down the trip and took a few last photos of Gamla Stan.
Thank you so much for coming along with me again. It's been another spectacular visit. I hope you've had a fabulous holiday wherever you are!