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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Midsummer in Dalarna

Last week I worked two days and then it was time for some time off again. Thursday was a big travel day. I had my father's car and was supposed to drive it back to him. Before I got there in the morning my mother called to say her train had been cancelled. This caused a lot of trouble. I had to go and get her and drive back, only to get another phone call from my father saying he had to drive his girlfriend to town (in the other direction) because her train had also been cancelled. Total chaos. It is remarkable that my mother and I actually made it to Hässleholm to catch our long distance train. We had only a couple of minutes to spare. We had to change trains twice on the way but we finally arrived in Leksand, Dalarna at 5 PM. We started out by having a sandwich at a café and then we took a taxi to the hostel about 2 km south of the town. We got to stay in a small and very cute wooden cottage in traditional style.

Friday was Midsummer Eve. Leksand hosts the biggest celebration of this kind. That is why we wanted to go there. In the afternoon we rode our rented bikes to town and joined in the celebrations. Three long church boats arrived with people in folk costumes, bringing parts for the Midsummer pole. They walked in a parade along the bridge and through town to the outdoor arena. The pole was 23 meters tall and it took a lot of effort to raise it into position. Meanwhile there was musical entertainment and folk dancing. Very traditional Swedish music with violins. The national anthem was sung and the crowd of about 25 000 people did the wave a few times also. It was an incredible experience to be there. Later in the evening we attended a very nice concert in the church. When we returned to the hostel at 11 PM it was still light out. It was the kind of magic summer night you can only experience here.

Saturday we were a little tired but we went back to town to go on a lunch cruise on the M/S Gustaf Wasa. It was a tourist ship sailing on the river and lake Siljan for two hours. A very nice trip with great views of the lake and forest. After this we tasted the locally made icecream, which was pretty good. We rode on a trail in the forest and then went back to the hostel to rest. I had been slightly burned by the sun and it was rather hot outside.

Sunday we rode our bikes about 2 km south to the crisp bread factory. They had sales of all kinds of crisp bread and related items such as decorative boxes and souvenirs. We bought three boxes and drove back to the hostel with it. After a short rest we went to town and had a great brunch at a café. Lots of food: eggs, bacon, salmon, herring, cheeses, cold cuts, meatballs, smoothies, pancakes, pastry, cakes and lots of fruit and veggies. We then went on the bikes again and continued out east to Tibble. We visited the Alfvén House. Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960) was a Swedish composer, violinist and conductor who wrote music inspired by the traditional music of Dalarna. This music is still popular and well known, for instance Midsommarvaka. His home is now a museum and we saw an informational film and joined the guided tour. It was interesting to see the three pianos and the paintings he had made himself. The return trip to the hostel was long but we made it. It is more challenging to ride bicycles here than in Skåne, because it's definitely not flat.

Monday was again a long traveling day. We returned to the summerhouse by four different trains and one bus. My sister came to get us at the bus stop with a car. We were tired but happy to have made this trip to Dalarna. It was really a wonderful visit, and I strongly recommend it.

At the summerhouse it was a full house, with my sister and her family visiting also. Tuesday we assembled my mother's birthday gift - a metal structure to hold a hammock. Wednesday was the actual celebration, with some friends coming by for cake. Very early this morning I took the bus and train to work. Some people were surprised to see me, as I had said that I didn't know what day I would return. The weather is not so good anymore and I had used up all my overtime, so I chose to go back to work today. There were some tasks for me, books my colleagues hadn't been able to find. I could only solve one of those cases, unfortunately. I learned that two of my colleagues had also had visits from their North American cousins, and that was great to hear (I had helped out to locate some of them)!

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