Monday, June 18, 2018

Sisters in Scandi-hoovia :: Day 7 (Kickin' Glass)

We all got to express our creativity today -- whether we knew we had some or not. Turns out our whole bus load can kick glass when it comes to that.

We hit the road early to drive some 2 hours or so to the Kingdom of Glass, located in Kosta. It is a shopping center of sorts -- like our outlet malls -- with shops selling high-end glassworks, a factory that makes them, and, for us creative sorts... glassblowing classes.

Finally a use for my hot air! So in the category of "look what I made, Mom" here I am making a Christmas ornament with Sweden's national colors --- blue and yellow. And no, they don't mix to make green when it comes to glass.

 Wait... that's not it.

That isn't either. 

This way for beginning blowers.

Mr. Teacher Guy did the magic part getting the sand to turn hot and gooey and glassy. I had to hold some cast-iron cup while he was spinning it to get it in shape.

Then I had to blow it to add ridges. I know. Highly technical terms.

Then I had to blow some more like blowing a bubble and it became a ball!

 Mr. Teacher Guy did some more spinning and trimming and cooling. Then...

Ta-da! Look what I made!! 

We all got to make one and we'll get them by the end of the trip to carefully take home. Very carefully!

I did have lots of pictures on my camera but I'm having connectivity issues tonight so I'll get to those another time, I guess. Just take my word for it that Rayna and Raylene created gorgeous ornaments, too. So much talent!

We left the Kingdom of Glass in midafternoon and headed back to our hotel -- with a 3-hour stop in Jonkoping for shopping and dinner at the harbor. I managed to make it through the day without buying anything!

Well, except for ice cream. That doesn't really count since ice cream and coffee are daily requirements here.

I knew I inherited those addictions from somewhere! SKOL!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sisters in Scandi-hoovia :: Day 6 (Father's Day)

It's not a Scandi-hoovian myth that too much fresh air makes you tired. It's fact.

In fact, we packed so much into our time outdoors that our morning activities seem like days ago already! Not complaining one bit. It's a good kind of tired.

This morning, Raylene and I went off the beaten path and went for a pre-breakfast walk-run-rock climbing-hill climbing adventure. Yes, it was as tiring as it sounds. (Side note: Don't ever complain when things go down hill. It can be a lot harder going up hill!)

Well, OK. We weren't blazing completely new trails. Just the most difficult one.

There is an old water mill community of perhaps 3 buildings called Rottle. That was at the bottom of a windy hill. With a few steep parts.

Oh look. A bridge! Let's cross it and keep on going.

There were pretty flowers...

And pretty steep hills on that side, too. We somehow ended up by a road. But since we didn't know if it led back to the hotel and we didn't know how to pronounce the name of it either, we turned around and retraced our steps.

 Every single one.

Uff da! We made it!

Little did we know how closely we escaped the rain. Got on the bus and went to the Granna harbor to get on the ferry and didn't catch the sun for man, many hours! Thankfully, our leaders Martin and Anna gave us all rain ponchos. Practical AND stylish. You'll see! And we couldn't complain. They have been waiting something like 7 weeks for rain!

We took the ferry -- large enough to fit the bus! -- over to Visingso Island.

Got to see two castle ruins there. The first one was the site of the very first royal castle in Sweden in the 1100s.
Yes, that's my twin, taking a short cut. Gotta keep my sisters on leashes!

See what I mean by stylish? Check out that thin rail behind me. I think the rain was so bothersome that I forgot to be scared of heights!

Second castle we saw had a bit more to it. It was built in the 1600s. Can't tell, but it's still raining!
We got a break from the rain for a lunch of meatloaf... and potatoes, of course! Then we went on a horse and carriage ride. It was like a covered wagon you might see on hayrides or pumpkin patch tours. We were tucked in with tarps over our legs, too, so we could stay dry. One of our stops was the Kumlaby Church, which is one of the oldest and best preserved mediaeval churches in Sweden.

The church was founded in the middle of the 12th century, so even though I can't read the tombstones, I am sure there are some interesting characters buried there.

 Vikings of some sort, no doubt!
Another neat church we trotted by.

I was on a different wagon than my co-travelers. Here is the wagon ridden by Raylene, Rayna, and her friend Sue.

After the ride, we said goodbye to the horses, hopped on the bus and rode the ferry back to Granna for a few free hours to shop. If you didn't know (and I sure didn't), this is where red-and-white-striped peppermint candy got its origins. I know. I was thinking North Pole, too.

So candy cane-like peppermint sticks are big deal here. When you see the word "polka" it is referring to peppermint. Just a little Swedish language lesson for the day.

In all the shops, we got to peer through windows at handsome young Swedes and watch them make the candy. Very cool.

 These were in Swedish colors!

So many varieties and the only word I recognized was polka!

I didn't get too much candy but discovered I need a bigger carry-on for the trip home. Isn't this guy cute?
Not sure if it's required to kiss him for luck, but I did anyway!

And this one will probably have to go in my checked luggage! For real, I am so an HOME here. Nine out of 10 business -- including gas stations -- have ice cream or gelato or both. HEAVEN.

Speaking of heaven... we took a moment to think of Dad. I brought him with and I am sure he is with us in spirit as we visit his half-homeland (he's half Norwegian, too). In fact, the fact that the sun came out was a good indicator.

And stayed out! What a glorious day!
And a pretty spectacular ending, too! Well, at 10:15 p.m. anyway.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sisters in Scandi-hoovia :: Day 5

So where were we off to today? You certainly wouldn't know from the signs in this roundabout! But we checked out of Karlshamn and headed north to Almhult, home of the original IKEA and its museum.

I'm not an IKEA shopper but I could become one now. A few things I wouldn't mind checking out back in the States.

Had lot of the company history and some Swedish history, too, on display. Plus their unique stuff presented in unique ways.

Then they had funs things like posing in the same setting as their current catalog cover.

Yup, while you all were sleeping, the Skol Sisters became Swedish supermodels!

Had lunch at IKEA... guess what? More potatoes and lingonberries and, this time, Swedish meatballs. I was waiting for the Swedish Chef to pop out of the kitchen at any moment!

I didn't find any furniture to buy at IKEA, but I did at a gas station! How can I live without this table and chairs?!

From Almhult, we headed to Huskvarna, home of Husqvarna!

Impressive history and line of products. Plus the H in logo is perfect for the Hedberg sisters! I seriously didn't know how much they produced beyond sewing machines and chainsaws. But they did muskets for the war 300 years ago, motorcycles, dishwashers, meat grinders, stoves, and just about anythine that needs a wee bit of cast iron.
It happened that across the street was a little village of Smedbyn. Since my family calls me Byn -- short for Bynski, which is short for Robynski -- I could't resist a picture by a Byn sign!

Obviously by now you know I am squeezing the fun out of every moment here!!

After the tour, we headed north to our home base for the next three nights -- Gyllene Uttern (The Golden Otter) -- on the shores of Vattern, the second largest lake in Sweden.
Very cool place to see!

And awesome view out our window, too.

Before dinner, Raylene and I went "rock climbing." That's what we're calling. There were rocks and there definitely was enough of an incline we can say climbing.

View was so worth effort! Not talking about the Swedish supermodels. I mean the lake.

We get to cross over to that island in the distance tomorrow. Supposed to rain but we won't let anything spoil this vacation!

Sweet dreams. I'll keep in touch.