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Friday, 30 July 2021

Dandandandandan pizza in Tavelsjö and bicycling on two bikes in the night

Four hours of walking to see Slåttdalsskrevan! (I include the return  time in this, and exclude the pauses. Pace is "active enjoyable stroll".) Bless my previous gym hours, I think they saved me.
(You wonder how this journey began? I opened a book about national parks. More route-wise, here is a link to yesterday's post.)

Over to Umeå, where I got the same evening. In Umeå, I met with three strangers. It was fun, I had to ask how a club works these days – I enter, and then what? They invited me to an afterparty right after I said I was going to sleep. So I said "alright". And got there on one of their bikes. And it was 3.29 a.m. and sunny, but not that kind of sun I expected. "You [seriously] thought you would see midnight sun here? For that you have to go to Trondheim, or Abisko." 

Conclusion, scientific report: the nights here as as bright in the summer as in Stockholm. 

Then I got to borrow the bike of another mister to go back to Umeå city. System was: my escort would get the key once I locked it and return the key to his friend the next day. I really want to share this, for you to have when you encounter similar situations in the future and seek key solutions. 

"Day" was obviously super young. I estimated that I had no margins: four hours of sleep, then hotel breakfast, then sleeping two hours till checkout and then hardcore tourism, 

before taking the bus (which magically matched everything) to a locally famous tasty pizzeria in the woods (in "the lakes") right next to Tavelsjö: Roots. They have fun pizza names there. What is so special about this rhubarb drink except the 2019 mathantverk award? That the house across the water you see is where it is made. Roots likes keeping it local.

"Hard core tourism" remains a wide definition in the books. For me, this involved discussing delicacies and distributors of non-alcoholic beverages here at Duå, window shopping – I mean shopping for my windows – and visiting a museum on women's history (a confirmed blogpost will ascend this blog platform).

Then – night train back, through Örnsköldsvik again. The train was, oddly enough, going to both Stockholm and Göteborg. The announcement clarified it:

"The wagons are going to split in Sundsvall [in the middle of the night], make sure to be in the right wagon then."


Thursday, 29 July 2021

Museum Mission (Mora): Zornmuseet + a private train compartment

 Mora was hot, 30.6 degrees. And the Zorn museum(s) cute.
In total, I booked four tickets and tours that spanned over the day – everything possible to visit, including a garden tour with the gardener. Peaks: these 72 wooden houses about one kilometer away, which could be reassembled to follow the bride-to-be as a wedding gift, and assembled anew at the new place.
Probably everyone finds a favourite among the eccentricities of the house and habits of the couple Anders Zorn and Emma Lamm. My favourite artefacts were the 1929 refrigerator that still works fine today, the 1914 square (like a boom box) vacuum cleaner (which does not do a too good job) and the 1,000 kg snooker table from Paris (the game was called something else at the time). To have the table shipped to Mora, Zorn ordered a particularly designed train wagon for it – and it hung from the ten meter high ceiling in their home while the floor was built under it.
If you are pressed for time, you can skip the museum with the paintings in the modern building – it cannot compete with the charms and the 1200's and onwards history of the other buildings around.

By 00.44 I had gotten to know my next stop Gävle a bit and it was time for the night train to Örnsköldsvik. My battery was running low, so I looked up staff to show my ticket on my own initiative. Their reaction:
"We will open a new sleeping compartment for you." So suddenly I went from having 5 sleeping co-travelers with me in the same train room, I became the only one, with five empty beds – no more travelers would be coming that night.

Some six hours later (sun rose around 3.29 a.m.) I jumped off the train, crossed the highway (that is how it works here) and took this particular free UNESCO bus (well, cultural heritage – världsarvsbussen) to Skule national park. 

The enthusiastic bus driver was a lady who had walked the different paths + seen the fairy-tale lake pointed out the best routes and off I went for a five hours hike! In sandals, as usual. But more about that tomorrow. 
(Note the notorious round stones. I joked with strangers that I put them all in place now, and they played along: good job, how quick of you.)

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

An ad for my own blog post tomorrow.

Crossing the country has been done! Intial plans were Mora – Umeå – Slåttdalsskrevan – Marstrand. Come along with the blog to see how it went!

It started by me opening a book about national parks, getting intrigued, e-mailing the local tourist offices for routes and getting very instructive replies. I arranged for a "backpacking train card", which was on special offer by SJ, then booked a table in Tavelsjö for a supposedly delicious pizza outside Umeå (I cheerfully called my e-mail 'carless but hungry tourist') and visited like five cities in three days. Not in frame: the thousands of kilometers inbetween the destinations. But yeah, more about that tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Corona chronicles: forbidden music beats


I prefer to sit down in Danish public transport anyway. 
This is the official website of British Columbia Centre for Disease Control in Canada.
More on preventing the effects of heavy breathing: "Gangnam style" the song will now forbidden in South Korean gyms – and so will all other songs with a fast pace that considers breathing at the gym to be so hard, that the virus might spread faster. Swedish radio played "Gangnam" the next morning, saying: this song you will not be hearing in a Korean gym!..
While I  found the most practical, trendy and chic hand sanitizer in Denmark – yes, all at once, look how flat it is – Britain got the new word "pingdemics" in July, as many citizens would get a ping in their phone with a recommendation to isolate themselves.

France decided that all sanitary staff must get vaccinated – and from August, to enter a restaurant or a bar, one will need proof of either a negative test or a vaccination health pass. A French friend said that it complicated things a little if I come to visit before I have full vaccination + 2 additional weeks of wait. 
When I got my symptoms after my first vaccination dose, I ended up taking the longest possible bus ride home by mistake, so I curled up against the window in a semi-sleeping position waiting. When we were standing still on a bus stop, a lady came up to me and touched my shoulder.
"Are you feeling unwell?"
"I am just having vaccine symptoms."
"Alright, I wanted to check on you. Also – " she added lovingly – "your scrunchie is a bit on the side."
(It is supposed to be on the side.)

Friday, 23 July 2021

New words that are good to know, part IV, 2021

6b4t – a feminism movement originating from South Korea that embraces four nos: no dating, no marriage, no heterosexual sex and no child-rearing.

Roman à clef – (French but also used in English) – a non-fiction novel veiled by certain elements of fiction, such as invented names.

Easterlin paradox – the paradox that the more money we earn, happiness doesn't follow that straight curve. Rather, there is a limit (75,000 dollars of annual income, similar studies show). The paradox was presented by Richard Easterlin and is often brought up in happiness economics.

And some Swedish words, all related to the art of shaping clay.

Mirett – verktyget längst ner till höger, med stålögla och krok, som man finjusterar letgodset med. 

Sittertråd – tråden som man kan skära upp leran med.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Sidenote – what no-one tells you about begonias

That they SLAY themselves. You know, some flowers take their time petal by petal? Not begonias! It chops off its own flower in one go.
Drama on the balcony each time.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

No silver no more

Went to the woods for my book club (logic). "I am in the forest, and what are books made of!" I cheerfully told everyone over Teams.
I also was in the woods because I vowed to visit new places every single day, and got a tip
there were old mines that now were filled with water and had become lakes.
A totally misleading piece of information, as you see, but beyond expectations that one old silver mine could be visited.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Museum Mission (Nyköping): Sörmlands museum


Sörmlands museum was selected the museum of the year in 2020. It's nice! The archives of the objects are behind glass walls, so you certainly get intrigued. Guided tours can be booked to see them closer.

One is usually not allowed to publish photos taken inside, but here is my comment to an exhibition where the lady had used stiches as elegantly as a brush.

Outsides is very interactive. Either you grab hula hoops from a chic shed, or you walk in the small garden, or you try to guess what they meant with these paintings 4,000 years ago. That is when these carvings are from, and archeologists still do not know their meaning. But – these are the first traces of Nyköping being established as a pre-city.

Monday, 19 July 2021

Miracle: Jana at the gym (again, so second miracle)

My favourite gym story is when I tried to pick up a weight and couldn't. So I assumed: they are only there for display. They must be glued.

Next person comes in with muscles bursting as balloons, and proves they are not glued, at all. (He picked them up.)

Now I am at a gym again. My back will love me. My arms will love me. My legs will love me. Usually I prefer dance and zumba, so this is an interesting cha(lle)nge. So far I have actually spent a decent hour here every second day. I only have the rowing machine left to try, and can level it up at the torture chamber next: where all the heavy weights are, where the hard-core instagrammers are, where I cannot yet tell apart which 45-degrees bent or twisted metal stick goes with what gymnastic scaffolding. THE MORE EXCITING. 

Friday, 16 July 2021

Places where I have lived: from north to south of Europe

There are quite a few places to document! Our journey begings in Sweden.

2015–2016: I lived in a room in south of Stockholm from which you can see the Globe in Stockholm. One late evening, I really wanted a crystal crown, so I stood up and went. It hung so low, I had to Matrix under it each time, but was totally worth it. I stayed here for about a year...
2016–2017: ... because then I moved to Spain for work and lived on the top of the biggest café in town – a village with very few inhabitants, Valentín. Hardly googleable; you even have to write Murcia, the region, in paranthesis to specify the nearest biggest city in that region on the psycial letters: "Valentín (Murcia)". I stayed in this 3-room flat for less than a week. Initially, I wanted to live by the sea and take the car back and forth every day (two hours or more ride in total). Everyone strongly advised against it. (I ended up in Murcia to begin with because I wished being close to the shore and there  was a coast line.) And well, sure. It was closer to the shore than if I had been in Madrid, say. The embassy that recruited me said: it's super close, only two and a half hours by car! (Realised later: I didn't count on the sea to be so loud. Just because it's night, the waves don't stop coming.)

During the search for my first apartment, my friend and I found a pretty and colourful house with a pool, and the owner would come and do gardening once a week (friend thought this was the perfect deal). It was super cute and marked the absolute beginning of the town Calasparra. But, whenever an agent was present, and one agent or another alway was, the company charged the same amount as one month's rent of the house or apartment for the service of being present (if we signed the apartment). We quickly figured it would be much better to ask by word of mouth, and so just took the car to the neighborhood, asked two people in Valentín village and had great success – I could move in right away. 
I found out: without air conditioning in the room it being 30 degrees, you cannot sleep: it is physically impossible (well, for newbies like me). I ended up sleeping on the cold(er) floor, as near the tiny balcony I could, to get some cold certain nights could provide. This is the view from one of the two bedrooms (so it's not my balcony you see):
I changed villages shortly after that, mostly because no buses stopped here, it was too far to walk to either city where I was assisting as a teacher but, foremost, it was because I had found... entire house to rent in Calasparra just by talking to a stranger outside one of the seven churches. It was her house, and this is the street.
 With an inner yard and a terrace. It's said that when the local castle was taken apart, its stones were used to build up the houses around. I doubt the stones sufficed this far as to me (I lived a 15 minutes walk away), but I made a calculation about that the house COULD have been a castle to 0.0000037%. Roughly. Rounded up. 
The storms during the weekends I didn't notice at first, because I was always gone traveling and visiting people. I would come back on Sunday evening to doors flung aside like this (it was loose lying on the terrace from the start, but still). Weather in the mountains changes as if someone flicks a switch; laundry easily flies over to the neighbour's house (which was abandoned).
I decorated this house a bit, indoors and outdoors.

Summer 2017: Oxford for work for three weeks, about 20 minutes by bus from its centre. I lived on the top of I think four floors. This the view from the third.
Also 2017, right after Oxford: a tiny flat in Solna, Sweden, and an almost as big a balcony. Winter view...
...and summer view one,
and three. I had bought many flowers one year, anticipating that the corona will making us more homebound than it eventually did.

I loved this park less than forty steps away – there are actually two mansions around and an alley, AND, the biggest mall in Sweden.
Autumn/winter 2020/2021 
I was lucky to find a chic apartment in the middle of Brussels through the standard site Immoweb (I checked all the 3,000 entries). Dear friend who went to see it was told there actually was one more available in the building, on the top floor, so it was not even out on the market. It had an unusual feature: no matter where you point the camera, the photos would turn out great. Moreover – no physical key, only a digital lock with a code.

It had its own staircase which made it look more airy and bigger. I was supper happy and signed the contract one day before touching Brussel's ground. My goal was to walk everywhere and I was prepared to telework, so my home would also be my office.
March 2021 I moved to another Brussels location with the help of two wonderful friends. Old colleagues were also super kind – lowered the price on everything they were selling, dropped furniture off when they could, offered me a van and said I could pass on the kindness to someone else when they needed it.
It was a much calmer area, Ixelles, with eyecandy construction workers on one side and this view of town and a garden on the other.
Friends sent me two flower deliveries during the first weeks. 
End of May, a friend came to stay for a quarantine period (at that time defined as ten days), and then took over the apartment a couple of days before I left for Sweden in June, which was super practical (and a bit dramatic, as the two independent visitors through the real easte agency who came ten minutes before that announced they also were interested just seven minutes later).
Being back in Sweden again, I have an apartment with not one, but two balconies, and I am the first to live in it. This is the street view of my building being born :D
One of the companies I contacted for an apartment to rent said that if I signed the contract before July 1st, I would be competing for a 300 € IKEA gift card and one hour of consultation with an interior home designer, and I certainly didn't mind.