Caution, this is longer than usual as it involves children and grandchildren.
Wednesday 25 July we fly out of Gatwick with son Geoffrey on Norwegian Air headed for Stockholm Sweden. This is our first time ever in Sweden and we are looking forward to both a new country and to meeting new relatives. Geoffrey married Sofi Erika-Helena Wallin on 22 November 2015. Sofi is from Mora Sweden and came with a new daughter for Geoffrey and granddaughter for us, Bhavanii Anni-Frid Wallin, who was three years old at the time.
Sofi’s brother Mattias and his wife Benz came from their home in Thailand for the wedding but we did not meet Sofi’s mother, father or sister as they were unable to attend. Today we fly into Stockholm and take the train about four hours north to Mora to meet the rest of Sofi’s family and to meet up with Sofi, Bhavanii and Geoff and Sofi’s almost two year old Freya.
Our trip on the plane and two trains is uneventful and we arrive in Mora around 17:00 where we are met at the train station by Mattias and Sofi’s father Bertil.
We spent three nights in Mora at a hotel just down the street from Sofi’s sister’s house which is HQ for a big family reunion.
Mattias and Benz are here for two weeks with their three children Eliot, Lancelot and Ronya from Thailand. We also meet Sofi’s sister Anki Wallin and her lifelong partner Magnus Berg who have two children Hilda and John. Sofi’s mother, Helena, resides in a nearby retirement home and is wheeled over every day to spend time with all of us. Mattias is training for an upcoming 92K run in Thailand, his wife Benz is running 44K and they take us on two early morning runs around Mora. The first morning there we ran along the lakefront that Mora sits on and around the town of around 20,000 inhabitants, going about five miles.
The second morning we ran 6.5 miles on hilly sandy trails through the surrounding woods. These trails are cross country ski runs in the winter.
Mora is the finish line for The Vasaloppet which is a huge 90K cross country ski event every March and Cykelvasan which is the largest Nordic mountain bike race occurring in August.
There are more than 48,000 participants in The Vasaloppet which is a one week competition with many different ski events. Cykelvasan has over 20,000 participants in its biking events, one of which involves biking the same 90K that the cross country skiers cover. We spent most of one day at Anki and Magnus’s beautiful lakefront home about 15 minutes away from Mora. It was so much fun watching these cousins from Thailand, Sweden and North Carolina interact and play together. Anki was a perfect hostess and kept the drinks, snacks, lunch and Dinner rolling out expertly.
Our last day in Mora we just wandered the main street and hung out at Magnus & Anki’s house.
We left Mora on the train with Geoffrey and his family to spend a few days together in Stockholm.
Our Airbnb in Stockholm was on the busiest narrow tourist street in Gamla Stan which is the old city. We had to wheel our three suitcases a few hundred meters over rough cobblestones as taxi’s can’t get down the streets after 10am.
The elevator was not working so we then had to haul everything up two flights of stairs in the heat and humidity. Fortunately the flat was very large and family friendly which enabled three comfortable days living with Geoff, Sofi, Bhavanii and Freya. After depositing our stuff in the flat we explored Gamla Stan and had a nice lunch in the main square or torget as they say in Swedish.
We had a last meal with Matthias, Benz and family at a nice traditional restaurant serving typical Swedish fare of differing selections of herring and salmon and also Swedish meatballs and potatoes. They left for Thailand the next day.
Geoffrey and Sofi took the kids to Skansen which is the world’s oldest open-air museum, showcasing the whole of Sweden with houses and farmsteads from every part of the country. They also have a lot of Nordic animals, a children’s zoo and many activities for children. Jim and Sandy elected to skip Skansen and get some alone time walking along the water of Djurgården to Prins Eugen Waldemarsudde which is Prince Eugen’s home and now art museum. We tend to love house museums and this one did not disappoint.
We met up with Geoff and family at five so that Sandy, Sofi and Bhavanii could see Mama Mia here we go again. Bhavanii has already seen it once and is constantly singing the songs. She was happy to see it again. Sandy really wanted to see it in Sweden as Abba is from Sweden. Jim, Geoffrey and Freya took a long walk along the heights above the water in Sodermalm.
Our third day in Stockholm was kind of a rest day for everyone so Jim & Sandy took a 2.5 mile run to explore our upcoming stay site of Sodermalm. It is much more of a neighborhood and not nearly as touristy as Gamla Stan.
Our last night together we made a big dinner at home and shared it with friends of Sofi & Geoffs who live locally.
Sofi, Geoff and family left us on 31 August to spend their last two nights in Uppsala with Sofi’s father. We checked into the Rival Hotel and experienced a little bit of heaven for 24 hours. This was the first place we have had with AC in about one year. It is sorely needed as Stockholm continues to be hot (high 80’s) and humid. We eat, explore and rest as we had previously signed up for the Pride 5K being held at 6pm today. Temperature at race start is 88º.
It was a very fun run with a lot of energy and thankfully run mostly in the shade along a body of water. Sandy struggled in the heat and Jim only stopped to walk while taking a few pictures, Sandy came in about one minute ahead. We were definitely among the oldest people running this race.
August 1 we take the train to Uppsala to spend our last day with Geoff’s family and Sofi’s dad Berthil. It is also a big day in our life as Sofi is having an ultrasound as she is pregnant with our ninth grandchild and we will find out the gender. They meet us at the train and we take Bhavanii & Freya to the park while Geoff and Sofi go for their appointment.
Due date is December 20, the day that we plan on flying back to Boston from Rome. Uppsala is a college and cathedral town with a population of 150,000. It is the seat of the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden and home to Scandinavia’s largest cathedral. Uppsala University is the oldest center of higher learning in Scandinavia. We have lunch together after the good news and then walk around Uppsala taking a free afternoon tour of the cathedral.
We meet Bertil for fika, the Swedish term for meeting for coffee and pastry, before saying goodbyes. We plan on seeing them again in April to meet our new granddaughter.